Let’s Make Pants: Fabric choices

I want to talk today about making fabric choices when making pants. I’ve learned a lot over the past year (yes I’ve only been sewing pants for a year–but I’ve made 16 pairs!) about how fabric choices can affect the way a pant pattern fits. Same pattern, cut at the same size, can fit very differently based on the weight of the fabric and the amount of stretch it has. I will show you an example with the Persephone Pant pattern by Anna Allen:

This was the first pair I made. Do they look flattering? Not really. When I first put them on they were fine, but they would stretch out very quickly bc I’d sewn them with STRETCH TWILL. This pattern calls for a non-stretch fabric and so I paid the price. If you want to use a stretch fabric on a non-stretch pattern, you usually need to size down. A muslin is always advisable in these cases, but if you’re like me and never want to take the time to muslin (toile), then you should just go ahead and size down. Also, if you look closely, there was a pucker right near the center waistband bc pant front kept stretching out and the waistband was interfaced so it did not. I unpicked that thing 3 times but couldn’t get it to go flat. LESSON LEARNED!

Here are examples of the same pant pattern made in different materials:

These were made with 10 oz denim (and actually I used the “wrong side” of the fabric because I LOVED that color, whereas the “right side” was a not my favorite color of blue. Here is a comparable fabric from Blackbird Fabrics (who has a 15% discount until Jan 31!) that you could do the same with! The “wrong side” looks similar to mine! Isn’t it fun to think outside the box? Why should we have to use the side of the fabric that they say to use? I actually do this a lot.

Here is another pair in white 10 oz denim that I sized down bc I also found that cotton denim–while not stretchy while sewing– does stretch out after wear, and I like my jeans a little tighter. This pair was actually a Christmas gift for my sister who–lucky for her (and me really)- wears the exact same size! (literally has the same exact measurements as me)!!

Now here is something I didn’t expect. This non-stretch twill from D&H Fabrics stretches out the least. It feels the tightest of all the pairs I’ve sewn (I actually sewed one more of that inside out denim because I gave the others to my sister as well). I didn’t expect it fit tighter than the other pairs since I’d sewn it up in the exact same size (which I did with a 4 waist tapered down to a 2 at the hip and leg, because my waist is a bigger size than my hips.– I will get more into that in my post on fitting pants). A whole post about these HERE.

Now lets talk about JEANS!! I have made two pairs of the Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns. The first pair (above— skipping around the beautiful southern coast of Ireland–I think–I wasn’t driving) was sewn up in some beautiful Cone Mills 12 oz S-Gene denim (which I was totally confused about when I actually bought this denim!) from Threadbare Fabrics.

Let me explain. Cone Mills (old denim mill from North Caroline that used to produce the denim for many american brand jeans– no longer exists) denim comes in stretch and non-stretch. If it says “S” that means stretch. Should be obvious but I didn’t know! The more oz it is, the thicker/heavier the denim, if you want more of a thin jegging type pant, go for something like this. My pants are wonderful and have enough stretch to make them comfy but not so much stretch that they stretch out easily. My measurements put me in a size 6 in this pattern (and I didn’t have to grade down to a smaller hip which was crazy to me).

Now here is the same pattern sewn in a lighter weight Italian denim with a lot less stretch (its currently out of stock at Blackbird Fabrics where I purchased it but I found it here on sale this month!

This pair fits a little tighter (which I like) and I think its because the fabric had less stretch. I had considered taking the legs in a little based on the fit of my first pair, but then when I’d basted them together I found that they were definitely tight enough! So again, the fabric can make a big difference in fit. Don’t be like me, make a muslin for something like jeans! Especially if you have a booty, or any curves that need alterations. I obviously have no butt so….

Same Kendrick Overalls, but the green is stretch twill and the pink is non-stretch. This pattern actually fit about the same with both. You can find Pink Twill HERE!!!! And a beautiful Green twill HERE!

Here are the Chi-town Chinos by Alina Sewing and Design Co. I’ve made these in non-stretch twill, non-stretch denim, and stretch twill. The stretch pair is the one to the right (above) and I sized down everywhere except the waist. This is a really good first pant pattern because Alina’s instructions are written with the beginning sewist in mind. She has a sewalong on her blog that will help immensely! This was my very first pant pattern (though I made 3 pairs of the expansion pack knee-length shorts before making the pants–but those were my first “pants” as well!). I remember being a little scared but a LOT excited as I had always had trouble finding shorts in fun colors and pants/shorts that fit both my waist and my legs. NEVER AGAIN!

8 oz non-stretch twill on left (Imagine Gnats has some really great colors right now!), and coral 10 oz denim on the right (bought a couple years ago from Stylemaker Fabrics).

Lastly I am going to talk about these summery pants right here. The Emerson Crop Pant by True Biaswas my GO-TO pant, along with my Chi-town shorts last summer. These things are breezy and sewn up in linen are our heaven. They are business in the front and couch potato in the back (elastic waist is where its at!) and worked so perfectly with all the linen tops I’d sewn up for my summer wardrobe! Linen is really the perfect fabric for these, but if you want to get fancy, I’m sure they’re great in most lightweight woven! Even a Raw Silk noile would be beautiful!

I hope this helps you in making fabric choices and getting excited to sew some “fancy pants!”

Go check out Nicole, Loni, and Jennifer‘s blogposts on choosing fabric for pants-making as well!

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