The pattern of pleated trousers

You have been noticed by now, unless you’ve lived in lockdown for a few years before everyone else, pleated trousers are making a big comeback in the wardrobe.

Since finding fitted pleated pants is no small task, I am ready to explain below how to make them at home, according to your measurements.

1.Draw the basic pattern of classic city pants to your measurements, without enlargements. For that, we will go back in time and visit a post from 7 years ago that, oh bliss, is still online. At that time, I had a weakness for pencils and pens, since than, I am healed, I do the drawings on the computer directly.

2. Add the enlargements as shown below. On this point, the range of values that I show you is purely indicative, you can modify it. You should know that the more you go down a crotch, the less comfortable the pants are when moving and that you should therefore compensate by widening the leg.

Here are the explanations of the ESMOD book “Become a pattern-drafter”, volume 2.

2a) Widen the crotch from 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm, then lower it from 1.75 cm to 3 cm.

2b) On the new crotch line, add min 1.5 cm, I say minimum because it’s not written in the book, that’s the value I added. Don’t worry, you can always add more, even if it means removing it once you try on the test pants

2c) Widen the waist on the side by 0.5 cm. This allows you to breathe and easily sew a belt.

2d) Increase or diminish your knee line. Yes, you can reduce the basic pattern as well, but pay attention to the final effect. You should be able to bend your knees and sit still without blocking your blood circulation. Remember not to add too much either because the pleats will also bring width to the knees. As you can see in the figure, this widening value is to be divided on side and center, on the front and on the back.

2e) Increase or diminish your bottom of pants according to the previous principle.

2f) Retrace the new pattern by flattening the curves as much as possible to avoid bumps. Check that the side line on the front is similar to the side line on the back.

3. Unless you are one of those people who throw themselves into work like madmen and I encourage you not to, at this point you must be able to know, roughly but better to be precise, if you want one pleat or two, and whether they are Italian pleats (opening towards the side) or French pleats (opening towards the middle in front).

4. Draw the pocket opening. We don’t see a lot of pleated pants without pockets, it’s not a coincidence, we are quickly ridiculous not knowing what to do with our hands. Check out the wonderful dedicated post, yes it is out of modesty that I do not quote the author of this so well done tutorial.

5. Place your pleats axes. The first pleat is always on the front center line on the straight grain. If there is a 2nd pleat, it will be placed between the first pleat and the pocket opening, on an axis parallel to the straight grain.

6. A little note that I struggled to understand at first (Esmod’s book sometimes lacks clarity or precision). If you are making French pleats, the distance between your pleat line and your pocket opening (AB in the drawing) should be greater than your pleat depth + the returned seam allowance of the pocket opening. Otherwise you will have fun with several layers. At this point, you may need to modify either your pocket opening or your pleat depth, so take your time.

7. Cut your pattern on your pleat axis. I know it hurts, but it is necessary.

For single pleated pants, slash on straight grain from top to bottom. Piece b will rotate on the bottom of the pants

For a two pleats pants, you have two options.

Either you rotate piece b and then piece c on the bottom line of the pants,

Or you pivot part b on the bottom line and part c on the knee line.

8. Now is the time to know your pleats depths. If you only have one, take a number between 2 and 5 cm but if the heart tells you, add more, you are the one paying for the fabric after all. If you have two pleats, be aware that usually the depth of the second pleat is one-half or one-third of the first.

9. Spread the gap obtained by the value of your pleats (the depth multiplied by two) but do not forget to remove the value of the front dart. You guessed it correctly, the front dart is absorbed into the pleats.

A few examples here to not lose your mind completely.

If you have a single pleat with a depth of 4cm, and a front dart of 2.7cm, you need to add 2 * 4cm – 2.7cm = 5.3cm distance between the 2 parts of the pattern.

If you have two pleats, the first of 4cm and the 2nd of 2cm, and a front dart of 2.7cm, you need to add 2 * 4cm – 2.7cm = 5.3cm distance between a and b parts of the pattern and 2 * 2 cm = 4 cm distance between b and c parts of the pattern.

10. Redraw the final pattern by taking into account the slits thus created. Flatten the side curves, revise the opening of the pockets if necessary, close the pleats in the intended direction (Italian or French) on the straight grain line and redraw the waist line by taking these closures into account.

If you’ve made it this far, you deserve my congratulations. You have a custom-made pleated trousers pattern. It would of course be necessary to add a fly and a belt (we will see that later), the seam values, make a canvas, adjust it, but do not be shy, you are already a pattern drafter and it is worth celebrating.

This is the method I used for my wool pleated pants that I really like. Please feel free to give it a try and share your experience. Together, we always go further.


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