• Emery Smith

Portobello trousers

I recently finished sewing up this pair of fancy trousers that I'm rather proud of! They were created using the Portobello trousers pattern by Nina Lee Patterns.

I have never worn a pair of high-waisted trousers before - I always thought they would emphasise my hips and be massively dysphoria inducing.

And I never thought high-waisted trousers would suit me, I'm fairly short (164cm) and I don't have an hourglass figure at all, my waist and hip measurements are in fact very similar.


But I'm finding now I either need trousers to sit below my belly, or above it, or the waistband becomes uncomfortable. High-waisted trousers look better for a formal look I think (and less chance of shirts becoming untucked), so it was worth an experiment.

The trousers were a relatively easy make, and didn't actually take long in terms of actual sewing hours. What did take a while was the fitting. Per the size guide, my waist measurement (38 inches) put me at size 20, but my hip measurement (39 inches) put me at size 12. The instructions say to base the size off your waist but I wasn't convinced it would work with such a large difference in the sizes derived from the two measurements.


I decided to try a toile of a standard size 18 to check the fit. The waistband fit perfectly but as I suspected, there was too much fabric around my hips. So I decided to grade the pattern from a size 12 at the crotch level to a size 18 at the waistband.


The pattern pieces looked a bit strange but I sewed up a second toile and it was perfect!

The fabric I used was this beautiful drapey grey-green worsted wool from Fabworks. It was £12 a metre which I thought was quite reasonable, and I only used 1.5m. I gave it a wash on my machine's wool cycle before sewing with it and it was fine, no shrinking or felting. It's lovely to sew with although creases quite easily. It's light-weight so will be good for any season I think.

Aside from the pattern grading I did, the only other modifications were to stitch down the pleats a bit (they were being pulled open a bit without this), and I also used a slide closure rather than a button as I hadn't figured out my new machine's buttonhole function yet! (All in good time.....)

If I were to make another pair, I think the only change I would make is to raise the height of the pockets slightly. Perhaps I have short arms but they seem a bit low to me. And probably try a bit harder to make the invisible zip actually invisible!

For finishing the inside of the waistband, it is recommended you use hand-stitching for a neater finish. I actually really enjoyed this part even though it was more time-confusing and think I might incorporate hand-stitching in my sewing more often (especially my shirt collars).

So do they emphasis my hips? Yes, perhaps, but thankfully I don't find they give me dysphoria at all.


In fact, during the trouble I had with the fitting of this pattern I was reminded of thoughts I used to have when I was a teenager. That I was never curvy enough to be feminine, nor broad enough to be masculine. I wasn't the standard shape of a woman or a man. But now as I get older, I realise that, whatever I am, my non-binary body has always been enough. Being able to sew for my body has been such a powerful tool for me.

So overall, I'm really pleased with them. Totally not the style for wearing around the house, but it means hopefully later in the year when we can all socialise again I will have something special to wear.

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