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Stretch Pants - Pattern Changes


Stretch Pants and Pattern Changes -- Part 1
--- Different Fit Styles

I thought it might be interesting to talk about stretch pants for a little while, so this will be another mini series . . . .
For all the discussions about fit and different styles that you can make with simple pattern changes, I will be using the Southern Comfort Stretch Pants Pattern.

Before I dive off the deep end about all the easy changes you can make to your pattern for completely different looks, I want to talk about the 2 basic types of fit - both of which can be obtained with the same pattern. For discussion purposes I will called them Casual Fit and Legging Fit. In the future blogs on these stretch pants, any of the alterations can be done to either the Casual Fit or the Legging Fit, depending on your personal preference. Both styles are great to have in your collection, so well worth the time up front to refine the fit and have your master patterns available for future style versions.

Below you will see 2 different pairs of stretch pants -- The Green Print is a Casual Fit, common in travel leisure wear. If you look at the side view, at the back, right under the tush you will see that the pants fall straight down from the fullest part of the tush, and fall pretty much straight (although there is a little bit of taper to make them look nice - this is in the pattern). The other pair in the animal print fabric is the Legging Fit and is considerably snugger. If you look at the side view, you can see that they fit much closer under the tush and in the front. (They are destined to be worn under a tunic!)

I started with the Animal Pants (or the Legging Fit), but you can start with either fit. I cut on the cutting lines that are at or slightly smaller than my measurements from the upper thigh up through the body part of the pants. Be judicious! Start with the lines that correspond to your measurements and take in your test pair until you have your desired fit. It took a couple of test garments to get the stride right where I wanted it, so be prepared to make a couple of pairs to get it perfect and to your personal taste.

To get to the Green Casual Fit Pants, I cut all leg seams (inner and outer) 1 1/2 sizes larger on the Green Print than on the Animal Print. On the Crotch Seam, I went out 1 size at the waist, blending to the the same line at the lower center of the crotch where it joins with the leg inseams. Because the Green Print Pants are a little longer in the crotch than the animal print pants -- at the waist cutting line, I drew a new line 1/4" higher than the line I used for the Animal Pants.

Let me say that another way: The Casual Fit (Green Print) Pants are larger than the Animal Print Pants (Legging Fit)in the following areas:

Outer Side Seam: 1 1/2 sizes
Inner Leg Seam: 1 1/2 sizes
Upper Cut Edge at Waist: 1/4" higher
Crotch Seam: 1 size at the upper waist area, tapering to same at crotch where it crosses the inner leg seams.

You can start from either pair, whatever you wish. Both fits are great to have in your pattern inventory. In the next blog, I will show you how to taper the legs on the Legging Fit for the slim leggings that are so popular right now under tunics.


Casual Fit Stretch Pants
Front View
Casual Fit Stretch Pants
Side View
Legging Fit Stretch Pants
Front View
Legging Fit Strtch Pants
Side View


Stretch Pants and Pattern Changes - Part 2
Long Leggings

For a super comfortable, totally contemporary look, add a pair of leggings to your pattern collection! Start with the Leggings Fit Pants you developed from the Southern Comfort Stretch Pants Pattern.

I made 2 pair of leggings - both cut from exactly the same pattern - one in a dancewear type of stretch fabric (with a lot of lycra) and another pair from a cotton knit with only a little lycra. A big tip here -- when making leggings, the less lycra, the more 'bag' you will get - i.e the fabric will stretch out a bit and stay there -- ok in a soft cotton for a really casual weekend look, but not the look you want for a more a more upbeat outing.
. . . . Back to the 2 pair of leggings I made . . .. The dancewear fabric is shown at the right with the Ebisu Tunic. Note the length is right at the ankle. The 2nd pair I made from a cotton knit with less lycra. Because the fabric did not have as much side stretch, the leggings shortened -- also because of less lycra, they bagged a bit. I was careful to not clean up the image in Photoshop, so you could see the real deal - bags and all! The cotton is fine for a casual day at home or out, but the dancewear version has more impact.

Before I give you the actual steps to make the alteration, let me share a trick. Because stretch pants patterns already have (built in the design) any excess fabric removed from under the tush area and upper back thigh, the Pants Back can be a bit tricky to make these alterations to in such a way that the seams still align perfectly with the front. Rather than cause yourself frustration, do the alterations to the Pants Front -- then -- put the front and back together at the original cutting line (inner or outer, but 1 at a time). Line up the original cut lines and temporarily staple or pin the 2 pattern pieces together. Then trace the new cut lines onto the Back. You will need to twist the pattern pieces a bit to line up the edges (especially on the inseam) - this is due to the 'designed in' snugness of the Pants Back - just take your time, line up the edges and trace the Back to match the Front. This is assuming you are using vellum or transparent paper -- otherwise cut out both the Front and the Back on the original cutting lines, line up the edges, temporary pin together and cut them both at the same time.

OK, here goes . . . . .

1. Make a new tracing of your stretch pants pattern - Legging Fit
2. Put on one of your existing pants and using the existing pair as a guide, determine where you want the hem of your leggings to be -- make a note of the difference. Leggings are several inches shorter than regular "dress" length pants. Some of the new styles make the leggings quite long and let it bunch at the ankle, other styles are about 1" above the ankle bone itself. You decide!
3. Draw in your new hemline on both the Front and the Back pattern pieces
4. Draw another line 1 1/4" hem below your new hemline. This is your new cut line.
5. Draw in your seamline for a couple inches each side of the crotch point - down the inseam and up around the crotch seam.
6. Draw a line exactly across the grainline through the finished crotchpoint seamline (the place where the 2 seamlines intersect. Draw this line all the way across your pattern.
7. Repeat Steps 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the Pants Back
8. Working on the Pants Front, at the hemline on the outside seamline, mark a point that is 2 1/4" IN from the existing cut line. Using a very long straight edge ruler (something that is long enough and straight), draw a new outer cut line from the new hemline up to the line you drew across the pattern (through the crotchpoint).
9. On the Inseam, at the hemline, draw a point that is 2 1/4" IN from the existing cut line.
10. Using a very long straight edge, draw a new cut line from the very top at the crotch point (existing cut line) down to your new point at the hemline.
11. Because the side seam is at an angle, you need the hem turnup fabric to angle back out to match the side seams. Fold up the lower edge along the new hemline that you drew in Step 3. At the side seams (inner and outer) trace the side seam from your hemline to the lower cutline.
12. Following my tip above, line up the original cut lines of the Front and Back and temporarily pin together. Trace or cut the Back to Match the Front.

. . . . . So to summarize and really, really shorten these instructions . . . .
1. Mark a new hemline.
2. Taper the side seams (inner and outer) from a point level with the crotchpoint to the new hemline.
3. Do the Front First, then match the Back to the Front.

Add Pattern to your Collection for Future Use!!


Stretch Pants and Pattern Changes - Part 3
Simple Tapered Leg

Before I even get started, I made these pants with a cotton knit and it stretched out in the first 5 minutes -- believe it or not, these pants were made with the Legging Fit Master. If I made them in a knit with more lycra, the upper portion would have a much snugger fit. However, I wanted to show you a basic, simple tapered leg and they will serve the purpose. Note the bigness (is that a word?) through the knee area. Quite a bit of this is because of the fabric.

Anyway . . . . .

To made a simple taper, the instructions are exactly the same as the Long Leggings, but you only come in 1" from the original cut line (at the hemline) and taper up to the crotchpoint alignment on each seam. Remember to start with the Front and then match the original cut lines to trace or cut the Back to match the Front.



Stretch Pants and Pattern Changes - Part 4
Stitched Creases

Continuing the mini series on stretch pants variations -- all from the same pattern.

I used the Legging Master for these pants because I am planning on a long shirt or tunic, but the stitched crease looks really nice in the Casual Fit for more a more universal pair of pants. The reason I used the Legging Master is that since I am planning on wearing a long top and I wanted the "dress" leg at the hemline, but I wanted the trimmest fit I could get in the thigh area -- Long tops just seem to look better with slimmer pants.
-- As a note, the Navy Tapered Pants in Part 3 of this series also have a stitched Front and Back Crease.

Adding a stitched Front and Back Crease to your pants is a simple change and can add a nice tailored effect. Since you are working in stretch fabric and since you will only be stitching a 1/16" edge (for 1/8" total), you really don't have to make any changes to the pattern - provided you didn't choose a fabric with less stretch. You do want a stretch fabric with a medium weight, though, to hold the crease.

Before you begin, take a scrap of your fabric and run a test. This is really important, because only a test will show you if the fabric will hold your stitched crease or not. Some fabrics do and some do not. It's easy . . . just take a scrap of fabric, fold it in half, wrong sides together (along the lengthwise grainline as if it was a leg section) and press the fold in. Then go to your machine and using a seamguide if necessary, stitch a line of stitching 1/16" from the folded edge. Open up the sample and see if you like the results. If everything looks good, then you are safe to stitch the crease in the actual pants.

After you have cut out the Fronts and the Back, go to your ironing board. Take one of the legs pieces and fold it in half, wrong sides together, with the raw edges even. Start with the notch at the knee and line up the lower half of the leg first. Press the crease into the fabric. Then, work your way up the leg.The Front is easy -- everything lines up all the way up to the crotch point -- just continue the line of the fold to the upper edge and press the crease in. The Back is another story . . . Work your way up from the knee notch a little a time - using your fingers, not the iron yet - continue the fold line up to the upper edge, allowing the crotch point area to stick out if necessary. Do one of the Backs first, then just make sure the other back is folded the same amount by comparing the upper waist edge before pressing the crease in. The image above shows the Front at the waist edge - click for a larger image.

You can turn the hem up and press before pressing the crease -- or after -- whatever your personal preference. I turn up the hem first.

Stitch a row of straight (not stretch) stitching 1/16" from the folded edge the entire length of each Leg Section (4 total). Continue with assembly of the pants.



Stretch Pants and Pattern Changes - Part 5
Palazzo Pants!

Continuing the mini series on stretch pants variations -- all from the same pattern.

I used the Legging Master for this pattern because I wanted a slim, contoured fit in the thigh area. I will usually wear a longer blouse or tunic with these pants, but the purple Champagne Pullover matched the pants fabric so it was perfect for this photo.

The instructions are almost the same as the Long Leggings.
At the hemline (same as the original pattern) mark a point 2" out from the original cutline, both on the outer seam and on the inner seam.
Then, on the Pants Front, come down 7" from the crotch alignment and mark a point.
Draw a new cut line from the 7" down point to the 2" out point at the hemline. Blend the new line with the old line at the 7" point so there is a smooth transition.
Remember to start with the Front and then match the original cut lines to trace or cut the Back to match the Front.







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