Sewing Pants Using Stretch Fabric?

I am sewing wind pants with zippers down each leg. The material I have is only stretchy in one direction. Which way should I layout the pattern pieces? Should I have the stretch be vertical or horizontal?


By Sally D

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March 10, 20120 found this helpful

Horizontal. The fabric will stretch horizontal more to compensate for minor vertical changes. Sew one leg and test it first. Leave enough material available on the inseam so that you can undo and resew without wasting a whole piece. And if its perfect. Pull inside out and cut the excess. Test a leg after horizontal stretch.

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March 12, 20120 found this helpful

If you're using a pattern and this is the fabric the pattern called for, the lay-out diagram on the pattern will show you the way the pattern should be laid out on the fabric.

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March 12, 20122 found this helpful

Always when sewing pants or any clothing from a stretch fabric... the stretch should always: "wrap around you". Otherwise you will end up with legs stretching long, messy and differently, bags and wrinkles of all strange sorts at the crotch and backside.


None of us needs that sort of attention, nor the waste of your fabric and efforts.
Best of sewing.

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August 27, 20161 found this helpful

Fabric is almost always cut "with the grain" meaning with the pattern's grain line arrow lengthwise which I'll call "vertical". [fabric is purchased by LENGTH measurement] If you cut across the grain so that your pattern's vertical runs from selvage edge to selvage edge the garment will not have the strength it would if it was cut with the long grain. The cross fibers are not as strong. Generally, a woven stretch fabric garment stretches across and is cut on the grain along the fabric's length the same as it would be if it was non-stretch fabric. This means the garment will stretch around. On a bottom it will stretch across your rear when you sit and on a top it will stretch across your back when you move your arms forward.


I've only once had a woven stretch item that stretched vertically. It was a pair of men's corduroy slacks. They were nice because they were comfortable for sitting especially over the knees. It was long ago and before the 'spandex era'. I have not seen any stretch fabric woven in that manner since and the only place was in men's slacks. I do not recall ever seeing a garment that only stretched up and down. Women's jeans that say four way stretch feel like 4 way but I think they just added a lot more spandex that makes them stretch more diagonally, but not really vertically.

In knits, a majority of them only truly stretch across grain but as knits they usually have more diagonal stretch. There are also two-way stretch knits. They might also be referred to as four way stretch because when they stretch both lengthwise and crosswise it gives them increased diagonal stretch, hence '4-way'. They are the best type of fabrics for things like leggings and winter underwear - especially for skiing and other physical activities.


Check for vertical stretch by pulling straight along the grain of the fabric. Follow pattern's recommended stretch guide which is usually shown on the envelope. Always pre-wash fabric before cutting. Fabrics that shrink a lot, like denim, should be washed and dried at least 5 times. Happy stitching!

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March 13, 20180 found this helpful

In my 60 years of sewing typically the stretch runs horizontally, in part to allow more sitting room. However, I had a great pair of thick wide wale corduroy pants that were made with vertical stretch. They were one of my most favorite pairs of walking/hiking pants ever. The stretch allowed the bum and knees to stretch as I climbed hills without them pulling down at the back waist or binding in the knees.


Bottom line: I say it depends what you intend to wear them for. If you want a sleek, slim look that allows comfy sitting go horizontal. If you plan to do a lot of bending, gardening or hiking I'd cut them vertically. Happy stitching, canary.

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January 2, 20200 found this helpful

Stretch usually runs the width of the fabric but Check! I have just used my well used pattern for slacks and placed it length of fabric as always. Wizzed them up and have just tried on for length. I struggled to get them on. The stretch is running lengthwise. So unusual that I did not bother to check. In the bin I think.

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