Wide leg pants 101: Unlike most pants, wide-leg pants are a good starting point for new sewists as the easygoing, loose fit is just that. You won't get caught up in fitting issues that plague many more-fitted pants patterns. As long as the waist size is correct and you have enough roominess through the hips, the rest is a snap.
Pick of the patterns: Wide-leg patterns aren't easy to find in current commercial pattern books, but there are other sources. Start with vintage patterns: You'll find many wide-leg styles from the 1970s. You can also check out sites like Etsy.com for independent pattern designs. Easiest of all is the wrap pant: Try this wrap-pant tutorial, which you can lengthen in the waist and legs.
Variations on a theme: Sometimes you just can't find what you want in a pattern. Maybe you are longing for a paper-bag waist. If you can find a pattern that is close to what you want in every other way, you can borrow instructions from another pattern to modify your existing pants pattern. Similarly, you may want your pants so wide that they are almost like a skirt. Add width by taping the pattern pieces to a large sheet of paper and drawing a line that gently angles the outer side seams wider from the waistband to the pants hem. Don't add more than 1.5 inches at the hem to each side seam or you will throw off the balance of the pattern.
Add a 1940s-style high waist: If you are longing for that 1940s high-waisted look but can't find a pattern that suits you, you can create a high waist yourself with some simple pattern drafting. Start with a pants pattern that hits you right at the waist; don't go with a low-waisted version. Take the waistband pattern piece and tape it onto a large piece of paper. Then extend the sides of the waistband to the desired height and connect the sides to trace in the new top of the band, creating an edge parallel to the old top. Don't make it more than 3 inches high or you will have to contour to fit. Cut out your new waistband pattern piece and make your pants pattern as directed. (Tip: Use a heavier weight of interfacing to provide support for the heightened waistband.) Now you really are ready for your close-up, so strike a pose.
For more "DIY Design" columns, click here. Next week, sewing with stripes and plaids.