French Navy Calyer Pant

I’ve been working on three pants simultaneously: improving the fit of my rigid denim jeans, Persephone pants, and the Calyer pant with the front pleats. I’ve worked through each pattern as carefully and calmly as possible. I knew that I would learn more about my body as I made each pattern, so that’s how I ended up working on three test muslins at once. The information I drew from one design, I was able to apply to another. The Calyer pant was no exception.

Why the Calyer pant? Well, I have this gap in my wardrobe. I have no comfortable (i.e., elastic waistband) pants that can be worn when the temperatures get cooler. I wanted something that I could wear for evening walks around the neighborhood. Nothing super technical, so I decided to try the Calyer pant as a possible pattern for the ultimate comfortable pant.

SIZING

According to the size chart, I should cut out a size XL. I’m not sure I can say the pattern sizing is accurate. I had to make significant changes to the pattern. I will say that the width of the back is way too baggy and the front legs are drafted to be very narrow.

One of the biggest issues I have with this post is describing my unconventional process. First I will describe my alterations compared to the original pattern. However, this is not how I drafted my final version. I actually studied the Calyer pant in comparison with a more traditional straight cut pant block (i.e., my rigid jeans) and drafted my own pattern based on the design features. It was far easier to construct the pattern than trying to deconstruct it to fit my body.

FABRIC

My final pants are made from Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in camel color. I love the material and pants in general! I’d love to make a second pair in a drapier fabric like slub texture linen. Not sure I’ll love the fabric though.

ALTERATIONS

The original Calyer pattern is gray, and my modifications are green/turquoise. It’s so difficult to see the real differences between these patterns, but I just choose to center things at the knee for my comparison.

  1. These pants were drafted to sit ¾” bellow the belly button. My pants were quite a bit below that reference point, so I actually had to raise the waistline all the way around.
  2. However you want to describe it, lengthening the front crotch length or removing width along center front, there was a lot of work that needed to be done to the front piece.
  3. The pants were tight around my calves. I needed to widen the front leg, in general, to give myself more room. It was tight!
  4. The pattern was drafted for someone 5’6”. Interestingly, I’m 5’11” and only needed to add an inch to the length. If you look at other people’s photos, you’ll see the cuff rolled up at the bottom and that may be why I didn’t need extra length.
  5. For the width I removed at center front, I needed to add that back to the side seam.

I’ve learned a little about removing fabric along the center front because a lot of RTW pants tend to fall towards the center front and sag really badly. By removing along center front and adding to the side seam as needed, you’re pulling the fabric outwards to prevent the awful sag. These are old pants and they have this awful sagging along the zipper and the grain line is off. The other tale-tell sign is having the waistband constantly sag even with a belt on. With RTW I have to constantly pull the pants up and tuck them back under the belt. It’s weird.

  1. To match the height I added to the front, I had to add height to the back waistline. Let’s just say my rear anatomy was exposed when I bent over, and I’m not a plumber! I added more height to the side seam than center back.
  2. I did have to make a bit of a knock-knee adjustment on the back piece only! I tried it on the front and back, and things went awry. You can see how the front leg pieces, although different, are centered from the crotch to the ankle. The back pieces are not centered, that’s the wide-hip / knock-knee alteration.
  3. I lengthened the back leg to match the front.
  4. I feel like the pattern was drafted to have an exceptionally long back crotch length to compensate for a short front crotch, which doesn’t actually work as a concept. You really need to draft your patterns with the correct front and back crotch length, so I’ve found out with all my pant alterations lately. I removed length from the back crotch and a significant wedge from the upper inseam, so I wouldn’t have fabric pooling under my rear.
  5. I also needed to remove a lot of fabric along the center back. It was unsightly! Even with the elastic waistband on the back, you don’t need as much width as you think sometimes. The only part of the back pants that need the extra width for the gathered waistband is from the widest point up to the waistline. Depending on your shape, your widest point may be at or below your crotch line. Whatever is your widest point above your crotch line is all you need to worry about, you add width from there to create a nice gathered waistband.

HOW I REALLY MADE MY ALTERATIONS

Truth? I don’t think I could have figured out the Calyer pant if I didn’t construct the pattern using a basic pattern block. I compared my rigid jeans pattern to the Calyer pant, and I was able to draft my own version of the Calyer pant. The fit of my rigid jeans pattern is a slim to straight cut with only enough ease to make the pants comfortable. I spent a lot of hours getting my rigid jeans pattern to not be unnecessarily baggy anywhere and so this pattern has turned out to be a great woven pant block to work from.

In the image above, my rigid jean pattern is shown in gray / outlined in magenta and the self-drafted Calyer pant is turquoise. For ease, the front pocket and the back yoke are included to help with pattern drafting. For the front pant, I removed 2 inches from the side seam. Remember I needed to add a pleat (2-inches) so that’s why the top front pant is the same width as my pant block. The rigid jeans pattern doesn’t have a pleat. For the back pant, I added 2 inches to the side seam.

The waistband on the Calyer pant is 2 inches, where the waistband on my jeans pattern is just a little over 1 inch. Therefore, if I wanted the Calyer pants to sit in about the same spot, I needed to remove some height. I also dropped the front and back crotch ½ inch to achieve the dropped crotch look.

Next, I shortened the leg to sit more at ankle length. I didn’t want to have the pant pool on top of my foot. The pattern is drafted with a narrow leg and therefore it doesn’t need to reach the floor. The pattern angled the bottom hem, so I mimicked the same angle when drafting my pattern.

Finally, I narrowed the legs by ½ along each seam, 2″ total. At this point, I was closer to the final Calyer pattern and could start fine-tuning the fit.

In the image above, my final drafted Cayler pant is in turquoise green and my original rigid jeans pattern in gray. In the end, I needed to play around with the crotch curve to remove some excess fabric. Once I was happy with my drafted pattern, I added the 2 ¾” to the back piece for the waistband and added the bottom hem.

I played around with the placement of the front pleat. That really was the least of my concerns. I wasn’t even sure I was going to keep the pleats anyways. Deep down, I loathe pleats. I went to Catholic school growing up and we were always required to wear pleated pants. The principal was so obsessed with pleated pants, that he even found pleated jeans to wear for casual Friday. I couldn’t stand pleated pants. Full disclosure, just because it was dress code in no way meant that I wore pleated pants. I also wore backless shoes which we weren’t allowed to do either. My leather clogs were awesome! Luckily teachers were too busy yelling at students for untucked shirts, boys who tried to sag their pants below their underwear, and girls who wore skirts that were hemmed too high.

CONCLUSIONS

The Calyer pants are exactly what I needed to fill a gap in my wardrobe. I’m glad I stuck with the pattern and figured out how to alter it to fit my body. I love the subtle shift of the side seam to the front. It’s a design feature that’s very slimming. I also like the dropped crotch for added ease and comfort without adding unnecessary bagginess. Eventually, I hope to try the pattern in a more technical material so I could possibly use the pants for spring / autumn hiking in the mountains.


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