Just for fun, I would like to make a retro pair of pants. I want a pair of
bell bottoms (with big bells!) w/ an elastic waist. I have looked at some
patterns on ebay, but they tend to be expensive especially w/ shipping. Does
anyone know of an online source of instructions how to modify a typical pant
pattern to make bells? Any suggestions from personal experience?
Hehehehehe.... In my dim and distant youth (in the 70's!) I did this
all the time!
OK, Method One: Take your straight leg JEANS* pattern, trace it off,
and find the knee level. Cut across at this level. Slit the bottom leg
piece into 4 or 5 even strips. Fan out on another sheet of paper, and
draw round the curves. top and bottom. Add seam allowances to the top
of the bottom section and the bottom of the leg section. You'll end up
with a seam at knee level, but this was pretty common.
For the Loon variation, make the bottom section FRONT pattern piece come
to a point over the knee, either pointing up or down: you'll need to
make the upper leg match this. Sew with mock felled seams, so they look
like jeans seams, all the way round.
Method Two: This is for all-in-one legs.
Trace as before, and just DRAW the knee level in. Cut UP TO knee level
from the hem so you have 3 strips. Fold the outer two out, spreading
the hem by up to 2" at each cut. Paste down on more paper, and draw in
the hem... You also need to curve the leg seams at the knee so you
don't get a sharp angle.
*For true authenticity, always jeans style, not slacks! Bell bottomed
slacks just looked naff! I did all this just a few years back for a
play: there are some pix in the costume gallery on my web site.
"Kate Dicey" wrote
Great advice. I appreciate your ideas. I have stored your message and will
try the jeans methods w/ the knee seam. Sounds very cool. Saw the pic of a
boy in a hippie costume on your site. That looked to be a pair of bells he
The lad in the brown suit was bell bottoms. The purple velvet ones were
loons. I made all the outfits for the play. I had to put bell vents in
the hems of loads of pairs of jeans! Used curtain fabric for some of
them, just as I did back in the seventies! :) The kids thought it was
hilarious that I knew all this stuff first hand.
Have you got a jeans pattern that fits? If not, the first thing to do
is modify your basic pants to jeans... there's too much ease in basic
pants to look right as bells, imho. Also, consider whether you really
want an elastic waist... with a heavy fabric, the extra weight of fabric
in the legs can cause things to slide south. In lightweight fabric, it
may be ok with sturdy elastic.
Next, fold in the grainline of the front and back legs. Now fold
the pattern across the grainline at the level of the crotch seam.
Finally, bring the hem of the leg up to the fold you've just made, and
make a crease across the leg, perpendicular to the grainline. That's
the knee line of the pants, and it's important... everything below the
kneeline needs to be symmetrical from side to side, or the pants will
twist as you walk.
Slash from leg hem to kneeline symmetrical to the grainline. Spread
the slashes an equal amount, fill in with more tissue, and true the
seamlines. Spread the slashes on both front and back legs the same amount.
Also, from someone who lived through the bellbottom craze of the 70's...
they look really funny as high water pants, imo. You may want to add some
length to the leg. Small hems or faced hems are much easier with a leg
with much flare, unless you know the actual length and cut a shaped hem.
"Kay Lancaster" wrote
More good advice. I will save this message also. I had thought of making the
pants out of a lighter wt denim or twill. I was thinking of elastic for ease
of sewing and comfort. However, I might use a stretch twill w/ a zip fly.
Those are easy to do too.
I was in middle school during the bell bottom craze. I had a pair of bell
bottom corduroy jeans that I lived it. They did look stupid when I grew too
tall for them. By then the fashion had died.
Back in the *cough* early 60s, we bought seafarer's -- sailor pants --
and took off the waistband, turned over the edge and stitched it down
good, then put them on inside out to pin the sides from the knee up to
be skin tight then sewn. The lower leg was left to bell. Did we ever
think we were hot stuff!!!
The Sailors had the ORIGINAL bell bottom
trousers! Go to an Army/Navy or Military
Surplus store. If you are near a Naval
Base, you might find some at a tag sale
or thrift store. (This would be in USA.) PAT
They used to be part of the uniform - although I think the Seafarer's we
got were not military issue, but permitted. The uniform term is
dungarees, I think - but don't hold me to it. Anyway, they seem to be
no longer in use. But I found a picture (google has some links to
surplus places that still have them)
NAYY and all that.
A drawstring would give you ease of sewing and comfort, and hold up
the pants too.
I recall drawstring pants in the seventies, but I don't think they
were bell bottomed, so I guess this isn't authentic. The pair of
heavy-cotton pajama pants I bought on clearance (to wear as overpants
on the bike) just after pajamas went out of fashion had a header above
the drawstring; I think this made them more comfortable than pants
with the elastic or string right at the edge.
I'm no authority on authentic, though -- I was too old for bell
bottoms by the time they became fashionable, and I seldom followed
fashion anyway. (Pay no attention to the orange polyester pantsuit
behind the curtain.)
I remember this one guy in school back in the late 60's or early 70's when
Levi's 501's were in he would split the out seam up to the knee and sew in a
triangle of cloth (the bottom of triangle was about 8 to 12 inches wide).
When he stood it would disapear inside. When he walked it was flashy.
Yeah... People paying silly money for pre-ripped jeans! Ours were all
ripped in action and had street cred/mountain cred/river cred/quary
cred... Wherever we'd ripped them DOING STUFF cred! Artificially
ripped was never the way to go. Nor was deloberately putting them where
they were likely to be ripped! The rips had to be genuine accidents and
were loveingly mended with whatever came in handy - usually a bit of old
Indeed! I ripped one pair sliding down a 'shute' in a rock face... But
they did protect my posterior on the way down! Ended up with purple
curtain fabric patched on the inside so it showed through the worn bits...
Yeah, the 60's and 70's were good. My clothes had natureual ways of getting
holes in them. Sliding down rocks, slipping down dirt banks, climbing trees
and swing crashes to name a few. It's a shame that todays kids need holes
put in to make it look like they actually did something. But instead, there
inside playing stupid games, which leaves them uncordinated and inept in
driving an auto, when that time comes, there so bad the laws had to be
changed around here- so many of them were killing themselves and each other
when driving. I think the rule, nowadays, is they have to be 17 or 18
before they can take passengers, unless "older" passenger.
I never did wear bell bottoms, except Navy pants. But last year I was
thinking about making a pair of bells out of jeans. It's a shame so many
people would have flipped there lid if they saw me wearing them, if I wore
them last year. In the 80's one guy I know was complaining that the fun
clothes were gone. And the kids of today that wear pants that fall down
when they'er running from the police- how dumb can people get? And they
think those pants are cool!
Kate, I think I told you that my middle daughter is a crazy mad climber.
Her roommate, who is also a climber and camper, etc., was wearing the
most ripped up jeans I've ever seen on a young woman the other day--all
rips done by honest hard play! LOL
> Indeed! I ripped one pair sliding down a 'shute' in a rock face... But
> they did protect my posterior on the way down! Ended up with purple
> curtain fabric patched on the inside so it showed through the worn bits...
I don't even want to get started on the "I am cool, so I have to wear
my pants-down-around-my-knees, and show you ALL that I wear boxer
shorts" business.. It looks terrible, but more importantly they have
to stop every few steps to hike them back up, so that they don't wind
up around their ankles.. This also seems to go with not tying your
shoes, but letting the shoelaces drag the ground a foot or more..
I had one of these young men to service my refrigerator, and he had
the exaggerated "droopy drawers", and apparently was also protesting
the use of underwear, as he had none on. (frankly he was an idiot,
because only a total idiot would come into someone's home dressed like
that to make a professional business call). I was not impressed - I
called the appliance store and filed a complaint..
Let's admit it, we all rebelled as teenagers and dressed somewhat to
shock/be different from the older generation.. That is healthy
IMHO.... But good grief, at least keep your pants fastened up so that
you don't wind up falling on your face... Find some other way to
On Fri, 14 Jul 2006 20:29:15 -0700, "A"
Best way - caught between a rock and a hard place! ;) I never did
climb much, but it was fun, and the Outdoor Ed and climbing club blokes
were some of the best fun. I learned a lot of my camp cooking skills
and tough sewing tricks through associating with those guys. :) Then I
married one... 24 years later we are still together. I may
occasionally feel like whacking him round the ear with a frying pan, but
mostly it's great fun.
Proper climbing breeches in those days were still made from tight woven
wool or cotton moleskin, and never showed the wear... Then Rohan
brought out their stretch Striders for walking and climbing... They
don't do them any more, which is a shame. Mind you, the pair Alan
bought 20 odd years ago are still going strong, so maybe that's why!
That and the rock monkeys all going for jazzy coloured and striped
tights... I must say, I appreciate the tight... Mmm - legs! ;)