Oh, Liberty: The trousers that never were

This is a story about a big mistake which eventually turns out ok.

The fabric

Last year, my mum brought me back this incredible Liberty printed silk from London.

There were three beautiful metres, in just the kind of colour combo I really love – bluey greeney jadey with some turquoise thrown in for good measure.

Liberty silk printed fabric in teal and turquoise

I had been thinking for a while about some big, wide-legged trousers and I felt like this fabric could look amazing that way. After astonishingly making an actual muslin (I’m totally lazy that way) I took a very deep breath and cut in to the silk, using the trousers from Simplicity 3688.

1940s sewing patterns

This took a lot of careful work. First of all, silk is of course a slippery thing so there was that. Then there was my strange trouser proportions – long in the leg, long in the crotch, hippy and high-waisted with a small (in length) upper body (it’s just as well I try to make my own clothes, honestly). So I had done a bunch of alterations to make sure I could fit comfortably.


They looked RIDICulous. So much so, that even I thought they were too much. Just so much fabric. I looked like I was wearing pyjamas, but not in a cool, louche way. Just in a ‘my pyjamas were so expensive I have to wear them during the day to get the most out of them’ way.

Like most fully-grown women, I dealt with this by rolling them up into a ball and hiding them in my sewing stash for several months.

But this could not be the end for this beautiful fabric. Aside from anything else, I still had a good metre or so left over – not enough for a dress, which would have been my second choice probably, but enough for something. And I couldn’t bear the idea that I’d just wasted the trouser fabric. The annoying thing was that they did actually fit nicely – they just looked daft at the same time.

So naturally, I just hacked them in to shorts. And I made a matching top. And thus I developed my disco playsuit.

Accidental jumpsuit vintage simplicity 5445 top shorts liberty silk art fabric

Not quite Bianca Jagger.

What I definitely enjoy is that this fabric starts to look like delicate sparkliness from a slight distance. I kinda like that in a fake disco playsuit. But I’m not sure I’ll wear the two together again.

I dunno, I’m just not quite feeling it. Some co-ords were not meant to co-ordinate. It still feels like… a lot?

The top and shorts separately, though, I am digging.


The top is an official part of my vintage pledge. It’s my 80s pattern in fact! No, seriously.

The pattern is Simplicity 5445, according to the envelope printed in 1982.

HAIR! Pic is from Etsy, click it for the link.

On the envelope, it looks extreme 80s. I think it still would in a stiffer fabric, but I had a feeling something nice and drapey like my silk would calm that right down.

Liberty art print fabric vintage 80s simplicity 5445 top

Slightly wrinkly – I blame the silk. Definitely not my ironing.

I also altered the bottom, to be shorter in the front dipping down to a longer hem in the back. I think it shows off the fabric without being too fussy. Plus it meant minimal stitching on slippy silk.

Liberty art print fabric vintage 80s simplicity 5445 top

I was remarkably well-behaved and even hand-stitched the hem and the sleeves. I love that the colours in this fabric go well with Black Watch tartan.

The shorts, on the other hand, I think work much better with a more structured top.

Liberty art print shorts New look K6231


Liberty art print shorts New look K6231

The big issue which I obviously didn’t consider is that, of course, they do start to wrinkle like crazy after a few hours. But despite that, paired with this cardigan from Oasis and shirt from Mango, they’ve swiftly become something I love wearing.

Liberty art print shorts New look K6231

They’re still fairly out there, but I do like having these fancy wee shorts brightening up my wardrobe and finally breathing life into this splendid fabric.

I’ll be popping on my black tights and boots and wearing them in the winter when I need a bit of a colour boost.

So – disaster averted?


16 responses to “Oh, Liberty: The trousers that never were

  1. Nice save! I really do think the whole printed trouser thing can be very hit or miss. When it’s right, it’s really right, but when it’s not… well… But I do like the playsuit actually. I don’t think it’s too much, as it looks very like a dress. Either way the fabric is gorgeous!

  2. Definitely disaster averted! I thought it was a dress at first too so I don’t think it’s too much together. The shortslook great with that blue shirt though!

  3. As separates they work really well….I am, however, kind of shy of patterned tops, bottoms, full length dresses…but I think it’s a cool little number together too. Such great colours.
    Perfect for that party, where you don’t know many people and want to give that ‘devil may care!’ ‘I am Style!’ impression….
    Love your Mondrian wall by the way.

  4. It totally works as a disco playsuit. Try it in the summer with cocktails and it will be awesome.

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