Cloning in my closet: J. Crew Minnie pants

I am back after a (very long) break! So much happened in the last two months: I got too stressed out from work to sew, I got in a huge car crash and had to deal with buying a new car, I traveled for 3 weeks (Chicago, DC, Portland and Seattle) and I spent plenty of time holed up in my boyfriend’s apartment in Brooklyn away from my sewing machine before coming home to Boston. Faced with the prospect of weathering a hurricane alone in Boston, I packed up my sewing materials and my machine and drove us all back to Brooklyn. And I made a pair of pants. My very first pair of pants! And cloned from a wardrobe favorite, no less!

The original DNA for these pants was the J. Crew Minnie pant. It is no secret to those who know me that I am a huge, huge fan of J. Crew. The designers have a stylish yet simple and clean aesthetic, and the clothes fit me very well 99% of the time. I fell in love with the Minnie pant , so much that I have a pair in black and one in red. The Minnie flatters my butt and doesn’t have a low rise. It’s stretchy and slim-cut and I bet I could do cartwheels in it if I wanted to! (And they are also a dead ringer for the Colette Clover pant, which I came close to buying to avoid the hassle of copying a garment.)

J. Crew Minnie pant in wool, $118
(Mine are cotton twill, but these show off the lines better!)

The Minnie does have one flaw: The stretch cotton twill wears FAST.

I am used to wearing pants’ crotches quickly because my thighs rub a lot, but these pants don’t even last me a year! I can’t spend $90 every few months for these beauties. The challenge was staring me in the face: I should make my own!

For the main fabric, I used a yard of this lovely wool tweed purchased from Mood a year ago. It was originally intended for a pencil skirt for work, but I’ve realized skirts are a bit uncomfortable for work and I’d rather wear the perfect ankle pants to show off my heels. It is mostly turquoise but has specks of magenta, light pink, orange, and lime green.

Turquoise 100% wool tweed from Mood, $14/yd.

I copied the pattern for the pants by using Ali’s tutorial at the wardrobe, reimagined. I briefly toyed with the idea of buying Steffani Lincecum’s book on copying garments, but it doesn’t include a section on copying pants so I knew I’d be on my own there. I winged it and used an old cardboard box lined with brown paper to pin the garment down and connect the dots, and then I added my 1/2″ seam allowance.

Anyway, the pattern came along well after a few hours’ work only with minor alterations– namely, I added darts in the front since I knew the Minnie was a bit roomy there for me, I made them rise 1/2″ higher at the waist and I skipped the welt pockets in the back. I will go back and add those into the pattern for my next pair of Minnie clones!

For the construction, I followed Coletterie’s Clover sew-along. The instructions were ace and I’d love to purchase a Colette pattern (like the Anise, for example) and follow another sew-along!

Anyway, these pants were stash busters! In addition to using old fabric for the pants themselves, I used remnants for the waistband and the hem. Check it out:

  • Waistband facing: Royal purple stretch satin leftover from a disaster dress I made last year. It helped pick up the pinkish specks in the fabric, and yay for not letting fabric go to waste!

  • Hem: I cut the pants a bit short and needed a creative way to hem the pants without losing much length. I folded the hem over 1/2″ and sewed on some neon green 1″ bias tape I had left over from my Marimekko dress project. Then I catch-stitched it. I was lucky that this tweed has so many colors; the green matched my fabric!

I am super duper happy with the fit– alright, there’s a teeeeny tiiiiny bit of excess fabric in the crotch area, but nothing too bad to bother me! The tweed is stretchy enough to allow a wide range of mobility, the rise is perfect, and they are warm yet lightweight. I have already worn these a lot. I am looking forward to making my Minnie clones many times over so I have a myriad of exciting warm pants for the winter!

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