Early last year before the pandemic took hold I was trying on RTW trousers (yes, remember those days of changing rooms in shops?) and I noticed that many of them, despite being tailored styles, were made in jersey and knits. Although I did not find a pair to fit me I did think about how comfortable and warm it would be to wear a smart pair of trousers made of those fabrics. Shortly after that while out shopping I spotted some medium weight navy pinstripe jersey fabric and snapped it up with the intention of making some smart trousers.
I’d had my eye on Burda envelope pattern 6332 style B for a while as I liked the high waist styling with pleats reminiscent of the 1980s but I knew I would not be able to emulate it entirely as the jersey would not hold the CF creases or pressed turnups. As these trousers were being made for wear in cold weather I also decided I wanted these to be ankle length and not three quarters.
The cutting out of the fabric took a while as with stripes and checks I always cut from a single layer of fabric and flip the pattern pieces over. I don’t trust that even with the fabric folded and pattern pinned together I would get perfectly aligned stripes. However one good thing with striped fabric is that it is easy to find the straight grain! As it was an envelope paper pattern there were instructions and good diagrams to follow although I do change the order of making up as I like to get the zip in early and sew the side seams afterwards in case of adjustments.
The pattern has side hip pockets and I strengthened the openings of these using strips of bias interfacing to prevent them stretching out of shape when worn. There is also a fake welt pocket on the right back piece just made of a strip of fabric sewn on but I omitted this as I felt that as I could not press the fabric flat it would stick out somewhat. In fact if I were to add a fake welt pocket to this type of fabric I would make a proper welt pocket opening and use a facing on the inside rather than the pocket bag. I think welt pockets would look good especially with the pinstripes which could be used horizontally to add some visual interest but really I wasn’t in the mood for sewing welt pockets so didn’t go there this time.
After sewing the inside leg seams and zip opening I always baste the rest of the trousers together – the side seams and attach the waistband – to do a fitting. I usually cut a size 38 in Burda trousers including a little extra on the side seams for fitting purposes but during lockdown and with the lack of activity I felt my clothes were a tad tighter so I opted for a size 40. I need not have bothered as when I tried the trousers on for a fitting I have to say I looked like a clown. To be fair the trousers did fit okay on the waist but from the hip yoke pockets downwards there was so much bagginess. I ended up having to remove at least two inches off of each side seam and also skimmed the inside leg seam tapering from the hip to the hem as I did not want the hem any narrower.
Part of me wondered if some of the problem was down to my choice of fabric and had I been able to iron the centre front creases into the trousers then they would have hung differently. The styling of the trousers is very mannish and so I guess they are meant to be slightly baggy. The pink trousers on the pattern envelope do look loose fitting but the pinstipe version have a narrower appearance so I suppose that is down to how they have been photographed. There are further masculine touches as the zip is sewn onto the left front piece and there is a low crotch. Having made my adjustments I was actually quite pleased with the results. Having worn the trousers several times now they fit comfortably at the waist and the fabric is warm and cosy. It is like wearing a pair of joggers but feel and look a bit smarter. However since I have completed the trousers the weather has warmed up considerably by several degrees and I am wondering how much wear I will now get out of them in the immediate future. I am thinking maybe I should start sewing my Summer wardrobe in Winter and vice versa.
So does knit fabric work for tailored trousers? I guess the jury is still out on that and I will have to wear them more times before I can answer that question. There is the danger that the fabric may pill and that the knees will bag as is so often the case on jersey sportswear. However the fabric is medium weight and I think it will retain its integrity. Being elastic the fabric was easy to manipulate but unpicking stitches was quite difficult as they became embedded in the fabric. In the areas I did unpick I noticed that the white weave on the wrong side of the fabric also began to show through and so this jersey is not as forgiving for making alterations as woven fabric is.
Would I use this pattern again? Although it was time consuming making the adjustments to the trousers to get the correct fit on the legs and as previously mentioned part of this may have been down to my choice of fabric, I am happy with the end result. So I may take a look at the paper pattern and see if it is worthwhile making some alterations to it for future use.