Green Marlene Shorts: 2-challenges-in-1

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-01 TitleI’ve wanted to make a proper pair of trousers or shorts for a very long time. I’ve avoided making them because I was discouraged by all the talk about how hard it is to fit them properly. Which is silly really because I prefer to wear trousers or shorts for everyday wear; but it is really hard to find ready to wear (RTW) trousers/shorts/pants that fit well; being a pear/cello shape I always end up with waistband gaping at the back.

I have made basic elasticised waist shorts before, but they don’t really count, I wouldn’t wear them in public. This pair of shorts is a combination of a pattern I’ve had for ages, some fabric that I’ve had in my stash for a long time and two online sewing challenges that serendipitously aligned.

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-02 Hanger FrontInspiration

Trouser month for the Curvy Sewing Collective’s Season of Separates was just what I needed to bite the trouser sewing bullet. I have a few trouser/pant patterns in my pattern stash, but thought it would be best to make my first pair of proper trousers from a pattern drafted for plus sizes, so I chose BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers 03/2013 #140A.

I had some green broadcloth in my stash and it just so happened that green (with some rule bending) is one of colours I could use for The Monthly Stitch Solid Colours challenge. So, I could do a 2 challenges in one garment combo. Bazinga!Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-03 Hanger Back


BurdaStyle – Marlene Trousers 03/2013 #140A

My BurdaStyle account tells me I’ve had this pattern since August 30, 2013 and have had this pattern stuck together probably since the end of 2013 so at least I didn’t have to do that. I probably would not have made these this time around if I had had to stick the 28 pages together.

Sidenote: I’m so anti-sticking-pdf-patterns-together that I trace patterns off the pages once I’ve stuck them together. I just don’t want to have to print and stick all those pages together again if I muck up and tracing doesn’t take that long. Am I alone? Do you trace? Or do you just cut right into those stuck together pages?

Pattern Adjustments

For the toile Cut a size 52 (US20); shortened trouser legs to notches; was intending to grade from a 48 at waist to a 52 at hip, but I’m glad I didn’t. For the toile I removed the pockets.

ETA (27Feb2015) I forgot to mention I changed the front waistband from an overlapping two piece waistband to a single piece cut on the fold.

When I tried the toile I was happy with the length and only needed to make waist adjustments in the back. I took total of 4cm out of the back waistband/trouser pant to remove gaping. After fitting the toile I redrafted pockets to have a different opening shape and to made them deeper.Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-04 Pocket & ZipI’m probably going to do a Behind the Seams post to show the pattern adjustments.


  • Green cotton broadcloth bought from Spotlight a long time ago.
  • Black cotton lawn scraps for pocket facings
  • Interfacing from stash for waistband
  • 20cm black dress zip
  • Thread

The pattern called for an invisible zip at the centre back, but I didn’t have one on hand so just did a centred dress zip. I didn’t have much matching thread so where I could get a way with it I just used a dark grey colour and where the thread showed I used the matching thread in the needle.


I constructed the pants so that I would be able to tweak the fit in the side seams at the end if I needed to. The insides of these trousers aren’t the prettiest, but I’m still confident they will hold up ok when I toss them in the washing machine.Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-05 Inside FrontI’m going to do a Behind the Seams post for these because the post becomes way too long if I details everything here.

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-07 Details
The order I constructed the shorts in meant that I had to sew the inner leg seams after they had been joined at the crotch. This meant I had to ease the back seam into the front seam and that caused me a bit of trouble so as I was sewing the inner leg seam I was wrestling with the fabric to try to ease the fabric. I must have been wrestling a bit too hard because as I was sewing my machine made a “thunk” sound and I managed to bend a needle. It could still sew after replacing the needle so I carried on sewing to finish this project, but it is making a strange scraping sound so I have taken it to get serviced and fixed.Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-06 Inside Back

Changes I made this time

  • Shortened to just below knee length
  • Drafted a different pocket opening
  • Drafted the pocket to be deeper
  • Took the back waist in

What I Like

  • I like the shaped waistband because it sits nicer than a straight waistband
  • I also really like how the interfacing I used makes the waistband feel really sturdy
  • The fit through the thighs is airy, good for warm weather
  • I really like this colour
  • Starting with a plus size pattern meant I didn’t have to do a heap of grading or pattern adjustments
  • And of course I looove me some pockets! My phone won’t be falling out of these trousersGreen BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-08 Front

What I don’t like

  • They are a little too loose through the waist
  • The fabric is too light for shorts
  • There are some drag lines at the front
  • The pocket openings are a little too big
  • The back darts are not smoothGreen BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-09 Back & Side

Changes for next time

  • Get a closer fit through the waist
  • Use a heavier fabric
  • Try a big tummy adjustment
  • Attempt a pocket stay
  • Make the pocket opening smaller
  • Sew the back darts with more of a curve to smooth them out
  • Use an invisible zip & interface seam allowance around zip


Pattern BurdaStyle – Marlene Trousers (Plus Size) 03/2013 #140A – stash $5.40
Fabric 2m x Green cotton broadcloth from Spotlight – stash
Scraps black cotton lawn – stash
  • Medium weight interfacing – stash
  • 20cm black zip – stash
Time Estimated 10.5 hours (* $17-ish Australian minimum wage)
Pattern adjustments – 1 hour
Cutting and sewing toile – 2 hours
Cutting and sewing final garment – 7 hours
Hand sewing – 30 minutes
Total $183.90

Most of the cost was time. I’m glad most of the materials I used where from the stash. I wasn’t going to include the price of the pattern, but then decided that I should because I’ve not used this pattern before (I’m pretty sure this the first of the many BurdaStyle patterns I have that I’ve used).

Final Comment

All in all, I am very happy with my first effort at making ‘proper’ trousers. I am really happy with the pattern I chose and would recommend it to others.

I am a little disappointed with the fit of the final trousers as the toile fit me a bit better, but I think that’s down to the fabric I used in the final version.  Looking at the photos, the proportions are little off, they could be a little shorter, but I like the length anyway.

As critical as I can be about the things I make I have to ask myself – “Would I find something that fits me like this in RTW?”. The answer is always no 🙂 So in my books this is a pair of shorts worthy of a fist-pump.

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-12 Fist Pump

So, do you have any trouser fitting quirks?
Have you ever made shorts/trousers/pants?
If so, do you have any tips?
If you haven’t sewn trousers, why not?
Have you ever used a BurdaStyle pattern?
Let me know in the comments, I love reading them 🙂

Until next time,


P.S. I thought I’d include a lovely goof-face photo for you. I recently bought a wireless camera remote and am still working out how and where to hold it when taking pictures. So at the moment a lot of my photos are like this 🙂

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-11 Goof