Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Black pants, always

TSW Hudson top with TSW Picasso pants
Somehow, I always need more black pants. That's because I want them to be really black, and they only stay black as long as they make regular visits to the dry cleaners. I have a pair of black wool Cutting Line Design one-seam pants that I've worn for a very long time because they always go to the dry cleaners.

But I also like knit pants. A lot. I've been having some back issues, and soft knit pants are my go-to. I particularly like ponte that is rayon-based, rather than polyester based. Over time, they begin to pill and I put them in the laundry. That relegates them to casual wear only. Then I make more black pants!

At the moment, my favorite knit pants pattern is the Pencil Pant from the Sewing Workshop (TSW). It's one of those PDF downloads that you tape together, but I don't mind that. It's mindless work while watching the news. Based on a recent article, that may be the way of future patterns, as the pattern-printing business contracts.
My previous favorite knit pants pattern was TSW's Helix pants. I've made those a number of times. I still wear and enjoy them, but I have never been 100% happy about the waistband finish. The waistband is created with a wide piece of elastic that is zig-zag stitched to the top edge. Then it is flipped to the inside. It makes for a very nice flat waistband, but it does mean that the elastic sits against my skin.
The waistband on the Pencil Pants is more to my liking, as the elastic is fully enclosed. It still has a fairly smooth waist line finish, much like yoga pants, without all the gathers of some pull-on pants. One of the nice details of most TSW pants is a flat front, achieved in a variety of ways.

New black ponte pencil pants - not much to photograph!
Another pants look I like a lot is captured in TSW's Picasso pants. I have made those in a variety of fabrics, now in wool. It's a shape I have to be careful to pair with the right top so that I don't look like the Pillsbury dough boy, or just a blob. But I think they are interesting due to the slight cropping of the length and the shaping.
Again, notice the flat front achieved in one of TSW's signature waistband designs.

Stitching the waistband with the elastic inside
These pants are constructed with three vertical panels, rather than the usual two. and there is a horizontal seam below the knee creating more shaping in the lower third of the silhouette. They are super comfortable and so it may be that I'm just kidding myself about the cool shape. When your back hurts, all comfort options are considered!

And I had this yummy light weight black wool in stash. I bought it from a local designer when she had a de-stash sale a while back. It is almost a gauze, with a pebble finish. It has nice drape and the color is very, very black.

The last time I made a pair of Picasso pants I was short of fabric and had to piece one of the side panels. After completing them I realized I had missed a great opportunity for an inseam pocket. This time around, I deliberately added an in-seam pocket to each side panel.

In order to add the pocket, I drew a line perpendicular to the grain line about 10 inches from the top of the side panel. Then I drew a second horizontal line that was 1 1/4 inch from the first drawn line. When I cut the two pieces of each side panel, I folded the pattern tissue up to the bottom line for the top piece, and the top line for the bottom piece. That way, the two pieces overlap by 1 1/4 inch, or two 5/8 inch seam allowances.

Before constructing the legs of the pants, I sewed the upper and lower pieces of the side panels together along the new horizontal seam. I used a basting stitch for the middle 6 inches of that seam. Then I pressed the seam open, and top-stitched the lower seam allowance.

For pocket pieces, I cut fabric the width of the new horizontal seam and about 7 inches long, following the curve of the side panel. I finished the raw edges of each pocket piece.

Then I sewed the pocket piece to the upper seam allowance of the horizontal seam. I top-stitched the hem of the pocket in place, creating another horizontal line in the side panel. The sides of the pocket are caught in the seams attaching the side panels to the front and back panels of the original pattern pieces.

I worried that they might be too sheer as I was sewing them. Now that they are finished, I'm convinced they are fine. But I can always wear leggings or tights under them, or go back and add a lining at some point. For now, they feel great and I don't want to add another layer.

The weather is right for wool right now, so I look forward to wearing these very soon.


  1. I'm with you on black pants. They are a staple in my wardrobe.

    Have you tried adding pockets to the Pencil Pants? I really need pockets in my pants.

    1. No, it's harder with knit pants, I think, because of the close fit. I'm guessing it would be necessary to go up a size to keep them flat. HTH

  2. LOVE your reviews. Thank you.

  3. They look so good! And I am the same. Always needing black pants because they must be BLACK :)

  4. Lovely. I love the luxury and drape of a tropical weight wool.

  5. My moms’s secret to keeping blacks black is to add salt to the wash water. Also polyesters seem to retain the color better due to the dye process. I like your selection of pants. I have only one pair of black pants in my closet right now, so I should probably get to sewing some!

  6. Last week I did a seasonal closet review and heavens, so many black pants! Can you ever have too many? Love the patterns you've chosen and I might give those pencil pants a try.