Pattern Puzzle: Harem pants

harem_shortsDanielle suggests this (hat tip) would make a fun pattern puzzle: harem pants! Seriously, all the cool kids are making them now. When we were in Paris last fall, we saw them on a lot of bodies. Yeah, I know a lot of people think these are truly hidgus but I have a soft spot for them. I made too many pairs of these when I was in design school thirty (ack!) years ago. That in itself is a bit frightening; well that and scalloped edgings and petal sleeves, other affectations of mine but then I never claimed to have any taste or a defined fashion sense. Love or hate them, we’ll be seeing more of this style next spring.

So boys and girls, the door is wide open on this one as far as interpretation is concerned. You can sketch drafts for long ones, short ones, hey, I’ll even take diaper skirts (I truly will, I like those too). Draw up a little sketch showing how you’d modify a basic pant or skirt pattern to make up a pair. Alternatively, you can write up a description of the pattern modifications. Winner gets our undying admiration.

I almost didn’t post this thinking this puzzle was too simple, these are really easy to make and hard to mess up. A good project for beginners. If you louse it up, you can call it an intended design effect just like the pros do. Yeah us!

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  1. Kaaren Hoback says:

    Oh …………oww… I remember a pair in gold satin that I actually wore (once) – the first time around. I think I had a crocheted vest over the matching “pirate blouse”.

    Not one of my better memories.

  2. Leslie Hanes says:

    It’s Hammer Time! (no, really. someone should find the guy that dreamed up clothes that make us look borderline crazy, and hit them with a hammer. Softly, but still….

  3. Well, I like harem pants. I bought several pairs in Morocco last month, and one of my best-selling skirts is a harem skirt (looks like pants but is a skirt). I’m planning to add a long pair with a very dropped crotch (so it looks nearly like a skirt) to my Spring 2010 line. I will say that my husband loves the harem skirt, but hates the harem pants I brought home.

    The ones in the photo are a bit too narrow for my customer, but fuller versions are quite nice.

    I’m so glad to know we’ll be seeing these on runways.


  4. bente says:

    Funny, I brought up this in a party last Saturday. Many of my friends thinks they will NEVER arrive here. Ok, a part of the story is that we live in Texas! I love them and can absolutely see my 8 years old son in them; so cool..if I make one I will send a picture!
    Come on; what was fashion long time ago has to be reviewed, it never comes back in the exact form; it’s always altered according to practical and modern lives. And never say never: If you get used to see them again you would secretly want one…..LOL

  5. Ok, so I love them. I actually put some in my Fall 08 line. Here’s a photo:
    They were made of a cotton/lycra jersey, so they are like leggings with a baggy crotch. They are tight around the legs and they have an elastic waist, but the crotch is dropped. I called them Hammertime Pants. The pattern was really easy. I just took a leggings pattern that I made and brought the crotch line down and out horizontally as well. These are my favorite pants to wear because they always get comments and looks….especially when I first made them because they hadn’t come back to mainstream fashion yet. I made a pair for myself in 2006 prior to putting them in my 2008 line. Everyone would laugh when I wore them and now they are all into them too! =)

  6. Donna Sebastian says:

    Can’t believe these are really catching on. I saw them in Pret de Port last year and wondered if they would be around in the real world. When I see them at Walmart I’ll figure they made it through the fashion cycle. I actually have an old pattern for some. Saved the pattern for the gored skirt (my favorite skirt profile).

  7. Danielle says:

    Drop crotch pants can be really cute (one of my sponsors right now, Juma, has been doing them since they started and they said buyers used to laugh at them… now they’re all the rage), but this example in the photo is really dire. To me it looks like they slashed and spread at the crotch, and added a couple pleats to make it even wider. The plaid pattern makes the draping look bizarre… I think Kathleen describes this effect as a “wang”? I think the only way to go with a dropped crotch is to take it all the way down to the knee, and if you’re adding fabric in between there to add a LOT of fabric. If the effect isn’t exaggerated enough, it just looks like a mistake.

  8. Gozer the Gozerian says:

    The choice is made, the Traveler is come!

    [the Stay Puft marshmallow man enters … in harem pants]

  9. dosfashionistas says:

    It is all in what the eye gets used to. I remember in the late 70’s predicting that women would never wear shoulder pads.

    I am for anything that jolts fashion out of a rut (as long as it is functional-Form follows function.). So much of what we wear is just more of the same. I’m just a little sad that so many of the newer fashions are just not age appropriate for me. But I am starting to wear slightly out there jackets and longer soft shirts which I would not have worn while I was younger. I am embracing my crone-self.

  10. Okay…I had THE BEST pair…was 1984 or was it 85…..White crisp poplin made by Leon Max, whom I adored at the time (and was quite different than now). I used to love buying his line at the Saks flagship in midtown Manhattan….beautiful fabrics and easy shapes….and do you all remember NORMA KAMALI!!!!!???? She is still going….wish I had those old things now…Norma can’t you make that grey heather fleece stuff again P-L-E-A-S-E and I am being serious here….your oversized sweat tops were THE BEST. I still have my black sleeping bag coat from same millenium……
    Back to the pants……so roomy and comfy, they were cropped just above the ankle. The construction was seperate legs (don’t remember a side seam) and a seperate rectangular crotch piece set down to about 3″ above knee…..hey LEON…..find your old pattern!!! oh…..and elastic waist!!

  11. Gabrielle says:

    I, um, love haram pants. Especially the cropped ones, or shorts like these. Can’t wait to see what people come up with.

  12. celeste says:

    as a belly dancer of course i love harem pants, but really can someone show me a picture of the harem skirt, I’m having trouble imaging this. it sounds very intresting to me.

  13. gilda says:

    ohhh i had to leave a comment on this because i love harem pants so much i live in them. actually, it annoys me (as a designer) that people here call them harem pants because actual harem pants are a little baggy with a bell shape and end in a cuff.

    unfortunately since that is what it is known by here, that is what i had to call my pants too. i’ve been wearing them since i bought my first penguin pants (yes! super low drop crotch!) from comme des garcons, 5 years ago in 2004. since them i’ve designed and made many of my own. like angela, i find it amusing that it’s catching on so much now around the world. when i lived in japan, my friends and i wore them all the time and so i wore them when i moved to new york 2 years ago, and people would walk by me on the streets and say comments like “it’s hammer time!” or “can’t touch this!”. i’ve heard those so many times i’ve stopped count.

    i’ve since made them in a whole lot of different fabrics.

    i wear them in washed silk quite often. it’s so light and airy it almost feels like i have nothing on. heh heh. you can see a picture of me wearing a navy pair in this blog post of mine (3rd picture down):

    my personal favorite though, are harem pants in sequins. i first wore them last year to a very special independence day barbeque and got great comments on them (scroll all the way down to see pics of the pants):

    and i’ve been lucky enough to get them sold now at patricia field.

    the patterns aren’t that hard to make. the hard part was getting the exact drape that i liked. for some reason the pants in this blog post (are they phillip lim?) bag in the crotch really ugly and i don’t know girls who want to look like they have… b*lls. i wonder what was wrong with that pattern??

  14. Gilda! I think you are my long lost soul sister! =) That rocks. If you like the sequin ones have you seen the YSL blue sequin tube top jumper harem pant? I saw them in the May issue of Nylon Magazine. OMG. It’s so cute. I didn’t have time to search for a link for you, but you should google them and check them out. You’d love them. Amazing.

  15. gilda says:

    angela!! omg i searched for it. it was originally priced at $4000+!!??! that’s so mad! i’d love a little sequin onesie myself. haha! :)

  16. Hey, Gilda–great pants and great photos. You look as if you’re having so much fun. Thanks for setting me straight on nomenclature. I’m actually making what you describe as harem pants, so I can correctly call them that!

    Someone asked about a harem skirt. I mentioned it above, but it’s just my name for my skirt because it looks like harem pants but it’s a skirt. You can see it on my website.

    Now to go look up the YSL…


  17. Wacky Hermit says:

    Those look a lot like medieval braies (the precursor to boxer shorts, that were also worn in public as work-wear).

    There is some dispute as to how to cut authentic medieval braies. Some are cut as two rectangles with a long skinny rectangle inserted into the crotch. I made a pair for my brother that was cut as a sort of tube with the seam on the top and the waistband inserted into the seam, along with triangular gores to make things hang more evenly.

  18. This last post made me think more about how I made the pattern and actually, it was a little more than what I originally said. After dropping and bringing the crotch out, I also blended the front and the back pieces on the side so that there is no side seam. It’s actually a full leg (cut two…one for left leg and one for right) with a front crotch on one side and a back crotch on the other side instead of a left back, left front, right back, right front, etc… Does that make sense? At least that’s how I did it on my pair because they are very stretchy and elastic waist and don’t really need shaping in the hip.

  19. gilda says:

    angela, i don’t have a seam on the side too. i think it works better that way. i have mine draped through folds and gathers in the leg (in the pant pattern) and also extra drape with an extra pattern piece in the center.

  20. Lainie says:

    I made a great pair traced from a pair my belly dance teacher bought in India. The legs taper and they’re cuffed at the bottom, so the fullness is controlled and they’re actually quite flattering and extremely comfortable.

  21. Bente says:

    I travveled from US via Paris yesturday and I saw at least 10-15 different pants like this, all in very loose comfy fabric and styles. I would have taken some pictures and posted them if I had my camera handy..I will try some other day in Lisboa or in Paris…

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