Hello from cold Ohio, where it’s white outside and lilting Christmas music is still playing inside! I am Evelyn, and hang out over on Instagram @sew.petite. This is my first blog post ever so I am really excited!
With capsule wardrobes, the process of making a new garment becomes a lot more intensive. You want the fabric, the style, everything about the garment, to mix right in with your current capsule. That’s why it is important to pay attention to the color of your fabric, the fiber and it’s practicality in your everyday life.
Today’s post is going to be focused on choosing fabric for casual pants with four different styles of casual pants as examples. This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but should give you a good start on choosing the right fabric for your project!
First up is culottes. They have been all the rage this year and the possibilities are endless! For this section, I will be defining culottes as wide leg pants, with a waistband, zipper and/or elastic; ones with a fly won’t be included here. Examples are the Flint Pants (and Shorts), the Ninni Culottes and the Winslow Culottes. Cottons and linens are perfect for structure; rayon, tencel, and poly crepes for a flowy look. Another one I thought of recently that would work great with a pattern like the Ninni Culottes is velvet! Can you imagine how chic and glam that would be?! Culottes are also a perfect way to make a statement piece. Do you have a nice selection of neutral basic shirts in your closet? This might be a good option for you if you’re looking to add a little pizazz to your capsule! Think giant florals (or small ones!), all kinds of stripes, abstract prints. Another way to make a statement piece is through fabric texture like boucle, tweed and brocade. Here are some culotte pictures I rounded up for more inspiration! 🙂
Next are woven joggers. These usually have an elastic waistband, are looser fitting, and sometimes have elastic at the ankles, sometimes not. Writing this makes me realize I really need more of these in my life! Pattern options for these are ones like the Alexandria Joggers, Vanessa joggers and I’ve had good results with Vogue 8909. Once again, like culottes, there are so many fabric options! Cottons, linens, rayon, tencel, crepes, gabardine, chambray, lightweight twills and denims, and velvet again! Other luxury fabrics that would work well for these is soft faux suede (I know Style Maker has some!) and faux leather. For this kind of pant, I think you would want something with a lot of drape, like rayon, or something with a little drape, like linen, but I doubt a stiff brocade would be as flattering. Check out the pictures below to get your creative ideas flowing!
Stretch Jeans/Wide Leg Pants
Jeans! The most important of all! This category can refer to full on jeans, like the Ginger Jeans, or pull on jeans, like the Eleonore’s. All of the following information on jeans also applies to wide leg pants that call for stretch fabric. Over the past few months, I have made three pairs of Ginger Jeans and wow! What a learning experience! Fabric makes all the difference! For jeans, I strongly recommend ordering samples first if you’re shopping online. Making jeans is no joke and you don’t want to spend all that time and money just to end up with a saggy baggy pair of jeans or ones you can’t even get on! One of the most important parts of picking fabric for jeans is understanding stretch percentage and recovery. Out of the three pairs of jeans I made, one fabric had 35% stretch, the other two had 25% stretch. You would think the 25% stretch fabrics would have made tighter jeans, but that wasn’t the case. I used the exact same pattern and size for all the three pairs, yet the 35% stretch is my best and tightest fitting pair of them all! The reason is completely from fabric choice. The 35% stretch one, has more stretch, but it also has amazing recovery and snaps back almost completely when stretched. Both of the 25% stretch ones have less stretch, but after they’re stretched, they don’t snap back nearly as well and end up fitting much looser by the end of the day compared to the 35% stretch ones. When you get your samples, really play around with the fabric. Pull on it and see what happens. It can be hard to tell which will be a sturdy fabric, but the more you play around with different fibers, you’ll start to be able to pick out the sturdy ones. A note on Cone Mills: I know the majority of the sewing community is obsessed with it, but honestly, I was surprised. It is definitely high quality and a good sturdy denim but it doesn’t snap back as much as I thought it would. One of my 25% stretch jeans was from Cone Mills. Overall, I love the sturdiness of the fabric but the recovery has been a bit disappointing. Just a note for your consideration! Lastly, for washing jeans, I always turn wrong side out, wash on cold or warm and hang dry. Be cautious about drying them in the dryer. You’ll get a nice tight fit for sure, but that dryer will slowly eat away at the inseam length and you may soon be left with cropped jeans!
Non-Stretch Jeans/Wide Leg Pants
Last one and we’re done! This category includes pants like the Morgan Jeans, the Lander Pants and the Nagoya Pants. The obvious choice for these are all your classic non-stretch denims, but there are so many more options! Think corduroy, twills, canvas, faux leather or faux suede. Anything without stretch that has a nice weight to it. Keep in mind, the heavier the fabric, the less give it will have. So if you muslin your pants in a quilting cotton and then make your pants in a 10 oz denim, you may run into trouble!
Final Notes On Fabric
Always, always, always, preshrink your fabric. Use the hottest water allowed for the fabric you are washing and then dry in the dryer. For rayons and tencel, from my experience they just keep shrinking. So here’s what I do to try and counteract it. Prewash two or three times – hot water and dry in the dryer. Then when you’re making your garment, maybe make it a touch big. Add an extra inch of length to your jogger pants. Add a touch more ease through the hips. After your garment is done, wash on cold and lay flat to dry or hang dry. With wools, silks and delicate fabrics, if you’re not sure how to wash the fabric, first check with the fabric store for information. Based on that, you can then cut off a small swatch, maybe a 3 in. x 3 in. square. Measure and trim to a precise measurement and write your measurement down. Then throw it in the laundry with a load of clothes and wash according to the manufacturer instructions or however you think is good, then throw in the dryer, or air dry. At the end, you can inspect the piece and see how it did! You can also measure your test swatch to see how much shrinkage happened. That should help you know if you can put the whole piece of fabric in and how you should wash the finished garment. Another trick I like to do is to always turn my finished garments inside out before washing. I have gotten so used to it now, I don’t even realize I’m doing it! Doing this protects the outer fabric of the garment and can help stop premature pilling. And we want our sewn-with-love garments to last as long as possible, right?!
I think that wraps it up! Have fun fabric shopping and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have! Drop us a note and share what fabric you are using for your casual pants project!