I decided to make the most of my enforced digital vacation by knuckling down to a Big Sewing Project.
The Strides trousers are described as “probably the most advanced pattern in the book” (Merchant and Mills Workbook).
“Step out in these elegant, timeless gentlemen’s trousers and stand side by side with the big boys.”
The Strides from Merchant and Mills Workbook, in size 10.
The finished measurements for this size are waist: 74cm (29 inches) and hip: 110 cm (43 inches). Um… yes… I should have done that conversion to inches before I started.
Size 8 would probably fit me better. I am not sure what I was thinking.
There is ample acreage in that hip ease, and a fabric with plenty of drape is essential.
I used a remnant of Gracie chino cotton from Sherwoods Fabrics: 1.98m for £16.02. This was sufficient for me, because I was shortening the legs.
I also had to cut the waistband across the fabric width instead of along the grainline.
This fabric was perhaps slightly too stiff for the pattern. In retrospect I would have chosen something softer if I had known how low-slung the crotch was going to be.
I lined the pockets and fly guard with a scrap of leftover cotton from my Vicar’s Wife blouse.
Interfacing for waistband, lots of thread, a zip, one flat button and a hook and bar fastener. I also used satin bias tape to face my hem.
These took me two full days of sewing, after tracing and cutting out. You need to make a commitment to this pattern and pace yourself.
I had some issues. There is an error in the written instructions for the fly, which direct you to cut off the curved section on the right hand side: it should be the left hand side. As I struggle to distinguish left from right at the best of times, I found this very frustrating, as I was being extra careful to follow the instructions to the letter.
Because I did as I was told, I ended up having to sew my fly guard on with the lining side to the outside instead of the inside. I didn’t have enough of my lining fabric left to make another and had already made a really good job of the first one, button hole and everything.
It doesn’t matter… but there is a danger of flashing the lining at the top waistband edge if your belt shifts in wear.
I would also query the cut of the pocket linings. They do not fit perfectly. I am not sure if this is intended to add a 3D “bag” to their shape. There is nothing in the instructions to suggest how to accommodate the misalignment, which is about 1.5cm deep. In the end I resorted to reducing the top edge seam allowance, matching the bottom edges, and somehow making it work at the side.
The zip instructions are comprehensive, though I had to mirror all the illustrations for them to make sense with my wrong-sided fly.
You might expect that I would be disappointed with these trousers, after all my mistakes and troubles with the construction.
The fit isn’t exactly right either!
From the front they are fabulous.
The back view is not so hot.
I can pinch out a good inch horizontally across the hip, even after hoisting them up as far as they will go. This is obviously an adjustment I could make if I was to sew them again. But it might be enough to sew the smaller size in a drapey fabric. I have some fine wool in the stash that would be perfect.
However, even in their current state I love their attitude.
They have sass and swagger.
Their slouchy man-sized cut makes them super-comfortable.
The test will be whether they look OK after a day at the office. All that sitting and standing plays havoc with a saggy bottom! But if they turn out not to be fit for work, I am more than happy to wear them with pride at the weekend and around the house. Because, actually they are a damned fine pair of trousers!