Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shout Out to the Experts: Making Pants with Different Fabrics

Hello Sewist friends (and other friends who don't sew but feel like weighing in on this for kicks):

I finally made this wide-leg pair of pants on the weekend:

Line Drawing:As you can see, they're not fitted. However, in the woven wool (with nice give) fashion fabric, they do fit. In fact, if made without their (stretch-free) lining, I suspect they might be vaguely roomy in the butt/upper leg, despite my muslin minimizing alterations. However, with the lining (and I didn't make the lining seam allowance any smaller than the fashion fabric's) I find them on the edge of too snug at the crotch/upper leg.

Here's my question:

I would like to make these again in a variety of fabrics, to see if I can a) improve the fit and b) enjoy the look. For starters, I'd like to use a stretch indigo denim having 2-way (width) stretch that turns 1 inch length of fabric into 1.5 inches when pulled taut. I do not intend to line the denim pants. They'll be like trouser jeans (or at least that's how it works in my mind). Do you think I'll need to cut some fabric off the side seams (i.e. another .25 inch or more) in order to accommodate the width stretch? I don't want them to be saggy. As an alternate option, could I cut the fabric against the grain i.e. putting the stretch on the length instead of width - or is that asking for trouble?

OK, I seem to be asking lots of questions so I'll just continue. Do you think these pants will look nice in denim, or mom-like? (Yes, I'm implying that mom-like jeans are categorically not nice.)

Thanks so much for feedback - pls. bring it on!


  1. Thank you! You know exactly how I feel don't you. Now I can get on with things, I am so behind. Hey, I like that Fayetastic!

  2. Hi K-Line! I would not suggest putting the stretch on the length, that will feel really weird when you wear them.. like imagine your knees stretching. Strange, especially if there's no stretch around the body. I think a wide-leg pant would look great in denim! They're only mom-like if you make them out of really blue denim and style them in a mom-like way. Wear a blouse and jewelry and platform pumps and then the wide-leg jeans are elegant, not frumpy. Or a fitted navy-and-white striped tee and a bright scarf.

    I hope that helps!

    Oh and you may need to reduce the width slightly to account for the stretch. But I would cut them exactly the same as your first pair, and adjust the sideseams on the real pants. (Turn them inside out, pin in to the desired snugness, and take in the seams to match.) Happy sewing!

  3. I think this pattern needs a drapey fabric. I once (over 20 years ago!) made a pair of very wide, high waisted pants out of a duck-like/canvas fabric. They looked a bit like clown pants. I did wear them, I was 18 (?) after all and styled them with a wide belt and snug top, but they were definitely... different. I'd only try them in denim if it were very thin, and maybe a bit distressed to break up the expanse of leg width. What about some nice wool suiting instead? I hope your foot is doing better.

  4. On your last pair, consider cutting out the lining and making it into a pant slip. That way you'll enjoy them.

    On your next pair, my route is not to change the pattern but to change the fitting because every fabric acts differently. I either pinfit or baste the side seams and go from there.

    Good luck.

  5. I think they'd look smashing in a dark indigo denim. Really dark, though, not "mom jean medium" ;) (possibly even pressed to a front pleat?)

    As to using stretch fabric---I've only used stretch denim for patterns (ok, one pattern, but I've done it five or six times now) designed for it, but this is my process, which I find necessary since each stretch woven behaves differently:

    1)sew the pants up to the point where the side seams and inseams are finished, but before attaching the waistband. If you're going to flat-fell or topstitch a leg seam, do only the inseam.

    2) try them on. If possible, wear them like this for several hours, as stretch denim will grow as you wear it. You might even want to wash them at this stage, again because stretch denim can be unpredictable.

    3) take in the outer side seams as necessary to get the fit that you want.

    4) add the waistband.

    Oh, and I agree with Tasia, I messed up the stretch on a two-way stretch fabric once and cut everything with lengthwise stretch. It was no good. No good at all. Use non-stretch instead if you don't want the comfort of around stretch (which you probably don't need with this pattern anyway..)

  6. Faye: Enjoy that coat!

    Tasia: Thank you for this feedback. I will be sure to wear the pants in a chic way! And only cut them with the stretch, not against.

    Uta: Thanks so much! The foot is coming along. While hurty, I can walk short distances which is very liberating. I hear you about the clown pants. Fortunately, this denim is very thin (like a summer weight thickness). The wool suiting works perfectly with these pants, for sure. But I want to branch out too!

    Tanitisis: Fantastic step-by-step. I'm going to do that. The wearing around for a while is a particularly smart suggestion.

    M: I think the pant slip is a very good idea. And I will baste the side seams to start, then adjust, then sew them in but follow Tanit's suggestion for wearing them around and waiting to attach the waistband.

    I so appreciate all of these terrific suggestions!

  7. i am picturing them in a nice grey wool or a tweed, as long as the fabric is not too bulky!

  8. J: I've got a trick up my sleeve when I finally sort out the fit - but you're going to have to wait to see :-)

  9. Every fabric fits different. It is a lifetime learning process. Wool can fit more closely than a cotton or linen woven. Stretch denim, depending on the denim may need to be cut way smaller. Put the stretch to stretch around.

    I know you've already made these, so I'm not sure why I bother.

  10. M: It is a lifetime process. I guess I have to get over that "I should understand the mystery" feeling...