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?