Sewing Harem Pants – Out of My Comfort Zone


Confidence is key when wearing anything beyond just jeans and a tee. That confidence has waxed and waned in the last few years. But mostly waned.


I also have ridiculous fit and texture sensitivities which makes branching out into atypical silhouettes really hard for me. But I really want to give harem pants a try. And I did this week. I’m still deciding if I love or hate them.


I guess they’re growing on me. I’ve worn them mostly all day. At least the fabric is awesome.

Like super awesome. I wish I had made these in the thick of summer when it was super hot. I got this fabric in LA’s fabric district. There’s a black/pink colorway version available here.


I nearly asked Chris, “Do these pants make my butt look fat?” before realizing it’s a question that should never be asked. By anyone. Ever.


There’s a disconnect between how I feel they look and what I see in the mirror (and these photos). And I want to get over that disconnect and feel confident in them all the time.

Do you have any pieces in your closet like that?


Outfit details:

Click to read more about the sewing process (warts and all. I mean all warts).

I used Simplicity 1887, I’d seen it around the web a couple times (Beth and Erika) so it seemed like a safe bet. Hardly. Please excuse the negativity and midnight photos, but you need to see how ridiculous these pants were before I brought in the seams by about 4 inches on each side.


I went with the recommended size for my dimensions. Size 12. Since it has an elasticized waistband, I should’ve gone with a size 8 and lengthened the hem by 2 inches. One leg had enough ease for both of my legs and then some.


The front rise was too long and the crotch seam was too far back. I don’t need space for junk in the front.


More leg room.


I’m pulling back on the legs here, this is what I thought they would fit like. Not even close. The construction was easy enough, but the fit was waaaay off base.

Had I known I would run into these issues, I would’ve adjusted the front rise and the legs in the pattern pieces beforehand. So, you’ve been warned.

I won’t be making these again, but I’m glad I gave them a try. They’re my first pair of real pants (leggings sort of count, not really).

Have you had to save sewing projects gone wrong? Do you turn sour to the final product afterward?

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    1. Leslie says:

      Photographically they look fine on you except for the rolled up hems and the T shirt and sorry, the shoes.
      Your pairings of what goes with what sometimes is a little off and instead of minimizing you add on.
      Your butt DIDN”T look big in the pic but if you feel uncomfy because of your condition take them in. Mini hem the leg bottoms to just where they are in the last pictures. Change your shirt to a scoop neck t shirt or even a tank top in white or complimentary color in yellow or along the orange shades that will go with the blue. Get rid of those turquoise shoes(yes I know there is turquoise in the pants) and get some simple strappy sandals in white or if you use a colored shirt a match to that…even flip flops would look better. Add some nice chains or colorful necklaces that don’t overwhelm and some bangles and voila. BIG smiles on your part. Half of how we feel in clothes rests on how we put the pieces together and how they fall on our bodies. Harem pants are known for making some people feel huge around the belly and butt area because of the extra fabric, and they are right….just take it in a little and I bet you will be more happy. The fabric is worth the save and I was serious about the overall pictures looking good…..I dont compliment if not deserved.
      HOpe you dont take this critique badly,
      Respect & Regards,

      • Shona says:

        I disagree. I usually cringe at harem pants, but I actually like these and think the styling is spot on! She could maybe go with a different shirt, but I love the rolled up cuffs with the heels and gold bangles. Style is subjective and everyone has a different opinion of what looks good with what.

      • Susan says:

        Whoa. That’s an awful lot of criticism. I think these pants look awesome on you (especially with the shoes) and they make me want to try a pair now!

        • Melissa says:

          Thanks so much for your kind encouragement!! I hope you give harem pants a try! They’ve grown on me in the last few weeks. I wear them at least once a week now!

    2. Ag says:

      I think the pants look amazing, and you look amazing in them, too. You have a great body and you can definitely pull it off!!! You have the tipe of body that can get away with it. I’m short and have wide hips, so I leave the pleasure of wearing these pants to you :)

    3. Katie says:

      I think they’re ace. Harem pants by definition have a lot of crotch and thigh ease so that is supposed to be the fit! For a more fitted look you might prefer to try something like Burda 07-11 – I just made them and they’re a perfect combination of comfort while not looking like clown pants.

    4. Erica says:

      I recently made this pattern in shorts. I had to take them in about 4 inches as well, but in the end they turned out cute. I’m wanting to try the pants next, knowing that I’ll need to keep them on the small side. :)

    5. Kristin H says:

      Oh my, can I just complain about pattern ease for a moment? I spent hours making a lovely vintage pattern, only to realize after I had contrustected the entire dress, that the ease was 4″!! Ugh. I looked like a saggy baggy school marm or dowdy sister missionary from 1960.

      I am the same way with textures – I still have melt downs over fit and feel. Crunchy leaotards were my bane in high school.

      Love those shoes! The pants do emphasize your booty, but I love a big butt, so I say rock it like it’s hot. :)

      • Melissa says:

        Patterns need to have that information!! I can’t glean pattern ease from a technical drawing. It’s so annoying!

        • lsaspacey says:

          For pattern ease, always check the finished garment measurements on the back of the pattern envelope and also on the pattern pieces themselves (usually on just the front main pieces). They are very handy and can eliminate problems like this.

    6. Jen says:

      I think they look pretty great from here but I know what you’re saying about how they feel and look to you. Have you seen the Tessuti Suzy Pant? I’m probably going to give that one a go with a change or two to the waistband. Kelly over at True Bias just made a pair and they turned out pretty cute! Anyway, you can totally wear these and look awesome!

    7. Lizzy says:

      You look very well in those pants! but as you say, this is not a style you normally use and that must be the reason you don’t feel confortable enough. I like your shoes too. I have that pattern but I don’t have enough fabric to do them (rayon) , I also don’t know how I will look because of my body shape (no ass and big tummy hehehe) BUT I also want to give them a try, as you, I’ve seen several bloggers wearing them and look good as you do :)

      • Melissa says:

        If anything, the pants will make your butt look bigger, so there’s that! You might like the pattern. Just go down a size or two. These pants only took about a yard and a half, maybe less.

    8. Rach says:

      Can I just say I totally understand what you mean – even if you are thin like you are,if you feel fat in something, you feel fat. i hear ya! You look great in these though and your styling is perfect. I’m a big fan of those gorgeous shoes. I branched into harem pants this season and after a few more wears you will feel more confident I promise. Thanks for being brave in sharing how we probably all feel feel all the time – we are our worst critics aren’t we.

    9. Laura says:

      I think they’re pretty cute on you, myself! I’m not a huge fan of poofier pants, really, but it does suit people who aren’t, best described as shaped like various rotund fruits, like myself.

      I think it’d work pretty well if you paired them with a bright, warm (probably an orange-red) shirt instead of a neutral toned one, and maybe a light (white would be very striking!) colored wrap or sweater to soften your silhouette a bit? As it is, it sort of all just draws attention to your hips, which may or may not be your intent. A wrap or sweater would keep your hips from seeming too sharp, at least it would in my mind.

      But I’m just an artist, fashion is that thing I watch from a distance to make sure I’m not making any hideous mistakes. Take my suggestions with caution! I may have sketched it to make sure it looked the way I thought.

    10. phil says:

      looks very comfy

    11. Alex says:

      I have this pattern and have been meaning to make these so am glad to have the heads up about the ease and fit issues. I actually really like these on you and think you should give them a chance – they may just grow on you. I also liked the your accessorising and the shoes are hot!

    12. Bethany says:

      You know me. I had to take mine in sooo much. It was frustrating. I had so much trouble with the waistband. And my butt look HUGE in my pants. But they are so comfy, that I do wear them with frumpy pride. I made a pair of shorts with this as well, I can barely pull them up over my hips when I tried to do the waistband again. Good news: They look fab on you. You pull these off so well. The fabric is a great color for you too. Bad news: The struggle of these will probably mean you wont want to make another pair. My advice: Make up your own pattern, fit, and instructions to best suit you. Love you GF!

    13. Jeannie D says:

      Oh I love these! They look great on you…I purchased a pair in NYC on Canal Street in 1979 (yes, I am “Vintage”). I wore them all the time…with Dr. Scholl’s for casual and heels (for the stage!) I also rolled the cuffs or let them hang…so comfy and versatile…mine were pink jean fabric and my friend had a pair made out of silver parachute material. Thanks for the trip down memory lane…everything old is new again, right? ;)

    14. Ellen says:

      You look awesome in these! I wish I could pull them off as well as you!

    15. true bias says:

      i think they are great. i recently made a similar pair with tessuitis suzy pattern. i wear them all the time. you look great in them. wear them confindently.

    16. Rachel says:

      Honestly before you took the ease out is exactly how harem pants look/fit. They are suppose to be loose and flowy and really only connect to your body at the waist and ankles. I had a purchased pair that I loved the fabric but the style is not flattering for short waistless me. They were very comfortable as lounge pants though.

    17. Juliette says:

      I like harem pants in general, I saw them for the first time in a winter Toast collection, they paired them with a long tunic a flats. Maybe the bohemian thing is not really your style and that’s ok!

    18. jennifer says:

      these pants are so cool! i want them!

    19. […] a long plane flight to Europe but alas this never happened (the pants, not the trip). After seeing Melissa’s great version I must revisit this […]

    20. Jehan says:

      What type of fabric did you use?

    21. This Person says:

      She might have been going for the casual-stylish, “fuck it, I wear what I want and that makes me cool” look. I think it works, and avoids being a boring cliche. Unless in 2016 that’s the thing now, in which case it has become the cliche.

      I’m not a fashion person, I don’t know this stuff. More like a kid who liked wearing rainbow pants who grew up and got a paycheque. So I dunno, grain of salt. Haha.

    22. I love these says:

      Can I please have the pattern for these pants?

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