the Diane Keaton moment

Readers, I made pants.


Riding on the wave of other sewists’ resolutions, I just dove into the project. And throwing caution to the winds, I cut out Burda 6856. My original plan was to prevaricate some more, then cut out a pair marked easy — starting with a muslin, possibly treating Pants for Real People as a WebMD for pants, diagnosing my pair with every fit ailment possible…

But it’s too cold for all that. I found myself down to one pair of pants I could wear to work in the Arctic chill. So I decided to risk it despite the scary threats of those fitting problems with names from a children’s book gone wrong, Camel Toe and Polterwang.

Fit and Sizing Adventures

I started at a size chosen by my body measurements. I tip my hat to reviewers who posted at Pattern Review who caution against it. I apologize for not taking photos because when I basted the pieces I looked like I was on my way to clown college.

I sized down in a somewhat crazy way: two sizes down on the hips, tapering the legs further, waistband one size down (and realistically, I could have gone two down with a good amount of room in there). That’s the result you’re seeing in these photos.

I hope the way I see it is the way you see it: more Diane Keaton than anywhere near clown college. But Diane Keaton jumping over snow banks because that’s the situation right now.

A word on what some call “stride” (nice euphemism) but what we all know is the crotch. I did not alter that curve in any way. I figured that by choosing roomier pants I was more likely to be pleased with it and I am. And I still have a lot to learn about fit in that… area.

Fabric and Notions

The fabric is a brushed cotton from Joann Fabrics. I lined the pockets with a lighter weight cotton and cut out the inside waistband from cotton sateen leftovers. The layers of brushed cotton get very bulky and stiff, as I discovered while making the belt carriers.

The zipper is the last one from a very fortunate thrifting haul — it’s metal and I was trembling while sewing it in. No needles got damaged in the process, even though I had to shorten the zipper by about an inch. The button is from Joann. It’s plastic pretending to be metal.


I wish those pleats were a bit shallower, to be honest, but I can’t complain too much. They still look good. I really like the darts on the back.

Pattern Instructions and Order of Construction

No, I didn’t exactly follow the sparse Burda instructions. I read them, I appreciate the illustrations, but I don’t think they offer the best solutions.

I changed the order of construction a bit so as to be able to sew the zipper in flat, with access to it on both sides of the pants front. If the Burda instructions for that step are sufficient to you, you are brilliant in my book. My sanity was saved by Sandra Betzina’s tutorial on the Threads website. I also added a fly shield (pattern piece included in the pattern envelope).

I’m not convinced that dividing the back waistband into two pieces is the best idea. With the belt carrier placed on that center back seam, it gets really bulky. So I cut the inner waistband in one piece.


I finished the waistband by hand, and I think it spared me a lot of irritation that would have likely come with wrangling it under the machine.

I tried blind-hemming the legs on the machine but this fabric really isn’t good for that. I had to redo it by hand any way. The pattern was smarter in this respect because it actually tells you to hem by hand.



I like them! I wish the sizing was a bit less crazy.

If you have any good pants fitting advice, throw it my way!

PS: A more organized version of this review is up on Pattern Review here.


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

23 thoughts on “the Diane Keaton moment”

    1. Thanks for dropping me a line, Angelle! And thank you so much for the encouragement! I had so many fears (the dreaded poltwerwang and camel toe being just the most easily nameable ones) but I’m glad I pressed on 🙂


    1. Hi Clara! Thank you for the kind words and thank you for commenting — it’s always a pleasure to meet someone new… and to discover their sewing blog. Your Claire Schaeffer jacket is stunning!


  1. Wohoo! Go you, conquering pants. That’s awesome.
    And yes, choosing a looser fit, and (accidentally) cutting out a larger size will combat a lot of woes that you can encounter.
    I’m with you on hand sewing waist bands. I HATE stitching in the ditch, and I think it looks messy – there, I said it! And TBH I usually end up hand sewing hems too. You just end up with a nicer finish.
    I love the Diane Keaton 80s do the 30s look. How can you go wrong?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement! I wonder how you first conquered pants — you’re one of my pants-sewing role models. Mostly the attitude online is more along the lines of “avoid pants if you can because fitting them is so hard!” You’re one of the few sewists I know who make pants with enthusiasm rather than dread.

      I try to put my dread out there to make some room for enthusiasm in my head 😉 In all honesty, though, this pair was all about sticking with it till the last stitch on the hems. Hand-sewing high five, by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! High five for hand sewing.
        And thanks so much for your kind words regarding my pant sewing. ❤
        I think I just started sewing pants when I was too young to know any better and I just accepted that pants rode down at the back and that for some reason one leg was always shorter than the other!!
        Once I started to change things on patterns in general, then I started to think about pants fitting issues and make some adjustments myself. The road to success was pretty much littered with ugly, ill fitting pants though!
        I started a Pinterest board called Project Perfect Pants and realised that all of the images I was pinning were from Pants for Real People. Now that I've read that book (cover to cover) I am so much more confident about fit issues in general.
        My biggest takeaways have been:
        Fitting while I sew. I find this particularly useful for crotch and side seams, and really once you have those sorted there's not much else to go wrong
        Fitting right side out – I always used to pin things as if I was going to sew them, and then try them on. But my body isn't symmetrical. It makes so much more sense to fit things the way I'm going to wear them. Then I can easily mark where the seams need to go, and boom!
        Anyway, I hope you get the bug too! I love it when people make pants. Anyone can make a dress 😉 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooh, great tips! And I don’t mean solely the practical tips. It’s good to know you let yourself fail and kept experimenting and building up your skills and knowledge.

          I can get very risk averse because I worry about ruining fabric. Making myself work on this pair of pants both with patience and risk was important for me in terms of getting unstuck and less scared.

          I definitely want to make more pants. I have my eye on the Lazo pants from Thread Theory. I hope I’m not too lazy to trace this Burda pattern (I have it from the magazine).

          But dresses… that’s what I wear all summer, which is a mere fraction of the year in the American Northeast. So more pants because that’s what I really wear a lot.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. These are fantastic! From looking at the final product I never would’ve guessed any of the sizing hardships. They look really great. I like the depth of the pleats as they are! I think it’s great that you just went for it with these pants.
    Great color. Looks like a great fabric too. Quick, make another pair!


    1. Thanks so much! I knew I really needed to take a risk. I have too much unsewn fabric and half-baked ideas and just not enough wearable clothes.

      I might make another pair if I find the right fabric. Right now most of what I have stashed works for shirts… another thing I’m trying to conquer. Now that I know just how broad my back is and how to adjust patterns to fit it, those might finally start happening.


  3. Your first pair? You did fabulously! Any advice? Every single pair I make I have to alter a bit in some way. I like my seam allowances wide so that I can try on (which I do inside out) and adjust bigger or smaller. And I also remember that anything I make is going to fit me better than store bought – because RTW pants never fit me, ever.


    1. Thanks for the great tip!

      I also struggle with RTW pants. I have some “sort of okay fitting pairs” but nothing that could work as a benchmark for my own fitting and sewing. This Ode to Diane Keaton pair comes closest to that, which is slightly ironic given that I have A LOT to learn.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your trousers look so cool, I love the colour, and I LOVE the shape! I’m really into the wide-legged look at the mo too, so these are just too too awesome in my book. I think you’ve inspired me to look out the pattern. 🙂 xx


    1. Thank you! I wear them all the time. I really, really need to make more pants.

      I hope I don’t put the plan off for too much — I have some black denim set aside for a pair of Morgan jeans inspired by your Morgans. I hope my desire to make and wear them can outweigh my fear of the process!


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