some not so boring basics

i love all the bright colored pants i’ve been seeing, and i finally got around to making a pair. i ordered this coral twill a while back under the want of pink twill. pink… coral… same diff? eh. it’s just another not-exactly-what-i-thought-i-was-getting acquisition. i really waffled on whether or not to make these pants because of the color not being what i had in mind, but decided to go for it if for no other reason than to experiment with making a skinny cropped thurlow. then, if they didn’t turn out, i wouldn’t be too bothered. and whaddayaknow, i think they came out pretty okay!


ugh, and can i just say how hard it is to photograph pants? i look at the pics and all i see are HIPS. yeah, bright colors exaggerate that visually, but hello! fun pants! that, and i made about every derp face possible… i took 80 photos, and this is all i have to show for it. sorry, i know you all come here to view my stunning photography skillzzz… aha, aha, aha… KIDDING. moving on…

i decided to give these a dressier edge and scale back on all the topstitching i usually do. also, since i knew i would be stitching and unpicking to get the leg shape right, leaving the topstitching out definitely kept the frustration at bay. i did topstitch the whole crotch seam because, let’s face it, my backside needs all the reinforcement it can get. i used a hook and eye closure, the waistband is stitched in the ditch to catch the facing, and i even sewed up a tube to make the belt loops instead of just topstitching the folds.


i have to admit—getting the leg shape right was a lot more challenging than i had anticipated. i started out with a straight cut from about the knee down so i could easily taper in as i worked it all out. i’m not totally satisfied with the leg, but i have a much better idea of how to go about it for the future. after rounds of basting, taking in, letting out, taking back in… i finally just had to stop futzing and go with it. since this fabric is a non-stretch, it’s a delicate balance to achieve both wearability and good fit. i’ll certainly wear these pants, especially as the weather cools but before the chill really sets in; they’ll look great with my knit blazer, a denim jacket, my chambray archer, an in-the-works archer, and a few other tops in my wardrobe. they’re definitely a win, and definitely a learning experience!

EDIT: in case anyone is interested, i wanted to add that i began tapering the outer seam about mid-thigh, then both inner and outer seam symmetrically from the knee down. i left about 1 1/2″ ease at mid-thigh, 3″ ease at the knee, and the hem circumference is 13″ or 14″.


the astute among you will notice my title says some basics; in other words, i also made the white tee i’m wearing. my last RTW white tees are pretty much only worn to bed, or relegated to what i wear for a heavy duty house cleaning, so it was time. a good white tee is the LBD of casual wear, and finding an appropriate white knit can feel a little like tilting at windmills. i got my fabric from (HERE) and it comes pretty close to ideal. it’s a cotton/rayon jersey, it’s super soft without being too challenging to work with, and, while far from opaque, is good enough to not require a cami.

i used the renfrew pattern with hem and sleeve bands omitted. i cut the shirt 2″ longer to account for the lost length, and the sleeves… i can’t remember if i made any changes to the pattern piece, i traced that off a long time ago. for reference, they are about 1 1/2″ long under the arm (after taking a 1/2″ hem) and cut straight across. the size 6 gives me a nice fitted tee, but i went with a size 8 since this fabric is thin. i find that thinner fabrics require more ease than thicker fabrics (knit or woven) and i really just wanted a nice comfy tee. mission accomplished!


can’t really see the details on my shirt, you’ll just have to take my word for it that it turned out really nice!

i thought i’d mention that the renfrew neck band has been the bane of existence for many people, and truthfully, i don’t even bother with that pattern piece. i sew up the right shoulder, attach the neckband, stretching as i feel necessary, then sew up the left shoulder. this is basically a fool-proof method if you ever have difficulty with knit neck bindings. yes, it means the one shoulder seam isn’t completely flawless, but it means that there is no guessing about neckband length and, most importantly, no unpicking and re-doing. if you’re serging, it’s easiest to leave only a 1/4″ SA for the neckline and band so you don’t have to worry about slicing off just the right amount evenly. then i zig zag over the neckband join to keep it in place and call it a day. easy peasy!


summer (in the school sense) is coming to an end this week. the three oldest will all be at school full time, which leaves just me and my 4-yr oliver at home (aside from a few hrs of preschool 3 days a week). oliver and izzie are so close and spend all day playing together without much attention from me, so having only oliver at home will eat into my daytime sewing for sure! i’ll have to go back to sewing at night most of the time, but it does give me the opportunity to do some activities with only him (izzie hates going out and when she’s bored or uncomfortable EVERYONE gets to hear about it). it will be a bit of an adjustment around here, but fortunately i have a small backlog of projects i need to get to posting about. happy first days of school everyone!

—lisa g.

28 thoughts on “some not so boring basics

  1. Susan says:

    Such cute pieces, and everything about this outfit looks RTW, in the best possible sense. Every time I wear my Renfrews, I ask myself why I haven’t made more…

    It sounds like it’s time to teach Oliver to sew!! 😀

    • lisa g says:

      renfrews are the best! i plan to beef up my stash of them this fall. and oooh the girls would be so jealous since i’ve told them repeatedly that i would let them have a crack at the machine… they’ve sewed a few times and really love it!

  2. shawnta715 says:

    Very cute basics you’ve made yourself there! I’ve often toyed with the idea of sliming the Turlow legs, my first idea being to maybe use something like the Clover from the knee down.

    • lisa g says:

      the clovers were really my inspiration here, i’ve always liked the shape of those pants. i prefer a regular fly and pockets though and well, i believe this is my 5th time with the thurlow! anyways, i started tapering in about mid-thigh on the outer seam, then mostly symmetrically (inner and outer) from the knee down. i have about 1 1/2″ ease at mid thigh, 3″ at the knee, and the hem circumference is 13″ or 14″. i’m editing my post to include this info!

  3. Shar says:

    You own the Thurlow pattern lady! I really have to give it another go. This outfit looks great! I have a pair of NYD jeans this exact color that I paid a pretty penny for and yours look the same. I do find it to be a versatile color (love to pair them with gray and navy blue tops) so I know you’ll get a lot of wear out of them. I would love if you would do a pants sew-a-long some time (in your spare time of course!).

  4. dokucug says:

    Hips? Where? I don’t see any hips 😉 Seriously, these pants make you look just what you are – nice and slim! I’m having pant envy . . . I really ought to take a crack at this pattern. I traced every single piece about a year ago and haven’t touched it since!

    And a white Renfrew? Genius!

    • lisa g says:

      haha well thanks, gail 🙂 i can’t believe you haven’t tried the thurlow yet, i think it’s time! and no doubt i’ll be ordering more of that white fabric, it’s so amazingly soft!

  5. joellestlaurent says:

    great pants! i’ve been wanting a pair of slim thurlows, but i’ve shyed away because i’ve never sewn pants. eh. that usually doesn’t stop me… and i love the color!

    • lisa g says:

      as we all know, pants come with some potential crazy fitting issues, but they’re so worth it when you get it right! hope you try it out sometime!

  6. dandeliondrift says:

    Lisa…these are awesome! I love the pants…have never made any for myself and would love to give them a try! Thanks for all the info for the modifications you made…I’m pinning this so when I do get around to pants I can remember what you did!

    • lisa g says:

      thank you! i hope you give them a try sometime–pants that fit are the best thing ever! of course i recommend the thurlow, but i also hear that the burda pants block is pretty good as well.

  7. Katie says:

    Love the color of those pants!! Thurlow is on my list to try next year — it’s been hanging out in my stash for WAY too long! Your whole ensemble is great! Perfect casual wear.

  8. aleah says:

    Aaah! So great! I was wanting to make a tapered Thurlow at some point in the fall, thanks for the guidelines. I like the color – sometimes the fabrics that weren’t-quite-what-I-thought turn out to be just what I needed. (And sometimes they’re terrible, of course. It’s like the FFC lottery.)

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