• The Two Faces of Stretch: Manufactured Stretch (Elastane) vs. Inherent Stretch (Natural).

    Stretch and Recovery Explained

    Have you ever slipped into your favorite stretchy pants and marveled at how they effortlessly hug your curves while maintaining their shape?

    Understanding the magic behind stretch fabrics, like those in your beloved leggings, opens up a world of possibilities in the realm of sewing and fashion. Let’s talk about the secrets of stretch and recovery to help guide you through the maze of stretch fabrics with confidence.

    Diving into the world of stretch fabrics, commonly known as knit fabric, is best done when you have a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts of stretch and recovery. These two cornerstones play a pivotal role in determining whether a fabric is suitable for your chosen pattern and how it will conform to your body.

    The Two Faces of Stretch Fabrics:

    Within the category of ‘stretch’, your fabric can be further broken down into one of two sub categories.

    1. Stretch Fabrics with Elastane: The Ultimate Stretch Duo

    This category includes stretch fabrics that owe their stretchiness to elastane fibers, also known as spandex or lycra. Elastane is introduced during the manufacturing process to excellent and controlled stretch, making it the ideal choice for form-fitting and comfortable clothing.

    2. Stretch Fabrics with Inherent Stretch: Naturally Comfortable

    The second category includes stretch fabrics designed for inherent stretch, achieved through specific knitting techniques. Unlike fabrics manufactured with elastane, these fabrics are engineered to have natural mechanical stretch in their structure, offering comfort in diverse applications.

    Think of it as hand knitting – where the yarn is strategically knitted to possess inherent stretch, eliminating the need for added elastane. Both categories boast unique characteristics, catering to various sewing and fashion needs.

    Choosing the Right Fabric for the Project:

    Understanding these two categories is crucial for selecting the right stretch fabric for your sewing and fashion projects. Fabrics with elastane are ideal for garments demanding controlled and substantial stretch, ensuring flexibility and a snug fit.

    On the other hand, fabrics with inherent stretch find applications in various styles, such as sweater knits, cable knits, and even some waffle knits, providing comfort in a myriad of clothing and textile items.

    Beyond Composition: Unraveling the Fabric Mystery:
    Crucially, even if two stretch fabrics share identical compositions – say, 95 percent cotton, 5 percent elastane – several manufacturing factors can lead to variations in stretch percentage and recovery properties. Elements such as knitting structure, fabric weight, spandex quality, tension, finish, weave density, fiber quality, and pre-shrinking processes all play roles in determining how fabrics behave.

    Ready to Dive Deeper into the World of Stretch Fabrics?

    Join me in my Conquer Stretch Sewing Course if this look into the finer points of stretch and recovery has sparked your interest and you’re ready to become an expert sewer of stretch materials. Explore these fabric secrets and others, giving you the confidence and information you need to sew all your future stretch projects with ease.

  • Pattern Review of the Summer Lovin’ Shorts

    Pattern: Summer Lovin’ Shorts
    Designer: Peek a Boo Pattern Shop
    Fabrics: French Terry from Sew Unique Fabrics
    Measurements: Waist: 39″; Hips: 47″
    Size made: XXL
    Adjustments: Adjusted the front and back rise by 1.5″
    Pros: Very easy pattern and super comfortable. Perfect for, as the title suggests, summer shorts 🙂
    Cons: No real cons, but a little size restrictive, it tops out at a XXXL. Hopefully they will revisit it to size up at some point.

    The Wrap Up

    After my recent success at seemingly cracking the code to my body for pants fitting, I was eager to try some other shorts and these seemed like the perfect comfy, loose summer shorts. I’ve also not made shorts from French Terry before but they are delicious! So soft and comfy.

    The construction of these came together incredibly quickly which is always a bonus. If you are an experienced sewer, you should be able to put them together pretty much without looking at the instructions at all. The pockets are simple as are the back patch pockets. I originally cut the back pockets out but during construction I decided I didn’t want them anymore.

    This was also the first time I used the program Inkscape to digitally make alterations to my pattern. It was incredibly helpful at playing ‘Pattern Tetris’ as well before I got to cutting. It was a bit of a bug bear of mine that I couldn’t lay out my fabric and place all my pieces down to try and get the most out of my fabric before cutting, but now that I am getting a better understanding of Inkscape, I will be able to do that again.

    It is hard for me to learn a new program like this as I am a graphic Designer by trade and Adobe programs are my bread and butter. However, because I have fallen so hard for projector sewing, investing the time to watch YouTube videos on basic functions and how to utilise it is definitely worth it.

    Patten tetris, digital style

    So I was able to add the 1.5″ to both rises in Inkscape fairly easily, my next challenge will be to do a Full Bust Adjustment in it. I think thats a while off though, I need to watch a bit more first. If anyone has any YouTube videos to suggest, feel free to comment them below or email me at

    Now excuse me while I go make allllll the pants and shorts 🙌🏼


  • Pattern Review of the Iris Shorts

    Pattern: Iris Shorts
    Designer: Sonia Estep Designs
    Fabrics: Stretch Denim from Spotlight
    Measurements: Waist: 39″; Hips: 47″
    Size made: Straight 20
    Adjustments: Adjusted the front and back rise by 1.5″; added 1/4 inch to crotch curve; added 1″ to the high rise waistband
    Pros: I am a big fan of pull on jean shorts and these fit the bill perfect. Very easy construction.
    Cons: As with all pants/shorts patterns I had no end of trouble fitting them, BUT I think I’ve worked out my body now and how to quickly fit pants going forward! So not a con of the pattern itself, just my body challenges.

    The Wrap Up

    Strap yourself in for this read, it’s going to be a long one!

    I have had issues with pants/shorts since forever. I make them and they never fit right. It was so disheartening and honestly made me question my ability as a sewist. How can I sew the most complicated of tops, dresses and skirts and they look great, but pants? No deal. Every pair I made were ill fitting, clung to every lump and bump and half the time felt like my crotch was trying to eat the fabric.

    I have had the Iris shorts on my list to try for a while but was very afraid due to my aforementioned fit issues. However, I decided the time was right to try again and this time I enlisted the help of my good friend and sewing teacher, Annette.

    First I did my usual measuring, and decided from my measurements that I would be best with a size 20 waist and grade down to an 18. I cut them out and sewed them up with quiet confidence, THIS pair were going to fit…

    My first ill fitting pair

    Spoiler alert, they didn’t.

    BUT, I did learn a tonne from this pair. I bought the book ‘Ahead of the Curve’ by Jenny Rushmore from Cashmerette and from looking through her fit pics, I determined that I needed to do something with the crotch, and possibly the back crotch.

    So I set about making a second pair, this time FaceTiming Annette talking through my changes I wanted to make. I chose to add 1/2 an inch to both crotch curves and I scooped out both a little as well. After cutting these I eagerly sewed them up, this time they were going to be perfect.

    Second pair, my bum was eating the farbic

    Sequel spoiler, they still weren’t.

    By this stage I’m slowing loosing the will to dress my lower half. I really couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I sent fit pics to Annette again, we discussed what could be going on and decided I would bring them to our kids tennis lesson the next day to see what I needed to do. I must say, it was a bit of a giggle to sit there surrounded by other parents, shoving food in the 1yos face while the 5yo plays tennis, pouring over a pair of pants drawing on them to see what changes needed making.

    Annette gave a few suggestions for me to go home and try, but to be honest, I was a little done. I needed a pants break so I put them aside for about 3 weeks.

    Eventually, Annette and I were due to meet up. After shelving them for a few weeks, I thought it was time to get them out and get her to help me in person. Giving her the chance to check fit problems on my body.

    Once she was able to assess them on me in person, we talked about how we needed to raise the rise in both front and back. I have an Apron Tummy or Pannus Stomach, which everything I read about said I may need to make the crotch curve more of a J, but Annette advised against playing with the crotch too much if possible. In the end we settled on making a straight size 20 and adding 1.5 inches to both the front and back rises.

    I cut the new pieces out with no real gusto. Third time lucky right, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

    Well, after I basted them quickly together, just to get an idea of fit, they were near enough PERFECT!

    As soon as I put them on we could see so many of the issues in the previous 2 pairs were eliminated. No smiling lines, no crotch and butt eating my fabric, no clinging to my apron accentuating the bulge. It all just skimmed over everything and fit just beautifully. I could have kissed Annette I was so happy!

    So, what next?

    Now that I appear to have ‘cracked’ the code to my body, I am going to try adding 1.5″ in the rise to all my pants going forward and see how that goes. I am also ready to try the Love Notions Glissando Shorts again I love this pattern and refuse to be beaten.

    I’d also like to point out a few things about fit.

    I asked Annette to try these shorts on, which she did. They fit her SO MUCH better. Like so much better. I asked if she would mind comparing measurements, which she didn’t. I’ll list them in a table to help visuliase

    Bust – 45″Bust – 45″
    Under Bust – 39.5″Under Bust – 36″
    Waist – 40″Waist – 39″
    Hips – 51″Hips – 47″
    Height – 5’2Height – 5’5
    Torso – 16.5″Torso – 19.5″

    As you can see from above, we both have the same bust size, but I have larger breasts. Meaning most of the time I need to do a Full Bust Adjustment and Annette never does. We also are very similar in the waist, but different in hips, however I carry all my weight in my tummy and Annette’s is more focused on her bum and thighs. So while I had to size up and add height to the rise, Annette was fine the way it was as she didn’t have her tummy altering where the waistband sat. Her torso is also shorter as she is shorter than me which effected where the waistband sat on her. It never ceases to amaze me how measurements can be very similar, yet have such drastic differences on a body. I happily gifted my first pair of shorts to her as they looked so great on her and I didn’t want them to go to waste.

    I guess the moral to my long pants tale is, never give up and invest some time and energy into reading about fitting and if you can, get yourself some lessons with an experienced sewist who can help nut out your fit issues. Lots of pattern companies have free fit tutorials so spend some time really looking at where the pants are not feeling good for you and what it could mean. Also try not to be discouraged. Keep trying till you find your perfect fit, but don’t put a timeline on it. I was frustrated I couldn’t work it out in a day, it’s taken me a year, but really, fitting is only learnt with time and patience.