I’m so excited to announce the release of my first ever sewing pattern, the Frey Pants! This pattern has literally been years in the making, and I almost can’t believe that it’s finally here. I first conceived of the design back in 2019 when I took up sewing again as a hobby. Since then, I’ve levelled up my sewing skills, learned how to draft and grade patterns, and sewn up SO many versions of these pants to get them just right. And finally, they’re ready to share! In this article I’m going to share my journey of making this pattern, including how I learned to draft patterns and where I got the inspiration for the design.
When I first started thinking I’d like to draft my own patterns, I was just getting back into sewing after not having touched a machine since high school. Originally, I wanted to design five simple patterns – a top, a pair of pants, a dress, a jacket, and a sweater – that could allow you to create your own capsule wardrobe while also teaching the basics of garment sewing and different techniques. That’s still something I’d like to do, however trying to create five different sewing patterns with little to no experience drafting beforehand was probably biting off more than I could chew. I had no idea where to even start learning how to do this, and the only option seemed to be going to school for fashion design.
Fast forward to 2022, and I had just come across a very fortuitous post on the pattern drafting subreddit. A woman named Victoria was asking for responses to a survey about learning to draft patterns, including what difficulties people were coming across and what they wanted to learn. I eagerly filled out the form, hoping that this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for… and it absolutely was! As it turned out, Victoria was starting her online course, Confident Patternmaking and Grading. It’s a three-month program that teaches everything you need to know about how to draft patterns, as well as size-inclusive grading. It was like all my hopes and dreams had been answered! I enrolled in her course and it was honestly one of the best experiences and decisions I’ve ever made. And thus, my pattern making journey began.
Despite how great the course was, it wasn’t always an easy road for me personally, however. I suffer from pretty terrible anxiety which manifested in self-doubt and impostor syndrome. Although I had drafted a pair of pants that I personally loved and wore all the time, I wasn’t sure it was something that others would be interested in. There were already a lot of similar, elastic-waist pants patterns available. Did I really need to add another pattern to the list? I also wasn’t sure that my pattern was good enough, and I struggled with the idea of putting something out there for people to buy that they might not be happy with. At times, I felt paralyzed with fear and couldn’t bring myself to keep moving forward. Thankfully, I had a lot of support from my family and friends throughout the process, as well as from the wonderful sewing community that I’m a part of on Instagram. Not to mention that Victoria and I stayed in touch, and she has been such an incredible mentor to me. With help, I was able to push through the barriers I was facing and finally get this pattern out into the world.
I’ve always been a fan of simple, relaxed-fit clothing made from natural fibres like linen. When thinking about the overall design of these pants, I wanted something that would be comfortable but that could still look chic (sort of like secret pyjamas). I saved hundreds of ideas on Pinterest, and I was heavily inspired by some of my favourite designers like Elizabeth Suzann, Monica Cordera, Micaela Greg, Aliya Wanek, and Eli and Barry.
As for the details, I knew I wanted to have large, functional pockets because I use them all the time myself. I also wanted a high waist and easy elastic waistband, and because I often found that I was adding a drawstring to a lot of the pants patterns I made in the past, I wanted to include an option for that as well. I added front pleats for a little extra volume and as a way to teach that technique to beginner sewists. Most importantly, I wanted to create the perfect barrel-leg shape – not too big, just something nice and subtle.
In the end, I think I ended up drafting around six different versions for myself, making little tweaks here and there until I felt like the pattern was just right. From there, I knew I also wanted to create a wider, cropped version; something that still had a little bit of that curved shape, but offered a more ‘flowy’ silhouette. And finally, it felt like a waste to not include a shorts view since it was so easy to add to the pattern that was already there, so that became the third view.
In the end, everything finally came together. The journey wasn’t perfect – nothing ever is, especially when you’re trying something for the first time. I stressed over small things, made mistakes, and learned a lot along the way. I’ll be honest, by the time I was almost ready to launch these pants I had become quite tired of them. I’d made them so many times by that point and had put so much pressure on myself throughout the process that I’d struggled with a ton of stress and anxiety. I took a much-needed break after the testing period to regroup before I went ahead and finalized everything. But now that they’re finally ready, I have to say I’m so proud of how they turned out and I do still really love them. I get so much wear out of all the versions I made for myself, and still have ideas for more in different fabrics and colours. I truly hope that you enjoy this pattern as much as I do.
If you’re interested, you can learn more and purchase the pattern here: https://emilylightly.com/patterns/frey-pants/
Let me know if you have any questions about the pattern or the drafting/grading process in the comments below! As always, thanks for reading.
Until next time,