Tag Archives: sewing a stretch woven

Stretch Woven Pull-on Jeans #2

I ordered gray cotton stretch twill to make another pair of Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull-on jeans.  The idea being that on my second go-round I would have the advantage of learning from my mistakes from the first pair.  My two main problems were cutting the fabric with the stretch up and down instead of across the body, and twisting legs.  Despite these mistakes I have worn the olive green pants lots, and the only thing that bothers me about them is that they slip down a bit. To fix that problem I am making the second pair with a higher rise, and with tighter elastic.

So how did I do this time around? Will this be mistakes part 2?

I cut the pant pieces very carefully, measuring to keep the grainlines straight, with the stretch in the right direction, and in a single layer.

I did this in an effort to eliminate twisting of the legs. I believe the twisting was caused by the back and front outer seams being different lengths causing me to twist the legs as I sewed them. But the extra steps couldn’t hurt.

I also referred to this pattern review post and especially the diagram about balanced pants.

I had to piece the pockets to cut all the pattern pieces from 2 yards of fabric, and topstitched a simple design that well with the seam. I used a lighter gray all-purpose thread for the topstitching.


Straight legs!

I like this pants pattern because instead of having a bunchy elastic waist they are smooth and flat, and hold my stomach in while being comfortable. I also enjoy the actual sewing of the pattern; the instructions are good and making them is just complex enough to be satisfying, and easy enough for me to sew well.

Fake fly but real pockets

And this time I decided to change the back waist to knit ribbing, and used the navy I had on hand.

Um, no.

This time I couldn’t pull up my pants!!

I learned the number one thing to know about working with stretch woven fabric: test the stretch percentage.

I ordered fabric with the same description from the same vendor as my olive green fabric, but while the olive has 30-40% stretch, the gray has only 10%. When I received the gray twill, I thought it felt different, but ignored the sewing “red flags”.  The pattern states the fabric needs to have between 20% and 30% stretch. I used the Megan Neilsen guide  for calculating the stretch.

After I added the waistband, the pants couldn’t get over my hips.  I thought about adding panels to the side waist, but then realized the length of the waistband has to stay roughly the same to sew onto the pants. The stretchy knit ribbing I used for the back waistband worked, to my relief. I don’t wear my shirts tucked in, so it doesn’t show. Luckily, the pants legs are slim but not skinny tight, so I can move in them, although they’re not as comfy as my stretchier pair.

I plan to make a shorts version for the summer, and a denim version eventually.

For me, there is a lot of problem solving in sewing.  I’m able to get through projects faster now that I’m better at figuring out solutions. Do you find that you are always having to solve problems in your sewing or in your craft ?


Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans

The subtitle for this post is :  Mistakes in Sewing a Stretch Woven Fabric.

I finished an item from my “Make Nine List”, the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans. They are elastic waist stretch pants with real front pockets, a fake fly, a seam down the center back leg, jeans topstitching, and a wide waistband.

This was my first time sewing with a woven cotton fabric with a small amount of spandex giving a two way stretch to the fabric.

My first change to the pattern was to take 5 to 7 inches off the length of the legs.  Yes, I’m short! There are 2 different lengthen and shorten lines, and I removed length from both places.  The other change I made to the pattern was to add 1 and 1/2 inches to the length of the rise of the back pieces.

Because this fabric is wider than non-stretch wovens, I got confused about which sides were the selvedges, and folded the fabric the wrong way and cut out my pieces on the crosswise grain instead of the lengthwise.  This means I cut the pieces with the stretch going up and down instead of horizontally around the body.  Oops!

With three yards to work with, I was able to recut the fronts and the waistband.  I didn’t have enough fabric to recut the 4 back pieces (the legs have a seam down the back).  I was worried about the pants fitting, as they are designed with negative ease at the hip.  The size 8 are designed for a hip measurement of 40 inches with a finished garment measurement of 36 and 7/8 inches.  Although my measurements put me at a size 8, I made a size roughly between a 8 and a 10, to give myself a little wiggle room.

The instructions for the front pockets were good and they went in easily.

I should have sewed the 2 backs together with a triple stretch stitch or a slight zigzag to compensate for the lengthwise stretch, but I sewed them with a regular straight stitch, which makes the stitches more prone to pop. I had trouble with rippling seams, although a good pressing took care of that problem.

After I sewed the inseams, I noticed the legs were skewed with the inseam twisting to the front.

I had a long session with Google researching about the reasons for this problem, and pondered what to do.

The most obvious possible reason is the pant pieces were cut off grain, but it’s not always as simple as that.  I also read about the weave of the fabric, the direction the legs should be cut, and that the inseams should be eased between the knee and crotch.  I sewed down the leg and the pant bottoms didn’t match up.  I also had a mix of crosswise and lengthwise grains.

There is no easy fix.  I wanted to get on with my sewing, so I opened the inseam from bottom up several inches and resewed with 1/2 inch overlap of the back pants on the seam, removing some back width.  I think it helped a little bit, and it’s not too noticeable as the seam isn’t topstitched. The inseam is at my ankle bone.  I read about instances of ready to wear skinny jeans with the inseam twisting to the center front, so mine aren’t as bad.  I hope I can do better the next time.

The elastic is zigzagged stitched down in the seam allowance.  The pattern calls for 1/2 inch elastic, but I only had 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch. I didn’t want to rip the stretch triple sewn waistband seam to sew a deeper seam, so I went with the 1/4 inch.  Next time I will use a wider elastic for more stability and strength to prevent the pants slipping down.

Topstitching with a contrasting thread is what makes the pants look like jeans, but I didn’t use a lighter thread color until I worked on the back pockets.  Next time, I will take the time to change the thread, because visible topstitching will improve the look of the fly and front pocket area.

I read a tutorial on the blog Diana’s Sewing Lessons: Designing a Jeans Back Pocket.    Topstitching thread is thicker than all purpose thread. I followed her tips and used 2 standard threads together and a longer stitch length.

I found a back pants design I liked, made my own template to fit the pocket size, traced the design on tissue paper, and sewed over the tissue.

The finished pocket:

Although the pockets could be left plain, I enjoyed the process of finding a design and topstitching them.  I had some trouble with my stitches being loose when I ripped off the tissue paper.  I had better results when I carefully removed the paper using tweezers.  I also learned I need to turn up the tension on the machine  to combat this problem.

I don’t like the back view and had a problem with the yoke piece bunching up and bagging out. Ugh! In the future, I will make the waistband narrower and the tops of the pants higher because I don’t like where the horizontal seam hits me. I have excess fabric in the back thigh that could have been reduced if I had basted all the seams first, taken the pants apart, and altered the pieces.

The bottom line is the pants are done, and I’m wearing them.

Whew! A long post with tedious details doesn’t make for good reading, but I wanted to document all the mistakes and things I learned while sewing these pants.


I’m adding links about preventing inseam twist for your reference and my future reference:

Closet Case Patterns – Cutting and Prepping

Sweet Shop Sewing – Leg Twist

Fashion Incubator Leg Twist

Pattern Review Forum – Leg Twist