Trouser Fabric: Tips and Sources

We are making trousers for Sew My Style this month! Read all about our fabric sources for trouser fabric, and tips before you buy.

April is all about trousers over on Sew My Style!  If you haven’t been following along, it’s a great way to sew to a loose plan with a group of like-minded people.  This month’s chosen patterns are the Chi-Town Chinos from Alina Sewing + Designs and the Hepburn Pants from Wardrobe by Me.

The lovely thing about these two patterns is that together they give you pretty much aaaaaaaallllll the trouser choices!  The Chi-town Chinos have a slim trouser expansion, a shorts version, a skirt, version, and a Bermuda shorts expansion.  But if slim trouser or shorts aren’t your jam, the Hepburn Pants have a wide-leg view and an extra-wide-leg view.  So basically, lots of options.  Personally, I will be making the shorts version of the Chi-town Chinos.

But before you start sewing the trousers of your dreams, the first thing you’ll need to do is find the appropriate fabric.  That’s what we’re here for!  Without further ado, let’s talk about some of those fabric options, and what to think about when selecting that fabric.


    Non-Stretch Twill

    The first and most common fabric choice for either of these patterns, but the Chi-Town Chinos in particular, is your basic non-stretch cotton twill.  This is a nice versatile fabric that comes in lots of different colors from lots of different sources.  We’ve linked to a few of those below.  Cotton twill should work fine for the Hepburn Pants as well.  The Hepburns require 3-5% stretch in the fabric, but that is a very small stretch percentage, and most non-stretch twills should easily meet that requirement.

    A few things to consider when working with twill:

    • Check the fabric width.  Twills can range from 43″ to 60″ in width, so be sure to double check when ordering to make sure you get enough.
    • Twill comes in lots of different weights.  Make sure that you’re getting bottomweight twill. 
    • Check the fiber content.  Twill describes the weave, not the content, so the fabric can behave very differently based on that fiber content.  If you’re going for a classic chino look, get cotton twill.  Something like tencel twill or rayon twill can be quite flowy and may not work well for structured pants.


      Clockwise from Top Left: (1) Emerald organic cotton twill from DH Fabrics; (2) Navy blue brushed chino twill from Imagine Gnats; (3) Fuschia organic cotton twill from DH Fabrics; (4) Powder blue cotton twill from Hart’s Fabric


      I know we’re doing jeans later this year (yay Jeans in July!), but there’s no reason why we can’t make trouser jeans is there??  If twill seems too formal for you, consider denim.  It will behave similarly to twill (and has the same considerations when purchasing), but definitely will give your trousers a more casual feel.

      If you do go with denim, consider using contrast top stitching to make those beautiful seams pop.  You can find our top 3 tips for perfect top stitching HERE.


        Clockwise from Top Left: (1) Yellow Mustard Cone Mills Denim from LA Finch Fabrics; (2) Indigo Cone Mills S-Gene Denim from LA Finch Fabrics; (3) Non-stretch medium indigo denim from DH Fabrics; (4) Red Cone Mills denim from Imagine Gnats

        Stretch Twill

        Along the lines of the non-stretch twill, stretch twill is another very popular choice for trousers.  It has all the looks of cotton twill and/or denim with the comfort of spandex.  If you do choose a stretch twill, here are a few things to think about when sewing up your pants:

        • Check the stretch percentage and consider sizing down.  These trouser patterns are drafted with positive ease since they are intended for use with non-stretch fabrics.  If your twill has a significant amount of stretch, you may need to size down.
        • Baste your pants together before sewing them.  This will help you assess whether you need to take in seams anywhere.
        • MUSLIN!!  This should go without saying before starting any pants pattern, but particularly if you’re using a non-recommended fabric, muslining is incredibly important.  If you don’t know how or why to muslin, read our article about it HERE.

          Clockwise from Top Left: (1) Dapper Green stretch twill from Hart’s Fabric; (2) Butterscotch classic stretch twill from StyleMaker Fabrics; (3) Black classic stretch stretch twill from StyleMaker Fabrics; (4) Mauve stretch twill from Imagine Gnats


          For a really luscious pair of pants, consider some nice, soft corduroy.  This would be particularly good for all of you in the southern hemisphere headed into your cool season.   It’s hard to beat corduroy for coziness.

          A few things to consider when working with corduroy:

          • Corduroy has a nap.  That means that the furry fibers sticking up fold down in a particular direction.  Pay very close attention when cutting your fabric and get extra if necessary.  While you can flip your pattern pieces upside down to cut something like twill or denim, if you try that with corduroy, the two legs of your pants may look two very different colors.
          • Use a napped press cloth when pressing corduroy.  The heat and pressure of your iron will crush the nap of your corduroy.  And no one wants to walk around with an iron impression on their bum.

            Clockwise from Top Left: (1) Burnt Ochre cotton corduroy from Hart’s Fabric; (2) Ocean micro wale corduroy from StyleMaker Fabrics; (3) Alabaster stretch cotton corduroy from Blackbird Fabrics; (4) Charcoal micro wale corduroy from StyleMaker Fabrics


            Last but not least, linen would be fantastic choice for summer trousers.  Here in the northern hemisphere it’s that time of year that linen is popping up in all the fabric shops.  This airy natural fiber comes in lots of different weights and blends, many of which would be perfect for this project.

            A few considerations:

            • Linen may not have the required 3-5% stretch for the Hepburn trousers. If you want to make a linen pair, consider sizing up or at least cutting extra large seam allowances.  And in any event, muslin!
            • Check your fabric weight carefully!  Linen comes in a lot of different weights, and some are even sheer.  That would be an pleasant surprise!
            • 100% linen wrinkles something fierce.  If you want the look and feel of linen with less wrinkling, consider a blend.  It’s quite easy to find linen blended with cotton or rayon, both of which will reduce the wrinkling.

              Clockwise from Top Left: (1) Oatmeal Cotton Linen from Hart’s Fabric; (2) Blue linen blend from Joann; (3) Pear midweight linen from Blackbird Fabrics; (4) Taupe Textured Linen from StyleMaker Fabrics

              So many options, right?!? But trousers are one of our favorite things to make, so it is definitely worth taking the plunge.


              What fabric will you use for your trousers?

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