I picked up She Wears the Pants, a Japanese sewing book by Yuko Takada, on an impulse while running to catch a train last week. Previous Japanese sewing books that I’ve seen have turned me off with super boxy styles and titles like Sweet Dress Book. When was the last time I wore a sweet dress? This one, however, really caught my eye. The original title translates to “She Has a Mannish Style,” which I think suits me perfectly. The designs are androgynous but not tent-like (for the most part), with some really interesting details and challenging techniques. I was intrigued!
After pouring through the pages in deep thought, I finally settled on the Sarrouel Trousers for my first project. Full disclosure: The first time I saw these shorts, I wrote them off as completely unwearable and absolutely ridiculous. Slowly but surely, however, this pattern grew on me, and I found myself ravenously curious about how this bias-cut puzzle fit together and intrigued by the idea of wearing such an edgy garment out on the streets of Boston. John instantly declared them to be “horrible,” which was basically throwing down the gauntlet as a challenge for me to prove him wrong. 🙂
Armed with a 3-day weekend and some 10-year-old poly/cotton plaid that I recently re-discovered during my apartment move, I set out to make a muslin of these adult diaper-like shorts. I usually refer to this extreme dropped-crotch style as “harem pants,” but apparently “sarouel trousers” (with one r, not two as in the pattern name) is another common name. Whatever you call them, there’s plenty of room for your crotch to breathe in these pants, LOL!
I wasn’t sure how the sizing would work out, especially since measuring the flat pattern proved to be a challenge since I couldn’t even identify all the different components of the waistline, so I just made a straight size L (the largest size) with no alterations.
And you know what? I kind of like them!
I think you really have to embrace the diaper-butt look of this garment to really pull it off. You know, as if you’re doing it on purpose. As if you’re trying to be urban and edgy in this nontraditional silhouette, as opposed to walking around in pants that are 5 sizes too big on you. The jury is out as to whether I’d actually feel comfortable wearing these shorts out in public, but I’m weirdly fascinated and obsessed with them!
Friends, what do you think? Should I make a real garment from this pattern??
While you’re pondering whether or not I’ve truly lost my mind…
Thoughts on working with this pattern book:
- This is my first time using a Japanese pattern book, and I really like it. I find many of the designs to be interesting and edgy, not your standard wardrobe basics. The details are well thought out, and some of the patterns (like the jackets) are actually quite complicated. For $16, which I’ve paid for a single indie pattern, I’d say this was a good investment in a set of high quality patterns.
- Be prepared to embark on a treasure hunt for your pattern pieces in the jumbled mess of overlapping outlines on the pattern sheets. I found it particularly difficult to find notches, grainlines, and other pattern markings, especially those that are not located along the pattern edge. Thankfully everything is labeled – you just have to keep your eyes peeled.
- The patterns do not include seam allowances. UGH. Honestly, it was not difficult to add them myself, but it was time consuming. I really don’t understand why the designer couldn’t have included them in the first place! The fabric layouts do show you specifically how much SA to add to each piece, but I don’t see a good reason for making the user do this.
Thoughts on the Sarrouel Trousers pattern:
- I can’t decide if this pattern would work better in a slinky fabric with a lot of drape (like a rayon challis) or a stiffer fabric with a solid hand (like a bottom-weight cotton or light denim). I’d be curious to try both!
- I think a large-scale plaid or stripe would be ideal for this pattern to show off the contrast between bias-cut pieces and straight-grain pieces. The bolder and more directional the print, the better.
- I found the pocket instructions to be absolutely bizarre and to result in an unprofessional finish. The instructions leave you with two serged edges just inside the pocket opening, as opposed to neatly enclosing all the raw edges on the interior of the garment. Even weirder, the instructions include a French seam on the bottom of the pocket bag, which no one will see, but leave raw/serged edges in plain view! I’ve sewed plenty of slash pockets with no problem, so I’m not sure why the instructions are so peculiar on this pattern. I’m planning to alter my pattern pieces to avoid the exposed serged edges if I make these shorts again.
- The instructions for installing the fly zipper were new to me and seemed to be very “efficient,” meaning not very hand-holdy. I think there were a total of 3 lines of stitching in the entire fly insertion, which was time-saving but a little scary! I’d recommend trying this method as a learning experience, but take a deep breath beforehand. 🙂
- I took Carolyn’s advice and cut the fly extension as one piece with the left front of the shorts. Just overlap the seam lines on your pattern pieces and cut the fabric as one. This reduces bulk at the fly opening and, in my opinion, looks and wears better over time.
- The pattern instructs you to sew the short ends of the waistband to the waistband facing *before* attaching the waistband to the shorts. I would not recommend doing this, as all other waistbands I’ve sewn have you sew the short ends *after* the waistband is already attached. Doing it afterward encloses the seam allowances nicely inside. Like the pocket instructions, I found this to be perplexing as I feel it’s a solved problem.
- These shorts include bias edges all over the place. I’d recommend staystitching every edge of the main pattern pieces, except those that are plain rectangles. Skip this step at your own peril!
- Once I saw how all the bias-cut pieces fit together, I was surprised that the front and back of the shorts are actually identical before you sew the inseam. Weird! The inseam winds up being a LONG horizontal seam from leg to leg.
- I could have used a few more notches when aligning the bottom of the waistband with the top of the shorts. I figured it out in the end, but it’s worth noting that notches seemed to be missing in places where I would have expected them.
- The button loop (instead of a buttonhole) is a nice detail and something you don’t see in many patterns. I skipped it for my muslin (along with the belt carriers), but I’d definitely include it in a finished garment.
- As other bloggers have noted, the sizing in this book is quite small. I made the largest size (L), which wound up being a pretty good fit. The only area to fit on this pattern is the waist, and it is definitely on the low-slung end of the spectrum on me. I like my pants to sit low, so this worked out perfectly. I would agree with other bloggers that there is more ease in these patterns than you might think, so don’t be afraid to try them if your measurements are bit outside the upper range. (For reference, the size L calls for a 27.5 inch waist and 38 5/8 inch hips, and my measurements are 29 and 37, respectively.)
- There are 3 tucks along the hem of each leg. While I like the tucks as an interesting designer detail, I found the leg openings to be *just* a bit too tight after sewing the tucks, especially when sitting down. I think I’ll release one tuck on each leg to give myself a little more wearing ease.
I haven’t seen any other Sarrouel Trousers pop up on the web yet, but I’m dying to hear what other people think of this pattern!
And most importantly, does this muslin warrant a real garment in fashion fabric??? Honest opinions, please!