Stitched Up: Arenite pants by Sew Liberated

Not long ago I had the opportunity to test out the revised version of the Arenite pants by Sew Liberated! There’s been a bit of a sewing drought around here lately; apart from a cheerful grocery bag I made for someone’s Christmas present, my beloved sewing machine has been rather quiet. Well, technically I used the overlocker for this project, but you get the idea: fabric, needles, thread = win 🙂

I’ll pause here to say this post may be a long-ish read, so if you haven’t already got something nice to drink, grab it now 😉

This is the third pattern I’ve tested for Meg McElwee and Co., the fifth Sew Liberated pattern I’ve ever made, and the first I’ve blogged about. Prior to the Arenites I tested the Lichen duster and Arthur pants, and both were very satisfying to make and easy to wear. The updated Arenite pattern includes an extended size range and a knit view to accompany the existing woven variation, which is designed for drapey fabrics.

Fabric
I already had some blue ribbing in my stash, so I decided to use that for the knit cuffs and waistband and hunt around for the main fabric. I decided to stay local and buy 2.5m of an ombre French terry (loopback jersey) from Fabrics Galore – thank goodness for click and collect! This particular fabric is a bit lighter than most French terrys I’ve handled, which I thought would accentuate the drapey, oversized feel of the Arenites, but after making them I think any weight of French terry would work just fine. Plus, French terry is easily one of my favourite fabrics, so I was more than happy to make some joggers to slob around the house in. Perfect lockdown attire.

Fitting
Those already familiar with my sewing via Instagram stories will know that I have a LOT of alterations to make with my projects, and the Arenites were no exception. Based on the size charts, I have a size 8 waist and size 12 hip, but I’ve been making clothes for far too long to take that as a given. As it is, the Arenites have plenty of room built in, so I could easily have sized down by one or two, but I liked the relaxed fit and chose the size 12 as my foundation. However, my bum and thighs are usually far beyond what most size charts assume they’ll be based on my other measurements, so I followed my usual process of measuring the stitching lines, specifically the body rise (length from base of crutch to waist) and the total crutch length, abutting the curves on the back and front crutch.

My amended Arenite pattern pieces.

As expected, they came up well short on me. My body rise is about 28cm and my crutch length is 71cm. From there I lengthened the body rise to the size 24 to gain an extra 3cm on the centre front and back; this meant that the remaining difference had to be taken into the crutch seam – primarily the back, because of my bum. I then extended the back crutch to the size 24, and finally extended the front crutch to size 18 as an intermediary between the 12 and 24. After adjusting, the front crutch measured 29cm and the back crutch 43cm. The extra length on the crutch curve meant that I automatically had enough room for my thighs, so I maintained the width through the thigh until about calf level, when I rejoined the size 12 line.

The side panel was a godsend here, because I had another set of seams to use for fitting. I cut the size 24 for this and altered the lower leg as for the front and back panels, then tapered back up to the size 12 waist to finish. I left the waist at a 12 because of the ribbed waistband, but even if I hadn’t used this I’d have done the same, because the instructions tell you to create an elastic casing. In that case I would’ve just cut the elastic to fit.

Apart from that, I didn’t alter the length at all. That said, the cutting line for the knit cuff is the shorter line, and I ignored that for a slouchier look. I thought it would be more in keeping with the oversized look of the Arenites.

Construction
Many of the main pattern pieces for the knit and woven views are identical, so once you fit one you don’t have to worry about repeating the process again. The only significant difference is with the side panel (pictured in the gallery above); the original woven Arenites have a flared pocket that’s designed to drape and hold large items like water bottles, whereas the knit view does not have quite such a flared pocket. It sits fairly flat with enough room for your hand to get in without distorting the fabric, and the pocket is finished with some binding too. I used a zigzag stitch to attach the pocket and catch down the seam allowances; in the last photo you can see the green basting thread I used to keep the binding in place whilst sewing.

It’s fair to say that the pocket is the most detailed bit of construction in the entire project. The Arenite pants whizzed through the overlocker/serger and came together with no trouble at all, and the instructions are as usual from Sew Liberated: simple and easy to follow. My only note here, if there’s a big difference between your waist and hip measurement, is to take your time attaching the waistband and do it in sections as you would a neckband. Dividing it into quarters between the side seams and centre back/front should be fine, but divide the fabric in half again, i.e. into eighths, to be sure of having control over the stretched rib and relaxed waist seam. If you use ribbing like I did, go for something that has a smidgen of Spandex/elastane in it so that it recovers well after being stretched through the overlocker/serger. Just to be extra safe, I made a couple of buttonholes in the waistband and added a drawstring!

I made the Arenites in the course of a normal (whatever that means these days) working week, but you could get them done in the space of a weekend and still have time to put them on and enjoy wearing them, as I definitely did! I wore them throughout my teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in January, and they are PERFECT for exercising in too. The loose fit means you’ll get a great range of movement without having to fidget or adjust your clothes. I can see myself wearing these to a dance or yoga class in future; knowing (dance-trained) eyes will see that it’s been quite some time since I got to a proper class 😀 I knew I wasn’t in the best of condition, but…never mind. You get the idea!

Would I make them again? YES – and I am thinking of making the woven version in some needlecord. Far from drapey, maybe even mildly controversial, but I think it’s on. In my head it’ll work if I size down to an 8 (but still keep the crutch and rise alterations above), because there’d be far too much fabric flapping around. The Arenite pants are very versatile and easy to wear, and most of all comfortable; the elastic waistband is wonderful and adds to the ‘secret pyjamas’ feeling so many sewists appreciate. Big thanks to Meg, Judith and the rest of the team for producing such a great pattern, and for inviting me to test it 😀

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