Making Mompei trousers

Mompei trousers

Weaver Kaz Madigan of the Curiousweaver studio alerted me to a free pattern on her website for making mompei trousers, a traditional Japanese pattern. The pattern was originally published in Curious Weaver mag 25 years ago and is ideal for narrow widths of handwoven fabric.

A Japanese friend said her grandma used to wear them.

I ran up a pair on the weekend. They were really fast to cut and sew, and zero waste too.

The back and the front are almost the same.

Front view Mompei trousers
Back view Mompei trousers

The instructions are like a brief recipe, and because they’re so easy fitting there’s a lot of leeway with the measurements.

This is how I cut mine:

Cutting plan for Mompei trousers
Yep, the pattern is that simple!
(This is one leg; I cut a pair like this.)
I cut the front and back together so there was no side seam.
Wasn’t sure if they were calf or ankle length – I made mine long (I’m 5’6″ with “average” length legs). I have a 3.5cm foldover for a waist casing and 1.5cm hem included in my pattern.
Note that there’s no height added to the back waist however they’re so loose they don’t seem to need it. I could put these on back to front and not notice.
Cutting out mompei trousers in chambray
My fabric is shirt-weight chambray from the op shop.
It’s been stored folded and has faded on the folds – would that be called reverse Shibori?

The traditional closure for mompei trousers is to have ties at the waist. The ties can be wrapped around the waist and tied, or just tied at the sides. I made a waist casing and put elastic in mine.

As I cut mine with no side seams I can’t make in-seam pockets, but I have a strip of fabric left which I think I’ll use for patch pockets.

Mompei trousers worn by Liz
I have one leg with elastic in the hem and the other without – I’m undecided what to do but I think I’ll probably go no elastic.

The verdict: they’re very comfortable! While I’m not an elastic-waist trouser wearer, I do wear pajamas and think this will be a great way to cut them from now on.

Thanks Kaz!



  1. Kaz Madigan on September 7, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Fabulous! An Australian weaver, Chris Jakku, wrote the original article for Curiousweaver Journal some time ago… 25 years ago sounds ancient…maybe it is. Great pants with lots of flexibility. Thanks Liz.

    • lizhaywood on September 7, 2021 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks so much Kaz, they were a lot of fun to make.

  2. Rachel on September 7, 2021 at 1:36 pm

    These look great. I need to make some kids’ PJ and play trousers, and these should be quick and easy. Always up for a good zero-waste pattern for basics.

    How much movement does the gusset allow? I made a pair of trousers that were basically a lengthened version of medieval braies, and the point where the inseam attaches to the gusset is prone to tearing.

    • lizhaywood on September 7, 2021 at 5:29 pm

      Movement is good, and the gusset is good but if it were narrower I can see there would a weak point where it joins. Also wouldn’t want the crotch any lower.
      These would be great in a stretch fabric.

  3. Sheila Codd on September 8, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Very good, will try these when my mojo comes back.

    • lizhaywood on September 8, 2021 at 5:25 pm

      Cheers Sheila, file this one away. Hope the mojo returns.

  4. Emily on September 9, 2021 at 11:01 am

    What a great pattern! How much do you think they could be shortened? I mean, I’m thinking about a more cropped leg, something like a Capri-length, but that’s also raising the gusset and the crotch too?

    • lizhaywood on September 9, 2021 at 5:06 pm

      Hmm…they could easily be 3/4 length. I wasn’t sure what the length should be, but I cut my gusset triangle 5cm longer than the pattern (I would think you’d cut it half the length of the inside leg measurement). I don’t think I’d want the crotch depth to be any deeper on mine.
      These are so easy-fitting there’s quite a bit of room to experiment 🙂

  5. Joanna on June 12, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    I love these kind of easy no waste patterns. I’ve never been very good at sewing from a pattern. Ive been searching for a comfy pyjama pants pattern – either with a low crotch or ideally a gusset – do you know of a simple loose pants pattern with elastic waist and a generous crotch gusset ?

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