I don’t know if you recall, but a few months ago I was saying one of the effects of the pandemic on my sewing was that I felt an urge to create bright and colourful outfits even more than normal. Not all the time, but there’s definitely an element of “sod it, why not?” to some of my choices. And here’s another one! I decided to make this outfit before Christmas and had no idea if it would actually work or not, but as soon as I thought of it, I knew I’d have to give it a go.
I already had the animal print rayon for the top, which was an impulse purchase last year from La Mercerie, who did a collaboration with Nerida Hansen. Yellow and leopard print aren’t my usual thing, but the rayons were all so vibrant, I just had to pick some up (I used a different one for one of my Wiksten shift dresses a year or so ago). The pattern is the top version of the I AM Patterns Irma Top/Dress (I made the dress version late last year) and I liked the pattern so much, I was happy to make it again.
Today, however, I want to focus on the trousers, the pattern for which I bought about 5 minutes after I saw its release. They’re the Acajou Pants from French designers Deer + Doe. I’ve made quite a few of their patterns before and have liked them all (Magnolia Dress, Plantain Tee, Sirocco Jumpsuit and the Melilot shirt) but I haven’t yet made a straight pair of pants from the company and I was absolutely looking for a semi-tailored look that was a bit different. The Acajous have quite a distinctive shape – wider at the hip and sometimes referred to as banana-shaped trousers (although the inseam is a little straighter than, say, the Bob Trousers from Style Arc). It’s pretty on trend and I decided to see how they worked for me.
There are two views – one with a regular hem and View B which has elasticated cuffs, side pockets and topstitching – it’s a more casual/streetwear look. My original idea was to do View B with a fabric more suited to View A, just to mix it up a bit, but my fabric ended up being a little stiff for that version, so I did something of a hybrid version. I used two back pockets (the pattern has one, but I prefer two to break up that long bum on high-waisted trousers) and also topstitched all the seams. I cut fabric for the side pockets, but omitted them in the end.
Fabric and Sizing
The Acajou Pants come in sizes 34 -52 in the pdf and my measurements corresponded very closely to the 50, so that’s what I cut out. As I’ve mentioned many times before, my own particular body type tends towards slightly shorter legs and a long lower torso, particularly from waist to crotch. I compared the crotch curve and rise of the pattern with some of my others that I know fit pretty well, and it was actually quite similar, so I decided just to go with it with no alterations, although it felt a little risky.
For my fabric, I used a beautiful Italian wool blend suiting that I got as a remnant from Britex in San Francisco on a trip a few years ago. It says “reversible” and both sides are lovely, but I think technically I’m probably using the wrong side. It doesn’t really matter though and the whole reason I bought it was because of the yellow/mustard colour. Suitings are so often confined to shades of navy, brown and black that I was happy to find something a bit different, even if I didn’t know how I was going to use it! It’s a very nice medium weight fabric and the only thing I have to complain about is that it creases quite easily – but it’s a minor quibble.
I always read any reviews I can find of a new pattern before I make it. There weren’t many for such a new pattern, but I did find a couple of references and pictures that suggested they were a lot wider in the leg than was necessarily suggested in the modelled pattern pictures. This concerned me slightly, as my legs are proportionally a bit slimmer than my waist these days, so I wondered if I’d be swimming in them since I was making a size at the higher end of the Deer + Doe scale.
Well, reader… I was. I basted together my trousers to check fit and they were really, really wide. I thought I’d taken a picture of them, but I can’t find it. I think if my fabric had a bit more drape, they probably would have been fine, but in my crisp suiting, it looked like I had jumped into a pair of clown pants ready to hit the circus floor. Or at least it felt like that and I thought they just made my slightly short legs look even shorter.
I basted again a size smaller (about a quarter of an inch or so) and it was better, but I still wanted a little more off. I didn’t want to lose the banana shape entirely, so I ended up sewing the side seam at around 1 1/4″ (rather than 5/8″ seam allowance) from the pocket down and I also tapered the bottom half of the inseam in to about 7/8″. I only tapered from the pocket down because I was actually happy with the fit around my waist and the crotch rise and depth was perfect (so many people might find it long I would think). It was really just the extremity and width of the banana shape on my legs.
As you can see in all the photos, I still retain the banana shape in the legs and, in fact, I think they look a lot more like the pattern cover version’s proportions (albeit on a shorter, curvier me), which is really what attracted me to the pattern in the first place. I think I might take a touch out from the upper part of the inseam next time as there’s a little extra fabric still hanging out in there, and I could probably do with a slight adjustment on bum, but overall, I’m very happy with the fit. To the point where I’ve already been checking which other pants Deer + Doe has. Not that I need any more patterns.
Deer + Doe’s instructions are always thorough, but assume some knowledge of sewing. For example, they don’t mention grading or how to finish seams, but if you use anything like the recommended medium- to heavyweight fabrics, you will need to grade. I ended up with quite a bit of bulk at the waistband, so probably should have been even more severe with my chopping than I was.
The trousers really go together quite easily. As I mentioned at the start, I topstitched all the seams and I think it looks super. It adds a really nice touch of sophistication to the legs. If you used a contrast thread in View B, it could look really cool as well.
Here are a few notes I made on the construction process:
- The fly installation method wasn’t my favourite – I would probably use one of my tried and tested methods next time. I don’t think it’s a bad method, but found some of the illustrations a bit confusing – I had to stop and really think what I was doing a few times. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I’ve put in quite a few fly zippers. You’d think I would have it down by now, sigh, but I swear to God there are more installation methods than meatballs in New York. Having said that, the end result is very neat, so I think it’s just a case of personal preference.
- I found my waistband elastic didn’t fit in the hole very well. It’s pretty exacting – having you leave a 1 1/4″ hole and then using the same width of elastic. I ended up using 3/4″ elastic and it’s totally fine. And waistbands are just still my nemesis. Mine came up a little short on the left hand side (I think it was me), which meant I didn’t quite catch everything I needed to and it created a slight ripple. One day… one day I will put a waistband on perfectly.
- The front pockets are lovely and deep and I chose to add two back pockets. The recommended pocket placement was way off for my long flat butt though, so I ended up moving the pockets up by 2 inches and in by 1 inch or so. Here is the original placement:
- I’m 5’6″ and that’s the height Deer + Doe drafts for. I do find my legs are a little shorter proportionally and often have to shorten trouser legs very slightly, but these I didn’t have to touch. They are perfect on me – so may well be a little short on others. I’m not complaining – it’s a good job I didn’t do the adjustment automatically!
Alright, that’s about it! I took the outdoor pictures in front of another local mural I love, which is in downtown Bothell. It honours Alice Seaton, who was the first woman to deliver mail in the US, apparently. She’s doesn’t look overly excited about her new job, I have to say, but I’m sure it was tough, dangerous work.
I’ll post a short post about my Irma top in a few days or so. I did make a few adjustments this time round, so will just detail those. In the meantime, have you made any banana-style trousers or something else that’s a bit different? I’ve been considering the Bob trousers for quite some time and might just have convinced myself to go for those. I also might make another pair of these in a tweedy wool I have. Let me know if you have any suggestions! Talk to you soon!