Sew The Show, Sewing

Sabrina fail — And why stretch percentage matters

Well this post was originally intended to be my March Sew the Sew contribution — inspired by the ’50s style in Call the Midwife.

Creative Counselor: Sabrina Fail

And it still is, but I’m going to spend most of the post talking about these Sabrina Slims and why they were a horrible fail :/

Actually this is one of two pairs that I made assembly-line-style in a single day.  The hot pink pair is already in the donate bin, which is where these are headed now that they’ve been photographed.

But quickly, the inspiration deets.  This outfit is inspired by the ’50s styles on the PBS show Call the Midwife.  Specifically by Trixie, who is the most fashion-forward of the characters and when she’s not in a nurse’s uniform delivering babies in London’s East End, frequently shows up in cigarette pants and cardigans.

Creative Counselor: Sabrina Fail

So the new Love Notions Sabrina Slims (affiliate link) (which I tested with great success) were an obvious choice.  And I paired those with a new-to-me pattern and pattern company, the Jenna Cardi by Muse Patterns.  I will talk all about the Jenna Cardi in a soon-to-be-released post 🙂

But back to the pants and why they are headed straight to my donate bin.  Well, it all has to do with stretch percentage.  You may recall that I tested the Sabrinas before they were released and I really, really like the pattern.  It’s such a quick sew, my pants fit wonderfully, and the silhouette is so flattering on so many people.

Creative Counselor: Sabrina Fail

But it turns out that the stretch percentage in the fabric really does matter.  A lot.  I made my final Sabrina test pair (out of three) in a printed stretch denim from Joann’s.  It had about 25% stretch, which is slightly less than the pattern recommends for a stretch woven, but what is recommended for a heavy knit.  These pants are made from a stretch twill from Fashion Fabrics Club.  It’s a really nice fabric and does have a decent amount of stretch for a woven.  I tested it and, while it was a little less than my stretch denim, I thought it would be fine.

Creative Counselor: Sabrina Fail

I was wrong.

These pants are made from precisely the same pattern pieces as my stretch denim ones, and I even sewed them with a smaller seam allowance.  But they are WAY too tight.  Like I can just barely wiggle into them and I’m worried about ripping a seam the entire time they’re on my body tight.

Creative Counselor: Sabrina Fail
You can see in this photo how they’re giving me a big ol’ muffin top.  Cute, huh?

And when pants are that tight, they’re really, really uncomfortable.  So to the donation bin they go.

So please, learn from my mistake.  If you make Sabrinas in a stretch woven, be sure your fabric has at least the recommended 25%-30% stretch.   You’ll thank me for it in the end.

Creative Counselor: Sabrina Fail

As for me, I prefer a pant like the Sabrinas in a stretch woven rather than knit and it’s really hard to find stretch woven with 30% stretch.  So I plan to re-muslin this pattern for stretch wovens with less stretch, eliminating the elastic in the waistband and adding an invisible side zipper.  Then they will basically be my go-to slim pant for all fabrics!

13 thoughts on “Sabrina fail — And why stretch percentage matters

  1. Such a shame they didn’t work out! Could you save them by adding a tuxedo stripe down the side? Though that’s probably more effort than just making a new pair… hope they find a good home!

    1. Yeah that’s a good thought but I’d probably prefer to just make a new pair 😊 I just accept that occasionally I will have a fail and try not to get too upset about it. Luckily they don’t happen THAT often!

  2. I had the same experience. I sewed my first pair during the sew-along and thought that my stretch woven had enough stretch. It did not, although the more wear the pants around the house (I keep trying to convince myself I could wear them in public) they seem to have stretched out a little. I made a trip to Joann’s to look at fabric content and get a feel of the fabrics, and I found three or four rayon/polyester/spandex blends in the denim/bottomweights section that have the feel of denim but with a lot of stretch. I bought the only solid they had and hope to try it out on my next pair of Sabrina’s soon. I like your suggestion to add a side zipper though to stretch wovens with less stretch. I might have to try that, too!

    1. It’s so hard to find wovens with that much stretch! I saw a couple of suitings at my Joanns that might work but I’m pretty “eh” about them. For me, I think the side zip is the way to go 🙂

  3. I did that once with a pair of Clovers – they were fine as long as I didn’t sit down or breathe. 😉 I can’t wait to hear about your Jenna cardi – I bought that pattern but haven’t sewn it up yet.

  4. What a gorgeous outfit! The pants look fab on you regardless, and the cardigan gives it a nice pop of color. Great post!!!

  5. So sorry your pants didn’t work out. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who messes up on stretch from time to time. Can’t wait to hear more about the Jenna Cardi. I’ve been eyeing it for a while.

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