Imagining the Magi – a trousers cutting challenge

Magi trousers 1

Next month my children will be in a Christmas musical play, which means line-learning in front of the bathroom mirror, Christmas tunes in everyone’s heads, and, naturally, costume making.

One of my girls is part of the Magi, and requires loose drapey trousers for her costume. I was given a piece of maroon polyester from the op shop to use.

What we really wanted was the wonderful, ballooning trousers worn by the genie and princess in the Aladdin movie, but we only had enough fabric for half a pair.

Instead, I had an opportunity to try out an adaptable-to-zero-waste idea I saw in Antonio Donnanno’s book Fashion Patternmaking Techniques Vol. 1 (Promo Press 2014). I borrowed it from the library ages ago and made a sketch in my journal. From memory, the book is a regular-ish patternmaking textbook but has a chapter at the end with examples of really interesting patterns, and this was one of them.

The trousers are made from two squares. Mine were 114cm x 114cm, because the fabric was 114cm wide.

Magi trousers draft
(Idea from Donnanno, measurements by me.) The shaded areas are waste. The sides of the 45cm square are sewn to each other, as illustrated below, to form the drapey sides.
Magi trousers sewing diagram

The sides of the trousers are on the bias, and the centre front and centre back are on the straight grain.

The trousers are pretty quick to sew and would be even quicker with an elastic waist. Here’s what they looked like before the waist was gathered onto the waistband. They could actually fit any size; the waist is the only part that has to fit.

Magi trousers laid flat

There’s loads of gathering at the waist, hiding that hastily-put-in zip. There was a separate strip of fabric left after cutting out which I used for a double fold waistband.

Magi trousers 6 front view
Magi trousers 2 holding sides out
Magi trousers 5 side view
Magi trousers 4 back view

I rate these trousers a success!



  1. Dianne Kenyon on November 18, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    So, So cool, Liz! Brilliant for the purpose. Please bring them on Sunday so I can team up the rest of the costume pieces. Ta 🙂

    • lizhaywood on November 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm

      Cheers Dianne, will do.

  2. Victoria on November 18, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    I gotta agree, what a neat approach to pants. Looks uber stylish for a school play to boot!

    • lizhaywood on November 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      Yep, a nifty pattern and an enjoyable sew. She might wear them afterwards too.

  3. Michelle Shaffer on November 18, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Wow! very creative use of fabric with spectacular results. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • lizhaywood on November 19, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Cheers Michelle!

  4. Barkat on March 30, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Wow wonderful pattern. So decent looking.

    • lizhaywood on March 30, 2021 at 4:08 pm

      Thank you. She sometimes wears them as non-costume trousers.

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