DIY Pleated Silk Pants // Ada Spragg + Britex Fabrics

Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants I’m a leetle bit excited to announce Ada Spragg will now be collaborating with Britex Fabrics which means from time to time, I’ll be guest posting alongside a whole bunch of talented sewista’s. This week, I shared a pure-inspiration post to DIY yourself a pair of gourmet pleated silk pants. And hopefully to take some of the fear out of sewing silk, especially the ones with bad reputations, like silk charmeuse. As this is a sponsored post, Britex provided this jaw-droppingly beautiful ‘gleaming emerald green silk charmeuse‘ from their selection of silk solid fabrics (now on sale). I’ve been wanting to sew a pair of pants like this, with pleated details and a tapered leg forever. When Style Arc recently released the Antoinette pants pattern complete with pleats, hidden pockets, invisible back zipper and that elongating leg, I knew it was the one!Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Let’s talk about Silk-o-Phobia, because it’s out there and it’s real. Having never sewn silk charmeuse before, I was quietly fretting about the fact that my first attempt was going to be a pair of pants with pleats & zippers & facings (go hard or go home, right?!). Would the silk be slippery and hard to pin and sew? Would it like being pressed into pleats and folds? How would silk charmeuse handle an invisible zipper? How would I handle silk charmeuse if it didn’t handle invisible zipper? All questions you might be asking yourself too before sewing with silk. Well, I’m pleased to report, without any special silk-handling talents, we made it. First of all, the silk charmeuse was a lot easier to manoeuvre than I expected. I imagined it would have the weight of a silk satin, but it’s super light weight and quite delicate. Being silky like satin on the right side, I thought it be would slippery and awful to work with but it pinned, sewed and pressed totally fine.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants The only issue I ran into was with the easiest part of the garment: the leg side seams. I was like after I sewed them (with a fine needle and regular straight stitch in case you’re wondering) the seams were quite tight, almost puckering. I’m still not entirely sure what the problem was. Maybe because I was using a generous 6/8″ french seam (instead of suggested 3/8″ allowance) in attempt to get a closer fit since they were slightly too big after the first try-on. And because of the shape of the leg pattern pieces, which lie diagonally on the fabric (not quite on the bias) it may have changed the fit and shape of the leg pieces slightly. Hmm, not suresies but it’s not a biggie, I pressed and stretched the seams, and pressed again which released some of this extra tension.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Being silk charmeuse, I had a hunch that the only way it and the invisible zipper were going to get along was the area had some extra reinforcement. I cut two narrow strips of fusible interfacing and added them to the seam allowance where the zipper was inserted, which worked beautifully and is a good tip to remember. As for the fit, well I mentioned I tried to take them in a little by eating up extra fabric from the side seams with french seams. I measured a size 10 and bought the size 10…Style Arc only sell individual sizes, which you pay the same price for as you would for a pattern with all sizes included. Make of it what you will but if you were to get into the habit of ordering the wrong size pattern as I did once or twice, then it starts to add up. Style Arc were totally accommodating and sent me the correct size on one of these occasions, even though the mistake was on my part (when the sizing gamble goes bad) but the other time I was just too embarrassed and copped another round of pattern and postage $. So, where all this is going is, the 10 is a fraction too roomy but I have a feeling the 8 would be too small. They’re meant to sit on the waist, but even after my strategic French seaming, they’ve ended up sitting just below waist. However, the crotch depth and leg length are spot-on so I don’t think I’d dare order the 8, but next time would have to take them in further.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Construction wise, I just shut my eyes and plunged into the pleated section, which is made up of not one but TWO pleats: an inverted pleat and a knife pleat. A who-da-what pleat? Yep, my thoughts exactly. But Style Arc very kindly added a couple of extra diagrams to the (normally sparse) instructions this time, which made it all very user friendly and quite pain free. To mark the pleats in the charmeuse, I stabilised the area with extra pins which helped the fabric stay on grain. It probably would have been easier had I not been using broken off chunks of tailors chalk but my chalk pencil wasn’t leaving a strong enough mark. I ended up squinting hard at the pattern illustration to see if the main knife pleat was meant to be pressed in place or just left to drape. The markings on the pattern are kind of like a huge dart which would have indicated that you would press. I tried it with one side and it looked kind of fugly so I smooshed (technical term) it back flat and left the other side alone.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants- binding detailsTo honour this dreamboat fabric and give it the royal treatment it deserves, I knew it needed to have as good looking innards as the outside. French seams are one of those techniques I used to avoid like the plague but Jen’s tutorial took all the fear out and now I use them whenever possible. Yes, they absolutely do take longer but if you’ve got a fabric that’s co-operating, they are actually fun / satisfying and worth the extra time for super lush finish on special projects.I also relish being able to sew a whole garment up on one machine for a change! Along the same ilk, I finished the seams of the pockets and waist-band with some self-made bias binding, another simple technique that can add that special something to your hand-makes.Ada Spragg // DIY Pleated Silk Pants I loved this pattern so much, it’s now back in the queue to sew up in a print (hello you pretty ikat silk, you) or another solid for everyday wear, which trust me, is not as glamorous as these pants would have you believe. Overall, they’re not perfect but I am immensely proud of them as a first attempt at charmeuse and pleated pants!

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  • Kellywrote:

    These are some pretty awesome pretty pants!! I have been waiting to see this pattern in action and now I want it even more 🙂 the problem you had with the side seams- I just had the exact same thing happen sewing some silky polyester Tessuti Suzy pants. I loosened the tension and it seemed to help a little but didn’t totally fix it- in the end I did a lot of stretching and pressing…I will watch the comments to see if anyone has some insight on that. Gorgeous pants though, that pleat/pocket is so cool and I love the color!

  • Lelaniawrote:

    OH how glorious is those pants and in that green! I too am scared of silk, but after reading a blog post on silk for kids and its endurance am sure to give it a go soon enough. A job well done the pants are fantastic on you! Thanks for sharing.

  • Janewrote:

    These look great! I bought this pattern a couple of months ago but have been waiting for winter t pas before I attempt to sew them. You have definitely spurred me on.

  • Juliewrote:


  • Utewrote:

    Fantastic pants! They must be heaven to wear. I just bought my first silk yesterday and am planning on another pair of suzy pants to try it out. I have not had that problem with the puckering but my machine has a built in walking foot. Did you stabilize any of the other seams? I have had some issues with seams pulling on my last suzy because of the delicate fabric. I wonder how the silk would hold up in a pair of pants.

  • Anne-Rosewrote:

    These look absolutely gorgeous! I had seen the pattern from Style Arc before and wasn’t sure, so it’s great to see them sewn up and looking great!

    I recently sewed my own wedding dress which I lined with silk charmeuse, I initially experienced some puckering as well, but what helped for me was shortening the stitch lenght to 2.0 mm and slightly pulling the fabric from behind the presser foot to keep the seam taut while sewing. Although I was a bit hesitant to try this (as you’re always told not to pull the fabric), it really did make a big difference.

  • Kirstywrote:

    Congratulations on the Britex gig! I saw these fab pants the other day on their site. they look amazing and the colour and cut is superb. thanks for all the deets on sewing with silk!

  • Summerflieswrote:

    Gorgeous… fabric and pants and colour. Love them. You’ve done a great job.

  • Clairewrote:

    I’ve been having the same problem with side seams pulling. I’ve recently gotten into sewing “slippery” fabrics like silk charmeuse (they’re so nice to wear!). The only solution I’ve found is to stretch the fabric out as I’m feeding it into the sewing machine. I just pull back slightly on the fabric so it is pulled through the presser foot more slowly. My machine probably hates me but it works!

  • salliewrote:

    These pants are glorious! I am so in love with this style, and now I DEFINITELY want to copy you! I have the same issue as you with Style Arc sizing – The 8’s are just a bit too small, but I’m not quite a 10 yet either! I’ve also had a similar issue with my Suzy’s puckering along the leg seam. I’m going to keep my eye on these comments to see if anyone has the magic answer. I just effed with the tension and stitch length, and when that didn’t make much of a difference I just stretched and pressed the seam like you did. Wonder why they do that?

  • Katiewrote:

    How chic! That green is stunning on you. I love how you styled them too — very simple so the gorgeous fabric can be center stage. Amazing job!

  • Heather Louwrote:

    These are FAB U LOUS. But I would have to wear them with a clear plastic cover like what italian grandmas out on their sofas because they would be covered in stains in about 3 minutes.

  • Helen // Grosgrain Greenwrote:

    These are gorgeous!! Absolutely stunning! Well done

  • Sarawrote:

    These are so gorgeous! I was planning on ordering these pants, but those patterns are pricey and I’m trying to hold off until I can get through my stash a bit more (it’s insane, really). That fabric colour is incredible, and for your first attempt sewing silk charmeuse I’m seriously amazed! I just made a silk eucalypt tank and I was proud of that for my first time sewing silk…

  • Kellywrote:

    Looks great! I wish I were bold enough to wear pants like this, and wear them as well as you do!

  • jessicawrote:

    Congratulations on the Britex blogging gig! Those pants look like they fit really well. Green and navy is one of my favorite color combinations. 🙂

  • katiewrote:

    You killed it! Really great to see this interesting pattern made up and it looks amazing on you, especially in this gorgeous colour and fabric.

  • poppykettlewrote:

    yum. Charmeuse is one of my all time favourite fabrics… and the volume of my stash occupied by this fabric backs that statement up! This pattern with it’s lovely pleating really does the charmeuse justice. French seams are also a favourite – always worth the extra time I think 🙂 They look pretty darn great!

  • kristinwrote:

    oh man these are gorgeous and i bet a dream to wear too! that green is incredible. viva la britex!

  • liza janewrote:

    Gorgeous! That emerald green is just stunning.

  • Gingerwrote:

    Whoa! These are so swish! Love ’em! I have to hold the fabric really taut as it goes under the presser foot to avoid weird puckering in long seams when I’m sewing with this kind of fabric.

  • Carlawrote:

    I love love love these! And I’m so happy to see you working with Britex!!!

  • Fionawrote:

    These are stunning Sophie! Such a wonderful colour. Congratulations on the collaboration with Britex!

  • Chie - Vivat Veritaswrote:

    so stylish! i love the pop of emerald green. ive only sewn silk satin for dresses, and never used silk charmuse. I love the luxurious feel of silk, but am worried about care, since I would want to wear it and wash it (not have to take it to dry cleaner). how do you care for your silk items?

  • Lizwrote:

    They look pretty perfect to me! I love the double pleating effect, it is quite different and adds some interest. I knew you would make these look amazing. Bet they are super comfy too, like pjs but day wear!!

  • Elizabethwrote:

    I love these!!! That’s such a good colour too! Perfect.

  • ElaineOCwrote:

    Amazing! Oh I love the colour and the fabric. What a great pattern.

  • Marionwrote:

    I love the way you juxtapose the soft and flowy silky pants with a more structured cut on top. To me you ‘re forever experimenting with contrasts… This ‘loosening up’ of the more traditional concept of ‘coordinates’ is so inspiring.

  • Felicia Semplewrote:

    Simply gorgeous Soph!

  • Beth – Sew DIYwrote:

    These are sooo gorgeous!!! I also recently interfaced the seam allowance of a slippery fabric that needed an invisible zip. It worked really well.

  • Barbarawrote:

    Just stunning! The fabric, the pattern and the inside finishing.

  • DIY Birthday Dress + Furry Bonus - Ada Spraggwrote:

    […] point that I was just like ‘NO! This is going to work DAMMIT!’. Between this dress and these pants it has felt like a huge sewing confidence boosting month. Call it determination, stubbornness, […]

  • Sassy Twrote:


  • Maureen Millerwrote:

    Those look awesome and they remind me … MUST get back on the elliptic trainer!

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