Nel Nan and Nora’s Shannon Collection Trousers and Shorts (x2)

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I’ve had the Shannon pattern since it was included with issue 31 of Love Sewing Magazine (September 2016) and have used the dress and top pattern on a few occasions, which was really quick and easy to make. For some reason I didn’t make the trousers or shorts until very recently, but then having realised how much I like them, I made three pairs in quick succession!

Sewing trousers can seem scary as fitting them brings challenges. I have to say that even after many years of sewing, it’s not something that I have much experience of, but practice certainly helps.

I made the trousers in a navy blue herringbone weave linen fabric from The Shuttle. It was a bargain roll end at just £10 (always a good thing) and enough was left over from the 2m long piece for one pair of shorts. For a second pair I used a cupro/linen mix from Fabworks, which was more difficult to work with than the linen. It looks and feels a little like silk dupion –and is recommended as a vegan alternative – but it has virtually no give or ease, which made inserting the waistband rather tricky. For the pocket linings, I used printed cotton scraps in coordinating colours that were left from other projects, as I love to have cheerful hidden details in my clothes.

It’s worth looking carefully at the finished garment measurements, as there is a fair amount of ease at the waist and hips. I made the trousers in my usual size 12 but found them rather loose, especially at the waist, and I took out about an inch/ 2.5cm at the centre back, creating a seam in the waistband and leaving a wider seam allowance that can be reduced if I gain weight (which is likely, as I’m smaller than usual at the moment after walking more than usual for a few weeks). For the shorts I cut size 10 but might have benefitted from grading between sizes for a better all round fit and a little more ease around the hips and seat. There’s always something to learn!

The instructions are clear and the construction method is logical, keeping the trousers flat for as long as possible. This is one of my favourite things about Simple Sew patterns, as the methods seem to borrow from garment industry construction and so can be very efficient. There is a side zip (although the pattern piece has the zip notch on the centre back, which can just be used for matching up the seam), which is only inserted once the waistband has been attached.

 

These photos show some of the processes involved.

First the pockets are sewn to the trouser fronts, then to the pocket facings. I stabilised the cut edge of the the trousers to reduce stretching 

The centre front and centre back seams follow next, then the right hand side seam (or left hand if you prefer a zip on the right hand side). 


 

The most challenging aspect for me was matching up all the waistband seams when attaching it to the trousers. I’d suggest slowing down, using lots of pins and checking carefully as you sew. 

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When sewing an invisible zip, I find it works best to open it out, press the tapes and coils gently with a warm iron to flatten them, and then to use a standard zip foot and quilting clips. If your sewing machine has an adjustable needle position, this can be used to help you sew more precisely, close enough to the coils so that the zip is not seen but without blocking them. I usually increase the stitch length to 3.0mm for this (whereas I use 2.8mm for most sewing).

 

 

To finish the waistbands, I chose to slip stitch them in place by hand. Only rarely have I had real success with ‘stitch in the ditch’ and I like the insides of my garments to be neat, so this works best for me.

Lastly, the inside leg seams are sewn (which find works best in two parts, working from the hem up to the crotch on each leg), and then the hems. I’m not very tall and turned a 9cm hem on my trousers, which I machine stitched in place, and a narrow hem on the shorts to maximise coverage!

 

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