Saturday, July 3, 2010

Au Bonheurs des Petites Mains - Pants with Bottom Bands

I've been in a pant sewing frenzy lately, and I'm loving it. My poor skirts have been completely neglected in favor of making, and wearing, pants. The French pattern company, Au Bonheurs des Petites Mains has some very interesting pant designs. I decided it was time to try another pattern, so I pulled out PLH08003, which comes in sizes 36-46 and 48-52. (At least, I assume the larger pattern covers the size range 48-52, because I have the smaller pattern and it definitely includes size 46, though the web pages says it goes to size 44.)

This pattern has center seams, front and back, so there are four primary pattern pieces: center front, side front, center back, and side back. The waist is finished with waist facings and closes with a front zipper. A band attached to the bottom of the pants is sewn partway into the front and back seams. The pants are evidently intended to be cropped, based on the length of the pattern pieces, though the description doesn't mention this and you can't tell from the garment photo on the pattern.

As I traced off my size (46), I made the following changes:

  • I lengthened the pants 3", between the knee and the ankle, to make them full length.
  • I overlaid the Trio crotch/waist onto the pattern. The crotch curve from the original pattern is designed for a very slim, very small, young bum, and is low waisted. I raised it to my preferred waistline, and increased it so I could avoid a zipper.
  • I omitted the waist facings.

It's a fairly easy pant to construct, the trickiest bit being the bottom band and, on that score, the pattern is rather terse. (It gave better instructions on how to finish the waist, which is much easier to figure out.) Since I changed the waist and omitted the zipper, I used a slightly different construction. Here are the steps I used. If you are using a zipper and waist facings, follow the construction you would normally use, placing the zipper at center front, and interfacing the front (5) and back (6) waist facings before attaching. The band is attached after the legs are formed.

  • Sew the side front (2) and the center front (1) together, stopping at point A. Press the seams open.
  • Sew the center back (3) and the side back (4) together, stopping at point B. Press the seam open.
  • Sew the side seam of each leg.
  • Sew the inseam of each leg.
  • Sew the short ends of each band together, forming a loop.
  • Attach the band to the bottom of each of the pant leg placing the seam of the band at the inseam of the pant. When you come to the center front (or center back) seam, turn the band around the corner (you need to snip the seam allowance of the band to turn the corner), and continue to stitch up the center front (or center back) seam, stopping at point A (at CF) or point B (at CB). Break the thread, turn, and resume stitching back down to the hem. Turn at the corner (snip to the seam allowance again), and continue stitching along the hem. Attach the band all around the bottom of each pant leg in this manner, so that the band is stitched into the center front and center back seam, to point A and point B.
  • Attach the legs by sewing the crotch seam.
  • Finish the waistline using your preferred technique.
  • Hem each leg.
  • Voilà!

I admit I was on the fence about the pattern before I made these pants, but, in the spirit of adventure, was willing to give them a try. Now that I've made them, and photographed them, they are too fashion forward, even for me. Yep, I don't like the bands at the bottom. If I were to make them again, I would also tweak the fit to remove about 4" at the hips. Oh well, they will be fine to wear around the house. :)

I lightened the photo so you can better see the hem detail.


  1. Did you just enlarge the waist to make an elastic casing, or did you use some other method of finishing the waist?

  2. Shams,

    I really like these pants on you. They balance out your upper and lower body. However, I do think the detail at the bottom could use a good press, if the fabric holds a crease. Wear these pants out, as well as at home; they are winners to my eye, anyway.

  3. Oops, I making a habit of forgetting to add my name. Sorry; the above post was from me.

    Karen aka Karendee

  4. These are great pants, and so stylish. Nice work. Wouldn't they be nice even longer with a fall boot? Love them!

  5. I didn't have to look for the blog name when I saw that photo-I knew it was yours! You look great in your artsy type garments. I am nearing the end of HOE. I have loved every minute of watching it.

  6. That pattern would make fun pajama bottoms, made with a contrast band. It's wise to know what works for you and what doesn't Shams. I always loved that old saying "there's a fine line between an outfit and a getup". I walk that fine line more often than I should, I think. But it's a good comment to keep in mind. Not that your pants constitute a "getup" in the eyes of most people, but if they do in your eyes, that's all that really matters. Life is too short to wear clothes that don't sing your song.


  7. Shams,
    Live with these pants a little because I think they are great and you might find them to be your favorites. Love the way the top fits and think they are very flattering. I'm wondering if you can pick these up at fabric stores in Paris as I'm going there this September?

  8. Thanks, Leslie. :) Yes, they have a store in Paris - they also sell fabric. They show their address/phone on the front page of their website, but I've pasted it here:

    Au Bonheur des Petites Mains
    68, Faubourg des Vosges
    68800 Thann
    +33 (0)3 89 37 44 60

  9. Hmmm... I guess Thann isn't Paris. :) But I have heard they have a shop in Paris, so maybe contact them and ask.

    Have a great trip! :)