During my childhood, there was a series of TV commercials for “McCains” frozen food. They always involved a giddily happy family biting into their frozen meal, delirious with glee, while the voice over announced “Ahh McCain, you’ve done it again”. While the classy Sasha Trousers clearly have nothing to do with cheesy frozen food, that stupid little slogan has reverberated through my mind for the last 25 years, every time I see something being done consistently well…
Catering for the working gal…
Frozen food aside, I was soooo excited to find out in November that Closet Case’s new pattern release was trousers. Or pants, since the word trousers irrationally bugs me for some reason. But still, Sasha is so classy that maybe a fancy-pants word like trousers is justified!
I recently joined the Ginger Jeans bandwagon after following Closet Case’s Sew Your Dream Jeans online workshop. My Ginger Jeans have been a total revelation for me. Before Ginger, I hardly ever wore pants because I find them generally uncomfortable. When I saw the Sasha trousers, I realised that it might be possible to have some pants comfort in my work wardrobe!
Cue happy dance.
The importance of impulse control
I saw the Sasha Trousers release in the Closet Case newsletter at almost midnight on a Sunday night. Promptly, I stayed up way too late downloading, printing and, most dangerously, trawling online for appropriate fabric!
I find it difficult to shop for stretch wovens. My local fabric store generally has nothing. If anyone has suggestions for sourcing good quality stretch woven fabrics in Europe, please comment and tell me!
My online shopping expedition settled on a “party pants” approach. I ordered this lovely printed floral John Kaldor stretch cotton from Minerva Crafts. But, when it arrived, while beautiful, it was a bit too much of a party for my lower half! I’ve never worn printed pants before. So I decided to start with baby steps. That lovely fabric has been put aside for another day (I think it will be perfect for a By Hand London Georgia Dress next summer).
And so, I dug into my stash.
Lesson learned: before spending hours searching for fabrics online on a Sunday night, check your stash!!
In the end, I had two contenders happily sitting there (does anyone else imagine, when they peer into their fabric stashes, that all the fabrics are jumping up at you excitedly saying “pick me, pick me”?).
They were a thick navy ponte and a plaid stretch cotton that I had picked up many years ago at coupons St Pierre in Paris. I had forgotten that this fabric had any stretch, so I was delighted to see that it stretched exactly to 20%, the recommended minimum stretch for the Sasha Trousers.
So, I decided to make two pairs of Sashas!!
A sewing ethical conundrum
There’s one thing I find particularly nifty about the Sasha Trousers pattern. While View A has all the bells and whistles you would expect for tailored pants – hip pockets, welt pockets, View B is a simple, streamlined, no-pocket alternative. As a result view B is actually a quick and simple sew.
So I decided to start with navy ponte Sasha Trousers as a wearable muslin, to test out the pattern. I have written elsewhere about my mathematical approach to why I never muslin. So I confess that I found myself in an ethical conundrum. I was breaking one of my cardinal sewing rules.
But, still, a wearable muslin in a totally different fabric than my “real” pair may not, technically, be a muslin. Really, I just made two pairs of trousers…
Tweaking it just for me!
Even before cutting anything, I was excited because the key differences between the Sasha Trousers and the Ginger Jeans made it seem as though Sasha had been tweaked just for me!
(That’s not a self-absorbed thought, right?)
The inseam of the Sasha Trousers is a bit shorter than Ginger, the crotch is slightly shorter (although I believe Ginger has recently been updated to have the same crotch length as Sasha) and the waist band is more curved. These are all modifications I made to my Gingers…
Yippee! Yoga pants to work…
Starting with my ponte Sasha trousers, these are view B but with the longer length of view A. Living in the Netherlands, cropped pants can be worn for like 2 weeks of the year, neither of which fall in December.
My measurements put me squarely in a size 10. After my baste fit, I made few very adjustments. I did a shorten crotch adjustment, taking in about an additional 1cm. I also took a few centimetres out of the inseam and side seam around the knee.
It hadn’t crossed my mind to make pants out of a ponte knit before. Here, it was really just my overriding need for navy pants that made me try it. But I have to say, Sasha Trousers in ponte basically amount to work-acceptable Yoga Pants. These are oh so comfortable I can’t even describe it. To give my waist band a bit more structure, I interfaced it with a non-stretch interfacing and I used a non-stretch fabric for the waist band facing.
From yoga to sleepwear
Pretty satisfied with my first go around, I turned to the plaid Sasha trousers. And I had an “oh shit” moment right at the beginning.
I finished cutting out the plaid version and promptly stood in front of the mirror, holding the cut pieces against my body to imagine how they would eventually look.
That’s a thing, right?
Anyway, I looked and thought “umm, that looks just like my husband’s plaid pyjamas”.
From that point on, this thought was constantly on my mind. Am I making fancy pyjamas? Or maybe golf pants?
Nothing is worse than when you start to question your fabric choice at the beginning of a project..
But, luckily, the lovely tailoring of the Sasha trousers ensured that there were no pyjama pants in sight in the end. I think these plaid trousers came out just on the right side of experimental…
Playing with the plaid ones
My ponte Sasha Trousers fit pretty snuggly even though the fabric had way more than 20% stretch (I didn’t actually measure, but my best estimate is around 50% stretch).
So, since I was a little worried about how much less stretchy my plaid fabric was, I kept the waistband for my plaid Sasha trousers a size 10, but then graded immediately out to a 12. This turned out to be the perfect sizing for this particular fabric.
I made a few other changes for my plaid Sasha Trousers, having learned from the ponte version. I took 1.5 cm out along the back waistband curve and I again shortened the crotch.
After seeing that my first pair bunched a bit around the knees (more on that later), I decided to try a low seat adjustment. I had read somewhere that excess fabric around the knees could sometimes be fixed by this. (By the way, for all the pants fitting info a home sewist needs, I found invaluable this pants fitting guide available as a free downloadable e-book from Closet Case.)
Finally, since my personal preference is for a leg which is not quite as straight and “cigarette pants” as Sasha is designed to be, I graded out below the knee. By the ankle, I had graded out to between a size 16 and 18.
What’s in a welt?
And, of course, for my plaid Sasha trousers, I included all the pocket bells and whistles.
This was my first ever time sewing a welt pocket. I found the Sasha Trousers’ welt pocket instructions impeccable. It was definitely a situation in which I had to have faith in the instructions because I was totally incapable of conceptualising exactly what I was trying to do.
Now that I have done it once, I will try next time round to make sure that my two welt pockets actually end up being approximately the same size!
Whoops! I think the busy plaid kind of disguises it though. At least that’s my story …
I have to say, though, how much difference does a little welt pocket make?
While I like my work yoga Sasha Trousers, I feel a bit as though the expanse of uninterrupted fabric around my butt makes it look a little, too, well, BIG! So much so that I couldn’t bring myself to include any butt shorts of the ponte ones in this post!
In all honesty, I will be more comfortable styling my ponte Sasha trousers with tops which hide my bum a little, rather than get tucked in. But with my plaid Sasha pants, I feel that the accentuating touch of the welt pockets makes such a difference to the butt.
How can two little rectangles and a couple of buttons do so much? Ahh, the miracle of good design.
I’ve done all the dumb things…
A couple of other little tips, in case there are any other sewing idiots like me out there.
On my ponte Sasha trousers, I did something really, really stupid. For some reason, when attaching my waistband, I decided to end it after the zipper and not extend my waist band all the way along the fly extension. The worst thing is, I actually made quite a similar error when I sewed my Nagoya pants, so this is obviously just a brain fart area for me.
So, on my ponte Sasha trousers, the two sides of my waistband don’t overlap at all. This means that I just managed to eek out a closure with a hook and bar, but it’s a tad precarious.
So don’t be stupid, people. The fly extension needs a waistband too!! I even sewed it correctly when I basted my waistband on to check for fit, but somehow messed it up at the finale!!
And the instructions usually know best…
So, my other idiot move .
I often have these moments when sewing when I think “But why do the instructions do that?”. Then I proceed to do it another way but, before too long, I suddenly understand why the instructions instructed as they did!
Case in point: the zipper for the fly.
In both my ponte Sasha trousers and my Ginger jeans, I thought it was a pity that the zipper was longer than necessary and you have to cut it to size.
What a waste, thought silly old me.
So for the plaid pair, I bought a smaller zipperthan instructed, thinking that it would be perfectly sized. No cutting needed. No wastage.
Well, there is a good reason you need a longer zipper. When you attach the second half of the zipper to the fly extension, you can’t access the zipper head to move it up or down because the two fly extensions are basted together. This makes it very difficult to sew around the head of the zipper. I ended up having to sew around the zipper head by hand because it was the only way I could get close enough to the zipper teeth at this point.
So the longer zip is designed to ensure that the zipper head is out of the way during construction. Yet another lesson learned!
Knock knock knockin around dem knees
In terms of fit, I found that the Sasha trousers fit me even better out of the envelope than Ginger jeans, which is pretty amazing!
But I am still having a problem with excess fabric around the knees. During my Sew Your Dream Jeans workshop, Heather Lou suggested that I could look into a knock knee adjustment, but I wasn’t sure. I did some googling and I just really don’t think I am actually knock kneed.
On my ponte Sasha trousers, I tried to minimise the knee bunching by narrowing the side seams around the knee. But this wasn’t really effective. Still, the ponte ones are, overall, acceptable around the knees because ponte is such a forgiving fabric (another reason to sew yourself a pair of ponte trousers right NOW!)
But, I still have a definite knee problem of some sort going on. It was actually while sewing my Ginger Jeans that I noticed this issue for the first time ever. Since then, I have realised than even the few pairs of RTW pants I own have the same problem. Funny about how much harsher we are on our own sewing! I’d never even noticed the same problem in my RTWs!
Having stared at images of knees on Google for a while (as you do..), I feel that maybe my quite full upper leg means that I have more of a pronounced difference than is normal between the thickness of my leg just above my knee compared to the thickness of my upper calf. Maybe this difference is creating the pooling of fabric around the mid and lower knee?
Pleading with plaid
The stretch cotton plaid was far less forgiving than the ponte had been around the knees. I had been hoping that the low seat adjustment would have a knock-on effect on the knees.
But alas, no.
At first baste, the plaid pair had major knee problem.
They fit well at the back of the knee but there was a very large amount of excess fabric at the front. It really seemed like the excess was around the middle of the knee. I couldn’t identify it as originating from either the inseam or the side seam.
So, I spent a lot of time basting, basting and basting again. Well, except for that part where I thought I was basting but had actually forgotten to increase my stitch length, so I had to unpick all those “basting” lines sewn with a regular stitch length…
I ended up narrowing the front legal piece by about an inch on each side around the knee, without altering the back leg piece at all. The end result, while not perfect, is much better than where I started. I did notice, while altering, that I was having to make more changes to the side seam than the inseam, so maybe I will just bite the bullet and try a knock kneed adjustment next time.
Yet another body lesson learned from sewing – I have weird knees! But at least sewing gives me the tools to try to disguise it!
What’s a Closet Case-phile to do?
So, I am, once again, head over heels in love with a Closet Case pattern. I feel that these Sasha Trousers have really opened up a new world of comfortable work appropriate dressing. Just in time for a Northern European winter.
Plus I’ve also just discovered that it is possible to buy flannel shirts that don’t look like they belong in a forest but actually look just like a regular shirt! So now I feel like I have a cosy winter at work ahead of me, with pyjama soft flannel shirts and comfy immaculately tailored pants. If I have to work, that’s how I like to do it!
So the Sasha trousers are yet another fun, clever and immaculately tailored design from Heather Lou.
It’s official. I’m a total closet case-phile!