I was thinking of pants like this — I guess they’re called “harem pants”, but I don’t like that term — before I went wandering around Europe for a few months. I searched online and saw a few basic patterns, but nothing I trusted.
I had done nothing except choose the fabric I wanted to use when it was time to go to Paris. Wandering toward the Eiffel Tower one day I saw a chic young woman wearing an intriguing outfit that included these sorts of pants in black and white, black boots and a black leather jacket. I stared. Then I stared even harder as I tried to figure out how her pants were constructed. She called me on it, shouting at me from across the street. For a minute I envisioned fisticuffs with a chi chi, feisty Parisienne. Not a good idea in a city where I didn’t know anyone who could carry me home, broken and bloody in the aftermath!
Her angry comment to me — it was in French, but I got the drift — indicated she correctly surmised I was staring at her clothing, and not at her, so I really don’t understand why she was upset. Anybody?
A month or so later I was wandering through a shopping district in Florence when I entered a shop specializing in Thai products. They had a rack of these pants, all in assorted Thai printed cottons. I got to take a closer look 🙂
When I got back home, I pulled out the fabric I wanted to use as the base (it was material I’d bought at a theatre company sale). I used a basic drawstring loose pant pattern, and cut off the crotch points. Then I made pattern pieces for a central triangular panel for the front and back, as well as a dirndl waist, copied from an old skirt.
I had already cut out pieces from the old skirt for the central panels when I went to a nearby yard sale and found the fabric that I actually used. I loved it, it was cheap, and it went with the base fabric better than what I was planning to use.
So that’s it. Some thing’s I’d do differently — I used a too-stiff non-woven interfacing in the dirndl waist. It was all I had in the house. I’ve since stocked up on various weights of woven interfacing, and next time I’ll use something lighter. Also, while I love the central fabric, it’s sufficiently stiff to make the pants a little more “formal” than I would like. I will make these pants again in a lighter fabric, maybe linen, and I think they’ll look simpler and drape more softly. I would like to do piping when sewing two kinds of fabric together (many of the pants in the shop in Florence had piping). But I just don’t feel up to learning to make and install piping yet. Oh, and I’ve got enough of the yard sale fabric left to make a matching vest. That’s a project for some other time.
And in case anybody’s wondering — the pale green vest is a copy of the Marcy Tilton pattern I used for the “web” vest. Her pattern is actually for a jacket, but I de-sleeved both versions. I got the fabric, a wool crepe, in a remainders bin for a dollar or two. I just love those sorts of finds.