Refashion Friday: Refashioning a botched project Alternate Title: Linen pants from hell!

I am a self-taught sewer. Which means a whole lot of trial and error. I am also concerned about the welfare of the planet. Which means I feel guilty about excessive errors that waste fabric.

I made this pair of linen pants a year or so ago, during the summer. I think I had some kind of delusions of resort wear — wide legged, high-waisted pants looked really nice on runway photos I saw, and very comfortable/glamorous/sexy without being sexy.

Unfortunately, I am missing about 4 inches from my torso to be able to pull off this look. In fact, genetics played a silly joke on me, in that my entire body is balanced, from head to toe, except my torso, which is balanced to itself (even distributed top and bottom halves around the narrowest point of my waist) but missing 2 inches from each half relative to the rest of my body. This makes me look like I have “perfect” proportions, and allows for a pretty defined waist, but makes me 5’5″ instead of 5’9″. So my modeling career was ruined before it began. I’m heartbroken, can’t you tell? (Hah.)

All of this means that high-waisted, wide-legged pants look TERRIBLE but there’s a reason I thought they should look good, other than wishful thinking. If my torso were as long as it looks like it should be, I’d be fine. Alas.

For more information about proportions, this site has some great reads about the science behind proportions and fit. It’s really neat, and I appreciate that she goes a great deal of depth and doesn’t get obsessive about “perfection.”

On to the pants!

Not only did I make the waist pretty high to begin with, I also messed up the crotch length.

It's looow.

It’s looow. Also, in this picture, the waistband is folded over. It’s really wide.

And there’s a lot of extra room. I often overestimate my waist size by a significant margin.

What are these, fabulous Hulk pants?

What are these, fabulous Hulk pants?

But I still want linen pants! Out of an obnoxious fabric, no less! I just need to lower the waist dramatically, and that’ll look fine. The crotch curve actually fits pretty nicely.

Of course, now the waistline is almost at my boobs... But the butt looks fine. (Sorry for the blurry photo... I had another one but my computer inexplicably ate it.)

Of course, now the waistline is almost at my boobs… But the butt looks fine.
(Sorry for the blurry photo… I had another one but my computer inexplicably ate it.)

Unfortunately, it’s linen, and my lame self didn’t know you’re supposed to bind edges. Of linen.

So after a year of sitting in a box, the insides looked rather like this:



Sometimes I wish I had an overlock machine. Ok, most of the time.

Undaunted, I set to work. I detached the (really wide) waistband, thinking I’d make cuffs for the legs (raising the low crotch obviously raises the leg hems a great deal). Then I figured I’d cut off the excess fabric at the top, cut fly pieces out of that fabric, and make a zipper fly.

Such a wide waistband!

Such a wide waistband!

That didn’t happen.

It was a good idea — the excess room in the waist meant I could have trimmed the front fabric into the shape of fly extensions, interfaced it, cut the extra pieces, the whole nine yards.

But I’ve only done one other front fly (I was proud of figuring it out myself until I learned recently that I did it completely and totally wrong), and the fabric frays so badly that there is no way I was going to try a new technique on it.

Just as well; I ended up taking the pants apart entirely, flat-felling the legs (unfortunately, they twist a bit, as year-ago me had no concept of cutting on the grain — no helping that now) and resewing the crotch seam with plans to apply bias tape.

Unfortunately, this cursed fabric also frays so badly that the bias tape pulls right off.

You'll have to take my word for it, but I swear I sewed that binding on correctly and it pulled right off.

You’ll have to take my word for it, but I swear I sewed that binding on correctly and it pulled right off.

Which meant that I had to french seam it. I thought about just making the seam on the outside, but couldn’t quite bring myself to be that lazy. So I unpicked the bias tape, unpicked the seam again, turned it to the right side and made my (gargantuan, ungraceful) french seam.

Here’s how much it frayed just by unpicking the seam.



So the crotch is not quite the right size anymore, having been taken apart, resewn as closely as possible to the seam but not quite there, then taken apart again, resewn at a larger SA and french seamed. But it’s still pretty good.

Phew! Almost done now, all I need to do is finish the waistband.

Which, unfortunately, I also applied bias tape to. So I unpicked that, with much sighing.

I did a very simple waistband; the first version’s was a fancy, separate folded waistband, but I decided to just fold down the excess to the inside, fold it under, and stitch this time around. Which would be easy, except for the fact that I don’t have an iron.

I know. I’m kicking myself.

But eventually, with the help of a bone folder (luckily, linen creases pretty easily) lots of swearing, breaks, beers, and watching of Invader Zim, I managed to pull off a halfway decent waistband and threaded the drawstring through. Not before having to unpick and then resew part of the center back waistband, as it inexplicably blocked the drawstring. For now, I’m leaving the drawstring on the inside because I don’t have matching heavy yellow thread to make buttonholes through which to push the drawstring to the front. I considered adding eyelets but the last package I bought had an odd number and I have exactly one eyelet. Sigh.

Luckily, I had done a pretty wide hem on the legs, so was able to just unpick those and redo them much smaller and they were still a decent length. I know graceful lounge pants are supposed to fall at the heel, not the ankle, to elongate the leg, but I go barefoot a lot and almost never wear heels (sprain-prone ankles). I might end up adding cuffs from the waistband fabric, but not today.

Are they my favorite project? No. Am I going to wear them? Yes. Just not like whatever supermodel/celebrity I thought I was when I first made them.

I'm going to wear them like a hippie.

I’m going to wear them like a hippie. (Ignore the stuff on the floor please.)

And this is how I assume whatever supermodel/tabloid fodder celebrity I was thinking would look good in these pants would accessorize them, as they disdainfully stare down the paparazzi. Including the grainy, low quality of a candid celebrity photo. Heh.

My semi-sincere apologies to any tabloid regulars who may have happened upon this site.

My semi-sincere apologies to any tabloid regulars who may have happened upon this site. Yes, I’m making fun of you… but it’s mostly affectionate.

It was a lot of work this week, and a lot of frustration for a simple (if obnoxious) pair of linen pants. But I’m very happy with the result. Now I just want to lounge around in the sun drinking iced drinks on a beach somewhere. Mmm. Of course, it’s still rainy and cold where I live.

Also, aren’t those sunglasses amazingly odd? A bag full of cheap sunglasses appeared in my house a few years ago, and no one I know claimed them. Their origin is a mystery, but everyone agreed that I was allowed to cannibalize them for steampunk goggles.

Have you salvaged a botched project? Is there a point where it’s better to just give up and move on, or reclaim the project into something else entirely?


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