Style Crisis breakthrough: Leah Lounge Pants

Leah Lounge Pants topper

Leah Lounge Pants topperNow I admit – a pair of taupe trousers might not have been what you were expecting to emerge from my style crisis deliberations. But please – no eye-rolling or comments about backsliding – for me, these Leah Lounge Pants are more than a pair of trousers – brown, grey or otherwise.

Trouser troubles

Last year I had a shot at fitting a pair of trousers based on a BurdaStyle block (or ‘sloper’) pattern. That fitting process turned into a two-part blog and resulted in a pair of beautifully-fitted (if I say so myself) bronze wool crepe trousers.

Predecessor to Leah Lounge Pants
Bronze wool crepe trousers from BurdaStyle block pattern

However I’m no professional pattern cutter – and although I’m perfectly able to replicate those trousers and cut them in different leg styles, I was struggling to incorporate the right amount of ease in the right places, especially for more tailored or loosely-fitted designs.

I was still hankering after a better understanding of where off-the-peg trousers and commercial patterns were parting company with my fit – in particular my bottom. My style crisis resolution has reached the stage where more trousers are definitely required and so I needed another approach.

Sailing by…

My first outing in this direction proved to be a bit of a false start. I had hopes that Vogue Pattern 9067 might be my solution for a more relaxed cut.

Vogue pattern 9067 predecessor to Leah Lounge Pants
Vogue Pattern 9067

Despite my qualms regarding its elasticated waist (Danger, Will Robinson!) I told myself this was a feature of many a sport-inspired trouser these days. I pressed on, with our ‘Classic capsule’ ivory stretch suiting fabric.

I don’t have many sewing disasters nowadays but these trousers certainly fit that bill, if they fitted nothing else. With a crotch at mid thigh and enough fabric to keep me ahead of the field in Cowes week, my trousers inspired a raised eyebrow and an invitation to bowls from one of my two evaluators – and a suggestion that they ‘might be a bit big’ from the more polite of the pair. In the hope that I can recut the fabric into something a little less accommodating, those pull-ons (and drop-right-off-agains) are now in my ‘rescue’ pile in the ClothSpot workroom.

Retail investigations

With the intention of trying some different styles to see where I might be going wrong, I headed off to our nearest shopping centre with Rebecca (the better-mannered of my advisory duo). There, my gaze fell upon this pair from John Lewis’s Modern Rarity collection.

Modern rarity trousers prior to leah lounge pants
‘Cross-front trousers’ by Modern Rarity at John Lewis (Tent pole not supplied)

These have a fold across the front of the stomach, constructed from the fabric of one leg; my hope was that they would hang nicely with an elegant line down the front.

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture (we were laughing too much) but suffice to say that far from hang, they just about stood up by themselves. Except, that is, for the acres of spare fabric that were collapsing under my bottom. The fabric was uncomfortably stiff and the trousers really were seriously enormous. So much so in fact, as to beg the question:

If a pair of trousers flaps its legs in a John Lewis changing room, can it really cause a tornado in Texas?

“Do you think they’re a bit big? Is my bottom actually in there?” I mused.

“Dunno” replied Rebecca, idly lifting up the front fold with the end of a coathanger. “What’s behind here?”

“Not sure. It’s all a bit mysterious down there”

“They make you look at bit…well…flat. Everywhere. Do you think they’re for someone taller?”

I pointed out that I at almost 5′ 8″ I’m well above average height. Eventually we stopped laughing; I wiped my eyes, got dressed and handed the trousers back before we were thrown out for creating a disturbance.

Over tea and cake, we figured out that in order to cope with a wider leg, my trousers needed something to hang from, other than my waist (e.g. hips, bottom). Otherwise they were always going to look ridiculous. (Is this right? Please, do tell!)

However, further investigation revealed that although my upper hips are in the same size bracket as my waist (let’s leave out my shoulders on this one), my lower hips are at least a size smaller. The challenge now was to find a pattern that could accommodate that difference.

The pattern

A number of you have been reporting lots of trouser success with Style Arc patterns. So, in search of a more relaxed, sport-luxe style of trouser to add to my nascent wardrobe, I eyed up their Leah Lounge Pants and decided to give them a go.

Leah Lounge Pants pattern by Style Arc
Leah Lounge Pants pattern by Style Arc

Working with their PDF patterns (that’s a whole other post) Style Arc helpfully send you the size you order, together with one up and one down from that size. I made a quick toile based on my selected size with no alterations – and lo! What resulted was the best-fitting first-go pair of trousers I can remember, straight off the pattern. It helps that they’re not a high-waisted design, but the crotch shape and rise were near perfect. However I still had quite a bit of excess fabric in the under-bottom area.

Toile 1 leah lounge pants
Is this what I’m reduced to – bottom shots on the internet?

There are lots of online guides on trouser fitting as detailed in last year’s post; one solution in particular according to the handy Colette guide to trouser fitting, might have been a fish-eye dart under my bottom. However before resorting to the numerous toiles that I feared that option might necessitate – I wondered if there was a more obvious solution. What if I simply graded down a size between my upper and lower hip – and flattened off just a sliver of that curve around the hip area?

This I did (thanks to the additional size downloaded) and hey presto!

Toile 2 Leah lounge pants
That’s better…

Running out of old toile fabric here (hence the ankle-swinging), but plenty to reassure that this was the way to go.

The fabric

I’ve been itching to get trousering with our triple crepe fabrics for ages – and the drape in this design seemed to call for a spot of creperie (fabric, not pancakes).

Taupe brown triple crepe fabric for Leah Lounge Pants
Draping taupe-brown triple crepe fabric

My choice of our Draping taupe-brown triple crepe might give just cause for concern to those of you who’ve been urging me to be brave on the colour front – but I reasoned that:

– I needed a neutral colour to work with black, white and ivory – and a plain fabric to cope with a (potentially) patterned top.

– I needed a dark-ish colour for practicality – I might want to go out in these – but I also want to use them for work and not have to worry about being overly careful.

– I know from experimenting in the ClothSpot workroom that this colour is a fabulous base for pinks and teal blues to ‘pop’ against – and that if I wanted to ‘go brave’ with a top then these trousers would be a great complimentary colour.

The making

This triple crepe fabric is wide at 150cm – and had I not forgotten that I only needed one of each of the two facings, (one at the front, one at the back; not difficult, Alice) then at a size 10 (and a few sizes up from there, I’d say) the length of fabric required would be dictated by the length of the trouser leg. In my case 1.2m should have done it.

The triple crepe fabric was surprisingly well-behaved. It was stable to cut and since I overlocked each garment piece right away, no fraying. Aided by the ClothSpot pressure steam iron (the kind that doesn’t have a heating element in the plate) the seams eventually pressed well – I might have had to be a bit more cautious with a regular steam iron.

A word to the wise – the Style Arc instructions are minimal. As in, they’d make a haiku verse look verbose. Fine if you’re confident – but if you’re used to Vogue Patterns’ clarity or Tilly’s pictures then a phone and a friend – or access to YouTube – are advised.

In the event I only had one hiccup – my front facing was at least an inch too small. It was cut precisely to size and although the unfaced trouser front might have bagged when being tried on, it was overlocked so should have been stable. The back facing fitted perfectly. Eventually I cut another and all seemed well.

The result

If I’m being picky then I’d say there is something funny going on with the front waistline which doesn’t quite seem to hug my tummy as it should. I can only assume that I pulled it out of shape when overlocking, hence the non-fitting front facing. Other than that though, it’s a case of ‘Hurrah!’, ‘Yippee!’ and ‘Deck the halls!’

Leah lounge pants front
Trousers!

They actually fit my bottom…

Leah Lounge Pants bottom
Bottoms up!

…and I love the way they drape and pool a little over my feet – suggesting width and excess when in fact they’re not that wide.

The wearing

My Leah Lounge Pants feel incredibly comfortable. They’re about to endure a weekend involving multiple long car journeys, lounging around (fittingly) and general wandering. If they can do that with an air of elegance as well as practicality (and I think they will) then I’m onto a winner. I will report back.

Leah lounge pants jacket
The look of relief…

The feeling

It’s very early days, but in these trousers I really feel like me. I love that they have some movement – and (whisper it) I actually feel a little bit elegant in them. I don’t feel in the least swamped – they make me feel lively and energetic – able to get on with what I need to do.

The decision

Time will tell – but I’m very hopeful that these will be keepers. If the trial weekend goes well, then versions in navy, black and even something bright might be in the offing (not that I’m going overboard or anything). I’d like to try something a bit more decisive on the style front – perhaps a wider leg, a turnup, some structured shape perhaps – but the idea that I can adapt a commercial pattern with a fairly simple adjustment is unfeasibly exciting. In fact, I’m getting quite worked up about the upcoming autumn season.

So…

…any suggestions for tops? For what it’s worth, my Leah Lounge Pants look great with my ‘Selja’ knot tee but I wouldn’t mind expanding my shirt wardrobe… Ideas for that – as well as for other autumnal trouserings – welcome as always!

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18 thoughts on “Style Crisis breakthrough: Leah Lounge Pants

  1. Caroline says:

    Hi There
    They look fabulous Alice and I’m sure will fit the bill very well – I was really pleased with my Leah Lounge pants but did do a few toiles to get them right. I have a full tummy, slightly smaller waist and hips so I shaved some of the outside seem and also altered the crotch curve which somehow (not sure I’m a beginner really) solved the problem. If I’m honest I still have a little gapping at the back on the waist but like you I think I may have stretched the crepe a little as the toile was fine but it’s nothing to worry about. I’ve made two other pairs of Style Arc trousers the Linda pant and the Sailor Sue Palazzo pants both of which I was very pleased with so would recommend both of them depending on your requirements of course. Good luck with the experimenting.

    • ClothSpot says:

      Hello Caroline – thank you for the feedback! It sounds from what you’re saying that the Style Arc patterns are cut for a more ‘straight up and down’ figure – but you seem to have whipped yours into shape! I think from my experience (and reading about others’) crotch curves are very much trial and error unless you’re very expert – but then when you find a curve that works, you can transfer it to other similarly-cut trousers. I do like the look of the Linda and the Sailor Sue – I can imagine giving them a go if I were using a stretch or a knit – it’s reassuring to know that they work – thank you very much indeed!

  2. Sarah Skinner says:

    Oh, Alice, these are super ! I am a great fan of ‘sludge’ colours; a great neutral and not black, so a winning combination. They do fit you well; they look classy and comfortable which is another difficult combination to achieve.
    Aah tops ….it is a lean, long look so you would need to balance with another shape to either give a fitted look on top or go for a boxy look on top. For example, either a fitted, shrunken fitted jacket type look, or maybe something with some flarelength Tilton sisters style. The other shape would be boxy / slight flare with a slash neck to give width to counter the long , lean legs.
    I might even be tempted to keep the colours the same, or toning, rather than going for contrast. That would work if you went for a more fussy style on top ( Tilton sisters/jacket ). A simple top could be done in a bold contrast though.

    Decisions , decisions – but I really like it styled just like this with white T shirt and trainers.

    • ClothSpot says:

      Yay! Thanks for the appraisal, Sarah! I think you’re right about something to balance the legs. Fitted shoulders (we’ve been here before) would be the order of the day – or an altogether more fitted top would work better. The white tee was what I had to hand and I thought that a simple styling with that and the trainers would let the trousers take centre stage for the blog. However they were supremely comfortable over the weekend and I will make at least one other pair – so finding a good top to go with would be great. I am also tempted to given them a matching jacket – your comment about a similar colour on top has made me think hard about that…

  3. Sarah Skinner says:

    Sorry, I have looked at the pictures again, and maybe not a boxy top. I think maybe length and movement….( or fitted short sleeve polo/jersey ….). Aagh – this is my problem with separates.
    Stick with the white tee ?

    • ClothSpot says:

      I think ‘boxy top’ is indeed my least favourite as I’d like to make the most of what little in-and-out shape I have – so yes – a short fitted top or something with some length (or both options, indeed….) will be good to play with. Especially since the white tee is in the wash having worked hard all weekend!

  4. Diana Clark says:

    They look super! You have inspired me to have a go.

    Thank you for talking us through it – I can just see the two of you in the fitting room, and hear your laughter.

    Diana Clark

    • ClothSpot says:

      So pleased you enjoyed my ‘learning experience’ Diana – I hope you enjoy having a go too! The pattern couldn’t be easier but you might choose to assemble the pieces in a different order if you’ve made similarly-constructed trousers before. I did – but it’s probably down to personal habit. Do let us know how you get on!

    • ClothSpot says:

      You have a ‘to-do’ pattern pile, Sarah? Surely not…. Thank you! Love the shoulders – love the shape. I might play with a toile to get the fit-and-flare positioned right – but much appreciated – thank you for all the suggestions!!

  5. Helen May says:

    Great looking pants! I have the pattern but can I ask if you narrowed the leg at all? They look wider on the line drawing.

    • ClothSpot says:

      Hello Helen – thank you very much! I shaved the tiniest bit off the outside of the hips just to lose some of the curve there as described – but the rest of the trousers are just as per pattern. You’re right – the line drawing does make them look a little fuller in the leg width and I was a little surprised myself – although I was quite happy with them. Having said that, widening the leg is an easy alteration to make if you fancy something with a bit more swing!

      • Helen May says:

        LOL at your foot size Alice! I know what you meanthough as I am a 6 and only 5’1″. I like the look of the width of your pants so I’ll maybe just take a slightly larger seam allowance. I’m going to try a size 6 back and 8 front as I think I’m between sizes and always have too much fabric at the back even after a flat backside addjustment!

        • ClothSpot says:

          Thank you for the foot empathy! Your suggestion of combining a different size for front and back is a good one, Helen – I’ll be interested to hear how that works out – what a good idea! (And really – what does happen to bottoms, sometimes? It’s a mystery…)

    • ClothSpot says:

      …also – it might be relevant to note that I have Size 8 feet – rather larger than the ones in the pattern drawing I suspect!!!

  6. Caroline says:

    I think the Hot Patterns La Strada T-shirt pattern might fit the bill – it’s sort of smart casual with a slight shirt tail effect. I’m in the middle of making up a toil at the moment to go with my Leah Lounge pants, might be an idea.

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