Khaki Chinos (Version 2)

khaki chinos folded back

I pretty much stick to what I think of as basic wardrobe staples for all of my projects. Other than jeans, it doesn’t get any more basic than a pair of khaki chinos. Creating a closet full of garments that work together, that can be mixed and matched, has been my mission from the very beginning; and khakis go with just about everything I own.

khaki chinos folded front

Most of my projects so far have been men’s shirts and pants, and going forward (fair warning), you can probably expect a lot more posts about shirts and pants. Because that’s what I wear. Shirts and pants.

I realize that this approach might be a little on the boring side, especially for those who enjoy bright colors and loud prints, but I spend too much time on each piece of clothing for any one item to not work with at least part of my wardrobe. Plus, I’m not sure if I can really pull off bright and loud the way some people can.

khaki chinos fit

I love the versatility. They can be dressed up a little, or made to look more casual if I choose. The picture on the left was taken in San Francisco at an amazing little bookstore called Omnivore Books that sells nothing but cookbooks. How cool is that? Wall-to-wall cookbooks. My wife Lindsay and I were there promoting our book in February.

This isn’t my first time making this style of pant. While my first pair was fine at the time, I wanted to make a few improvements. In the process of trying to alter the pattern, I ended up with some unexpected leg twist. I’m not completely sure if the twist is due to cutting out the pattern off grain a little bit, or if my pattern adjustments simply altered the fit in ways I didn’t realize.

The next time I make these I have to fix the twist at the side seams of course, but I’m also going to experiment with a cut-on waistband and some really light weight fabric. I need some pants that can be comfortably worn in the summer in Tennessee without feeling like I’m going to melt, or dye, or sweat to death.

Speaking of warm weather clothes, my plan is to tackle t-shirts next.

26 Responses to “Khaki Chinos (Version 2)”

  1. Ann — March 19, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

    I really love all of your stuff, Taylor. I’d love to tackle *actual* menswear some day. Right now, I make things for my toddler and that’s boys’ wear — menswear with training wheels. I agree that it’s hard to go wrong sticking with clean lines and classic colours.

    • Taylor replied: — March 20th, 2013 @ 9:58 am

      Thanks Ann! Your stuff is great too. I suspect boys’ wear and menswear are very similar as far as construction goes. I bet your toddler dresses better than many grown men I know :)

  2. Allison — March 19, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

    these are fantastic! I can’t believe how neatly you sew:-) if you ever feel like sharing any little tips to get great finishes please please please share them!

    cheers,
    Allison

  3. alexandra @ sweet betweens [blog] — March 20, 2013 @ 8:10 am

    Taylor, I am so impressed. Color me envious, too, at your patience, dedication and talent. Keep sharing your journey with us!

    @

  4. Lauren — March 20, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    I think you could totally pull of loud colors and prints, but I actually really like that you stick to what is wearable and works with your wardrobe. As much as I looove making really ridiculous clothes, there’s something so satisfying about churning out a bunch of plain staples (not to mention the googly eyes people give you when they find out you made something boring like a white tshirt, ha). Also, you are going to love making tshirts! They’re so fun – quick and satisfying to make, and the style is easy to alter to suit your preferences.

    • Taylor replied: — March 21st, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

      I love the googly eyes. “Huh, you made that?” T-shirts have been fun so far, still adjusting my pattern a bit, and trying to get the neck band on a V-neck to turn out right. I’m just using self fabric for the band, not actual ribbing, and it curls so much at the edges. Oh well, part of working with knits I suppose.

  5. Becky — March 20, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    I would love to learn to make menswear. I have a tall thin boy. I really need to learn to make pants for him. Yours look to be perfection!

  6. Alex in California — March 21, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

    You’re style is classic. Own it – no excuse necessary. The quality of work keeps it from being boring. Have you made a blazer yet? Something unstructured and unlined would fit into your wardrobe perfectly. Navy blue brushed cotton – very versatile.

    • Taylor replied: — March 22nd, 2013 @ 10:11 am

      Thanks Alex. I have plans to make an unstructured blazer and started work on one a while ago but shelved the project temporarily. Jackets/blazers are much more complicated in terms of fit, but I will eventually get around to making one. I might start sometime this summer or fall.

  7. Ginger — March 22, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    These look great! Your topstitching is fantastic!

  8. Jonathan — March 28, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

    Your sewing skills are impressive!

  9. katie — March 29, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

    WOAh. I’m so impressed by you’re sewing skills… I had no idea you liked to sew and make your own clothes. Man you could teach me a thing or two… I’ve sewn the simplest of clothing! lol.

    • Taylor replied: — April 1st, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

      Thanks Katie! I didn’t know about http://sewwoodsy.com. You guys are working on lots of cool projects. Jon also does some home brewing, right? Does he by chance have a brewing blog?

  10. Jule Phillips — April 3, 2013 @ 12:59 am

    Your workmanship is wonderful……do you tell people that you sew? I’ve found that as soon as you tell them you’ve made what your wearing….. when the initial shock wears off, the first thing out of their mouth is that they’ve got something that needs altering!!! Only my closest friends and family know I sew and I try my best to keep it that way!!

    • Taylor replied: — April 3rd, 2013 @ 10:37 am

      I generally don’t tell people I sew, but when they do find out, I get the same response. I don’t mind doing small repairs for friends, but I’m not really into alterations. The other response I get is, “can you make me a custom pair of jeans…” or shirt or whatever. Most people have no idea how long it takes to make something that looks professional. The amount I would have to charge to make it worth my time is way, way, way more than people would actually want to spend.

  11. Jule Phillips — April 3, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

    You hit the nail directly on the head! The majority of non-sewists don’t have an inkling of how long it takes to make a quality garment and when you tell them what you would have to charge, they look at you like you’ve lost it! LOL!! Maybe they think we have midnight assistance from little elves and fairies…..pressing our seams and doing the handwork!!!

  12. Andrew — April 3, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

    Congratulations – I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

    http://victoriantailor.blogspot.com/2013/04/award-night.html

    Cheers! Andrew

  13. clinton — April 8, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

    You really should do a post on those welted back pockets. They look really great!

  14. Irina — April 9, 2013 @ 8:13 am

    I found you through your wife’s blog. I looked at the photos over and over and can’t quite believe how precise you’ve sewn them and how well they fit…great job. I have not been able to find a way to follow your blog. Is there a Follow option?

    • Taylor replied: — April 9th, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

      Thanks Irina! In the left side bar, near the top, there is an RSS subscription button.

  15. Johan — April 19, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

    Good job on the double welt back pockets. Do you have a particular process that you follow for those?

    Thanks

    • Taylor replied: — April 22nd, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

      I basically use the method David Coffin outlines in his “Making Trousers” book, with a couple small changes.

  16. Paulette — April 24, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

    I just found your blog and Taylor, wow your work is just amazing. I think that it’s pretty interesting to see your journey in the sewing, and pattern making world. Keep it up and I can’t wait to see what else you make. It is pretty cool to read and see a menswear blog.
    Also, in regards to why your pants twisted. It has to do with the way you cut your pattern. You probably cut it off grain, causing the garment to hang weird or twist. Here is a link that can go into further detail. http://thecuttingclass.com/post/3233126291/grainlines

    • Taylor replied: — April 25th, 2013 @ 11:53 am

      Thanks for the link Paulette. I also thought they may have been cut off grain at first.

      After looking over my pattern and the pants with my mentor/teacher, they are actually cut on grain, but an adjustment I made higher up the leg is causing the pants back to pull on the front of the pants from the inside of the leg, causing the twist.

      Looking forward to checking out your blog.

  17. Jenn — May 1, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

    Oh my gosh… I LOVE THESE!!! I just stumbled upon your website and have been spending the past couple of hours poking around, looking at all your projects. These pants are AWESOME. I love how they lay so flat in the front (my husband’s always seem to bunch and pucker, and he’s as skinny as a rail, so I’m not sure what’s going on there), and your pockets have just the right amount of “flare” to give it a nice clean, sexy look. What’s really neat about these pants is that they look expensive and high-end. I think it’s because they fit you perfectly and the craftsmanship is excellent.

    I’m a newbie at sewing (I was recently rejoicing at having successfully sewed my husband a few pairs of “lounge pants” because he’s 6’4″ and all the pajama pants in the stores are 4 inches too short, leaving six inches of hairy shin and ankle exposed when he sits down and puts his feet up on the ottoman. He sees no problem with this, by the way. He wears high-top slippers and doesn’t understand why several inches of hairy leg sticking out between pants and slippers is an eye sore.)

    Anyway, when I proudly presented him with the pajama pants, his first reaction was, “Wow… you … MADE… these? Why did you bother? I’ve got several pairs that fit just fine already.” (Yeah, I know… he’s usually really appreciative).

    But man, if I could sew him some sexy chinos that actually fit him properly and DON’T have those horrid pleats in the front that he likes to wear (he’s a bit stuck in the 90′s fashion-wise), I would do it in a heartbeat. You have totally inspired me to improve my sewing skills!! Those pants are seriously awesome!!

    It’s nice to meet you, Taylor! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

    -Jenn :)

    • Taylor replied: — May 2nd, 2013 @ 9:52 am

      Thanks Jenn! Pleats can work on the right body type, and if the pants fit right, but on super skinny guys, I’m not so sure, haha :). That’s why I try to avoid them, plus they add extra complication to the pattern and construction.

      I don’t know if your husband reads any blogs, but the guys at http://putthison.com have a great blog about men’s fashion, and present everything in a respectful way that might be interesting to your husband.

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