Perfect Pants – No Zipper, No Elastic

I have been procrastinating about this for months because the half of me that wears pants hates cameras but these pants have a secret that I want to share. Back in the 80’s I had a pants pattern that had this clever hidden closure and for years I have been wishing I could find another like it. (Okay, so I’m a little slow. Don’t judge me.) Finally, it occurred to me that, “Hey! It’s not that hard! I can do that with any pants pattern.”

I normally go untucked but for obvious reasons I wore a long, tucked in top for this modeling session. These were the two best of about a dozen really bad pictures. For some reason my camera doesn’t like to focus on anything red.

Red Pants

Red Pants Pocket Secret

As you can see (I hope) in the second photo, instead of being stitched together, the inside edges of the pocket on the left side are left open and hemmed. Then I had to measure the top edge of the pants to determine the length of the waistband, cut a piece for the waistband and sewed it on like you would a normal waistband, and finished with a single button and buttonhole. I haven’t had any problems with gapping but if you feel you need to you could add a hidden button or velcro to the open edges. This also works well on skirts.

The pattern I started out with is almost nothing like what I ended up with so there’s not much point in even mentioning it but I have a few things I want to say about it. It’s McCalls 6173. It has both leggings and slacks. We’re talking about the slacks here. The overall fit is surprisingly good, aside from a few design flaws. My usual size fits the way I want pants to fit, nowhere near as tight as on the model shown on the envelope.

The flaws: First of all, no pockets. (What kind of sick person would design pants without pockets! Seriously, where am I supposed to keep my 2nd brain smartphone?) Second flaw, the description on the pattern envelope claims that the top of the pants is at one inch below the natural waistline. It’s actually more like three inches below the waist and it takes a weird dip in the back. Obviously, these pants were designed for cute young gals who want to show off their tramp stamps and/or lacy thongs. So I had to fix that problem (Yay, mom jeans!) plus added the pockets, using another pattern as a partial guide but keeping the fit of this pattern. There’s also a scrunchy leg detail, which is okay I guess but I just wanted a plain leg and that was easy to change. And of course I eliminated the zipper. I used tracing paper* to make completely new pattern pieces. I probably did it all the “wrong” way but it worked out great for me.

The fabric is a cotton spandex twill from Denver Fabrics. They have a lot of stretch twill and corduroy. Unfortunately there’s no way to tell from looking at the website how stretchy any fabric will be. Some of it is nicely stretchy and sometimes I get fabric that makes me think that someone had to have had a pretty good imagination to call it “stretch” fabric. But I’m learning a few things to look for. Generally the “sateen twill” and the “fine line twill” is less stretchy than some of the other twills. This tomato red fabric is in the nicely stretchy category and is soft and very comfortable.

I have made three pair like this so far including one of the supposed-to-be-stretch-but-it’s-really-not fabric and even those are fairly comfortable. The other is burnt orange stretch corduroy and, like the red ones, are very comfortable. I want to make lots more of these to replace all my existing baggy pull-on pants but as I said in another post I might slow down a little on the clothes sewing in the hope of maybe dropping a size.

*You can get big rolls of tracing paper at Amazon. I was just too lazy to look it up and link to it.

5 thoughts on “Perfect Pants – No Zipper, No Elastic

  1. BeaJay

    Now they are well fitted pants. Love the closure option…. hmm – might need to try that – although my stomach does tend to like the elastic at the moment!

  2. LJB

    I am in awe. I do not sew at all. A couple years ago I did manage to put together some polar fleece socks for family Christmas gifts. I’m still recovering. I am amazed by anyone who can make actual clothes they would be seen in public in. I really like the color and the way these fit you. Well done!

  3. Lynn Post author

    Thank you! 🙂

    My stomach used to like elastic but, strangely, my back decided a couple of years ago that it does not like elastic so they talked it over and decided that they would let me wear pants with a flat waistband as long as it’s not too stiff. They actually both prefer dresses.

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