MANSWAP #6 The brown corduroy trousers

posted in: SWAP, WIP (work in progress) | 25

With the Sewing with a Plan it is generally Planning first, then after Christmas Sewing starts. Sometimes one or two garments can be made ahead. I “planned” to start these trousers early as I had had great success with the toile. But moving into our new holiday home, and then entertaining most of the family over Christmas, meant I was doing more laundry and cooking than sewing. Never mind.

The pattern

For these trousers I used the Make My Pattern Slimline Pants.

As I had toiled it already I was fairly confident of the pattern. It is based on Winifred Aldrich, but digitised and made to your individual measurements (if you are a man). I was very pleased with the design, which is just a very classic pair of mens’ trousers. Gus likes a relatively high waist and was pleased with the way these come up a fair way at the front. The trousers fit well across the front and back – not too much ease, but certainly not an overly “trendy” look. The width of the legs is pretty classic too. We didn’t look at the fuller pants pattern – I think these might appeal to an older man, but not for Gus.

The materials

I was keen to get Gus to try wearing brown. Although he has cool colouring he also suits the more muted shades. So while brown is generally a warmer colour (as it has a fair amount of yellow in it) I was looking for more of a grey-brown (taupe) which is a particularly nice shade. So I searched quite hard for the right shade of corduroy. I wanted a thicker whale, and to avoid the very bright/cheaper looking shades. I found some fabric I really liked, on sale from My Fabrics (now sold out in brown). The piece I got had a few small faults in it, but I got 3m for about £12 so I was pleased with it. As I hadn’t made up the pattern before I figured I could sacrifice these pants if things did not go according to plan.

For lining the pockets etc I recycled the terrible trousers I made with my cling film pattern. I used an iron-on interfacing for the waistband and pockets.

The construction

Before I started I examined carefully a pair of cords my husband wears.  Here are a few close up of the details.


Many aspects of the construction of these trousers were new to me, as I had never made mens’ trousers before. For example

  • split waist band
  • double welt back pockets
  • front pocket construction differs from my experience
  • use of lining material on the back of the waist band
  • very unusual fly construction

So I was learning lots on my first pair. I was tempted to go and do my own thing, especially with the fly, but in the end I just trusted the pattern and the very extensive written documentation. There are videos too if you need more help. Joost de Cock has tried very hard to make the trouser making experience one that a beginner can tackle. I loved that about the whole package. However it is worth mentioning, politely, that there are a few errors in the labeling, instructions and descriptions. Not too bad but there is room for confusion if you are actually a beginner. I wondered why Joost had not called for pattern testers and got a range of people to go through the pattern with a fine tooth comb. I imagine lots would have volunteered (me for example!)

As I am making these trousers at least twice more for the SWAP I am going to persevere.

Everything worked out pretty well, although I am not happy with the fly. I didn’t like the method and the finish is not very good – it looks amature. I commented on this on Instagram, and the dear designer responded. Joost De Cock was open to looking at other approaches so I recommended my old favourite as it creates a great finish every time. However it needs a grown on fly facing which this pattern doesn’t have. And it doesn’t include a fly shield.

Second fitting

I find making my own clothes that I have a good feel for whether an item will fit or not as I have an internal map of my own body in my head. Making for Gus has seemed like my map is way out – Gus is much bigger than I am. So everything I have made so far seems huge. Because Gus is not always available – whereas I am when I am sewing for myself – I pressed on with the construction without fitting at every stage. I relied on the fact that the toile was a good fit.

However once they were sewn up to the waist band, but not finished, I got Gus to try them on. Unfortunately they were a little bit tight. I was very disappointed and couldn’t understand what had gone wrong. I had sewn the seam allowances at 1.5cm as required yet they needed some ease across the body (the legs were fine). What had happened?

I think the main reason was that the toile was made in calico, and the corduroy is much chunkier. Also once I had got pockets and pocket bags in I guess that took up another centimetre or two.

So I thought I would undo all the seams and use a 1cm seam allowance instead. Then I had a brain wave.

The trousers are constructed with an extra wedge at the CB seam to allow for a little bit of weight gain. I put this in, mainly for the experience. The fact they were too snug gave me the ideal excuse to use the extra fabric to let the pants out. I will try this and report back!



25 Responses

  1. Jenny Lark

    The do look fine and hopefully letting out the back seam will make them fit better. I have always thought it unfair that men have that back seam in the waistband to allow for growth but they don’t do it for women’s trousers. My figure changes frequently and to get more width I have to cut the waistband and add a piece. As I never tuck tops in to the trousers this works ok but if I make trousers I sometimes make a two piece waistband for this very reason.

  2. Annie

    The leg width looks spot on, that’s a contemporary look. It looks like the front waist is too loose but it could be unpinned and a good fit, if so, that would suggest to me that the crotch needs to be lowered rather than back seam letting out, just guessing, I have no skills reading wrinkles.

    I’m sure you’ll get better feedback from more experienced sewers and I’ll be following with interest.

  3. ceci

    Rookie question, is the tailor tacking down the back legs to mark the straight grain of the fabric? Lovely color……


    • fabrickated

      Thanks for the questions! The tacks down the front and back legs mark the fold/crease line on pants. They also should be on the grain. I will mark them on the inside hem so that we know where to fold when laundering as with thick cotton the crease line will not fix. With wool and synthetics it is easier to get closer to a “permanent” press.

  4. Mary Funt

    The trousers look like a fairly good fit. It’s hard to tell if they cup in too much around the seat from the photos. You are right that the fit in muslin is different than the corduroy and also that the pockets take up a fair amount of ease. I find that looking at RTW garments is a great source for detail construction such as the fly and pockets. Problem is that there aren’t instructions and you need to figure out how they are sewn. You have a great start to the man Swap!

    • fabrickated

      Thanks M. Yes I think there is a bit too much “cupping” around the seat, making his bum look a little bit big (from an aesthetic point of view). I may just deconstruct them and start again. Your points are always so helpful, and so kindly given. Thank you.

  5. Stephanie

    Nice job so far, Kate. I hope you can adjust the back and crotch seams to get the fit you want. The corduroy is lovely.

    • fabrickated

      Actually I put the CB seam and additional SA in because he is trying to put on weight, drinking milk etc… But I don’t think he is very good at gaining weight. Thanks for your feedback and support E.

  6. Lynn Mally

    I do alterations on men’s clothes for a charity and I love, love, love the details of their construction. That split waistband in the back makes it so easy to take the pants in and out. I wear pull on pants, but it I didn’t I would definitely use that detail for my own pants.

    • fabrickated

      Good for you altering clothes for charity. I think that is worth any amount of money as it is not (to my mind) very enjoyable, and it will make a real difference to those that get clothes that fit. I am looking forward to seeing you in “the fall”.


    Oh goodness Kate. These Gus posts are so good. As one who is just getting brave enough to make stretch pants, these cords look amazing! I’m sure you’ll get the adjustments just right.

  8. Pia

    I always make the same mistake as well when I do bother with toile/muslin – ie forgetting the extra layers & thickness of the final garment fabric compared with the fit of the flimsy calico / old sheets }:-)

    Agree with Mary Funt that the seat/crotch does look a tad tight. Does it feel tight? Does the front pockets gap a little? If yes, you might want to check out Jeffery Diduch’s post on how very muscular thighs may cause tightness in the front of the thigh & in turn cause tightness in the hip & leading to front pocket gapping. He does make use of that extra allowance at CB crotch to fix this problem:

    But I wonder if this one might not also benefit from just all around letting out at seam allowances, as letting out at CB crotch may give you more hip width, but may not fix any tightness in the crotch (that might require tiny bit of letting out at thigh inseam)?

    • fabrickated

      Thanks for the feedback Pia. The pants are tight across the front, but the pockets are not gaping. I think it is mainly the pocket linings, fly etc just taking up too much space. And yes I agree that I may need to see to all the seams if the CB fix doesn’t work. I may just undo them completely and redraw all the seam lines (outside leg and CB) as well as redoing the fly.

  9. Anne

    Great job so far. I hope you can alter to fit better. I’m enjoying your Manswap posts.
    Just catching up with my blog posts. Thought I’d say congratulations on your sewing room being featured this month. Looks terrific. Might be small but is perfectly formed!

  10. Sue

    I always forget that a toile should be made with the same type of fabric as the finished garment, so frequently come unstuck in the same way. The split waistband is such a great feature of men’s trousers and I’ve never worked out why women’s wear doesn’t have it, perhaps we increase and decrease in weight in different places? The only sort of fly to use is grown on, in my view and I modify all trouser patterns to use this method. Having said all that, the trousers look wearable. Are they comfortable? Remember that corduroy stretches when worn, so they may get bigger around the seat.

  11. karen

    My only advice would be to sew the welt pockets before you sew the centre back crotch. I find that, if the pieces can be matched, one over the other, I run less risk of having an uneven looking butt. I do the same for the front pockets. I have used the video’s from MMP to assemble women’s trousers. I did eliminate the front lining as I don’t need it. The videos are a very good guide to assembling ladies trousers with a fly front.

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