Stretch Denim Ponte Trousers (two of two)
by Kathryn Brenne
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After completing my new unlined jacket I wanted a pair of trousers that would be equally
comfortable. I came up with something that is dressier than leggings, in between a yoga
pant and a stretch jean. My new ponte knit pants are made with a heathery, twill weave patterned ponte very similar to a slightly faded pair of jeans. The fabric is firmer and more substantial than the rayon jersey knit I used for leggings.
It is a two way stretch fabric with about 20% stretch. Although I used some of the
same techniques that I use when making jeans, this stretch knit fabric needed a few different techniques due to the nature of the fabric.
I chose Jalie 2908 Women’s Stretch Jeans view B with the regular rise. The pattern is available in 27 sizes. Other than personal alterations for my height of 5’9” I did not make any fit alterations. I increased the seam allowances in the fly area from the included 3/8” to 5/8”.
I found that the pattern was easy to fit and sewed together well. Whenever I work with patterns designed for stretch fabrics I initially cut vertical seam allowances 1” wide and baste the garment together for a test fitting. Each knit stretches differently and the wider seam allowances makes it easy to adjust the fit through the side seams. For this pattern and fabric, the fit was perfect without having to use any of the extra seam allowance.
Ponte Knits are very easy to care for as they are machine washable. I preshrunk the fabric by machine, and then after putting it in the dryer for a couple of minutes to remove wrinkles I hung the fabric to finish drying.
I used a fusible all bias knit interfacing for the waistband, the center Right Front, the fly Facing, the fly front area of the left Front and the pocket edges.
Thread and Needles
For general construction I used Gutermann 100% polyester all purpose thread. For topstitching I used Quilter’s Silk in color 114, which showed up nicely as a contrast and highlighted the jean look. To finish the seams I used wooly nylon in the upper and lower loopers of the serger.
Some experimentation with needles may be required. Although this denim ponte fabric has a knit construction, ballpoint needles were causing skipped stitches and shredded thread. So I had to go to a “Plan B” and try a stretch needle, which worked well on this particular fabric. Topstitching in any vertical direction was the most challenging. I found that a size 90 Stretch needle accommodated the thicker topstitching thread without skipping stitches or shredding the thread. A straight stitch throat plate and a 1/4” foot with small needle opening also helped, as well as running the machine at a slower speed.
Test your machine settings in both vertical and horizontal directions first before sewing your stretch jeans. For most of the topstitching I used a stitch length of 3.85 mm but this was adjusted slightly depending on the number of layers I was sewing through.
I used a four thread serge to sew and finish all seams. Wooly nylon in the loopers provided a
soft edge with a lot of stretch. All purpose thread was used in the two needles.
When making jeans I often make the western style front pocket bags out of contrasting cotton fabric. I extend the pocket bags to Center Front. The extension acts as a stay to keep everything flat. You can see the extension and construction techniques here.
Although this technique works well with traditional denim and stretch woven denim it was not suitable for the stretch ponte pants. Pocket bags that extend to Center Front limit the amount of stretch that has been built into the pattern. For these pants I wanted pocket bags that were very flat so that they would not show through as a ridge on the close fit.
To achieve this I omitted the pocket facing and instead cut the pocket bags in one piece.
Once the pocket bag was attached the Front, it folded to the inside and then folded back on itself. I sewed across the bottom of the pocket and serged the edge to finish.
For the back pockets I fused a strip of interfacing across the top edge to prevent them from stretching. Rather than turning the edge under twice, which was a bit bulky, I serged the edge, turned it down and added two rows of topstitching.
Positioning the back pockets is an important step in close fitting jeans. If the pockets are too low or too close together they can make your backside look wide. Using the pattern placement as a guideline pin the back pockets to the jeans and then have someone test pocket placement for you until the positioning is flattering. I attached the back pockets with two rows of topstitching. The second row was positioned a wide 3/8” away from the edge stitching at the top corners of the pocket and angled back down to a quarter of an inch. I didn’t add any embroidery or extra stitching to the back
pockets and instead kept a clean look.
I used the same techniques described in Perfect Jeans to insert a fly front
The waistband of this pattern is cut on the bias with a center back seam. Rather than
interfacing the waistband, which would have limited the stretch, I inserted 1 1/4” wide elastic inside the waistband to help hold its shape and snug it up. As the pants are close fitting, I found that they slipped down slightly on my figure. The addition of elastic helped to keep them where they were supposed to sit on my waist. I cut the elastic a few inches smaller than my waist measurement.
After attaching the belt loops and waistband to the pant,
I pinned the elastic to the seam allowance.
For the Fly extension I laid the elastic flat and did not stretch it. From Center Front to opposite Center Front, I stretched the elastic to fit the waistband seam allowance. Try to stretch the elastic evenly. Using a wide 4.5 mm zigzag, stitch the bottom edge of the elastic to the seam allowance. Note that the position of the elastic
is such that it lays against the outside layer of the waistband. The ridge of the seam allowance when finished will lay towards the inside of the garment.
To keep the waistband flat I serged the lower edge of the inside of the waistband. Once folded to the inside, I pinned it in place and caught it in with the final edge stitching. On the overlapping left Front I turned the inside of the waistband in for 2” to keep it out of the way of the zipper.
The waistband closes with a snap.
To secure the belt loops I used a bar tack stitch and all purpose thread. If your machine does not have a bar tacking stitch, use a very narrow tight zig zag with a width of 1.5 mm and a length of .5 mm. The same bar tacks were added to the fly area to hold the fly guard in place.
Hems were serged, turned up once and topstitched.
Also, pay attention to where the bag falls. It can draw attention to parts of your body you don’t or do like!
Hi, would like to know the rationale for why you did not finish the preshrinking by leaving the ponte in the dryer until fully dry. Do you use hot water in the wash? I have always washed In cold and then let the dryer shrink fabric. Is this method wrong for all fabric or just for ponte? Look forward to your answer.
Diane, your drying method would be what I would do as well. Kathryn probably prewashed her fabric the way she will wash them after the garment is done. Either way is fine… As long as the method used in prewash is consistent with the method used when the garment is done. Perhaps Kathryn will add to this.
Any fabric that has spandex or elastane should never go in the dryer and the heat will kill the stretch of the finer.