making girls’ pants with a mission

design, family, fashion, sewing

Back several years ago when I was a contributor to Whipup, I wrote a post about how frustrating it was as a mom that clothing manufacturers don’t make pants for girls that are as warm as those they make for boys. Many retailers and manufacturers offer flannel-lined pants for boys but you’ll have a hard time finding flannel-lined pants for girls. Even retailers like REI that sell clothes for outdoorsy types don’t offer pants for girls and women other than those for skiing.

There are fleece pants that are fine inside but the wind goes right through them. I bought a pair of lined girls’ pants at Hanna Andersson but they are lightweight cotton lined with jersey so they are still not warm enough for really cold days at recess or walking around town in the winter. Given that we live in Chicago I wanted a pair of pants that my daughter can wear to school or ice skating or just playing outside with her friends in cold weather without pulling on a head-to-toe snowsuit.

Back in the 70s when I was in school, I remember that girls weren’t even allowed to wear pants to school unless it was snowing. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but I still worry about the message it sends to our daughters. To me the message is, “You don’t need to be warm because you won’t be outside in cold weather” or “Looking cute is more important than being warm.” The message that I want to send to my daughter is, “Be prepared for any weather” and “Never let not having the right clothing hold you back from doing what you want to do and having fun, regardless of the weather.”

So when our daughter was three I made her a pair of reversible flannel pants, that she immediately dubbed her “fancy pants.” I made them from a commercial pattern for a pair of simple elastic pants. In addition to cutting the fabric for the outside of the pants, I cut pieces the same size for the flannel lining and just slipped them inside the pants before I topstitched the waist and the hems of the legs. Our daughter wore the first pair I made that winter more than any other article of clothing she owned. Year after year she would start asking me in October if I would make her another pair of “fancy pants” because she had outgrown the last pair.

A few years ago I switched from making the pants with reversible flannel to using colored denim on the outside for added durability. Last year I found jumbo pink rickrack to run down the sides of the legs and chose a pattern that included a simple zippered pocket for the inevitable tissue collection that goes along with playing outside in cold temperatures. I was really excited to find the perfect pink zipper that matched that rickrack!

What I really want to do next is make a pair for myself.

12 thoughts on “making girls’ pants with a mission

  1. I think there’s definitely a gender-bias in kids’ clothes. It doesn’t get super cold here in Arkansas so flannel-lined pants aren’t so much of an issue, but is it such a hard thing to make a simple pullover sweater for a girl? And one that’s actually WARM? 99% of the sweaters for girls are cardigans, and usually thin and flimsy. I think they assume that girls don’t want to play outside.

  2. What a great idea! Maybe if I let my daughter pick the flannel, she’ll actually wear them. I think I’ll put this on the list of projects for the new year. Thanks!!

  3. Those are very cute and warm-looking pants!

    I was about 13 when I finally persuaded my parents to allow me to wear pants. (My father is 80 now and still doesn’t think women should wear trousers.) I remember it more as an issue of fashion than warmth – I wanted to wear jeans like everyone else. However, as a young girl my school playground activities were limited; another family rule was that you must never let anyone see your underwear. My clothes made the school playground climbing equipment off-limits – you can’t hang upside-down in a dress and keep your undies hidden.

    I wish my parents had had your idea of never letting clothing stop you from having fun.

  4. What a great idea! I’m not very good at clothes sewing, but if it’s just an elastic waist, I just might be able to do this. Wouldn’t it be fun to have matching pairs for me and my 2 girls? If I had a pair, too, I might be willing to go outside and play in the snow with them more often … right now the only way is if I wear dh’s Carharts, which look totally ridiculous on me LOL! Love the rick-rack, and that flannel you used is so fun.

    I believe you’re scheduled to come to our quilt guild, Prairie Star, soon? Looking forward to that!

  5. These are GREAT! What a super idea. My husband has flannel lined pants for COLD weather dog walking. Me? I wear regular pants with long johns underneath! So, I see a market for these for girls big and small! ; )

    May your Holidays be cozy and filled with love, laughter and the magic of the season!

  6. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who’s noticed how hard it is to find warm-looking little girls’ clothes – even in Florida! Those are a great idea & snazzy!

  7. The pattern looks great.
    Here in the Uk I have found it hard to find flannel lined pants for my son now he is 6. He often had lined or padded trousers as a toddler but for age 6 – 7 very lightweight denim or canvas seems to be the main offering. Also being very skinny lots of shop bought trousers that are the right length just fall down so your post has inspired me to make him some!

  8. Thank You! I agree 100%. There are new simplicity patterns called amazing fit that I think I will line win flannel/fleece for the winter here. Yes, it snows in southern Arizona.

  9. Desperately trying to find this pattern in Scotland or the UK for this winter – my 4 year old would love this pattern!

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