A good pair of pants has been on my to-make list for, like, ever. As a tall person (5′ 11″ and a 36″ inseam for all my #sewingtall folks out there, because I think you’ll find it relevant for this post), pants are hard, y’all. So it’s really about time that I made a pair of pants that actually fits, right? And after a few misses over the years, the Chi-Town Chinos emerge victorious.
Cutting out the Chi-Town Chinos
I used one of the Chi-Town Chino expansion packs for these pants. You do need both the original pattern and the expansion pack, as you take a lot of the original shorts pattern pieces for the longer pants. I also finally listened to Good Kermit, and made a god damn muslin. You know, like I never do and what bites me every time because then the pants don’t fit.
For the muslin, I traced off size 8 (which is way larger than my RTW size which might not be a big deal because vanity sizing, etc., but I am uneducated in sewing sizes and found it surprising…) and included the center back extension. I didn’t make any adjustments to the length or anything, because I wanted to see how they were right out of the packet.
From the muslin, I decided to lengthen the fly by a half inch and add three inches to the length. I also did not use the center back extension.
One thing I LOVED about this pattern is that Alina includes how to make a muslin on the shorts instructions. It was so nice to not have to guess what pattern pieces I needed or how in-depth the muslin needed to get. This is such a great feature for the novice pant sewer (ahem), so thank yoooouuuuu, Alina!
I cut my real pair out of some mystery twill that I think I got from JoAnn Fabrics a million years ago. I had it folded wrong sides out, and thought it was plain olive twill until I started cutting it and it fell open. Turns out, it actually has a very subtle camo print to it, in what feels like super short pile velvet. It was such a cool surprise once I realized it was intentional, and my fabric wasn’t just dirty.
Sewing the Chi-Town Chinos
After my last two projects, where it felt like everything was going wrong, the Chi-Town Chinos felt like a walk in the park. Part of that feeling is that they come with some truly well-written instructions. I’ve never inserted a fly zip before, and I’ve heard the horror stories, but y’all, Alina made it easy.
I loved this project because I tackled several new-to-me skills, including that fly zip, and also welt pockets. The welt pockets are actually the only pants-specific directions in the pattern. All the other steps use the shorts directions. There’s very little flipping back and forth, which is handy!
Three elements of the pants tripped me up, and two is not the pattern’s fault. When it came to the welt pockets, it’s not clear where to apply the interfacing to the pants (piece V). Now I assume it goes on the inside of the pants, but I applied it to the outside. Retrospectively, that makes more sense. Luckily, my interfacing did not adhere super well to the right side of the fabric because of the print, so I was able to just peel it off.
The second element that I messed up somewhere along the line was the waistband. I think I just gave it too wide of a seam allowance when attaching it to the pants the first go-around. There wasn’t enough width to it to fold it over and enclose the top seams, so instead I bound the inside with bias tape (like I did for all exposed seams #newlyteamfinishseams). It looks okay, but I’ll definitely pay closer attention to those steps next time.
Lastly, I don’t know how to do bar tacks on my machine. Really I should have Googled it, but I just set my machine’s stitch length to 0 and used a zig zag. That’s how we used to do some alterations in college and it seems sturdy enough.
I did make one change to the legs of the pants from my muslin. I tapered the legs in about a half an inch, starting at the hem and ending just above the knee. I’ve been feeling very pear-shapey lately and that balanced me out a bit, I think.
More Changes for the Next Round
I really like the Chi-Town Chinos. I can see them being a very versatile piece in my wardrobe, and a great basic block for my pants needs. In the future, though, I know there’s a couple changes I need to make.
Something is going on in the crotch region. I think I need to scoop it out a little and make a flat pubis adjustment. Lengthening the crotch at top adjustment line made a huge difference in the fit for me, and I’m glad to know to make that change. That’s been a recurring problem in my other pants failure-WIPs, and an easy change to make. I also think I need to make a slight bow legged adjustment — I have bowed Achilles tendons so I guess that makes sense. (ps – if you’re reading this and you’re like, “uh, x change is absolutely not what you need to do try y,” PLEASE let me know in the comments!)
I also need to draft between sizes in the waist to hip area – womp womp. Even after taking out the center back extension, the waistband is pretty gappy. It looks okay with a belt (another reason to fix the waistband next time – my loops ended up being a little short), but it’s definitely not great. I may drop down to a four in the waist and draft out to the eight in the hips.
Finally, I think I’m going to add another inch to the length. I put a 1″ hem into these pants, and ended up having to take a little out of that. Alina doesn’t actually say to put that deep of a hem in, I just prefer that.
Yardage needed: I used about 1 7/8 yards of 60″ wide fabric
Time: 8-10 hours
General modifications: scoop out front crotch curve slightly, grade between sizes from waist to hip
#SewingTall modifications: Add 4″ to length, add 1/2″ to front crotch rise.