Many words and photos about the Palisade Pants

Pants pants pants. Are you ever easy? I’m still firmly in the realm of secondhand stretch RTW jeans and me-made elastic waist pants (which will hopefully change soon). I’ve still got at least 5kg of baby weight I’d like to shift, and until recently I’ve not had the mindset to tackle a fitted pair of pants. So elastic waist pants are it for the time being. 
I made a pair of Arenite pants last year, and blundered my way through adapting the side panels to make the pockets less gapey (the designer has since posted a tutorial in her Instagram feed on how to do this) but was never really happy with how they sat on my body or how to style them. Which is a shame as I used a truly beautiful linen to make them. Silly silly silly. 
But when Papercut Patterns releases their Geo collection I was intrigued by their Palisade pants. I’ve always liked the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants (which I was trying to emulate with my Arenites) and felt that the bones of the Palisades could give me something similar – interesting pockets, no side seams, and a fairly slim leg. 
Straight up I knew I’d be eliminating the faux fly (both pointless and unattractive in my opinion) and eliminating the flat front. Which sounds a bit counterintuitive for a person a bit concerned about carrying more weight that what they’d like, however other flat front elastic waist pants I’ve made (specifically my recent Hepburn shorts and Sew Over It Carrie Pants) have a tendency to crumple in this area. It may be the interfacing I’ve used, but I feel it’s also possibly related to having a bit of a full tummy there. So I decided to eliminate that feature too – the bonus being that the gathers are evenly distributed around my body rather than bunched up at the sides and back. 


It’s not really a pattern that one can quickly toile up – you’ve pretty much got to fully construct them to assess fit, so I decided to go to a wearable toile and make them up in a lightweight black stretch denim from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I can’t remember how much fabric I bought, but I’m certain it was less than the recommended amount and I just had enough. I suspect it was about 1.7m. I forgot to adjust the waistband to be one piece when cutting it out, so just turned it around 180 degrees so that the seams were at the back. 

I cut a straight size large, based on my hip measurement, with no adjustments other than the waistband. With the fly and waistband faff eliminated construction was quick and easy. The pockets are drafted beautifully with that fabulous geometric construction. As I read on someone Instagram post you get two pockets for the price of one – perfect for separating sticky small person detritus from other items. I did not do any of the recommended top stitching due to these being a toile, until the end, when I top stitched the crotch seam only. 

It was apparent once I’d attached the waistband that there were some fitting issues in the front. The back bum fit was ok, but I certainly wouldn’t want a size smaller there, especially as these had some stretch in them. There was way too much fabric in the front crotch, and I feel this is the case on most of the versions I’ve seen made up, including the modelled photos on the website. I managed to improve it a little by unpicking and taking some off the front inner seam as per the advice on this fab resource, but I could easily pin out a good 1.5cm wedge out of the crotch depth and still be comfortable. 

Nonetheless I’ve worn my first version a lot, particularly to work where I wear a mid length uniform jacket that covers the excess fabric. The denim gives a nice structure to the shape of the leg and is getting that great worn denim look after a few washes. 

Version two was made in a little bit of a rush before a recent holiday to sunny Queensland (because it is mid winter here, and so cold!). We all do that silly pre holiday sewing don’t we? I had some chambray cotton/modal in my stash from Spotlight and it was the perfect weight for some warm weather Palisades. 

For version 2 I made several changes. I’ve attempted to illustrate the front pattern piece changes as I’m not the best at describing. You get a crappy hand drawn picture on some paper from my recycling bin as I have exactly zero drawing skills using a computer
  • removed the fly extension (1)
  • removed 5mm from the front inseam crotch length (2)
  • Removed 15mm from the front crotch in a wedge, tapering to nothing at the seam allowance (3). Because this piece is quite narrow I had to add a little to the top of the opposite seam allowance to true it up (4)

Other alterations:

  • trimmed the front and back inseam to the size medium to narrow the legs a little (in addition to removing the 5mm from the front inseam crotch length)
  • Sewed the middle and back leg seams with a SA of 15mm to just below the level of the pockets just to narrow the legs a little more
  • Added a little extra width, about 8mm to the CB crotch seam, for just a little more bum width as this fabric has no stretch 
  • Full elastic waistband as per version 1, with extra faffing…. see below….
  • Hemmed a little shorter than recommended, mostly because I like slightly cropped length (and only a little bit to do with the fact that I was a dimwit and ran out of fabric for the front leg piece, had to piece the last inch and a half and THANK GOODNESS it was pretty much the perfect hemmed length at the piecing seam) . 
Most of the time with this pair has been taken up with the waistband. Recently the most fabulous and knowledgeable Mie posted on Instagram her thoughts on elastic waistbands (she has also even more recently compiled her amazing sewing tips collection into a Pinterest board for the sewing community – fabulous generous lady that she is). She favours sewing smaller channels with narrow elastic rather than the traditional wide elastic waistband that is top stitched. It looks better and I liked her point that you can adjust the fit of the individual elastics depending on your body shape, so I decided to give it a go for this version. When I was pregnant I made some shorts with an adjustable elastic waistband based on a RTW pair I had and I decided to try something similar, allowing access to the elastic so it could be easily adjusted if I did have some weight fluctuation in the warmer months. 
I’ve taken some pics of how I did it should you wish to try this at home.

1 – Press down the centre of the waistband, then sew the ends together, but leave the section on the inner band between the seam allowance where it attaches to the pants and the outer band open. As you can see I went a few mm over so that there would be no open waistband on the top.

2 – Press it all open. Top stitch around the gap you have made. I would also recommend overlocking or zigzagging those raw edges as I didn’t and the loose threads were annoying when trying to thread the elastic.

3 – Pin long raw edges together.

4 – Sew your three channels at desired width, stopping an inch or two away from the hole.

5 – Attach waistband to the pants ensuring the hole is on the inside and lining this up with the centre back. I just attached it then overlocked the raw edges. I think maybe the pattern suggests to attach the outside, then the inside and stitch in the ditch.

6 – Thread elastic. This is where I started to go wrong. I sewed three 20mm channels. But 20mm channels will not fit 20mm elastic. They’ll fit maybe 16 or 17mm elastic if you are lucky. So I had to narrow my elastic using the overlocker. I couldn’t even find 15mm elastic. From a distance it looks lovely – even gathers, no rippling. But in reality the three layers don’t sit well. They fold and collapse, the waistband has no sturdiness and often the elastic twists within its channels. I’m wondering if the collapsing is due to my mum tum (much like the flat front pants, the separate elastics doesn’t have great vertical stability) or whether it’s due to the elastic being weakened by being narrowed. Regardless it’s unfortunately just not working well, and sadly I think come spring if I can’t find any 16mm elastic I’ll be unpicking those channels, adding in one wider piece of elastic and top stitching it down. 

Regardless of my waistband experiments I’m really happy with this version. I love the subtle curve of the leg and of course the pockets. I feel I can still remove a little more crotch length from the front inner leg seam, maybe another 5mm. I’ve definitely got plans for another pair this spring in black or dark grey linen. Maybe I’ll play around with the pocket design, but probably not – it’s just too cool! I feel it’s a pattern worth perfecting if you’re after a casual woven pull on pant that’s a little more elevated than a basic leg and slant pocket. I hope my words are helpful to someone – it’s hard to know these days how much anyone is reading blogs, but I find posts like these so helpful. They’re time consuming, for sure, but it’s nice to contribute to that collective knowledge we all make use of when improving our garment sewing. xxx

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