Burda #103 from issue 2/2012: pleated pant adventures continue

Sometimes on this blog I feel like a kid who just can’t tell lie for fear of [insert some sort of punishment idea from an ’80s fantasy movie]. Typing this post, I realize how fitting it is for the Burda Challenge that this pattern is from a February issue… However, I most definitely didn’t just make it. The Burda Challenge project is still in the midst of fitting and all the head-scratching that entails. Since it’s another pair of pants, I thought that writing about these might be a way to think through a few things.

I finished these a couple of months ago and have been in two minds about them ever since.

It’s the pleats.


It seems that I can’t resist pleated pants. I see them on someone else and just want to make a pair for myself, and once they’re closer to being finished, the doubt sets in.

In this case, Jasika Nicole’s post about her pink pair got me obsessed with this pattern. One thing I didn’t ask myself till I was deep into making the pants was what differences between us (apart from the fact that I’ve seen her on TV and if she saw me on TV I’d worry about a candid camera scenario) might be significant in terms of the end result.

Three pairs of pleated pants later (this one being the third one), I think I’m beginning to get it.

I mostly see those gorgeous pleated pants on women with figures very different from mine, and so the proportions work out differently.

Now, I’m a strong believer in “wear what you want to wear, however you may describe and see your body type.” And I wear these. But I do accessorize them with second thoughts, and that’s not ideal.

It seems that pleats and round tummies may not be a combo for everyone. Pair that with a flat derriere, and you get even more questions.

I think I’d like to get away from the pleats for now in favor of more fitted silhouettes.


Some thoughts on making and fitting these:

I always baste pants together after cutting out the pattern pieces, and that always reveals a host of necessary changes. Out I take Pants for Real People and begin to move seamlines, pin out excess fabric, etc. I definitely can’t claim to be an expert in fitting myself at this point, but I think I’m at least on track despite not being able to ever get a fitting buddy to help with this process.

Actually, it’s such a downer to read advice such as “If you can’t get a fitting buddy, maybe don’t bother because it will be very hard to fit yourself.” Well, what if you can’t — should you just give up on sewing altogether because you can’t create this perfect situation?

It’s all experiment here, with multiple goes at basting. I find that reading the Palmer/Pletsch book and sewing blogs is helpful as long as you don’t limit yourself to the scenarios you see described. Mostly, I’ve encountered fit alterations to give more room in the hips and derriere, with fabric taken in to accommodate a smaller waist, which is the opposite of what I end up needing.

Matchstick legs paired with a flat bum and a round tummy give you some interesting shapes to play with. Long story short, I end up adding and cutting fabric in slightly different places than I usually see described, and, obviously, that leads to more head-scratching.

In a nutshell, figuring out fit by yourself can be extremely helpful for getting clothes that actually correspond to your figure… but it can also be crazy-making.

As for this pattern in particular, I didn’t follow instructions too closely — because it’s Burda, and I don’t speak Burda even when I can recognize the words from languages I know. Put together, the words rarely make perfect sense. Burda is a language of its own, and I’m not sure anyone but the pattern writers speaks it.

So I made these on the basis of earlier pants I’ve sewn and some arbitrary choices about, e.g. whether and how far to sew down the front pleats, whether to stabilize pockets, how to hem them, what closure to put in, etc.

My one discovery with this pattern is that the side-seam pockets really work well — I had some doubts and even thought of altering the pattern for slash pockets, but I might actually play with adding side-seam pockets like these to other pairs of pants.

Any pearls of wisdom to share from your own pant-fitting adventures? I’d love to hear from you.


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17 thoughts on “Burda #103 from issue 2/2012: pleated pant adventures continue”

  1. I don’t have access to a fitting buddy either. And if I did, if s/he didn’t know a lot about pants fitting, it still wouldn’t help! If you have any access to an in-person class, jump on it. That’s all the advice I have.


    1. Oh, absolutely! I would love to take an in-person class. But before that becomes a possibility, I think I’ll venture on on my own… with ample breaks when things get frustrating 😉


  2. I agree that pleats on a round tummy aren’t exactly flattering. Learnt that lesson after using a gorgeous expensive Italian wool. Anyway – try stitching the pleats down, although you may need to open the hip seam a little afterwards. It’s funny you posted these today, I’d just been looking at this very pattern in my magazines, trying to decide what to start with for the Challenge. Then a little voice in the back of my head reminded me what I look like in pleated pants…. But I do love them. On other people.
    Pants fitting is a tricky process, you fix one area only to find a new issue elsewhere. You look like you’re getting there though, stick with it!


    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement! I’ll definitely stick with it — I like wearing pants too much to give up on sewing them. I just wish fitting was a little easier 😉

      No more pleated pants, though, at least for the foreseeable future. I think it’s time to explore.


  3. The rabbit warren of pants fitting! It’s so funny how we can only see the flaws/idiosyncrasies of our figure when we make something. All I can see is that you look awesome in those pants. And if you have a round tummy I sure as heck can’t see it!


    1. It really is a rabbit hole! It’s hard but my love for pants surpasses the frustrations, I think.

      And thank you for the compliment! I do wear these and find them decently fitted (if I do say so myself). Those pleats did, however, spur me to look for other silhouettes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we are body twins! I’ve tried making pants similar to these – a Burda envelope pattern, can’t remember the number. They looked so good on other people but were an unmitigated disaster on me. My tum just fills pleats, as it turns out. They only looked good in photos where I was on a very particular angle! Such a shame a story I really want to wear this style of pant, I just hated them on me.

    Which is what it comes down to, I guess. Not “flattering” or whatever but “do I actually feel good in this.” I found that stretch pants are really the way to go to make fitting and wearing easy. I mean, I only wear stretch pants from the shops, why on earth did I think I could wear non stretch pants that I’d made?? I’m actually wearing the Style Arc Elle Pant which is my go to for summer. Really any of their pants patterns would be a winner – they are just so well drafted and easy to sew and wear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to give StyleArc a try! I’m at a bit of an impasse with my current pant project, but not giving up yet. I do need to step away, though, and sew something easier probably… Maybe I’ll try to fill in a fraction of that forever expanding hole in my closet that is t-shirts that are not currently falling apart and may be worn in public…? I always need those.

      I’m definitely shorter than you, but maybe we’re tummy twins? 😉 I’ve always had, and always will have a round tummy. I wouldn’t say I’m “resigned” to it. It’s more “on a mission to find pants patterns I really like.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeh, I meant more the “round tummy flat bum” figure type – makes fitting pants a bit difficult as they all ride up in my front and fall down in the back. You can get StyleArc PDFs on Etsy now though the different sizes are all different files. I’d highly recommend any of their patterns, professionally done and always end up looking great. If you don’t mind slightly cryptic instructions, that is!


  5. I actually think the trousers look really good! They have quite a 40s flair to them and your tummy doesn’t look round at all. I do remember hearing similar things about not wearing pleated pants with a tummy, but I’ve seen them look great on curvier types, so maybe it’s more about the proportions. Perhaps stitching them down a little as mentioned above might help, but I haven’t even tried making a pair, so don’t listen to me! As fitting buddies go, I know what you mean. In fact, I’m going to try to make a pair of trousers for my husband soon, just to get some fitting practice on someone else. That will help my own trouser experiments in no way whatsoever, but it might be fun! (For me – I already know it will not be fun for him and I’m sure he will remind me).


    1. But you’ve made fabulous jeans! I think you’ll do better than you think with fitting other kinds of pants, but I completely relate to that sense of hesitation. It happens to me with every pair I make!

      As for tummies and pleats, I might have said it already, but I think Siobhan is right: flattering is how you feel. So I guess it helps to work on that 😉 I do wear these!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just repeat “I am Katharine Hepburn, I am Katharine Hepburn” 47 times before you leave the house and you’ll be good… no, seriously, I concur: Siobhan is absolutely correct (but it’s nice to hear you look good sometimes anyway and occasionally it helps).

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m with you on lusting after pleats, but then not quite liking them on me. Again, I’m a different body shape. Less curvy and less difference between my hips and waist, but I have fairly chunky thighs and calves, which provides issues as no patterns provide thigh or calf measurements. 😦 And, also with you on the lack of a fitting buddy. I think you have the right approach – do what you can with what you can. I just finished a pair of Safrans which are FAR from perfect, but at least they fit on the waist, which is rarely happens in RTW. I figure next time I’ll try to tweak the legs for my calves and then the make after that, I’ll focus on the crotch seam. I could do all of that on one make, but my attention span would mean a half abandoned project.

    FWIW, I really like these on you. I think the pleats look good and the colour is lovely. But, if you don’t feel them, then you don’t feel them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so difficult to figure out a good order of adjustments. That’s what makes me nervous to divine in to fitting a new pair of pants.
      Also because there’s the risk of overdoing it… Too many things going on!

      But whenever I finish a pair of pants — imperfect as they are — I end up wearing them, pleat-related doubts notwithstanding.
      I’m working on some pleat-less ones right and will report back soon with photos 🙂

      Do you have any favorite pant/trouser patterns? (This difference between British and American English is so meaningful, which makes these international conversations tricky.)


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