The Baggy Bump Trousers
Posted on Thursday the 22nd February 2018 by Anna-Jo Sews
Hi everyone, it’s Anna from Anna-Jo Sews here, and this month I’m back with some more of my adventures in maternity sewing. It’s no secret that there are precious few maternity patterns out there, and that can make it really tough finding something that fits your personal style. While my usual look is a big vintagey and rockabilly, I’ve found myself trying different styles while pregnant as I’m not convinced my usual wardrobe would look good on this bodyshape.
This time I thought I’d experiment with a very different silhouette for me: wide legged trousers. Basically, I’ve grown heartily sick of wearing dresses over leggings and was desperate for a change. I’m hoping these trousers should get lots of wear over the last ten weeks of my pregnancy. Eeek, is the baby really coming so soon?! *buries head in sand and tries to pretend she doesn’t have a huge list of things that need doing first*
The pattern I chose is Burda 7239, which comes with patterns for trousers, a vest top, a bolero wrap cardigan and a belly band. They are all for stretch knits, and give a great little capsule wardrobe for pregnancy lounging wear. This was my first time sewing with a Burda paper pattern, and I was pleased to see it came with seam allowances included, as for some reason I had it in my head that Burda didn’t do this (perhaps that’s only with the PDFs and magazine patterns?).
This pattern totally jumped my sewing queue as we’ve been having a real cold snap in the UK, and I was desperate for a pair of trousers I could layer over maternity leggings for extra warm legs. We’re just not used to freezing temperatures here in the West Country—our winters are usually pretty mild. Also, my partner and I had plans for a trip to Berlin earlier this month, and I knew it was going to be really cold there too, so I got cutting out my fabric the day before we left. Might not have been my best idea…
As part of my continuing mission to experiment with more textured fabrics, I picked out a black textured stretch poly/elastane Knit Fabric which promised it had a “heavy” weight to it, as I thought it would be perfect for trousers. When it arrived I was pleased to discover it is indeed a true heavy weight fabric with plenty of body, and would also be ideal for jackets, dresses or skirts. It does have some stretch in both directions, but not too much: I estimate about 25% on the grain and 40% across the grain. This would be an excellent fabric for beginners to sewing with knits as it’s very stable and forgiving, although the seams can get bulky and might need topstitching (more on that later).
Because the surface texture is really bumpy and the whole yoke section is folded so that the right side goes against your skin, I decided to make a change by adding a waist seam, then cut a lining section out of some softer cotton lycra from my stash. I don’t actually think the bumpy texture would be all that noticeable in wear, but I know from past experience that I find clothes really uncomfortable over the bump at the end of pregnancy, so I decided to play it safe.
As I had no experience with Burda patterns I did find it difficult to choose which size to cut. Based on my current measurements (43” hips) I should have cut the size 20, but when I checked the finished garment measurements that would have given me excess ease of almost three inches at the hips! Judging from the photographs these are meant to fit with either zero or negative ease at the hips, so I decided to cut the size 18, as my fabric didn’t have huge amounts of stretch. With hindsight I should have gone for a 16, but more on that later. I also chose to keep the regular leg length despite my 5’7” height putting me just over the maximum for the pattern, but most of my extra length is in my body rather than my legs. Again, with hindsight I probably could have extended the legs by an extra inch or two, but I like the cropped look so it’s all good.
I had heard that Burda instructions are pretty basic even by the standards of the Big Four pattern companies, and while they are definitely on the sparse side this was such a simple sew it really didn’t matter to me. Beginner sewists might find them more tricky to follow, but the diagrams are clear and there’s nothing here a good sewing reference guide couldn’t help you with.
Top tip: Burda print a lot of the information you’d normally find in the instructions actually on the pattern tissue, and this is where I eventually located the cutting layout diagrams, key to symbols, size chart and finished garment sizes!
Sewing up was really straightforward and only took me forty minutes, as I did it all on the overlocker. Total win! Or so I thought…
Now, when I went to try on my freshly completed (bar the hem) trousers just hours before leaving for our trip to Berlin, I realised I had a problem. Not just the fact I was trailing overlocker chains at my ankles, either. There were the dreaded CROTCH FIT ISSUES!
Yes, I know I should have made a toile like I usually do, but I didn’t have any fabrics with anything like the weight and drape of this one to use, and I’d figured what was the worst that could happen? Turns out the worst was major crotch bagginess. You’ll have to take my word for that as taking pics of wrinkles in black clothing on a dull winter day is pretty much impossible, but the trousers were promptly thrown back on the sewing pile and I finished packing my suitcase without them. Boo!
After getting back from my city break I picked up the trousers again and tried to work out what alterations were needed. I put them on inside out and pinned out the excess fabric. There was too much at the top of the yoke (about 1” on each side) and at the seam where the yoke meets the front crotch. I ended up pinning out about 1” at the centre of that seam, tapering to nothing by the side seams.
The other thing my fitting revealed was that the overlocked seams were just too bulky to look good without being topstitched down. I think you could get away without doing this if you sewed this fabric on a regular machine and pressed it open, but I certainly couldn’t when using the overlocker. So I decided to unpick the yoke, press and topstitch all the leg and crotch seams (using Regular Gutermann Thread and a 1mm width zig-zag stitch), and then added elastic from my stash to the top of the yoke to deal with the excess fabric there. With hindsight I think I should have just shaved the fabric off the yoke side seams like I pinned it out while fitting as the elastic looks a little bulky for my liking, but never mind. At least these won’t have any wardrobe malfunctions during wear!
I’ve got to say, I’m really pleased with how well the topstitching worked at flattening the seam allowances, particularly where they cross. The fabric texture pretty much swallows the stitching so it’s not obvious, and any little mistakes have disappeared.
Overall I’m really happy with this addition to my maternity wardrobe. Black trousers might not be the most exciting thing to sew, but they’re an incredibly useful basic when putting outfits together and they go with every single one of my maternity tops. I’m hoping I can extend the life of these trousers into post pregnancy by altering the side seams at the yoke, as they look like they could be really comfy for that awkward few months (years?!) of flabby belly before I can slim down enough to fit into my old clothes.
These trousers are definitely secret pyjamas as they’re so comfy, and in this fabric they look smart enough for workwear. Not that I have a job to go to as I’m self-employed, but I think this would be a great pattern for working mamas-to-be. I’m also liking the slightly cropped length, and am even considering cropping them a few inches more once (if?!) the weather warms up to give that cropped culottes look that’s been so popular lately.
I probably won’t make these trousers again because I’ve only got ten weeks to go and I’m not planning on having any more kids after this one, but I will hold onto the pattern as I reckon that little bolero cardie could be cute as a summer cover up over sundresses, and it looks like the kind of style that can easily fit non-pregnant bodies too.
Just two more Minerva maternity makes to go for me. I’d better get sewing right now if I want to get any wear out of them before I pop!
All materials for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!