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Sep 24, 2010

Mens corduroy pants -- choices, choices

Hello, friends!  Sleep well?   Much to cover so let's get started.

I bought two more yards of the cranberry corduroy.  I swung by Sil Thread -- not a very user-friendly environment, as almost nothing has a price tag on it -- and picked up the cotton topstitching version of my matching cranberry thread.  I started practicing with topstitching on the fabric -- I'm nearly sure I'll be topstitching the lapels though maybe not.  Anyway, no problems there; it did not damage the short nap.

BTW, I think I'm going to be cutting everything so the nap brushes down from the top which, based on my reading, seems to be the more popular choice, though some velvets are cut nap-up so they catch the light in a more attractive way.

Next, I went to C&C Button on 38th St. (Mainely Dad introduced me to this place) and picked up good quality hook and eyes.  I think it was like $4 for a package of ten.  Fabulous place!

I also purchased some commercial waistband interfacing in black. (I already have something from Steinlauf & Stoller in beige.  Is that what this is called?  I'm not even sure.  It combines like three different kinds of interfacing and you sew it onto your fashion fabric waistband.)

Next, I laundered and pre-shrank all my understructure fabrics -- everything.  Kenneth King, in Cool Couture says "Unless indicated, preshrinking is necessary for all understructures."  Roberto Cabrera in Classic Tailoring Techniques, however, says you don't need to preshrink the haircloth.  (This is why you CAN have too many books.)   

Whatever, it all went through the laundry and nothing looks any the worse for wear.  (Some of this stuff will be going into Michael's suit and not mine.  I'm still not sure how much understructure to add to a corduroy jacket and I think it's more a matter of taste than any hard-and-fast rule.)

My pocketing is still a little stiffer than I'd prefer but I can live with it.

What else...?

Remember those despised pleated pants that were exiled to the Land of Forbidden Clothes (otherwise known as the Salvation Army) on Wednesday?  Well, I lied; I kept them.  (I did dump a bag of Michael's clothes though.)  So yesterday I dissected them, just the way I'd dissected the jacket that went with them last month in anticipation of Michael's suit project that I swear will happen in 2010.

Friends, I cannot stress enough how much one can learn from ripping apart one's old clothes.  (Remove from body first, of course.)  Fascinating.

I know some of you would love to see the full autopsy and there are plenty more pics here for you MPB completists.

Meanwhile, readers, I haven't decided which pattern to use or whether I should use a commercial pants pattern at all.

I had originally planned on using this vintage McCall's Basile pattern (fancy!):

Then as I'm ironing it I came upon this: the dreaded front PLEAT!

I maintained my composure and considered my options.  I could: 1) pleat the paper pattern and cut the fabric in its now-narrower shape (Thanks, Michael!); 2) Use my old self-drafted pants pattern (which, you may recall, does not include seam allowances, pictured below);

...or 3) use another commercial pattern.  I have this pattern, from roughly the same era, which includes a no-pleat option.

That pattern, however, is uncut, and I don't want to cut another pattern if I don't have to.   I'll decide what to do today.  I think I can handle taking a small pleat out of a pattern, don't you?

OK, let's catch our breath for a minute; I don't want to wear you out as we still have nine days to go.

I feel cautiously optimistic about these pants.

Thank you for all your wonderful comments yesterday regarding my cranberry corduroy.  A man considering wearing a suit that color needs all the support he can get!

Hey, it's Friday, isn't it?  You're all probably easing off your week and my work is just beginning; does that sound fair?  Oh well, we can't always choose what challenges life throws our way, can we?

I'm not one to complain; Love What Is, that's what I always say!

Questions?  Comments?  Cranberry cravings?

I'm here for you!


  1. Happy to hear the pleated pants will serve *some* purpose. Enjoy your weekend of sewing!

  2. Cool deconstruction! I would go with the self-drafted pants pattern (Or at least one you've made before) for this project. Time is short, and you know that it fits well and flatters you. :)

  3. Peter, I think the self drafted pattern looks great on you, that's definitely my choice...but remember to give yourself extra room if this fabric doesn't have any stretch to it.

  4. I'd go with the pants you have already made and are comfortable in. The McCalls pattern has a lot more room in it to make the leg look in proportion to the pleated top, and you probably don't want that. The flowered ones fit you so well.

    I just love that you take the time to do it right: preshrinking and getting all the right materials. I'm really looking forward to the part where you attach the slide fastener on the waistband as I've never done that and have never seen a how-to.

  5. That's going to be a surprise for me too, Heather! ;)

  6. I really like the fit of your self drafted pants. But I think suit pants have a bit more ease than casual pants. Of course, that would be a design decision......and you do have a nifty looking tush!

  7. Woah, those pants are flared compared to your self-drafted slim pair! I really like your self-drafted pants, too. My vote is for those.

  8. As others have said, definitely use a pattern you've already used (the flowered pants pattern?), but you may want to add more ease as others have suggested. Corduroy should not be skin tight, regardless of what you might see on the street.

    Now is not the time to be trying out new patterns (9 days and counting). And are you starting the jacket soon? :-)

  9. As to pants - a really good book to have in your sewing library is David Coffin's Making Trousers for Men & Women. Perhaps you already have this one? He doesn't discuss fit at all, but provides details for construction and uses many examples from RTW, couture and custom trousers to explain/illustrate different techniques. I find it is a great resource. Of course, you have truly set a time limit here for this suit so I guess you are on the 'sprint' to get this project done vs. the 'casual stroll' enjoying the process. Good Luck! Looking forward to seeing your new Zinfadel' color suit. Just doesn't look Merlot to me ;)

  10. You could always trace your uncut pattern. I do that whenever I use a vintage pattern. I trace them on just plain old Cheapy-McCheap non-fusible interfacing. It's by far less stressful to cut out than 40 year old tissue paper.

  11. Remember that you don't have to cut your patterns to use them! I trace all of my patterns to transparent drawing paper purchased in rolls from art-supply stores (a trick I learned from a professional seamstress). Never destroy a pattern by cutting the wrong size, and never need to re-buy a pattern!

  12. Busy week so no comments from me until now. But I love the Cranberry cord! My 2 cents is to use your self-drafted pattern. First, it fits. Second, there's not much drape in corduroy - I think your self-drafted pattern is cut slimmer, even discounting that there are no SA's on the pattern, which I think suits the corduroy better (pardon the pun).

  13. The reason one book says "not necessary to pre-wash" is that the author expects you to dry clean only. Kenneth King assumes the worst. I always trust Kenneth, myself.

  14. Peter, do you have parchment paper in your kitchen? Because it makes excellent pattern tracing paper! If you don't want to cut it, trace it. And parchment paper is a lot less expensive than the commercial pattern tracing stuff. My advice is to trace it out, 'cause there just aren't that many pieces in pants, anyway, if you don't want to cut into the pattern.

  15. What shoes will you wear? ...Just planning ahead!

  16. I would go with the self-drafted pattern. You wouldn't even have to retrace it with seam allowances. Just pin to fabric and cut a seam allowance around the pattern. :) Good luck with your suit!

  17. Self-drafted pattern - go with what you know works. Especially for pants.. hardest thing to fit, so if you've got a pattern that works, use it!

  18. I'm looking forward to seeing this. I love corduroy and I sew with it quite a bit. I always cut all of my pieces so the nap brushes down. I don't recommend doing it any other way.

  19. go peter go! cut that cranberry corduroy!

  20. I agree with the others... you should use your self-drafter pattern since you know it fits. :)

  21. Fitz, that's my day in a nutshell!

    Yes, yes, I'm using the self-drafted pattern.

  22. I agree with Debbie, use the self drafted pattern. They are slim, modern and they fit. The topstitching looks great. Are you treadling this suit?

  23. Just stopping by to say a big thank you for the authopsy pics!

  24. I think that the self drafted pattern looks great. Could you recycle the pocket lining fabric from the deconstructed Barney's pair for your new trouser pockets?

  25. I'd say use the self drafted pattern to alter the uncut one. As others have said, you can always trace the pattern. When doing pattern alterations I prefer to trace anyway.

    Corduroy with the nap down not only looks tidier but wears better. Or so says one of my sewing books ;)


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