4-WayStretch, Happy Pant, Stretch

A Bit of a Failure

Pics lighted 100%

Entirely my fault these ponte pants were such a failure.  I was moving along making minor changes and had decided that I wanted to use my Happy Pants pattern with stretch fabrics.  I recalled there were easy  instructions from Fit Nice.  I pulled out Kessinger’s design book and re-read.  Should be easy.  Just adjusting the side and in seams a bit for 2 way stretch fabrics plus for 4-way stretch fabrics,  adjusting the crotch a bit. I tried and think it worked well with my first fabric a rayon/lycra with 20% horizontal stretch.   Encouraged, I pulled out the ponte (used in the pants above) and measured stretch 40% horizontal, 20% vertical. Ah ha! The important 4 way stretch.  I had already copied the fitted pattern (with all the changes) and had trimmed 1/4″ from side seams.  I didn’t alter the pattern further but laid out my fabric and new-to-me stretch pattern. Loaded the serger and sewing machine and started stitching.  I stitched the inseams and crotch 1/4″ deeper. 4-way stretch, right? Need all the changes, right? Problem with the crotch is that changes are apparent until the crotch seams are trimmed or clipped. Overly confident, I trimmed.  When I looked at the pics of the first fitting, I was shocked. What happened to all my careful fitting. The front has funny pooching above the crotch,  like the tummy area has suddenly bifurcated; the front leg has developed long folds that pool into the lower leg. While the back is obvious too tight (we could light up the night and find your cell with illumination bouncing off my butt). The back legs are poofy over the thigh; descending into drapes and pooling at the ankle.  How could this be so different?

I should admit this is not a good ponte.  It is the ponte you buy from Fabric.com which is clearly stated for use in athletic uniforms as used by schools. IOW for high school students to wear once a week for 3-5 months and then discarded. I thought it would make a good test.  Perhaps it did. But that isn’t the real issue.

The real issue was the error I made at the beginning:  Measuring the stretch of the fabric.

Want to see a really good demo on how to measure the stretch in fabric for actual use?  Try this recent J Sterns Video


J Sterns Demo


In it she shows what I did. I overstretched.  Jen stops and carefully looks at the fabric – which I should have done- she asks the question, is this how you want your garment to look on your body?   Well if I  had done that, I’m sure I would have revised the stretch factors.

I tossed this pair.  Cheap fabric, bad construction decision.  I considered what it would take to fix.  The crotch can’t really be restored to original dimension/shape, but I could add gussets along the inseams and side seam if needed. Then it dawned on me, it would take longer to get this pair wearable than the 2.5 hours I’m clocking making new pairs.


Note to self:  Don’t just yank the fabric to determine stretch factor.  How does the stretched fabric look?  How does it feel?  Is this what I want to wear?

4-WayStretch, Happy Pant, Stetch 20%

Happy Pant: Phenomenal 2 (TWO) DAY Pants

Pics have been lightened 100%

Yeah, I’m super chuffed! !!! !!!!! It’s been years, like 25 or 30 since I’ve been able to cut, stitch, fit and finish a pair of pants in just two days. What’s the secret of my success?

  • Well for starters, I’ve been working with the Happy Pant and it’s designer J. Sterns at J. Sterns Designs for weeks and we’re not quite done. Bored, no it’s been a super learning experience. I’ve learned a lot, I tell you, a whole big bunch about the current shape of my lower half. We think I’m close to having this pattern fit perfectly. A fit that is repeatable, time after time. One that adapts to style changes and fabrics. That’s a damn-fine pattern, especially for pants.
  • 2nd contributing factor is the fabric.  It is a 100% polyester described as “Drapey Suiting” by the seller fabricmartfabrics.com (Dont think there is any left of my espresso brown but there was a green and black here when I wrote this post). When tested, the fabric measured a 25% widthwise stretch and 30% lengthwise stretch. I found that surprising but even more so since I had to pull pretty firmly to get the widthwise stretch, but it stretch vertically if I just breathed.  Very possibly the fabric could have been cut cross grain. I continued with the standard grain cutting so that I would be consistent in my experiments with the pant pattern.

I cut using the full leg version of my Happy Pant (HPFL). Not shared I have been experimenting with changing the width of the lower leg and using with stretch fabrics.  I’ve been successful, so why did I choose to use the HPFL with a stretch fabric.  Blame it on Linda at Sewing Workshop and her video from about a week ago as of now.   (That’s Face Book link. To view, you must be a member of Facebook and part of the Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection group.)  During the video she talks about the pant fabrics she likes to use. She does mention twills and firmer fabrics and which patterns work really well for them, but mostly she talks about drapey fabrics and their effect on her fuller-leg pants. And they do, work well I mean.  I look at the samples and don’t even think about the pant  having a full leg. I see the overall fit, the silhouette, the elegance and I drool.  So while I was planning to use my fabric for a slimmer leg, the video convinced me that I had in my hands the perfect fabric for the fuller leg. The stretch was a not factor in either style selection (full leg) or in fit. These are cut exactly as the linen muslin, except using the full leg length.

Actual sewing was a breeze.  I’ve now sewn these so many times I’ve lost track.  I used Gutterman all-purpose thread to stitch legs and crotch together, after serge finishing the ravely legs. Also stitched the waistband with permanent thread but when attaching the WB to the pant leg, I used my beloved Water Soluble thread. After try on and pics, I offset the waistband 3/8″ from the waist of the pants and I hemmed the pants 1/4″ deeper.  I’m not sure the leg needed to be deeper but shortening the entire torso area, I think called the crotch depth, really was needed.  It was just enough to snug the pant to my body at the crotch and eliminate the side-drapes I get.  One significant change with the waistband, even though the band and the elastic were the same length as all the others I’ve made, I attached it so that 1″ more length goes across the front, my tummy.   It’s a 1 piece band, that’s stitched in a circle and quarter marked. But the side quarters are marked 1/2″ closer to the CB seam.  That’s a personal fitting adjustment most people will never need to make. I do it because my back at the waist is slim (I actually have a waist in back), but my tummy is rotund.  I have real issues with the elastic WB wanting to creep up over the tummy and find some place smaller (under my boobs) to rest. Giving it, my tummy/front, just 1″ more is an excellent solution but does take a few extra moments of planning.

Are there still possible fit improvements?  Jen (J Sterns) thinks the leg could hang better and lose it’s bell shape with a little altering.  I also see a little poofyness at CB under the waistband and a little extra drape in back over the thigh.  With a full leg, I’m not so sure that the ease of the thigh should be considered an issue.

Lovin’ it!