Sewing the Trends: Wide-Leg Pants 101

Sewing the trends: Wide-leg pants 101

I expect like me, you’ve been hearing that full-length wide leg pants are amongst the many trends sweeping through the fashion world this season. Culottes and cropped wide-leg pants have been, and still are going strong, but there are also a lot of full-length styles around too and they seem to be gathering momentum.

I posted an inspiration photo on IG a few days ago showing wide leg pants and a few people seemed a little reticent and thought the look perhaps wasn’t for them. I’m planning on making a pair myself and I’m far from model stature myself…average height, thick waist, wide hips and flat bum anyone? So I decided to do some research because I think this style of pant is more wearable than you might realise and I also think they can be very leg lengthening and elegant.

To start you off though, I want to show you a few runway and designer looks merely for inspiration. Though I don’t think they tell the whole story regarding the tops that you could wear, which I’ll come to shortly…but first the photos to drool over:

Sewing the trends: Wide-leg pants 101 Left to right:   Rachel Zoe, Chloe, Emilio Pucci Left to right:   Rachel Zoe, Chloe, Emilio Pucci  Sewing the trends: Wide-leg pants 101 Left to right:  Tibi, Charlotte Ronson, Michael Kors Left to right:  Tibi, Charlotte Ronson, Michael Kors

Ok, so let’s analyse the pants:

I think you need to find your sweet spot with regards to the actual silhouette…how wide are you prepared to go?

  • You could try fitted through the thigh and flaring out a just little bit for a sleeker take on the style.
  • Try a shape that comes out straight down from thigh with average width to the hem.
  • Or what about fitted through hip and flaring out steadily from there for a more dramatic line and wider hem?
  • Lastly, how about a pleat or two at waist and plenty of width for maximum swoosh?

A quick word about length…this style can be great for making your legs look a mile long… If you’re going to go full length, make it just that… full length. When wearing shoes I think the hem ought to just clear the floor by about a half an inch otherwise it’s kind of at that in-between-not sure-length. Please, don’t feel that you should be wearing sky-high heels though. Find a heel height you’re happy with and hem your pants to wear with them. Most of my everyday shoes are at or just under 2”. Or if you want to show off your shoes, you could try an ankle-grazing length instead.

Onto fabrics now and you can really play around with width and fabric weight for different looks. Consider a really fluid drapey fabric made in a pretty wide silhouette. The fabric would collapse back into your body and not add bulk or width. It would swish beautifully as you walk too. A similar wide style of pant in a stiffer fabric would add twice as much width. So choose fabric carefully when pairing with patterns. Oh, and don’t forget things like pockets and zip fly fastenings that might add bulk. Sew up a style without pockets and with a side zip if you want a sleeker look.

Now let’s talk tops…

As you have more volume at the bottom with this style of pant, it makes sense to go a bit more fitted with your top. However, it doesn’t have to tuck in, be cropped, or finish at your waistline though. Try a top that finishes at the high-hip level or even something with an asymmetric hemline. If you do like to tuck in though, a classic shirt or a drapey blouse would be great choices. To add height, try a column of colour with top and pants matching.

In case you decide to try this trend out for yourself, I’ve searched out some pants and tops patterns to help start you off on your quest. Maybe some will appeal to you…..

First off…PANTS:

  • Style Arc Natasha...not too wide
  • Named Clothing Astrid pant
  • Simplicity 1017 (now discontinued)
  • Vogue by Zandra Rhodes V1572...fitted through hip and quite wide. For less drama, try a drapey fabric.
  • Vogue 9277...if you don’t mind gathers
  • Burda(paper pattern) 6817…not too wide. Could use a structured fabric.


Perhaps you feel like dipping your toe in this wide-leg style trend now or maybe you are already a fan? Let me know in comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Either way, I hope my post has proved useful.

Thanks for stopping by my corner of the internet. Speak soon!

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Sewing the trends: Wide Leg Pants 101


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  1. Helen
    October 28, 2017 / 8:53 am

    Really interesting post Diane! I totally agree with you about length – I’m really particular too, with exactly the same requirements! I admire how you think about using trends to suit you. I am firmly in the camp of "wide-legged trousers don’t suit me", based on every pair of wide-legged trousers I’ve ever worn, but I love the way you think about finding the "right" silhouette for each body type!

    • Diane G
      October 28, 2017 / 6:31 pm

      Thanks Helen, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s fussy with regards to length 🙂 And I’m glad you appreciate me trying to approach this trend from many angles and analyses to make it more accessible

  2. October 28, 2017 / 2:48 pm

    My next BIG project after completing my run at knit tops & tunics (I’m having so much fun with these I must admit) is pants. I have yet to make a pair of woven pants that look good. I finally reached success with knitted ones that are variations on leggings (Ooh La Leggings by Papercut was my favourite pattern

    I have a few patterns that I’m keen to try. One is by Sandra Betzina (now sadly out of print but you can still buy it I love the shaping on this pant. Sandra uses a Burda block for designing her pants because she said they have a more realistic curve for women or something like that 🙂

    I bought a pair of linen ones – wide leg, elastic waist, tighter around the ankle which are similar in shape to Sandra’s design – beautiful drapey, heavy linen from Turkey. Those pants were the most expensive garment I’ve ever bought other than a coat! But I have to say I love them to death 🙂 What a discovery! Linen makes the most comfortable pants for me – now I wouldn’t consider any other fabric.

    I never wore wide legged,drapey pants either. I think I have a similar shape to yours judging by your description! 🙂 I always thought my long shapely legs were my best feature so why hide them? But this wide pants is surprisingly flattering as long as (as you say) they are drapey. This return however of the culotte is NOT. Forty years ago (I’m 63) women were WARNED severely to avoid this shape since it isn’t flattering on anyone and I have to agree. I wouldn’t go near wide legged culottes on a bet 🙂

    • Diane G
      October 28, 2017 / 6:28 pm

      Thanks Kathleen, it’s interesting to hear of your projects and the patterns, thanks for those links. I’ll definitely look them up. I couldn’t agree more about linen pants, they are so comfy! I’ve had a few pairs myself over the years. Had a white pair that I wore to death on holiday. I’d love to hear how you get on with your pants making quest. Good luck with it!

  3. October 28, 2017 / 3:36 pm

    Thank you for the post, Diane! I love the look of these wide pants , still need to try the style. I just finished a pair of culottes this week, in non stretch denim and I LOVE them. I tested the pattern for a designer and I was also not sure about the style but I am in love. Can’t wait to show it!:)

    • Diane G
      October 28, 2017 / 6:23 pm

      Thank you! That sounds exciting Camelia, it’s fun to hear your enthusiasm. I look forward to seeing your culottes soon too

  4. November 3, 2017 / 5:03 am

    I just can’t stop dreaming about those Michael Kors pants. I don’t even know if that wide a pant leg would look good on me but I can just imagine the RIGHT fabric would make them just devine!

    • Diane G
      November 3, 2017 / 7:58 am

      Ooh, I know, wouldn’t it just Linda? I’m glad the style inspiration got your imagination peaked 😊

  5. Suzanne Malindzak
    December 11, 2017 / 11:23 pm

    Those Emilio Pucci red velvet pants! To die for! I love the wide leg and have always been a fan of the full length (the correct full length!). The Flint Pants from Megan Nielson in the full length version are also really nice and a easy sew. The pockets are in the side seams and the pants also close at the side for a smooth front and back. I’ve made 4 pair so far in different weights of fabric.

    • diane
      December 12, 2017 / 1:22 am

      Oh agreed Suzanne, the Pucci’s are fab. Thanks for the heads up about the full length Flints. That’s another great pattern possibility to add to the list. I admit to inly havung seen the culotte kengths in Instagram, so I bet your longer versions are great!

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