sew + tell: tuxedo stripe hollywood trousers

Visiting us today from our Advisors Circle is Erica who has stopped by with her Teaching a Child to Sew with Girl on the Go and her Neighborhood Sweatshirt. Now she’s here to tell us all about her latest make. Take it away Erica!

Liesl + Co. Hollywood Trousers

Project details
Pattern: Liesl + Co. Hollywood Trousers

Fabric used:

I used a navy wool gabardine. I found it in a wool suiting clearance section and chose it for having great drape.

I could have made a simple pair of navy trousers which would coordinate with nearly every top I own, but I decided to customize it with a “tuxedo stripe” down the side seams. I had this project in mind when I was recently in London for a quick professional trip and noticed I was a few minutes walking distance away from the ribbon store, VV Rouleaux. There I found several wonderful ribbon options and settled on this sporty, stretch knit stripe. I wanted to customize a pair of trousers that I could wear with both heels and sneakers.

Liesl + Co. Hollywood Trousers

Did the fabric work well?

Absolutely. I wanted a pair of dressy track pants. I noticed that wool gabardine is conveniently wrinkle resistant. Wool and striped ribbon were exactly what I had in mind. It is not always easy to have a vision for the materials and then be able to find them.

Liesl + Co. Hollywood Trousers

How did the sewing go?

I had never sewn a pair of fitted trousers before this pattern. I’m more a pointe knit, or pajama pants, or mock-fly/elastic-waist kind of sewer, because I know there is enough stretch or ease built into those styles that I don’t have to fuss much (or at all) with fit. Also, in over thirty years of sewing clothes for myself, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I had made a muslin for fitting purposes only. I had endlessly heard this advice, but now I feel empowered truly appreciating the benefits of not skipping this step. My best advice for this pattern: make a muslin. I used some discount quilting cotton that had been in my stash since the 1980s.

To make a muslin, it took me about 20 minutes to sew two back darts, piece together four leg pieces, and roughly press the seams. I used long basting stitches to make this step even faster; I didn’t even change the presser foot to machine-baste a short zipper into one of the seams; I then ripped open the stitches under the zipper, and voila, I could try the pattern for fit. As I predicted—given that I often struggle to find ready-to-wear pants that fit well—I wanted to make some adjustments to the rise. My first muslin tugged in some areas and wrinkled with excess fabric in others. I consulted Pants for Real People, by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto to learn what these wrinkles were telling me about the fit, and I found some online content as well to help guide me to adjust the back pant rise area on the pattern. The original front fit me well, and I also kept the original leg width. I made a final muslin to confirm that I was satisfied with my adjustments before cutting into my wool fabric. I followed along on Liesl’s sew-along, and the sewing was a breeze.

Liesl + Co. Hollywood Trousers

What was the best part?

This was a great learning experience resulting in a versatile addition to my wardrobe. It matches my Neighborhood Sweatshirt, and several sweaters, tees, and blouses already in my closet. This pair of pants feels comfortable because they fit me! I’m between sizes on the size chart, and I sized up this time because I wanted sporty trousers with a lot of drape. I would choose the smaller size if I was using a stiffer fabric (denim!), and now I know exactly how to alter the back rise. I took more time to work out the fit than I actually spent sewing the pants, but l enjoyed learning how to achieve a custom fit and now feel I have new skills I can use again.


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  1. Ava

    Wow!! These look fantastic. Could you describe the fit changes you had to do, I’m thinking my wider hip and rise issues might be the same. They fit amazing

    1. Erica

      Thanks, Ava! I did a mild “swayback” alteration. I cut along the “lengthen or shorten line” (which is marked on the pattern) starting from the center back seam all the way to 1/2-inch (the seam allowance) away from the outer hip seam. I then lengthened/stretched open the pattern 3/8-inch to make the back rise longer. However, I didn’t want the back waistband to be that much higher, so I made another horizontal slice near the top (through the dart) and shrank back down the waistline 2/8-inches. These minor changes gave me just a tiny bit more room to feel comfortable, so I wouldn’t have to choose undergarments so specifically every time I wore these trousers. According to some online instructions I found, I also was supposed to alter the front for a true swayback, but I didn’t. Try a muslin first without any alterations. Start with your hip measurement to pick your pattern size, and you might like the fit as is!

  2. Lisa

    These look great! Very sporty and fun, yet with plenty of options for professional or fancy wear. Nice job!

  3. Elena Sola

    Your trousers look flawless. Did you place the striped elastic directly over the side seam then top stitch it down?

    1. Erica

      Thank you! Yes, that is exactly what I did. Before I attached the waistband, I topstitched the woven trim using the side seam as my guide. I didn’t center the trim over the seam. I placed one edge of the trim exactly over the seam, so the trim is more on the front leg side. I thought it would be easier to line up straight this way. Hope you can try it, too!

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