Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

Today is another project from my 2017 Make Nine list–Simplicity 1696, a pair of chino-type pants.

Simplicity 1696

As I was choosing my projects for the year, I wanted to make sure I had a few pants (or trousers for my non-American friends out there) on my list because I realized that I still fear making them and therefore I avoid them.  It’s not the construction that I fear.  It’s fitting.  Here’s the problem with fitting…you might know something isn’t right, but that doesn’t mean you know the cause of the issue.  How can you fix a problem if you don’t even know what the problem is?  But when I look back at my experience making button up shirts, which I have come to love, I realize that you can’t figure out your common fitting issues if you never make the garment in the first place.

So, this year pants are on the list.

Simplicity 1696

I’ve had this particular pattern for a long time, but I’ve never made it before now.

Simplicity 1696


Simplicity 1696

It’s one of the Amazing Fit series, so it sounded like it had a lot of extra fitting tips inside, and it definitely delivered.  Before beginning, it directs you to take certain measurements to determine which back piece you will use–slim, average, or curvy.  Once I measured myself, I chose curvy.  There are some great tips for fitting as you go as well as extra-wide seam allowances in key places.  The pattern has directions for adding faux welt pockets to the back, but after trying them out, I thought they looked fake, so I took them off again.  Otherwise, I did everything as instructed.  The only fitting I did was to take the inseams in by 1/8″.

Simplicity 1696

That being said, I think there is excess fabric in the back, and I don’t know what to do about that.  MY FITTING FEARS HAVE COME TO PASS!  AHHHH!!!!

OK, so it’s not quite as scary as I thought.  😉

You can see it better in the picture below.

Simplicity 1696

The fabric I used for these pants is a cotton/spandex sateen from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  It’s a little on the light side, although it is a bottomweight.  So, here is my question for you, readers:  do you think all the back wrinkles are due to fabric choice or something else?  The feel of these pants is perfection.  They are comfortable and not too tight.  But the look of the back leaves something to be desired.  Should I have gone with the average back?  Is it something else entirely?  The few shorts I have made before have generally needed more length in the back crotch seam rather than less, but maybe these are different?  I’m not sure.

Simplicity 1696

After trying them on, I decided not to worry too much about it.  Hopefully I’ll run across the answer at some point (maybe one of you will have it), but since these feel so comfortable, I decided not to let my fitting questions stop me from finishing the project.

Simplicity 1696

So, final analysis?  This is a great pattern, which I highly recommend.  For myself, I may not have figured the pattern out to perfection, but I now have one more pair of pants under my belt (haha), and I’m a little bit less afraid.


  • Anyone who has been reading the blog for awhile will know that I love fabric from Cotton + Steel (the tiger shirt I’m wearing in the photos above is made with Cotton + Steel fabric), so it was a lot of fun to hear about the inception of the design group as well as the personal story of Melody Miller, one of the founding designers.  If you want to listen, you can check out this podcast episode from Modern Sewciety and/or this one from the Crafty Planner podcast.  If you are new to podcasts, you can find out how to listen to them by scrolling to the bottom of the second link.
  • My husband and I have very different taste in books, but every once in awhile he comes across one that, while it may not be my typical genre, he is sure that I will like.  He’s a good judge of these things, so that’s what caused me to dip my toe into a little sci-fi recently with the audiobook version of Starwars:  Bloodline–New Republic…and it was so good.
  • If you are north of Boston, whether in Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, or southern Maine and are looking for a good place to eat, I highly recommend The Farm Bar & Grille for delicious, casual food.  Good for a date, good for a family outing.  I’ve only tried the Massachusetts branch, but I’d be willing to bet the New Hampshire and Maine ones are good too.
  • I think this particular bad lip read video is appropriate since I just recommended a Star Wars book…(And if your kids are standing by while you watch it, Luke says “pitchy” at the end, not the word that rhymes with pitchy that we tell our kids not to say.  😉   )

12 responses »

  1. The fabric pooling in the back is happening for two reasons – the crotch depth and the width of the back. The book “Pants for Real People” by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto explains what to do in detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heather of Closet Case patterns has tutorials on pants fitting with lots of visuals. It might help. So does Colette patterns. Good luck, pants are difficult but you are on your way! Now I have to get to it, too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done diving in and making these – they look great.

    A couple of tips that I found when I was trying to fit pants – It sounds like your already on this, but just remember no pants are perfect. After slaving for weeks with my pants I finally took pictures of me in some of my favourite ready to wear pants – from behind as if I were going to blog them…and sure enough – most of the issues I’d been worrying about were there in those pants too. I’d been happy to accept the issues in ready to wear, but not in my home made – it did allow me to step back and realise I don’t need to achieve perfection.

    A second thing that might be worth trying is to trace a couple of pairs of ready made pants back crotch seam and compare them to the pattern you are using. So put one leg inside the other so you can see the back seam fully – align the outside legs so that they are the same each time and look at the width, depth and also angle of that back crotch seam – see if you can see any similarities or differences. I found that the angle is something that is often glossed over and it did make a big difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so helpful. What you say makes a lot of sense. Thanks for both the pep talk and the fitting advice. I’ve been feeling like I don’t really have a great understanding of how pants work, should trying what you said toward the end of your comment would be helpful.


  4. I see you are having the same problems as I am. The book we were talking about, that I blogged about, the “Pants for Real People” book, described how to fit it. I am terrible with sewing terms but I did take in the inseams at the crotch and the side seams and the back/crotch seam like they suggested and it got rid of a lot of the extra fabric. I started with 1/4″ and took a bit more off after I tried them on again. These are chinos though – do you think they might shrink? and I think a baggier look might be okay for chinos too, so I wouldn’t take them in too much without trying them on after every alteration. Your outfit still looks great!


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