Changing Your Clothes

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Closet Confessions: How My Trousers Got Their Stripes


Remember my pale sage green linen trousers I made for my Santa Fe travel wardrobe? Well, there’s a reason they have those sporty side stripes— and I’m willing to tell all, purely out of consideration for you, dear readers.

For my sewing friends: have you run into this problem with multi-sized patterns? The one where the size range is, say, 6-14 or 16-22, but you are in between? This is what happened to me with the trouser pattern I used. It went up to a size 14; in ready-to-wear, I’m more like a size 12, but in sewing patterns (which are sized differently), I’m finding that a 14 or 16 is more appropriate, depending on what type of garment it is. (But even that isn’t consistent across pattern brands. Aargh.) When purchasing the pattern, I decided optimistically to get the smaller size range, intending to cut the largest size (14). Which I did.

Problem:  <Deeeep breath>  The trousers were too small. In some fabrics (stretch wovens, for example), this might not have been such an issue, but I was using a substantial linen, and the trousers were cut with wide legs, so I didn’t want the fit to be tight. Aargh encore.

My solution? I added fairly wide stripes down each side. It took a while to find the right fabric for this; I wanted the stripes to be as close to the fiber content and weight of the original fabric as possible, so the drape wouldn’t be affected. I found an amazing deep taupe herringbone linen that I think is perfect. After cutting (tearing, rather, along the grain of the fabric) 4″-wide strips, I simply sewed them down the sides of the trousers. (If you’d like more details on how to add stripes, let me know.)

Turns out, there were several benefits to doing this that I hadn’t anticipated:

1. Because adding the stripes effectively added one more seam on each side of the trousers, I was able to fine-tune the fit, especially around the waist; that extra seam is like adding a dart. (I’m a curvy person, and my waist is 13″ smaller than my hips, so I’m used to doing this kind of adjustment.)

2. Using a darker fabric for the stripes means it’s more likely I’ll be able to integrate my trousers into my fall wardrobe; if they were just pale sage green all over, they might be too summery to look right with sweaters and boots.

3. Side stripes on trousers (and some skirts that I’ve seen recently) just happen to be a detail that’s featured in many of the just-finished fashion shows. Since they’re generally inspired by the classic satin stripes on tuxedo pants, I’m betting that they won’t look out of style a few months from now. Anyway, I like them.

4. Those darker stripes are visually slimming!

Side-Striped Linen Trousers

Side-striped linen trousers in one of my Santa Fe outfits. Now imagine the trousers with a chunky sweater and flat boots. Ooh, how about a leather jacket? I think these trousers just might work for fall!

There. I’ve said it. The pattern was just too d*** small. But, mostly out of desperation (I needed those trousers to wear in Santa Fe), I found a way to fix it that actually improves on my original plan!

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

4 thoughts on “Closet Confessions: How My Trousers Got Their Stripes

  1. I like these stripes, and I am not especially enamoured of the current stripe-trend. They almost look like a more elegant form of colourblocking. And the poor pattern companies—we finally get them to make multi-size patterns, and they miss the point and forget to provide any overlap!

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