When I was a fresh-faced new teacher of 21, I was totally clueless about what teachers wore. I bought something like ten button-up shirts from Express because it was the only store that fit my wide shoulder/tiny waist combination, only to realize that 1) I never wore button-up shirts because I find them uncomfortable, and 2) there's no point in buying expensive teacher clothes because I will destroy them. Chalk dust, dry erase marker dust, chemicals, and general dirt can ruin a wardrobe pretty quickly, especially when you're as clumsy as I am. Eventually, I learned my lesson and turned to Ross for my teacher clothes. One of the first TNT pieces of clothing I bought there was a pair of brown, tweed-like, 100% polyester gauchos. I'm not proud of wearing these to death, but, well, I did, despite the questionable merit of artificial fibers that pilled like mad and the even more questionable ripply hem. Oh, and the ultimate questionability of a garment that makes one's legs look shorter and wider.
|Ugh, look at that hem! When I first brought it home, I tried in vain to iron out the ripples. I know better now.|
|Broken invisible zipper. One of the reasons why I|
don't do invisible zipper anymore.
|Don't these pictures look like inspirational teaching photos or something?|
|The lighting, the city background, it's like I'm advertising that you, too, can change the lives of children.|
|There's some slight drag line stuff going on in the back, but not enough to bother me. I am slightly bothered, though, by how they end at the largest part of my calf. Bothered enough to undo my hem and fix it, though? Nah, not that bothered.|
I knocked these out in an evening and a morning, and while they were definitely easy to pattern and easy to sew, they're also difficult to fit. Since I've gained some weight in the intervening years, the original pants weren't quite a perfect anymore, so I had to guess at modifications to my pattern pieces. Then, the fabric I chose for this (hopefully) wearable muslin was much stiffer than the original, so it didn't drape quite the same way or look quite so slimming; I ended up reducing the hem circumference by a few inches and it still feels a little too wide. I also ended up making my yoke much higher to accommodate the change in how I like to wear my pants now. I can't believe that I used to wear such incredibly low-cut pants! Especially since my torso is really long, I must have looked unnecessarily disproportionate.
|I lined up the yoke seams here, so you can see how my new pair is a good two inches higher at the center front. Also about an inch bigger at the hips, but that's neither here nor there.|
|My very invisible, non-ripply hem! Not that it's any real triumph, those, since this tweed is perfect for camouflaging even the clumsiest hand-stitches. Oh, and that's the third color of seam binding there: navy blue!|
|A better look at how the top of the pants fits on me.|
|Lapped zipped on the left side...nearly invisible, thanks to the textured fabric.|
Mr. Cation actually couldn't figure out where I had hidden the closure when
he was taking these pictures!
Fabric: A yard or so remnant of 54" wide, grey tweed-y looking mystery fabric from Happy Fabric in Oakland, part of my official stashbusting stash. I did a burn test and there's some kind of natural fiber in it, but it's not wool. Upon consulting the fiber burn chart, it seems to best match the result for hemp, and while the fabric certainly feels scratchy enough, I don't know that my results are really conclusive. Ideally, this style would have used a fabric with less body, but since it's a wearable muslin it's tolerable.
Notions: An eight inch black zipper, a hook and eye, three different colors of seam binding
Techniques used: A lapped zipper (I'd forgotten how to do one and messed up the first time; I had to refer back to my Reader's Digest book), rubbing off a pattern, a catch-stitched hem
Hours: Seven, but at least an hour of it was hand-sewing and another hour for the patterning
Will you make it again? I want to use this pattern as a base for making a pair of very wide-legged trousers, but I'm dubious about whether I can actually pull off that look.
Total cost: $4...the trade-off for mystery remnants is cheapness.
Final thoughts: I'm not sold on 21-year-old me's idea of a good look for work, as the internet seems pretty convinced that wearing gauchos = instant stumpiness, but these pants are certainly comfortable enough, if not terribly flattering. They go well with the numerous cardigans in my closet, and work equally well with heels and tall boots. I think. Like I said, not sold on the idea of gauchos. However, I am terribly pleased that I finally managed to carry out my plan of remaking and replacing this particular RTW garment! So often, I stash random things and save them for years, telling myself that one day I'll actually need/use this. Well, this time it was true! I won't go so far as to say that I learned how to sew in order to carry out this project, but it was always vaguely in the back of my mind. Even though I'm not sure about the advisability of wearing this style, I feel like I've reached some kind of milestone in being able to successfully reproduce the original garment. Hmmm, I think I still have my favorite pair of cargo pants from college (which developed an unfortunately situated hole) stashed somewhere...
One more random anecdote about my early teaching years and the original pair of gauchos: I was wearing them one time and another science teacher said something to the effect of gauchos never look good on anyone. At the time, I didn't know that this type of pants even had a specific name, so I went ahead and agreed with her that yes, they looked terrible. I was such a people-pleaser back then. She gave me a withering look that said well then why are you wearing them? It wasn't until I availed myself of Google that I realized what she was saying, and what I had agreed to.
But enough about naive young me and that first pair -- what about this pair? To take a page from Peter's book, gauchos, yay or nay?