Today I want to talk fabric options for our latest pattern, the Sasha Trousers. This pattern was designed for stretch woven fabric; think stretch denim, cotton sateen, and twill, and stretch suitings like gabardine. I even think Sasha would work well with a nice beefy ponte; as long as your fabric stretches at least 20% along the cross-grain, you should be good to go.
To test if your fabric has enough stretch, use this fast method. Lay the cut edge of your fabric against a ruler and measure 10″ from the selvage. Now pull this 10″ section of fabric; if it stretches to at least 12″, it should be stretchy enough. If you’re buying online, look for fabrics with lycra; I suggest 2% or more. If your fabric doesn’t stretch quite as much as I suggest, it could still work provided your pants have a slightly looser fit. In that case, I suggest either adding a 1/2″ seam allowance to your side seam to play with, or grading to a larger size from the waist down.
Although I don’t normally sew with a lot of polyester, there are some great stretch poly fabrics out there; one of my fabric suppliers here in Montreal always carries a few colors in something they call “Prada twill”. It’s not a term I’ve seen used in fabric shops, but it’s something I’m sure you’ve encountered in rtw pants and casual blazers; it’s very stretchy with great recovery and is a perfect choice for a stretch trouser like Sasha (I think it’s probably an in-trade name for the type of fabric Prada used for their iconic black trousers). If you do happen upon some of this fabric, you may notice the stretch runs in the same direction of the grainline; make sure you re-orient your pieces so that the stretch spans the width of the body rather than the length of the legs.
In my sample-making for Sasha and Ginger, I’ve noticed stretch wovens can vary widely in terms of fit. Two fabrics with the same stretch percentage can have very different effects depending on the weight, drapiness, and fiber content. All this to say, no matter how confident you are with the fit of your Sashas (or Gingers for that matter) it’s critical to always baste the side seams and try on your pants before finalizing your seam finishes. I’ve made a few new pairs of Gingers this year, all in the same size, and almost every pair fits a little bit differently. Baste, baste, baste! Each pair may need a few small adjustments at the side seams to get the desired fit, especially through the leg.
To take some of the guesswork out of the process for you, I’ve rounded up some appropriate fabrics below. If you’re shopping online, try using the following search terms: stretch woven, stretch suiting, stretch twill. If you’re lucky the fabric store will also categorize fabrics by use, so look for bottom or pants weight fabrics that have some lycra content.
Stretch twills are ideal for Sasha. A twill is a fabric with a diagonal weave and can be made from wool, cotton, poly, even tencel and viscose. Look for something medium weigh; if it’s too light, you may find it doesn’t have enough heft to stand up to the rigors of pants.
The term “stretch suiting” can be a bit confusing, since these fabrics can be used for much more than making suits. Many of those Victoria Beckham and “Galaxy” bodycon dresses from the last decade are made from stretch suiting. You’ll find lots of fibers falling under the banner of “stretch suiting”; Mood is a great resource for this type of fabric.
Don’t feel compelled to make Sasha in a solid! For some dramatic and fun “party pants”, prints are the way to go. I found a heap of great options at Tessuti, but I’m sure you could also score at your local fabric shop; I’m always stumbling on beautiful stretch prints in my travels.
What fabric are you hoping to use for Sasha? Any fabric questions for me while we’re on the subject?