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Jan 24, 2021

All My Pants or "Life at Max-Slacks"

Friends, I so enjoyed inventorying my outerwear a few weeks ago that I've decided to continue the process.

Today, it's pants.  Included here are the roughly 25 pair of pants I currently own.  Ninety percent of them I made myself, but there are a few ready-to-wear pants here as well.  Similar to my outerwear wardrobe, some of these things I wear all the time, others almost never (for reasons I'll explain).  While I'm including short pants here, I'm not including flight suits/coveralls/jumpsuits or athletic gear like running shorts.

Now, I don't know if this is a guy-thing or not, but when I'm home I tend to wear the same two or three pairs of pants nearly every day till they need laundering.  These tend to be the most comfortable pants I own, the ones that go with just about everything, and which I don't mind wearing out at the knee since I spend a fair amount of my sewing time on my knees tracing patterns and cutting fabric.  So let's get started.  

I bought these khaki-colored Levi's (from their lower-priced Signature line) on Amazon.  They're a 30" inseam but I shortened them a few inches and for some reason I chose to leave the extra fabric instead of finishing them like jeans.  They are the most durable pants I've ever owned and go with almost everything and they are, without a doubt, the pants I wear most often.  I wish I'd made them myself but I didn't.

I did make these jeans, however.  They're selvage jeans and I used a pattern from one of my Japanese men's pattern books.  I wear them frequently but not when I have to work on my hands and knees, so they still look good.  Not the most exciting pants, perhaps, but when I need a pair of plain indigo jeans, I usually reach for these.

I found these sturdy black (now gray) selvage jeans at the Salvation Army.  They were made by some fancy Brooklyn-based company and they're beautifully put together.  I've worn them a lot and they definitely look it; in fact the crotch is starting to fray so I'll have to do something about that.

I bought these Levi 514's used on eBay. They're another pair I reach for regularly when I'm working at home.  

As you can see, three of the four pairs of pants I wear most frequently are ready-to-wear. Moving right along...

These navy cotton twill pants are actually part of a suit I made summer of 2014, using Kwik Sew 3504 (a jeans pattern; I removed the back yoke and added darts). They fit extremely well and are sort of casual dress pants.  I wear them a lot.

I made these white linen pants in 2013 and I still wear them!  Linen is extremely durable and these have held up exceedingly well (the fabric was from Mood).  I've even repaired them a few times here and there.  I could probably use a new pair of the these, though not urgently.

These dark gray dress pants are part of a ready-to-wear suit I picked up online a few years ago. I shortened and cuffed them myself last year to give them a hipper "highwater" look.  They could use a pressing but I do like them. I wear the pants more than the suit jacket.

Over the years I've sewn a lot of what you might call "statement" pants.  I love them all to varying degrees but, as you can guess, they don't get worn all that often since they're so unusual.  They don't go with everything and they're not suitable for every occasion.  Still, I'm happy to have them in my wardrobe.

I made these fabulous abstract floral pants in 2009 and I'd say I wear them 2-3 times a year and I still get compliments on them.  I bought the fabric in the Garment District for $2/yd, which is all I used to pay for fabric when I first started sewing  The fabric came interfaced so they're quite sturdy and I like the fit.  Pretty remarkable when pants last 12 years!


I drafted these floral linen pants myself.  The only problem is that the linen is upholstery weight and thus rather heavy.  The palette and the weight make them not very summery somehow.


I made these stars and stripes pants using vintage cotton canvas I found at the flea market.  They're super fun and great for July 4th but not much else.  I have a matching jean jacket which is easier to wear.

I love these African wax print pants, which I made using a pants pattern from one of my Japanese men's pattern books (Men's Clothes For All Seasons).  They're very comfortable but not the kind of thing you wear every day, naturally.


These are from the same Japanese pants pattern.  I found this cool Marimekko panel print at the flea market.  The image is a photograph of a field of grain.  I love these pants and only wish the fabric was a little heavier (it's more like quilting cotton -- barely pants-weight).

I made this suit from a vintage Seventies bedsheet I found at the Salvation Army.  I drafted the pants myself.  I probably wear this suit once a year and it always gets compliments.  One of my all-time favorite outfits.

I made these leopard-print pants from cotton velour and, truthfully, I hardly ever wear them.  I was copying a pair of Givenchy men's leopard-print pants I saw in a magazine ad.  I really should have half-lined them and I suppose I still could, as the fabric isn't super sturdy.  I learned from these that I'm not really an animal print kind of guy.

These multi-paneled pants were a project for a men's patternmaking class I took at FIT.  I made them in cotton muslin and I still have all the pattern pieces: very complicated to construct as all the buttons are functional: you can take the sections apart if you wish to.  Fun!

These cotton chinos are actually Lanvin--Michael found them at the Salvation Army.  They fit nicely and are beautifully made pants but I hardly wear them: they need careful ironing and I'm a little lazy.

I made these jeans from a pale raspberry cotton twill.  They're good for spring and summer.  I don't like how the side pockets bulge a bit but I live with it.

These cotton khakis are from the Gap: a store was closing near me, they were at least 75% off, hence a total impulse purchase.  I shortened them and I think I may have gone a little too far.  They're stretch cotton and I don't love the feel of stretch fabrics: they're hot imo.  These might have to go.

Let's move on to shorts.


In summertime, I practically live in the linen shorts above, one greenish yellow (very faded) and one gray, and which I made a few years back from the same vintage McCall's John Weitz pattern (5946).  Easy to make and easy to wear.  I'm sure I'll be whipping up another pair sometime soon. 

These toile de jouy shorts used to be long pants which got badly stained.  I love the fabric but they're a bit too snug just about everywhere.  I keep them mostly for old time's sake.

These denim-colored cotton-linen shorts also used to be long pants.  I never wore them when they were long (too baggy) so I thought they'd work better as shorts.  Kind of boring but functional.

I designed these blank ponte shorts myself and I like them a lot.  For some reason I rarely wear them but maybe this coming spring/summer.  Very soft and comfy.  They look quite chic here with dark socks and black shoes.

These white twill shorts were a wearable muslin for the indigo denim selvage jeans I made.  They're okay; I sometimes wear them.

These linen print shorts go with a shirt I made for Michael a long time ago.  I keep them for sentimental reasons mostly.

Occasionally I wear these cotton Thai fisherman pants on summer vacations.  Not really my style I've learned.

Friends, I forgot a couple of pairs:

These mustard organic cotton twill jeans are pretty nice.  Haven't worn them lately but I used to a lot.

I wore these silver metallic jeans a few times when I first made them (in 2015) but not much since.  They're very synthetic-feeling, not very warm, and simply too flashy to wear often.  They're nicely made and I'll keep them for now.

Believe it or not that's it.  There are many pants I've made (jeans especially) that I simply wore out: like I said, I tend to favor a couple of pants and wear them to death.

As you can see, I really don't need any more pants.  Archiving them here has helped me to recognize how much I already have and maybe try to get more use out of them: they all still fit (miraculously).  If nothing else, they're pleasant reminders of past sewing projects.

How about you?  Do you have a wardrobe of patterned pants that don't get much use during these days of pandemics and home quarantines?  Let's hope for better days ahead.

Happy sewing, everybody!

Nearly forgot these black cotton gauze fisherman pants! (part of an ensemble I made two years ago)


  1. Love your special occasion pants. but like you, I wear the boring ones most. Don't think it's a man thing, although I might be odd, as I also wear pants until they need washing. I have more winter pants because it takes longer to dry them, both because of the weather and because the fabric is heavier. Only a couple of pairs of pants for mild days and shorts for hot days. A few for wearing out that I can't fit into at the moment because of covid calories. 🤪🤣

  2. i love ALL your "statement" pants, and i especially have long loved your floral suit. i'm with you on "wearing pants until they need to be laundered" - especially now during Covid Times.

  3. I thought those silver pants were the most flattering pant you ever made. They showcased your athleticism, to the casual on-looker they screamed "the trust fund is far from empty", and they were delightfully unexpected.

    How much swap-scotch goes on between you and Michael with clothing? Requested pieces from time to time, or whom ever dives into the clean clothes mountain first? If the latter, how competitive is Sonia?

    1. Michael is a little taller and a little bigger in the waist but we can share a number of things. Usually before he or I gets rid of something we check with the other to see if he wants it. The silver pants are in Michael's closet at the moment. He doesn't wear them much either.

  4. I love the silver ones too. The selvage denim are my all time favorites, though the bed sheet suit is pretty damn phenomenal. The lengths look strange to me though I know they have been trending for a while and then I realized- I’ve been very good at quarantining and mostly see live peoples heads in cars, not feet. Rural America.

    1. Barbara, aren't we always on the same page? The bed sheet suit - and he wore it to a wedding!

      Now onto minutiae of merit: Do you think that the inauguration poetess has started bright woolen coats as a trend for next winter? Her yellow coat could just as easily have been marigold or tomato red.

      Are we at a fashion junction, where there is a departure brewing, the kind which almost overnight makes hats & gloves disappear? Feathered hairstyles get spikey, stacked, or severe? I think vibrant colors are going to ramp up (Jill was no shrinking violet). What do the tea leaves in "The Showell Bowl" say?

      Hemlines are another story, perhaps a bit higher, with the adjunct of fringe to restore the silhouette, virtue, or both.

      As for shoes, T-straps may move into the mainstream as a sensible alternative to pumps. Peep toe may be played out. Perhaps Earth Shoes 2.0? Who can say?

      Color me semi-suburban, and I'm equally out-of-touch with style, fashion, trends, and the nuances of knowing what's next.

  5. They are all great. I really understand the "jeans" thing. After years of not wearing jeans this year I'm back in them...and remembering why I really lived in them for so long. I don't like the stretch ones either, they feel odd and they bag out very fast.
    -Will C.

  6. Hello, from Spain. Great collection of trousers, but as I have been watching them, one question has appeared in my mind: why do you make all of the long ones, short? From my humble point of view (so, please, dont be offended by my comment) they look shortish. But I am surprised, because I know you are very skilled in measuring and fitting, so I am wondering if I am wrong, and may be I can learn something... Thanks for your answer! Greetings

    1. Bego, the pant's length issue is something I struggle with. First, I think the photos exaggerate the pants' shortness because of the angle but yes, they are on the short side. Here in New York City this has been the trend for the last few years (if you Google designer Thom Browne you'll see what I mean: he's suits are super-short, though many will wear them longer than he shows them). Being on the short side myself, I have always felt that a slightly shorter hem was much more flattering than pants that were longer. My body type is also a bit on the "gamin" side so I tend toward more boyish silhouettes. But I often go back and forth. A lot depends too on what shoe I'm wearing and the season: with a sandal and no socks in the summer, I usually prefer a shorter hem (though not always). Same goes for the overall "look" I'm going for. Hope that helps! :)

  7. I do have a wardrobe of "Happy Pants." I wear them in regular rotation ... don't live in a place where I get seen very often, so am free to amuse myself with my wardrobe choices.

    Sadly / happily I have lost enough weight in the past year (sadly for my wardrobe, happily for my health) that none of my clothing fits very well at all. Am plugging away at altering my favorites where I can, replacing them when necessary.

    In answer to a question you posed in a previous post, people DO appreciate hand-made items at Goodwill and other thrift stores. I glom onto hand-knitted and well-made home-crafted items more often than not, when thrifting. The things I make and donate don't stay on the racks very long, either.

  8. There are certainly some attention grabbing pants in your wardrobe. I think the selvedge jeans are my favorite, though a bit short for my taste. IMHO most of your pants are 2-4 inches too short. And those statement pants would not set hanger in my closet. I'm NOT criticizing your choices - I admire that you were bold enough to make those fabric choices! I've had bad fashion experiences which greatly affect my opinion on things like suitable fabrics and length for pants. You did a great job on the pants & shorts you've sewn.

  9. Great document!

    In reply to one of your comments: I like pants to end on, as in lying on, the shoes, and also think that would lengthen your silhouette. But hey fashion, right :)

    Some shorter to pair with higher shoes like the photo of the mustard one, bit then covering/matching socks are a must, or no socks and short for a truly summery feel, maybe like the Gap one?

    And the bedsheet: wow, did you interface that whole fabric?? Spectacular!

    I only wear black ponte "yoga pants" in different shapes, tbh. Comfort is everything, this started since the C-section I had, and ever since since I developed a chronic illness due to Lyme and co-infections. If I am honest the extra weight/inches around my waist don't help either. :(

  10. I love the African wax print trousers, they look so 3 dimensional. I like the length of your trousers (sorry, British, can't call them pants!) And the floral linen shorts that go with Michael's shirt are great. Lovely fabric.
    But maybe you should give a load away that you hardly wear and give yourself the excuse to make another dozen new pairs!

  11. And wouldn't you know it, the Google ad on the end is for "The Last Pair of Sweats You'll Ever Buy".
    I really appreciate the 'what I wear and why I don't' posts. I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who has made a pair of anything that really only gets one wear a year, and yet survives the purge. That one wear (the silver jeans specifically) is really worth it. I am still surprised at how well the bedsheet suit has held up; I'm guessing it has the regular amount of structure built in, but it lays perfectly, there's no struggle between layers or fabric types, no puckering or stressing.
    Thom would say they are all too long.

  12. Honestly, if not for the bolder prints, I couldn't tell apart what you'd sewn vs what you'd bought. What an accomplishment.

  13. I haven't been to your blog in too long! This was a fun post to come back to. I definitely have too many weird print dresses, but I'm still figuring out pants. I think I only ever made one pair fully, and they ironically are a floral stripe, very psychedelic. Have you ever done fall-front or sailor-style pants (with the buttons at the side seams?) I find them very comfortable and something a little different.

  14. When life gives you fabric... make pants! Awesome job Peter!


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