Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Japanese trousers

Hello! How is everyone enjoying October?
This month has gone by in a veritable whirlwind, with typically unpredictable British weather to boot. Torrential rain one moment, freezing cold evenings or bursts of bright sun the next, it's been best characterised by a rather flat grey light throughout. I've been too busy to go out into my garden for the past two months, and it's a jungle out there still! The jasmine and nasturtiums have gone mad; the fruit bushes have withered away; but I was surprised to see clusters of calendula and poppies still going strong so late into the year.

During a quiet moment this week, I finally managed to sew up these trousers, made from linen that's been hanging around since April. This is my second attempt at sewing a variation of the 'Z Trousers' from Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori. Alterations were adding a fly front, pockets, waistband and darts to what were essentially linen jogging bottoms.

I'd intended my first version (project link - to my old blog) to be cycle-friendly trousers. This was because at that point, all the trousers I owned were 1940s-style wide-legged ones, which weren't great on the bike. Sadly though, the cute details I'd included like the ankle vents and loose ankle cuffs turned out to be very cycle-unfriendly: my pedals frequently got caught in them. Also, linen isn't actually that great for cycling in the heat. Though extremely absorbent, it has no moisture-wicking properties so I often found myself dismounting with trousers that were still holding onto perspiration!

Other faults were the side-entry pockets, which frequently bagged out unattractively; and my failing to use interfacing at stress points. I was happy to be able to correct all this with the second pair: adding interfacing in the ankle cuffs, waistband and fly; and changing to sloping pockets cut into the waistband, with the pocket bags extending into the waist to hold them in place. Basically, treating the trousers more like tailored trousers despite the casual feel that they have.

Despite all these faults, my first pair of Z trousers were a firm favourite over the summer, and in fact became my go-to trousers to wear. They've actually become quite faded and worn, although the linen has reacted well to frequent washing, becoming extremely soft. I was pleased to finally be able to make a second pair, correcting some of my poor decision-making from the first pair. I like how the cut is practical but a  little bit quirky: I don't really see other women wearing this sort of thing. 

I thought that I was going to have difficulty in choosing a button, but in the end simplicity sufficed. A plain black fly button was all that was needed. The contrast in the horizontal bands is also pleasing.

I finished the insides beautifully: matching pocket and fly linings, a little overlocking where needed, and French seams everywhere else. I love French seams, they're definitely my go-to choice for a seam for the strength and neatness in one. It only works after you're confident in the fit, though.

The insides are completed by a seamstress-worthy hanging loop in a deliciously contrasting yellow.

My fly piece should really be narrower, but it's not the end of the world. I used this tutorial from Grainline Studios, which does one step in a slightly different order than I'm accustomed to. It's a good method. 

This pair of trousers is still somewhat imperfect. I added darts instead of gathers, and I think that the trouser front looks good; but there's something to be desired about the dart placement over the bum. My pattern placement is also not quite 100% there; but in person, the stripes are somewhat of an optical illusion, so I don't really mind.

It'd great to add another pair of comfortable linen trousers into the rotation, so that I can give the first pair a bit of a break! Until it gets really cold, these are fine to wear in the autumnal weather with a thin pair of thermal leggings layered underneath. 

Project details:
Japanese trousers
Modifications: Raising the rise; adding waist darts, pockets and a fly front
Fabric: stripe cotton/linen blend from Fabric House, Goldhawk Road
Cost: less than £10 for the striped fabric, everything else from my stash. 

What's your go-to pattern for loungewear that's worthy of leaving the house in?