As summer reached its definite end with weather becoming significantly colder at the very end of August, I jumped to my good old habit of tidying. As seasons change, my brain requires the order to be reestablished. I satisfy this urge by swapping clothes and shoes in the wardrobe and thus preparing for the upcoming season. For sewing it means that I change fabrics and adapt plans to the upcoming season. With that the urge to use leftovers is something I find myself facing for the second summer in a row. This happened last August, this was happening again.
Obviously, leftovers are tricky to work with – fabric pieces come in different shapes and forms, usually there is not enough fabric for many different designs, so I need to think and choose patterns very carefully. Tops are a good solution to use up leftover pieces. This time around I have already made one top, am working on another one and have one or two planned. In order not to blow my blog out of proportion with these tops all over the place, I have decided to write one post on this entire leftovers purge business – will do that later, after finishing all those tops.
However, among those leftovers there was one piece of fabric that was clearly standing out from the crowd. Moreover, the initial project from last year, when I cut into that fabric for the first time, was somewhat forgotten, as I did not include it in any of my previous posts. That is why I’ve decided to dedicate one post to this twin project and so – here it is. Now, find 10 differences in the below picture! 🙂
This fabric is a super stretchy jersey in some really weird colors. I bought it during one of my very first fabric hauls one and a half years ago. It was not that I needed this fabric or had a clue how to sew stretch fabric, it was rather that this fabric was on sale and I was like – oh, cool, that’s a nice fabric on sale, I’m getting it. When it arrived, I was more like – oh, whoops, it is so thin and slick, how on Earth am I going to sew something out of it!
But having no clue about stuff is great. As they say – ignorance is bliss! That was exactly what was happening to me last summer, when I decided to make a pair of loose fitting loungewear pants out of this tremendously difficult to handle fabric. My swearing started when cutting pattern pieces, it continued while trying to match thread color to these amazingly interesting colors, and became so much louder when I started the actual stitching.
Ok, it was a year ago that I made the pants on the right, but I can still remember, how difficult a project it was. First of all, it was impossible to match thread color. There was little point in purchasing new thread for few seams, so I tried every thread I had and finally settled on a mustard color thread, which was a leftover itself and only few meters long.
Majority of seams were done on overlocker, though, with grey color thread on it. Interestingly enough, I had somehow managed to convince my regular sewing machine to sew this incredibly stretchy fabric. I had to complete few straight stitch seams that were necessary to understitch pockets and make hems. Regardless of how much I sweated with this project, it turned out quite well. The only challenge was that the waist band was a bit too loose. To try and mitigate that, later I stitched some mobilon tape onto the seam allowance of the waist band. But this did not help much, that seam is just a tiny bit more stable now. Regardless, I’ve been wearing these pants often – it is such a comfortable garment to wear at home or while traveling.
After this first project there were few long and narrow pieces of the fabric left that kept me thinking – would that be just enough of fabric for a pair of leggings? I kept the remaining meter or so of the mustard thread for more than a year as it was supposed to be needed to complete the hems of planned leggings. When the leftovers purge time came this year, it was obviously clever to end the unfinished business with this fabric.
The pattern for leggings contains 4 pattern pieces instead of two, i.e. my leggings were supposed to have a side seam – otherwise I would not have had enough fabric. When the stitching time came and I tried to make a straight stitch on a small scrap piece, my sewing machine refused to work. It was unclear to me how I had managed it last year, but this time around it simply did not work.
Machine was set up with jersey needle (at first #70, then #80), I tried jersey stitch, tried adjusting stitch length, thread tension, presser foot pressure. NOTHING worked! The seam was not getting done – needle would go into the fabric, would go out, and the thread would just hang up there loose. I tried many many times, used up almost all remaining meter of my precious mustard thread, and well, eventually gave up. So these leggings are made entirely on overlocker. Since I could not make a proper hem, I simply added double folded band to hems. And it looks great too. While stitching the waistband I also added mobilon tape to the seam, and of course put some elastic into the waistband for more comfortable wear.
All in all, am very happy how these leggings turned out. They get worn often! But since my sewing machine was unable to sew this sort of fabric, am pretty sure I will not be making leggings again any time soon. If you know how to set up a sewing machine to stitch this sort of jersey fabric, please share in the comments section below – I would be very grateful for any advice!
After sharing this project on Instagram, I’ve received few good tips. Experienced sewists advised to use jersey needle and top quality thread, walking foot might help, zigzag stitch too (zigzag I’ve tried). Not suitable for leggings hems as they need to be stretching well, but for example for a dress, interfacing tape for the hem might help too. Hopefully, some of that will be useful for other jersey projects!
This fabric was bought at The Fabric store online, it is called Bright hibiscus print stretch jersey. 2.25 meters of fabric were needed for these two projects. The first pair of pants was made using the loose fitting pants pattern from Burda 2011/07 magazine, pattern number #102D, I cut it in size 34, but they are a little too loose at the waist for me. These pants were made in July, 2020. Leggings pattern is from Burda 2021/05 magazine, pattern number #119. I cut it in size 36, but had to narrow them down around waist and shorten by some 7 cm. Leggings were made in August, 2021. Other notions were: 2 meters of mobilon tape, 1 meter of 3 cm elastic for the leggings, grey overlocker thread and so precious and irreplaceable mustard thread for few straight seams. These two pairs of pants cost me 27 Eur in total.
I like this funny color scheme. It is perfect for autumn, I reckon. And I love this sleek feel that they have. It was a real pain to make them. But wearing them is a truly nice reward, so – mission accomplished!
Let’s all stay healthy!
3 thoughts on “Loungewear pants”
I totally understand why you would have bought this fabric – its gorgeous!
I don’t have anything useful to say about sewing this sort of fabric on a regular machine. I recently had a similar problem with a ponte. I tried various needles sizes, universal, sharps, ball point , stretch needles – pretty much any needle I could get my hands on. None of them consistently worked and most of them skipped almost all or all the stitches. So very frustrating. I used the overlocker on everything except the hem, which I stitched by hand minutes before I had to wear it. I love what I made though 🙂
Thanks so much for your kind comment, Elle! I absolutely recognize the pattern you’ve described – I had exactly the same trial and error session. One might wonder – what is it that was the “defining” factor there. On Instagram I received quite many good thoughts and advices. One thought was that maybe the thread was not of sufficiently high quality, which might indeed have been the case for me. Another advice was to use walking foot, which I did not try back then.
Let’s hope, there are not that many situations of this sort in the future! 🙂
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