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Dec 11, 2011

Suit Pants Day 6 - Done! + Laura Mae Obsession

Friends, first the good news: the pants are done.  I hemmed them yesterday, pressed them a bit, got 80% of the dog hair off, and actually wore them out of the house. 

But you know when people say that something is more than the sum of its parts?  Well, for me, these pants are less.  I'm proud of the details -- the faux watch pocket flap (that still needs a button), the back welt pocket, the waistband -- but the pants themselves are a bit meh.

For one thing, they're a little too full in the leg for my taste.  I could probably still narrow these some if I wanted to, but is it worth it at this point?  (I'd have to let down the hems, for one thing.)  Maybe I'm just not used to the look of men's dress pants -- I mean, they do look like the pattern envelope, but please note the body proportions of those men -- they are built like Ken dolls (body length = 10 heads);  I'm built more like a Chrissy doll (body length = 5 heads).

I think a slimmer leg would be more flattering for a shorter-than-average guy like me.  The question is, how much more flattering?  I mean, they're worsted wool dress pants, to be worn with a suit jacket.  They're supposed to flow a bit, right?  Plus, these don't have a sharp front crease yet; maybe that will make a difference.   They could also use another pressing and de-linting. 

Anyway, I'm ready to move on.  Or not.

I think for my next pair of dress pants, I'm going to skip commercial patterns and draft the whole thing myself, using Jane Rhinehart's OOP, How to Make Men's Clothes or the Cabrera/Meyers Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men's Wear, or Knowles' The Practical Guide to Patternmaking for Fashion Designers: Menswear, all of which I already own, and what's the point of owning them if I'm not going to use them?

I've noticed that of the five or so men out there making our own pants and talking about it, nobody's using commercial patterns except me.  Maybe they know something I don't.

Not to sound snobby or anything, but the McCall's instructions really don't cut it, not for dress pants.  I mean, they instruct you to make the waistband in one piece and add elastic for additional snugness.  No joining two waistband halves at the back center seam, no waistband facings, no crotch reinforcement -- nothing.  Right now, however, I need to decide whether to leave these finished pants alone or fiddle with them some more.  I think I need a pants-free day or two to decide, don't you?  Maybe I'll feel differently.

I know it sounds hackneyed, but making these pants has been a valuable learning experience and, hey, in the worst case I lost, what, a week of my life?  I could have wasted that watching Battle of the Network Stars.  (Wait: I think I lost that week already, sometime back in the mid-Seventies.)  Anyway, you get my point.  This will only make me a better sewer, if a slightly more frustrated one today.

But enough about me.  How are you, and are you reading vintage sewer extraordinaire Laura Mae's blog, Lilacs & Lace, my new obsession?  Laura Mae's blog is new enough that I was able to read every single post, which I did last night.

I don't know Laura Mae personally, of course, though she did recently leave a comment on my Snoods -- Yea or Nay post (she was a Yea).  I'm going to violate the terms of her blog and post a photo without her permission, only to prove that LM is a dead ringer for the late Jennifer Jones (with whom she shares a strikingly similar wardrobe), a young Shirley Jones, AND an adult Shirley Temple.  If Laura Mae's last name is Jones and she goes to temple, I wouldn't be a bit surprised. 

Jennifer Jones
Shirley Jones
Laura Mae
Shirley Temple

Laura Mae also knits, dyes, and finishes all her seams with Hug Snug rayon seam binding.  And she owns a chihuahua!  What's not to love?

Like my cousin Cathy, Laura Mae isn't afraid to wear true tea length and she carries it off with aplomb.  WARNING: Laura Mae's posts are often peppered with phrases like For an evening at the symphony earlier this year, I made up this Vogue Couturier pattern...  This is not a woman sitting home nights watching re-runs of Jersey Shore.  

And now I must get on with my day and perhaps obsess over my pants some more.  I wonder what Laura Mae's up to...

Have a great day everybody!


  1. Peter: You look GORGEOUS in those pants! I agree, next time you tailor pants, you could make them a smidge slimmer - I mean, you are very slim! But for a first effort - hell, for a 10th effort - I think they look great.

  2. On the pants: I wouldn't do any fiddling, at least not with the garment. They look smart on you, I think a suit's jacket will do a lot to finish it off great.

    Fiddling around doesn't do it for me mostly. Most times it just gets worse.

    But that's just my 2p.

  3. The trousers look great! I think it would be really great if you drafted your next pair--I'm really curious how it is done! And I agree about Laura Mae's blog--I just love all her creations!!

  4. Peter, I think you did a great job on the pants and they look fine. If you wanted, next time you might peg the legs a bit, but for wearing with a jacket I think they're great.

    And I'm totally with you as far as self-drafting; having an unlikely body myself (tall, very long waisted, big around and legs on the short side) it's the only way I can get pants that really fit. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

  5. Peter,
    You clean up good!! I think you look good in your pants. Maybe having them pressed at a dry cleaners will help with your feelings about them?

  6. I completely agree with the other posters. The pants look great. They are perfect for when you have to look professional and conservative. Maybe not an every week, or even an every month occasion, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And these pants are perfect for that.

  7. Don't touch those pants! I think they need time in the magic closet. They look professional, tailored, and well-fitted. In sum, smashing. Beautiful work.

  8. Try having your photo taken from slightly below to mimic the perspective of the (unrealistic body shape) drawings on the pattern envelope.

  9. I ran into the too full leg when shopping for dress pants for myself yesterday...and I am a girl. I am just so used to jeans anymore that they felt huge. But, I have to say dear Peter that I think those trousers look absolutely wonderful on you and are not too loose in the let. My New Years resolution is to draft a pair of pants that actually fit and I am a fitting nightmare. Pants and I have a love/hate relationship as far as sewing.

    Good luck to both of us. Again, they look fantastic on you.

  10. They look really great on, but they don't particularly seem like you. Keep them in the back of your closet. If you decide to, say, run for political office, you can wear them to the debate.

  11. Your trousers are beautiful! They fit you well and I don't see that they need any narrowing. Please enjoy them as a job well done!
    I've had a girl crush on Laura Mae since I caught a glimpse of her award-winning Ceil Chapman dress, and I too had to go back and read her enitre blog. She's not just creating exquisite vintage style garments, she also wears them with all the grace and elegance they deserve. And she looks so natural in them!

  12. I think they are awesome! So, the style is a little fuller than you like. I agree that a nice crease might help them look just enough snazzier than they already are.

  13. The trousers are terrific. They have a decidedly tailored aesthetic. Peter, you done good; and thanks again for showing the man with the mustard sweater draped about his shoulders (Mmmmmmmmm!!!!! I'm a puddle of lust, lust I tell you!).

    [The puddle evaporates into a cloud of envy.]

    NOT LAURA MAE!!! Ya know she just bagged prizes and fame over at Threads magazine's website from a Bernina contest. BERNINA!

    Her clothes, her face, her hair, her life (her waistline is intentionally omitted from this list), all enviable. Now you tell us she has a blog, too.

    Taking deep cleansing breathes,


  14. The style these days for men's trousers is very narrow and maybe that's why you are feeling meh about them. But, lets face it you did use a vintage pattern when men wore their pants much fuller. I think that women's wear and men's shirts are easier to wear vintage than men's pants. Pants have a very definite shape and fullness that changes by decade. You did a wonderful job on the details and that is as you say, a learning experience. You will probably be much happier with your own draft.

  15. Oh my goodness - Peter, you just made my day! Being mentioned by Mr. Lappin is a true honor.

    I have heard the Shirley Jones comparison quite a few times (probably because I performed in Music Man and Oklahoma) but Jennifer and Shirley are new. Anyone who thinks I resemble a Hollywood icon is okay in my book!

    By the way, you look very dapper in your new pants. I think we need to go to the theatre together, with Cathy and Michael, dressed to the nines! And maybe we can smuggle the pups in as well – ‘Tino has a tux in his wardrobe that would be perfect for the occasion. :)

    P.S. I have been known to indulge in “junk” television like The Bachelor, but I usually have a pair of knitting needles in my hands and a cup of tea close by.

  16. Those pants are FINE, Peter. You just don't wear stuff like that very often!

    Laura Mae does have a classic Forties film-star face. No wonder she can wear vintage Ceil Chapman designs with so much panache!

  17. The pants look fine and the material hasn't 'settled' into it's new shape yet. Anyway if they do turn out to be a bit loose they could be your warmer weather pants with a little more 'air circulation' room around the important places so you don't become too hot. Look for positives as you've done a terrific job making them.

  18. These are fantastic trousers and they look really great on you--smart, classic and a nice clean line! I wouldn't mess with them at all. It'd definitely be fun to watch you draft trousers in the future. I loved how you compared all kinds of shirt fits last year. My narrow, tall husband loves and looks fab in a slimmer cut of suits that seems to be regional (i.e., not Austin) and more common in Europe. I so want to see him in a Tom Ford suit!

  19. Your pants look really wonderful and I like them as they are. It's definitely a different look with the extra bit of fullness.
    Thanks for pointing out the lovely Laura Mae, I am headed over there now to see more!

  20. the pants looks WOW! You might be thinking "meh" but you're way off the mark.

  21. I think your pants look terrific, great job. I dont think you should change them at all

  22. I think those pants are perfect and look fabulous on you! As in perfect! Really, an amazing fit. Of course, if you want to look emo, you could slim the legs down a little bit.... ;)

  23. Congrats on finishing your pants! I must say that I agree that they are a little meh. I just don't love the style. Great construction, but the fit is a bit baggy in the leg *and* the groin/crotch/abdomen area. I dunno, perhaps I've fallen for the slim cut pant look.

    Have fun drafting your own pattern!

  24. I think the pants look darn good.
    Pin or chalk stripe fabrics aren't as versatile as say a solid or herringbone because they really look best with a matching suit jacket. It's a very corporate look.Having said that, if you were to make a jacket to go with the trousers you would have a great suit and I think all men should own a couple of suits. There's nothing that makes a man more handsome than a well tailored suit.

  25. I think your trousers look wonderful. And your work is beautiful. I'm totally impressed.

  26. The trousers look great, Peter. As others said, it's most likely that you are not used to wearing that cut. I live in jeans, and I think dress slacks feel strange when I wear them. And having the crease pressed in would add another vertical line, so perhaps you wouldn't think them quite so baggy once that is done.

  27. Isn't Laura Mae a delight? I've been a so impressed with her since she first popped up on - I don't think she's created a single thing that isn't incredibly beautiful and skillfully made. So glad she's getting the attention she deserves! Go Laura Mae! :D

  28. Peter, I think those pants look fabulous on you! However, if they aren't something you'll wear, I'd say fiddle with them a little more--I find it depressing to make something and then never wear it. (of course I also find it torture to re-do the seams I just finished, so who am I to talk?!) :)

  29. I agree with most other posters. Your trousers look great. They are supposed to fit like that. If you just press a good crease down the front, that will take care of your feeling they are too full. That up and down crease will draw the eye up and down. Magic.

    I certainly wouldn't worry about the dog hair. Your doggies will obviously replace it as soon as you get it all off. Just keep one of those sticky rollers around to get the worst of it off.

    You'll be so pleased when you've drafted a pair of pants to your own measurements, using the professional directions. The first time I did that for a man with a very athletic figure, I was amazed at how well they fit the first try-on. Have fun with it!

  30. I'm with all the above! The suit pants look good, they have a classic line which will only be set off to perfection with a jacket. Excellent work once again Peter, you are a true inspiration.

  31. Congratulations! I think the pants are awesome! I wouldn’t change a thing. They seem to fit you quite well. I think you’re just not used to wearing Savile Row-type tailored clothes. A good pressing at the dry cleaners will finish them off perfectly!

  32. They're bespoke! You look like a British banker. Not meh, tres elegante.

  33. Take the trousers to your neighborhood dry cleaner and ask for "press only" and the cleaner will lock in a razor's edge crease. Trousers without a crease always make the legs look too wide.


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