I have to admit, I was almost giddy to find this Vogue pattern written by Claire Shaeffer. For a decade, I was a member of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals, and was able to hear her speak at our annual conference.  From listening to her talk about her experiences and reading her books, I know her to be a true couture aficionado.  Her up close and personal handling of many true couture garments means she has endless knowledge on construction technique and cut, from today’s ready to wear back to vintage haute couture Chanel.  I’ve wanted to take a master class with her for years, but darn these babies and pregnancy and nursing and yada yada… Needless to say, I was happy to have a piece of home study I could do myself.

If you want to make a pair of trousers along with me, you’ll need:

 Vogue pattern 7881 in your size bracket

2-3 yards of fabric, depending on your size and fabric width


7″ zipper

two 5/8″ buttons

You’ll also need 1/2 yard of fusible interfacing or hair canvas, depending on your construction method.

The pattern is actually written twice; once for couture techniques, which are mostly done by hand, and once for easier machine and fusible techniques.  Since these pants are a pattern test for me, I opted for the faster construction on all accounts, only sewing the hems by hand.  Thankfully too, as I needed to do quite a few alterations.

The instructions are written with great care, and I will say the fly instructions are as foolproof as they get.  I may never set a fly another way again, this was so easy and gave the flattest result and the most perfect stitching I’ve ever achieved.  Claire describes where and how to press, stretch, and steam certain areas of the pieces to achieve better fit in the inner thigh, and preshrink the knees so they don’t get baggy and worn in time.  Overall, a brilliantly written set of instructions and highly worth making just to learn her construction techniques.

Please excuse the less than professional photos and the pack and play background- just some real life snaps of how I fit myself using a mirror and my phone!
However.  I knew they would be a bit looser, but was hoping for a trouser similar to those I’ve worn in the past: wider leg, but with good shape around the hips and waist.  More Olivia Pope style.  The waistline did fit well, but the cut of the legs was just not good.  On me.  It could be on you, so I won’t outright blame the pattern for the fit.  It is described as a “European fit,” which as I understand it, places the inseam towards the front of the leg and puts more pant in the back.  But it was not flattering on me in any sense, and I had to rip the legs apart and majorly alter them to get in striking range of what I was hoping for.  I ended up shortening the crotch extension to reduce excess fullness in the back of the legs, offsetting the back 1/4″ tapering back to flush by the knees.  I also had to raise the stitch line of the back crotch curve to accommodate this.  In addition, I took in both inseam and outseam starting at the full hip (which is the largest part of your hips, aka your booty), taking the most out at the knee, and tapering back out to the original fullness at the hem.  Much closer to what I was looking for.  But seriously, I took 3″ out of each pant leg at the knees.  Oofda.  I also noted that I need to raise the entire crotch line of this pattern, and should have shortened the front and back pieces by 1/2″-3/4″ each between the waist and full hip.  I’m 5’4″, and you may want to do the same if you’re the same height.

All in all though, not a bad trouser!  I’m going to wear and launder them a few times before deciding if I’m going to make more.  The cotton is just a bit stickier than I would have hoped; her fabric suggestions of gabardine, crepe, or linen would have had more drape and hung a bit better (but I wasn’t going to use the bouncy poly versions of those from JoAnns).  If I made more, I might also add belt loops and back welt pockets.  Because really, who can manage pants without pockets these days?

 Pants 1: Done.

Happy pants week!