My Material Life

“Emmie” Curtain Trousers & Clutch


Source: (an awesome UK interiors blog)

Samantha talked me into buying the Emmie curtains shown in the IKEA promotional photo above a while back.  I was surprised she was so taken with them.  They do not contain her preferred colors and are not her typical style, but I couldn’t deny that there was something special about them.  Something old-fashioned and lovely and soft.  I knew we probably wouldn’t use them in her room, but I was happy that she was responding to that special thing about them too and I knew we could use them simply for their fabric … for something.

I eventually decided that the curtain’s colors would look good on me.  I’ve always loved the Christian Dior ensemble that Ingrid Bergman wore on a night out with Cary Grant in the movie, Indiscreet.  You know this movie?  Oh you have to see it – her apartment, her clothes!  Could I pull off something similar with the Emmie curtain fabric?



Now my mother could have pulled this look off for sure.  But I’m no Ingrid Bergman.  I needed something else.  Something more like Caroline de Maigret’s look (far left) in this series of shots I stumbled on in the New York Times last fall …

Except that the last shot isn’t from the Times, is it?  Of course not.  That’s me wearing my curtain; I turned one panel of an Emmie set into a pair of trousers and a clutch.  I made the bag because I didn’t have one already that would work, but I also like to think of it as a nod to my favorite Ingrid Bergman outfit – matching bag and pants instead of matching dress and coat.

I found my trouser pattern (116) in the 4/2014 issue of the English version of Burda Style magazine.  I purchased the magazine at Britex in San Francisco.  Burda now publishes a magazine for the U.S. market, but I still prefer the European variety.

I’ve collected a number of Burda Style magazines over the years, but I’ve never actually sewn a pattern from one before.  I used the Pellon Tru-Grid material from my local fabric store to trace my pattern from a large sheet I removed from my magazine like I’m showing above.  Just finding the lines you are supposed to trace is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.  But those numbers you see on the right hand side of the photo correspond to your pattern pieces and direct you to their section on the sheet.  You need to add your seam allowance to your pattern before you cut it out.  If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, here is a similar Burda trouser pattern that you can simply purchase and cut or trace if you prefer.  The seam allowances are already included in the pattern.



I haven’t sewn a garment for myself in a very long time, but I am so pleased with these pants.  I learned a thing or two while making them.  The first thing is that the instructions that come with the magazine are not illustrated.  That’s not such a big deal if you are an experienced sewer.  I consider myself an intermediate level sewer, and I still ran into trouble.  Pattern 116 has a welt pocket on the right back of the pant.  It’s a nice detail, but I’d never made one before, so the instructions were pretty much meaningless to me.

Luckily, I found a good tutorial that I was mostly able to follow at the Oliver + S blog here.  This pattern also has side pockets, but I ran into some trouble with those too.  Long story short (be sure you’ve accounted for all your pattern pieces; I had a spare that I’d completely forgotten about), I decided to leave out the pockets.  Who needs that extra bulk at the hips, anyway?  I simplified things by inserting an invisible zipper on one side seam.  If I’d sewn the pockets, I would have used two buttons (one on each side) to close the pants.  Much cleaner the way I did it.  Of course I had to stitch in one of my labels.

Sewing pants may seem tricky and there are certainly details that can be difficult to sew, but the basic construction is pretty simple.  If you ask me the toughest part is getting the fit right.  Well, I can’t believe the fit on these pants and with no alterations to the pattern (forgot to tell you that I did make a muslin before I cut out my curtain).  When I was researching Burda pattern 7062 above (very well-rated), I read something about a European crotch (no kidding) and that this kind of crotch drafting (my term) makes Burda patterns better-fitting.  I believe it.

I should back up a bit and touch on the issue of cutting your fabric.  If you have a print like I did, you want to consider where you’d like certain elements of that print to fall on your garment.  I decided to use the softer, smaller elements of my curtain for the pants, and luckily I had enough fabric in my curtain panel to consider the pattern placement for each piece and to cut them out individually.  It’s not like a plaid where I was trying to match things up, but I did want the legs to appear symmetrical and for the seam joins to flow together even though they didn’t match.  For the bag – and by-the-way this is the same bag I showed you how to make here with the addition of a wrist strap – I used a larger and bolder piece of the print.

Here’s a great example of smart use of a print.  The lines of the dress are lovely (click here to see the back too); it’s the placement of the print, however, that makes this dress such a stunner.


Vogue 1402 / Source

Well it was Easter yesterday, and that’s why I needed a pair of floral pants – to wear to an early dinner at the magical Shadowbrook in Capitola.  (The last photo in the gallery below shows a view of the track up the hill from inside the funicular they have there.)  I never feel like I have the appropriate thing to wear for this holiday that I enjoy so much.  Until yesterday.  Perhaps these will become my signature Easter wear.

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