Amy Butler’s Wide Leg Lounge Pants, Drafting the Pattern

I know I’ve said it before, but I need new pajama pants. Buying them in a store is not an option, so I have to make them if I want them to fit. I bought this book some years back.

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I bought it mainly with the intention of making these pants.

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But I didn’t, and the book sat. For oh, around five years… Yeah. I think it’s high time I make these. We’re going to pretend that the reason is desire and not intense need. I bought some fabric a year ago intending to make some pants, but then life got in the way. My first pair of pj’s disintegrated at around the same time we were supposed to move. Then the move got delayed, and delayed again. By the time we finally packed things up I was firmly living with just two pairs of pj pants and a “bonus” pair that was way too short from Target. I finally decided enough was enough (that and I’m now down to one pair). As soon as my craft room was set up, I got to work. To sort of kick off the completion of the room (and by that I mean the furniture, it still kind of looks like a bomb went off in there…) I bought some new fabric. Here it is.

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Cute right? Now, lets get started, to make these pant you’re going to need some things as this is only a partial pattern. I know this puts a lot of people off, but honestly it’s very easy. And as far as pattern drafting goes, this is an ideal beginner project because you’re basically just drawing a rectangle.

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The book calls for a yard stick which I do have. But if you have a drafting ruler (the clear one) I highly recommend using that. I did end up buying a huge one that’s even bigger than my yardstick recently (I love it and if you’re going to sew on the regular you need these clear drafting type rulers). But for today I’m going to keep things simple and just use my yardstick since that’s what the instructions call for. You’ll need paper do draw your pattern on. The book calls for freezer paper which is very good for making patterns (you can iron it onto your fabric!) but I never have any on hand and I like to recycle. This is just the packing paper that comes in most online orders these days. I got an order from Sephora today so I ironed and used that, but it comes in Amazon boxes a lot too. It’s just basic packing paper and it’s the perfect thickness. It’s thin enough you can easily see though it, it’s easy to pin through as well. But it holds up to repeated use really nicely. I’ve also been known to use kraft paper if I’m making a master pattern that I want to trace and reuse several times. Doing this saves money and enables you to build a bigger pattern library since patterns do wear out and get discontinued. So I make those permanent pieces, roll them up, and save them in a mailing tube.

These are the pattern pieces that come in the book.

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There are actually three there, I just laid the bigger “Back” piece over the smaller one (that has pieces from the kimono robe on it). I elected to leave these pieces intact and simply trace them. You could cut them out, but as I said before I like to save my pattern pieces. And I’d prefer not to have a bunch of tiny pieces stuffed into the pocket of the book getting crumpled and ruined.

This is going to be your first step. Trace these pieces onto your chosen paper. When making the back piece remember that you’ll need to combine two pieces. Be sure they’re flush because you want to end up with back and front pieces that are the exact same length. Then, once you’ve traced those images you’ll probably need to tape some sheets of paper together. I like using masking tape because it’s easy to write on, but any tape will work.

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Great, now you have one big piece of paper. The base pattern is for a size Small. If you need to make a bigger size it’s very easy, you’re going to add the required extra depending on the size you need to the outside part of the leg only. And because these are straight leg pants (there is literally no taper whatsoever, they fall straight from the hip) it’s very easy to modify if you go beyond a size Large. The only thing is, I think these pants probably look best in a Small. As I said these hang straight from the hip, so the larger you need to make them, the bigger the legs become all the way down. So if you are heavier you may wish to taper the legs somewhat.

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If you’re like me you’ll have forgotten you need a bigger size (ordinarily I’d be a Small, but my nerve pain meds have made me gain weight) so I had to cobble together a bigger piece of paper for the back. ūüė¶ I was smarter when making the Front piece. To add the extra just grab your ruler (here’s where a clear drafting ruler comes in handy!) and measure out what you need to add. If you’re a Medium or Large the measurements are included on the pattern piece itself. So just measure yourself at the widest part and do the math to figure out how much you need to add for your particular size. I added 1 3/4″ to the outside of the leg, do not add anything to the inside of the leg!

To make the legs you may need to do some math. The measurements given in the pattern are to make a pair of pants with a 32″ inseam. That will never do for me, I need a good 5″ more. You may need less, so take that into account when measuring out the legs. The instructions say to add 29″ (I think), for me that meant I needed to be sure I measured 34″ instead. I also knew I wanted a nice wide hem incase these pants shrank over time. If you’re using brand new 100% cotton they’ll probably still shrink some even if you pre shrink your material, and you should pre shrink your material. It’s just the nature of cotton. I washed and dried my material in hot water and on the highest dryer setting twice before using it because I’m paranoid, but just once through should probably be sufficient to avoid puckered seams and shifting in the future.

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And there you have it. Cut out your pieces, you’re finished! You do need to make the decorative border if that’s something you want to add. I decided to omit that on my pants so I didn’t make those pieces, but they’re just simple rectangles. Just measure and cut. Same for the drawstring. I didn’t even make a pattern piece for that, you really don’t need to. If you wanted to use a wide ribbon for the edge that’s also an option. And I have a thinner grosgrain ribbon I’m planning to use on a future pair for the drawstring. If you’re using bed sheets (a lot of people have made these using vintage printed bedsheets) they’ll come with a finished edge so in that case you won’t need a decorative border. There are a lot of ways to change and dress up these pants.

Once you have your pieces cut out be sure to make a note of how the pieces are laid out in the instructions. They will tell you to be sure you place right sides together. The right side of the fabric is the pretty part, the wrong side is the dull side. Some fabrics are less obvious about which is right and wrong and it can make a difference in the finished garment. But for these you’re likely using just plain quilting cotton, bedsheets, or flannel so it’s less of an issue. Just be sure that if you mess up and cut wrong sides together you remain consistent and do both legs that way. Because if you realize your mistake, and flip the pieces and cut out the other half of the pattern that way, then the pieces won’t line up. You’ll end up with one leg wanting to go the right way and the other wanting to go the wrong way.

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These are my two back, and two front pieces cut and ready to go. Before I sew I often like to serge the edges of my pieces.

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This is a completely unnecessary¬†step, but I find it just creates a more finished garment that goes together a lot faster. It also saves me the step of finishing the seams after completion. If you do not have a serger that’s totally fine. You can just use pinking shears or do a zig zag stitch on the edges after you complete your pants. If you plan to do a lot of sewing, clothes sewing in particular then a serger is a worthwhile investment. I have just a simple Brother machine I purchased from¬†Amazon. It’s not super fancy, nor was it expensive. It’s fast and easy to thread, and once you own one you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

That’s all for this week. Next week we’re going to put the pants together so stay tuned!

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