Thurlow muslins and reverse-engineered trousers

I am joining in on Lauren’s Thurlow Sew-along at the end of this month. So, I’ve been choosing my fabrics and working on my muslins in preparation.

I want to make a pair of trousers in this material

Pinstripe trouser material and floral lining material

and a pair of shorts in this velvet-y material.

Material for the shorts

I don’t know how it happened, but two trends that I have consistently turned my nose up at have grabbed me: shorts for fall and floral printed bottoms. The floral print above is a very tiny floral print, and I think with shorts the floral print will be a lot less obtrusive than many of the pants I’ve seen. We’ll see if I like the look.

The muslin process has been a trial with this pattern. I made two muslins for the Thurlow trousers and still couldn’t get a proper fit.

Muslin #1 and #1.2

For the first muslin I cut everything in a size 8, with the legs shortened about 2 inches. According to the finished measurements on the envelope I should have had plenty of room. However, when I tried the muslin on, it was way too tight. I had to rip the seams out and add width at the thigh (on both the inside and outside) and add to the crotch length.

Once I added the width at the thighs, this is what my first muslin looked like.

Muslin #1 front

The front view wasn’t too bad, but there was some pulling. There was also too much extra volume in the legs under the fullest part of my thigh. I already have large thighs, so I don’t want to accentuate the area. The seam line needs to be taken in under the fullest part of the thigh to give more shape to the pant leg.

Muslin #1- side view
I took it in along the back extension line 1/2 inch more than the suggested line, but I needed to take it another 1/4 inch or so at the top. The lines swirling down the leg should be solved by adding more to the side seams and back crotch length.


Oh, the horror! There is puckering in THE WORST possible place. Must add to the crotch length on the back pieces…

The pant legs were still WAY too long. Yes, they aren’t hemmed in this picture but even taking into account the 1 3/4″ hem allowance, the legs needed to be shortened another 1 inch.

Muslin #2

I made the second muslin as shorts because I wanted to conserve some of my muslin material.

Cutting out muslin #2

I didn’t take pictures of the second muslin on me because it was such an epic fail.

I made a separate pattern by tracing along the final seam lines of muslin #1 and adding to both the front and back crotch lengths and both side and center leg seams.

The horrible fit of the second muslin was the result of over-correction.

Final Alteration Notes

I finally determined that all I needed to do was add a couple of sizes to the crotch area (only on the back pieces), and about 1/8 inch to each side seam in the thigh region. That’s 1/8 inch in addition to my previous adjustment to the side seams for the first muslin. Basically, I originally needed to go up a couple of sizes at only the back crotch and side seams (only at the fullest part of the thigh, grading back to size 8 at upper hips/waist and below the thigh).

I also have to take it in to about a size 6 along the back waist extension.

In addition, I found that I like my trouser legs to have a bit more shape, otherwise my legs look like stovepipes. So, I had to shape the side seams below the fullest part of the thigh.

Final back piece with a larger crotch size, added width at side seams and adjusted leg shape

Honestly, all the work I put into altering the pattern doesn’t seem worth it to me now. Maybe that will change once I have the final product in front of me. Don’t get me wrong, I think the pattern design and the instructions are great; I just thought I wouldn’t have to do as many alterations to a pattern made for curvier women.  I’ve been working on my own trouser pattern at the same time, and it has been much less of an ordeal.

My Reverse-Engineered Trouser Pattern

I’ve talked about making my own trouser pattern for a couple of years now, and finally forged ahead with the idea. The pattern is based on a favorite pair that I deconstructed. It is designed for trouser fabrics with a bit of stretch, or potentially fabrics cut on the bias.

I have the pattern finished, and now I’m working on a muslin. I’ve started titling my patterns for fun and to keep track of the pieces better. This pattern is called Dahlia.

some of the trouser pattern pieces (before I used the fashion ruler to fix some of the lines and add grainlines)

I plan to use the purple-pink herringbone material pictured below for the Dahlia trousers.

Trouser fabric and lining material

Is anyone who is reading this doing the Thurlow Sew-Along, too? How’s your muslin coming along?

I’m also working on a coat pattern based on a favorite old coat. I’ll share more about that at some point this week.

  1. Korey

    October 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Your travails drafting your pattern have reminded me why I gave up wearing jeans/pants after weight gain made me unable to wear the pairs I had accumulated over the years. I don’t know a single woman that has an easy time getting pants that fit. There are just too many variables and too many things that have to fit just right. I have exactly the opposite problem that you have (as you know from making me such nice clothes I am quite apple shaped, so anything that accommodates my waist and potbelly is going to be too big and frumpy in the hip/butt/legs) and I am also under five feet tall so even petite pants are too long. I just decided to give up the whole thing and stick exclusively to dresses and skirts, supplemented with leggings and sweater tights as necessary.

    That being said, the fabrics you’ve chosen look so nice and your projects always look so pretty so I am sure your efforts will seem worth it once you have a finished product in hand. Good luck!

    1. Becca

      November 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have difficulty find pants that fit either. That’s a bummer that the petite-sized pants are too long. Luckily, the length works for me in petite sizes. I totally understand the desire to stick to skirts and dresses. I lean in that direction, too, although in the winter I definitely wear pants once in a while. I have quite an extensive collection of tights though. I’m extremely happy that tights are “in” right now.

      Thank you. It’s always satisfying to step back and enjoy the completed article of clothing.

      Great to hear from you, btw! I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing. 🙂

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