So you’ve decided to make yourself some pants. Maybe you decided to use some fairly neutral-colored fabric. If you’d like to add some details that make them a bit more special, unique, or slightly more exciting, this is the post for you. When I am sewing something in a less “exciting” color I always think to myself, “How can I make these a little more special and have my signature hand?” or “How can I give this the special detailing that elevates it from Old Navy/Target level clothing to a fancier/more expensive brand?”
Ginger Jeans in Italian Denim from Blackbird Fabrics
When sewing jeans I tend to add the fun details with the topstitching (and some people get their fun with interesting pocket fabrics). Topstitching threads don’t come in that many fun colors, but I have found that “outdoor upholstery thread” (as seen in the pants above-in hot pink) is thick enough that it shows up, but is not nearly as annoying to thread as the real stuff!
Before sewing your back pockets on, you can also do fun details. I put my initials “KK” on my first gingers and some triangles on my second pair. I don’t have a fancy free-motion foot so I have to stitch slowly and carefully. I also draw the design out lightly on my pants before stitching, so I know what I’m doing.
Lander Pants by True Bias
Another way to add in a little color or interest is with the buttons. Whether you have an exposed button fly or hidden one, its fun to do something with the buttons! (If they are supposed to be hidden though, decide whether you want them to be a color that stands out…).
The fun vintage button I used on these Kendrick Overalls cracked in the wash (duh) but luckily I have another…
If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know that I love adding bias tape and piping to my skirts and pants! It is such a great way to add a pop of color on a neutral garment. It also helps highlight interesting seams on a pattern. You simply put it on top of an already stitched seam (bias tape), or in the seam allowance when sewing right sides together (piping).
Contrasting Waistbands and Cuffs
I really love color (you know that!) so I like using scraps of other projects to create a contrasting waistband or do some color blocking in smaller areas. If you’re scared of doing high-contrast, then go for a color that’s in the same hue but a different shade, or analogous (next to each other on the color wheel) to it. On that bottom skirt I decided to go all crazy and do 4 different colors! I really love the result so much and the contrasting colors are small enough that they are little surprises you don’t notice until you get close.
Winslow Culottes by Helen’s Closet
Here you can see I decided to break up the main fabric by using other similarly-colored fabrics in a top-stitched patchwork. This helped use up scraps and also add some variety to something that felt very “neutral” to me. (I still had to add that bias tape for more color!!)
I am currently working on a new pair of pants (that I can’t share yet!) which have color-blocking at the bottom. I got the idea from some pants I made my son before he was born (tutorial there on my old blog for how to do a knit version). I am making a tutorial for this woven version (pink/orange ones above) as I construct them (there are a few things I’ve found that make it easier).
I also color-blocked the bottom of pants with PAINT once, years ago, after seeing this post (I had to dig to find it!!). I loved them so much! But the paint was too stiff. Now I know what I’d do differently!
I hope this helps inspire you to add some fun details to your handmade pants. I know it’s my favorite part of designing my own wardrobe.
Go check out THIS post to learn more about the #sewfancypants challenge we’re doing on Instagram!