Finishing Ellen

Ellen Pants, with button and belt-loops

I pretty much finished the Businesswoman Pants back in October, shortly before I embarked on the coat for Tyo. And I was pretty happy, but after a day of wearing them two things were obvious. First, the little metal pants-hook and bar I had sewed were not in any way, shape, or form sturdy enough to keep these pants up (in fact, by the end of the day the metal bar was a twisted remnant of its former self). Second, the lack of belt-loops was driving me nuts, because they kept sliding down (increasing the strain on the hook and bar). I don’t know if this is a side-effect of the dropped waist or the slippery lining or just the generally rectangular shape of my hips, but it was still annoying.

Anyway, it was clear that the pants needed a button and belt-loops. And today,

Rear, with belt-loops

while I waited for my laptop to defrag and otherwise soothe its booboos (it’s been cranky lately), I decided to tackle these minor finishes. So I made a button hole (successfully, by machine!!!! … on the third try. Fortunately this wool is highly forgiving of needle-holes), and cut, interfaced, ironed, and topstitched (as subtly as possible) the belt loops. I didn’t want to topstitch the belt-loops in place, either, so that took a bit more thinking. You can do this without too much trouble, I think, if you apply the belt-loops while you’re constructing the waistband, but once it’s done it takes a bit more finagling.

I ended up sewing the bottom ends, folding them up and over to the inside of the waistband, and hand-stitching there. Me and my hand-stitching, I know. Also, figuring out how to distribute your belt loops when none of your seams line up is a pain in the ass.

Fancy button

I was going to attach one of my usual jeans buttons, but (perhaps fortunately) I couldn’t find the little doohickey for hammering them on, so I went through my buttons and found this black plastic shank button with a rather battered “jewel,” that arrived in a small and generally unremarkable baggie of buttons from the thrift store a few weeks back. I’m not convinced that the plastic shank will be tough enough either, but it’s not as if it’s an overly precious button. But it’s cute, and where else am I going to use a rather tacky plastic-gemstone unique button? It will get scratched up and hidden by belts, but it’s already rather battered, so whatever :).

I’m not convinced that I totally love these pants—my hips definitely benefit from the pocket and yoke detail on jeans—but they’re warm (which sounds really good right now) and will definitely come in handy when, y’know, I don’t want to look like a total schlub.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Finishing Ellen

  1. Those look great on you! You’re probably right, it’s the low-waist that made the hook and bar misbehave. I like the dressy button, it’s nice with the pinstripes. I was just thinking, we sew completely opposite things. You make knit tops and pants, two things I never make, and tackle them with confidence.
    Anyways… stay warm over there!

    • I have used hook & bar on low-waisted things before (successfully), but it was skirts or loose-fitted pantaloons, nothing close-fitting like this.

      Thanks for all the comments last night!

  2. Like Tasia, I think it’s the lowered waist which is to blame for the sliding-down issues. Especially combined with a slippery lining. As you know, I love my higher waisted trousers and the fact that they’re ‘anchored’ at the narrowest part of my torso, and as a result don’t need to be very tight at the waistband to stay on, is definately part of the appeal. But of course, it’s not a look which works for everyone.

    I had another reason to comment though: I know you’ve posted about those back pockets before, so it’s likely someone wrote this already… In which case you can just ignore the following.
    It looks like you’ve used lining fabric for all of the inside bits of the pocket. Usually, when making any kind of bound pocket, you use the fashion fabric on at least the top bit of the pocket piece which will be attached to the top part of the binding (many seamstresses make that entire piece out of fashion fabric). With a bound pocket, you will always see a little bit of the pocket inside between the welt and on trousers, often more.
    Also: On trousers, I like to make button hole under the pocket opening. You have to do that mid-way through the construction of the pocket because it has to go through the outside and the pocket piece attached to the lower binding. With a button on the other pocket piece, you can close the pocket and keep it from opening up too far when you sit down and staying like that.

    • Yeah, I actually discovered that first little trick in those sewing books I bought on the weekend (only a month or so too late…). We live and learn. The hidden button is a neat idea. I have considered adding a visible button after the fact, but we’ll see how ambitious I get. Always appreciate your comments :). You look rocking in your high-waisted trousers; I would just feel like a whale.

      • The button I described wouldn’t be hidden. And, unfortunately, it’s an absolute pain to add it afterwards. I’ve just made another pair of trousers with this feature. Of course, I didn’t think about documenting the process, but I’ll take some pictures of the end result today and will try to explain it in more detail on my blog.

  3. Jeans can be very nice to shape what you want to shape. However, I really like these dressy pants, and I think that they fit you really well too. The belt loops defenetly add a little something!

  4. Marie-Christine

    Warm is very good :-). But yes, pants do need something to stay up. If you don’t have much hips, or negate them by making the waist so low, your only alternatives are suspenders or belts. Both if you’re that kind of person :-).

  5. They look great! I have to wear a belt all the time with pants (I’m a size bigger hip to waist) and I wish I didn’t have to. I’m going to tackle my abandoned pants soon. I like the comment above about adding the button to the pockets so you can close them. I’ve noticed that on a lot of the rtw pants I own.

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