Sometimes sewing can feel like a super power. It can take something sentimental but unwearable and turn it into something useful again.
I have a few smallish stacks of clothes waiting alterations and mending. I’m determined to make the most of my existing clothes after a recent weight loss:
The alternation pile contains some clothes I’ve made myself and am very proud of, some sentimental pieces, and a few purchased items of clothes I love the fabric of (or otherwise know won’t sell if I donate it). While I have a number of garments I’ll be rehoming responsibly, it would be hard for me to get rid of these.
I finally tackled the first piece yesterday: the pair of moustache trousers you can see poking out towards the bottom of the Alteration pile.
Apologies in advance for a lack of ‘before’ and ‘during’ pictures. I originally thought this was going to be a simple alternation not really worthy of a blog post, then was too in the zone to stop and document. More on that later.
The Story Behind the Moustache Trousers
I bought these trousers while travelling in 2014. I was in Turkey, staying at the home of a British couple for a few weeks to help out on their smallholding. They were a minibus ride from Yalova- the closest city and where we did a weekly shop at a farmer’s market.
I spotted the trousers while on that minibus, hanging up outside of a small shop. I bought a pair despite my lack of Turkish (I think I only picked up the words for coffee, tea, one and ten during my time there). They weren’t especially comfortable from the get go, but I wore them now as then as the viscose was cool in the incredibly hot Turkish June.
They survived with me all this time, and still bring back memories of that trip, so I couldn’t bear to part with them.
A Simple Mend… or not
I picked them as my first alteration as I thought it would be a simple case of just tightening up the elastic in the waistband, as well as repairing the slight bodge job I’d done in mending the trousers a few years ago when the original elastic in the waistband had gone.
I don’t have great pictures of it- but the original elastic was sewn into the front seam, a scrap of it was still there as I’d cut out the elastic around the stitching to make my life a bit easier at the time. I’d also just stitched new elastic in around that seam (the white stitching is visible just above the finger on the left), creating a casing just as big as the elastic I was inserting.
All I wanted to do was make proper casing and hopefully reuse that elastic.
Thankfully I was able to, but when testing out how much to tighten up the elastic, I realised the trousers weren’t comfortable at all. Further investigation led to a dodgy crotch curve. It’s hard for me to explain because I’ve only made a few pairs of trousers that fit well – but I think this comparison might help:
The shape the seam is where your pelvis goes. Basically these moustache trousers left no room for my bum. I either got a massive wedgie wearing them (in GBSB terminology: hungry bum) or couldn’t walk properly because I had to wear them so low.
This picture of me wearing them might help- the waistband should be level:
I could try and fix the problem or use the fabric with a new pattern. Alteration was the easiest option so I dug through my stash of scraps and went ahead with the only spare viscose I had on hand: a blue and white striped dress that was a bit too worn to donate to a charity shop. I figured I could get a scrap of tan viscose at some point to make the mend more subtle the next time I was in a charity or fabric shop, already knowing the shape/size patch I needed from this test.
I opened up the inseam from the crotch to about level with my knee on both legs, and then roughly measured the gap in the crotch seam that needed filling to make the waistband level again. Then I put the trousers on my work table and traced around the triangular space created when I made that same length gap in the seam. Last step was sewing in patches from the stripey dress.
Or – look what I added in this pic:
Was this going to work? No idea, but I figured at worst I could sew it back up the way it was.
The End Result
Hooray! It worked, and it wasn’t even that noticeable during normal wear. And while the thought that I could swap it out at some point convinced me to give it a go, now that it’s there, I’m going to keep the stripes. I love it. I’d even wear the trousers outside with a big ol’ badge that says ‘ Ask me about my stripey gusset!’
I tried explaining what I did to my husband but he had no idea what I was talking about. He commented though that he’s not sure he’s ever seen me happier. Hyperbole: for sure. But I won’t deny how good it felt to know I fixed these! They’re not perfect by any means, but an elastic waistband and loose drapey fabric hide so many sins.
And it reminded me of another power of mending: it adds to the history of the piece. By the time it’s no longer wearable, I’ll probably be able to write a book about this pair of moustache trousers.
Here’s a little twirl:
If I look a little groggy in that picture it’s because I woke up about 20 mins before! I wanted to get the video before I forgot.
There’s still lots more that needs alteration, and next time I’ll do my best to get before and during pictures!