Tuesday, 24 April 2018

French Navy Calyer pants: tacky lounge pants for the win!

Like most people these days I discover new patterns via Instagram.  I saw a few pictures of Calyer pants sneak up before the pattern was put up for sale and I was already drooling at the lovely front, the spiraled side seams and the clever pockets.  Plus the fact of no closures on pants that look so stylish had me full of fancy aspirations.

I bought the fabric at The Fabric Store in Auckland to make these pants.  The fabric is a marled grey woven in a weird blend of merino, plus linen? silk? rayon?  who knows.  When I washed it the fabric kind of shrunk in on itself, getting a bit denser and rougher feeling.  It doesn't really have stretch, but it has a lot of mechanical give in the horizontal direction.  It has basically no drape.  The fabric is also super narrow.  I think I bought 1.5 or 2 meters, which is of course less than the pattern calls for.  The pattern calls for a lot of fabric because the back piece is very wide.  So, note the width of your fabric if you want to use less!  I could not fit the pieces across the width and had to cut my front legs in two pieces and make a seam just above the knees.  I actually quite like doing that and I think of it as a design feature, but if you aren't keen on such things, then ensure your fabric is wide enough to cut the back pieces on.

My sewing friend Tessa had made Calyer pants a few weeks ago so I saw her learning process as she didn't leave the seam allowance for the pockets and had to backtrack.  She also cut a size smaller than the size chart recommended.  (Size chart for her measurements were L, but the finished measurements suggested she'd be fine in a M, so that's what she cut.)  It was also very good to see her finished version as the pattern does not make clear that the pocket lining will be visible when the pants are worn.  Tessa's fabric was extra wide, so she could fit the pattern pieces on something like 1 meter of fabric!

The directions are so precise they are almost micromanaging.  However, this is an "advanced beginner" by which they mean intermediate pattern.  That is because the shape of the pattern pieces diverges from "standard" pants, and because the order of construction is original.  By precisely following the directions you are basically guaranteed a fantastic result.  Seriously.  These look amazing.  There is basically no spot that doesn't line up, no edge that's crooked.

As for me, I cut a size XS and I am glad of it.  I considered cutting the S.  My waist is 26-27 and hips 37. I am scared, because my Orla dress was fit for (and was given to) an 8-year-old.  So I was tempted to size up.  Truthfully though I think I had a psychosis moment because on the Orla dress size chart I was not an XS or whatever I cut, but something like an M, so that was my own mistake.

I made no changes to the pattern, and I used some faded rose coloured silk for the pockets and for the front waistband facing.  That was good as the nice stable fabric was easy to work with.  I liked the pop of colour which is subtle but blends in with grey.

I did these during my sewing day, so they took about a third of a day.  I had no problems and my only pause was when Tessa went out to buy my waistband elastic.  I also did not shorten the hems, though they are drafted for a person sized 5'6" and I am more like 5'4", the inseam seems fine on me.  If you are tall these will be slightly above ankle length.  I like the length as it is though.

All my photos are taken at the Mount, aka Mt Maunganui.  The pants did well for a movie night, followed by a morning stroll and a climb up to the top of the mount, though I was pretty sweaty by the top.  (Google says it's 231 meters up.)

My final thought was that the pants look so super cool lying on the floor but when I put them on, the gathering from the back elastic makes my bum look terrible.  They are not form fitting, and so they are kind of like a pair of classy lounge pants.  However then I realised that I basically live in things that don't fit very well which are takes on classy lounge pants.  Also, it was my own fault for not using drapey fabric.

I wore these to work and they were comfortable and made me happy (I am working night shifts and thus basically wear takes on "fancy lounge pants" in order to not wear scrubs.)  I don't plan to make more now, but if I made more I might take a tiny wedge out of the front waist just to dip it down in the centre front.  Other than that, and using a drapey fabric, I wouldn't make any changes.  I suppose theoretically I could size down from the S at the hips to XS at the waist, to decrease the amount of fabric entering the waistband gathers.  But I think first trying a lower profile fabric might make a difference.  So pay attention - if your fabric has a lot of body it will not lie flat due to the elastic!  Also make sure to leave precise seam allowances when sewing the pockets.

Overall I am really happy with these and the pattern.  It was sort of a mystifying experience as I went along but it came out great.  I still don't really get whether the weird angle at the hem of the pants mattered, but I guess it's good when life leaves us with a few unsolved mysteries. 


  1. These are really nice... good choice for secret pjs! The fabric looks divine and you've done a really professional job. The view isn't bad either.

    1. Thanks for your comments : ) The fabric surprised me by tightening up when I washed it, which changed the texture somewhat, but overall I'm super happy with how these came out. It helps that the butt view is the part I don't really like, and I can't see that part when I'm wearing them. The good finish is honestly due to the good instructions; I reckon I'm otherwise pretty lazy at finishing things well.

      The Mount is lovely, it's such a fun place to visit!