The Trousers

   I cheat with making trousers and buy a pyjama trouser pattern of the correct size and use that, as I am notoriously bad at making them. (see the Links page for links to pattern companies.)
   If you wish to make them yourself follow the diagrams below.


   This is the fabric layout. I shall attempt to describe how to make trousers without a pattern. If you have any sewing/dressmaking skills yourself, please do try it your own way.
   If you buy fabric which is 60 inches/150 cm wide you should easily get a pair trousers out of it. (I have short fat legs, so I could get a pair of trousers out of 2½ metres of 150 cm wide fabric.)


Simple Trousers
   The best way, as stated above to make trousers, is to buy a pattern or make your own pattern. To make your own pattern use an old pair of trousers that still fit. Cut them in half around the crutch and then cut each leg up the inside and lay out flat.  (* letters in brackets refer to measurements on the Measuring page)

   This is what you should end up with. The measurements are as follows:

A - B = half waist measurement (B)
G - H and J - K = waist to ground (F) + 4 inches/10 cm for the waistband
B - C and A - D = half crutch measurement (M) each
C - E and D - F = inside leg (N)

D - C = top of thigh (O) + 3 inches/7.5 cm for movement

  • With your fabric folded double lay ONE of the pieces on top and pin it down. If you are using measurements mark these out on paper first, then use the paper pattern on your fabric.
  • Cut out the shape and you will have two pieces in fabric, one for each leg.
  • Fold each piece in half and match C to D and E to F on each leg.
  • Stitch the seam C - E/D - F on each piece, forming the leg part.
  • Then, with the right sides of the fabric together stitch from the waist all the way round the crutch seam back to the waist, leaving a couple of inches for a drawstring.

   Your trousers should now look like this (far left). All that remains to do is hem each leg and add a drawstring at the waist.

  • Turn under a small hem at the waist.
  • Then fold over the waist about 1 inch/2.5 cm and stitch this along the pre-folded hem.
  • Using a cord attached to a safety pin, poke the drawstring through the small gap left in the seam and thread it all the way round the waistband and back out the same hole.
  • Remove the safety pin and knot each end of the cord.
Thorsbjerg Trousers
   This is the pattern for the Thorsbjerg trousers. Try it if you dare!


Daetgen and Marx-Etzel Trousers
  • Cut two pieces of cloth using your waist to ground (F) measurement for the length and your thigh (O) measurement (+ 3 inches/7.5 cm for movement) for the width, adding 1inch/2.5cm all round for seams/hems.
  • Fold the cloth into two tubes as shown with 1 inch/2.5 cm overlap.
  • Mark your inside leg measurement (N) on the long edge.
  • Mark half your waist measurement (B) on the short edge.
  • Join the two marks with a line, check that this line measures half your crutch (M) and then cut along it without moving the tube. (If it's too short adjust as necessary by curving it inwards, too long is good.)
  • Repeat on the other tube - opposite side.
  • Sew each leg along the back seam.
  • Check the crutch measurement and cut a piece of cloth this length by about 6 inches/15 cm.
  • Place the crutch strip and one trouser leg right sides together and stitch from front waist to back waist.
  • Repeat with the other trouser leg, leaving a gap for a 'fly' if you wish.
  • The opening at the waist needs to be at least your hip measurement (C) so that you can get them on.
  • Cut another strip of fabric the same length as your trouser top measurement by about 4 inches/10 cm wide.
  • Fold this strip in half lengthways and stitch it around the top of your trousers to form a waistband.
  • Cut about 6 small strips of fabric, fold each in half and stitch together.
  • Turn the strips right side out and fold each end over a little bit - these are the belt-loops
  • Stitch the loops at equal intervals onto the waistband of the trousers.
   Using this pattern will make a pair of trousers that are the same width all the way down. These might have been confined with leg-bindings or garters, or had a tie at the bottom to tighten them around the leg.


   Once all the seams are finished, you can show off your hand sewing on the hems - that is if you haven't sewn the whole thing by hand already in which case have a gold star!
   Unless you are going to use the trousers to demonstrate Anglo-Saxon sewing techniques to the general public at events, I see no reason why you shouldn't use a machine on any seam that won't show whilst wearing.
   For my hems on linen/cotton mix, I use either a mercerised cotton or crochet cotton (both of which look like like linen thread). On wool I use a wool thread.
   To hem my garments I fold the edge over about half a cm and then again about another half cm and stitch down with a running stitch. You can use thread the same colour or a different colour - to tart it up a bit - and you can do decorative stitching on the edges as well.

The Vanaheim Guide to Gear Making - compiled by Jennifer Bray
Early Medieval Clothing - edited by Paul Scruton, illustrated by Ruth Murray
The Vikings Equipment Guide - No.1. Basic Costume

© Rosie Wilkin 2003
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