A white man wearing sunglasses, white shirt, and dark blue pants sits on a stone wall in front of a green bush with white flowers.

Pants for My Guy – Simplicity 8519 and Closet Core Morgan Shorts

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Greetings and Happy Spring!

A white man wearing sunglasses, light blue shirt, and dark blue pants stands in a dry riverbed under an overpass. There are trees in the background.

Well, so much for being more consistent with my blogging in 2022!

What’s that saying? Whenever you makes plans, God gets a Netflix comedy special? If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that the only certain thing is uncertainty. But in the first few months of the year, as we helped navigate the care and final days of my father-in-law’s time here on earth, I was also given a new chance to witness what a truly wonderful, loving, supportive, and tenacious human being my husband is. And since April is his birthday month, this post is dedicated to him…and, of course, how great he looks in handmade pants!

A white man wearing sunglasses, a light blue shirt, and dark blue pants stands in a dry riverbed with green trees in the background.
A white man wearing sunglasses, a light blue shirt, and dark blue pants stands in a dry riverbed with green trees in the background.

In the last few years, I’ve made him some shirts (including the white linen one shown here), some tops, some workout shorts, and finally dialled in the fit of a self-drafted underwear pattern, so for Christmas, I decided to tackle some pants for the man. He has openly coveted my Pattern Scout Nellie Joggers, and I had noticed him eyeing a pair of linen lounge pants worn by a friend last summer, so that was the style goal. I was looking for a pattern with a flat front waistband, a zipper fly, an elasticized back, and a slim leg, similar to many indie women’s patterns that have come out in the last while.

Back waist-down view of a white man standing in a dry riverbed wearing dark blue pants

Now, Neil may be a rugged, athletic, motorcycle-riding, back-country camping adventure seeker, but do not let him fool you — where clothing is concerned, The Princess and the Pea has got nothing on this guy. Given the dearth of men’s patterns in general, I knew I had my work cut out for me, but folks, it was a desert out there! Everything was either oversized with full elastic waist, or sweatpants designed for knits, requiring more adjusting and hacking than I felt like doing. At last, I came across Simplicity 8519 — a men’s slim-ish fit woven lounge pant with a hidden button fly — which had enough of the right elements, and a 99¢ sale price tag to boot. 

Close up of dark blue pants with snap and zipper fly and partly elasticized waistband.

The size chart put him in a medium, but since it’s from the Big 4 (or however many there are now), I sized down to a small. After making the muslin, I made the following adjustments:

  • Shortened the front rise 5/8”.
  • Altered the front button fly to have a zipper instead, using my favourite Closet Core Patterns’ method by adding a grown-on fly extension on both front pieces. 
  • Lengthened the small flat section of the centre front waistband a few inches (which, in my opinion, looks much nicer). 
Detail of front pant pattern piece with writing "Added fly extension"
Detail of four front waistband pattern pieces labelled "Original front waistband tabs" and "Adjusted front waistband tabs"

The fabric is the 5.3oz softened linen in Cobalt from Fabric-Store.com, which is always a dream to sew. I considered adding back pockets, but with this fabric weight, I knew he probably wouldn’t use them. The front ones are quite large, with plenty of room for his phone and a card or two. Et voilà — the ultimate beach-to-dinner summer pants! 

As mentioned, these were a Christmas present, but despite rumours to the contrary, winter mornings are actually chilly in L.A. (I can hear my Montreal & Toronto people rolling their eyes), and he didn’t really have any warm pyjama pants. This forest green flannel is from Fabric Wholesale Direct, and it’s a little thicker than many solid flannels I’ve seen, while not being too heavy. Using the same pattern, I went with a faux fly. To get one single flat front waistband piece, I folded back the centre front seam allowance of the left front waistband and cut it on the fold. I generally don’t mind doing flies, but pants sure do go a lot faster without them! These have become his morning go-to, and I have a sneaking suspicion that some lightweight summer short ones will be in order at some point.

A white man wearing green pants, light green t-shirt, white shoes, and glasses holds up a coffee mug as he leans against a white door frame.
Detail of green flannel pants with faux button fly. A white male hand hold a coffee mug that says "be you".

And speaking of shorts, the most recent pair are some knee-length ones based on the Morgan Jeans pattern from Closet Core. Due to the aforementioned…discernment… it can be hard for him to find shorts that he likes. Most are too wide at the knee, and either too casual or too dressy for his style. I thought my best bet was to go with this boyfriend-style women’s jean because: 

  • I didn’t love any of the men’s jean patterns I was seeing,
  • I had seen some other sewists on IG adapt the Morgans for male proportions, and… 
  • I already had it!
A white man wears grey knee-length shorts and a white polo shirt while putting on a baseball cap. He is outdoors with trees and rocks in the background.
A white man wearing sunglasses, baseball cap, grey shorts and white polo shirt walks down a dirt path surrounded by trees.

As you can see, they look great on him. And thanks to the airy quality of the stretch woven, linen-look athletic fabric I got from The Fabric Fairy a few years ago, they are very comfy and will get lots of wear. But real talk — these almost broke me. The pattern is wonderful; it wasn’t that. In fact, I have no clue what it was, but here’s what happened…

I made the muslin out of non-stretch fabric, which is what the pattern is designed for. I figured I’d get that fit right, and a little bit of lycra would just add some comfort. He tried them on, they were a tad snug, but the proportions were pretty bang-on. It truly seemed like all that was needed was to let out the side seams a bit, lengthen the back rise about a 1/2”, and with the stretch in the fabric, we’d be golden. No need for a second muslin. I make the adjustments, cut out the fabric (of which I only have one metre, which is just barely enough), sew it up until basting the side seams, and have him try them on. And they are tight. Tighter than the muslin. Tighter than any finished garment I have ever made him. And this is the stretch fabric. What. the. hell. I look at my notes. I look at the pattern. I re-measure. It makes no sense. 

Detail of the front of grey men's shorts with pockets and zipper fly.
Detail of back of men's grey shorts with belt loops, yoke, and back pockets.

After a moment (evening) of sabotaging self-talk where my hobby became just another platform for failure and was I ever going to be good enough at anything I want to do in my life, I managed to steer my mind out that awful neighbourhood and reset. Over the next few nights, I unpicked and let out some seams as much as possible, and managed to save them. I still don’t know exactly where I went wrong. I’ve made a few more adjustments to the pattern, but I think I’m going to put it away for a spell before doing another fit test. The silver lining is that he loves how these turned out, and I will certainly enjoy watching him wear them! 

Two sewing pattern envelopes. One is Simplicity 8519, the other is Closet Core Patterns Morgan Jeans
A white man wearing dark blue pants and a white shirt sits on a stone wall.

A very happy birthday to my very favourite person in the whole world, and happy sewing to everyone!

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