Friday, 29 May 2015

Guest Post: Smooth Sailing Trousers Review

Finally, a finished project to break the monotony of all the Me-Made-May photos! Today's post is a guest post at Sew Sweetness as part of her Dress Up Party. I reviewed a pattern I made a while back but never blogged about, the Wearing History Smooth Sailing TrousersThe full review is a little long, but I'll share a shortened version with photos and construction notes here.

Can I just take a moment to comment on how difficult it is to get good photos of black clothing? I wish you could see the front pleats in these photos, because they're nice details. There are also darts at the back, a side zipper, and optional cuffs, belt loop and belt. I made the version without cuffs, but with the belt loops. I skipped the belt, though, because I have a couple black belts already!

Photo source

I made a muslin and cut a size 12 at the waist, grading out to a 14 at the hips. Now, when the instructions say that the pants have very little ease at the waist, they mean it! My muslin fit, but I like a little more ease for moving, sitting, and, of course, eating. The crotch was also a little too low, so for the real pants, I cut a 14 at the waist, but kept the darts and tucks from the size 12, and cut out the crotch curve from the size 12. I cut out the version without the cuffs, and I also shortened the pattern pieces by 2".

The fabric I used for these has an interesting story behind it - I bought it (for $3/metre!) from a fashion designer who was clearing out her stock that she used for making samples, same as the fabric for this dress. I'm not exactly what to call it - it's bamboo rayon with nice drape, but it's also quite thick. Before washing, it was very crisp and linen-like, but after washing and drying, the texture changed completely! It got much softer, but also much shiftier and lost its crispness. It also shrunk like crazy - I had about 6 metres and cut a 2 metre piece for the pants, and it shrunk over half a metre. In the end, this fabric really wasn't a good choice for these pants.

These pants came together pretty quickly and easily. The hardest part was working with the fabric, which was shifty and really stretchy on the bias.

For the zipper, I would have done a lapped one, but the seam allowances are only 1/2" and I forgot to add extra, so instead I just did a centred zipper, and hand-picked it. The interfacing that I used to stabilize it was probably too heavy, since the fabric was bulky already, and the extra bulk made it ripply. Once they're on, though, it's not that noticeable.

Rather than using the turned belt loop pieces included, I took the belt loop piece from the Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt. I find this method (folding in the edges of one long piece then cutting it) faster and easier, though it does make wider loops.

Because you sew the loops onto the waistband before attaching it, I couldn't quite get my belt loops to line up properly with my pleats (I think because the fabric stretched, and I had to take in the side seams before attaching the waistband).

I added a beautiful vintage button from my grandma's stash, above the zipper. (The waistband does actually line up in real life, I promise.)

I originally hemmed these to wear with heels, since I think that looks nicer, but I've since ripped out the hem and will re-hem them to wear with flats - I just don't wear heels enough!

The final verdict? I kind of have a love-hate relationship with these pants. I LOVE the style and the pattern, but as I mentioned earlier, this fabric really wasn't right, and they've stretched out quite a bit, which really bothers me. I took these photos when I was home for Christmas (hence the wool socks worn in my heels - I was cold!), and they've stretched out even more since. I'm in the process of re-hemming them, and might also take in the side seams and move the button, but I just really dislike alterations so I haven't made much progress.

I just finished another pair (yesterday!) with a couple alterations and better fabric. I just need to find someone to take some photos for me, then I'll have that pair up on the blog!

II would definitely recommend this pattern if you're looking for vintage-style wide-leg trousers, or if you're just looking to dip your toes into making pants, but find more fitted styles a little daunting, like I did before making these. Next on my to-sew list are the Ginger jeans!

Thanks for reading! And be sure to head on over to Sew Sweetness for my full review!

Pants: Me-made (Wearing History Smooth Sailing Trousers)
Blouse: Me-made (Sewaholic Pendrell)
Belt: bought from a craft market
Shoes: Thrifted (Arnold Churgin)


  1. Shame about the fabric as the style and fit look great! I've taped my ginger jeans pattern last night, here goes.

    1. Thank you! Good luck with the jeans - I'll start mine soon too. I think they're my next project!

  2. What a lovely pattern. I love the style of these. Hope you muster the energy tore hem them as they are lovely. Looking forward to seeing version two.

    1. Thanks! You're right, I really should hem them. They're just pinned up on a complete diagonal which makes it really difficult!