Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crafty Mamas ZEN pants sew-a-long! Part 1 Cutting out

I hope by now everyone has their copy of our fab new pattern??
  Grab a paper or pdf ZEN pants now!
 Pdf available immediately!

I love this pattern! In 3 lengths - full, capri or shorts, AND with an optional over skirt!

ZEN pants is in ladies sizes XS-XXXL.

I thought I would start our Sew-along with a bit of  sewing with knits basics!

The ZEN pants are designed for knits, the pants require a knit with at least 20% stretch factor*, the waistband are best suited to a knit that has lycra/spandex/elastomeric in it. As the waistband has no elastic threaded through them, you are relying on a lovely tight yoga band or regular waistband to keep your ZEN pants up! ( *find out the stretch factor of your fabric chart at bottom here).
Our cotton/elastomeric knits are perfect for your waistbands.  Be adventurous with your pants, try velour knit, jersey, interlocks, have fun with them- try different knits!

If you are new to sewing with knits- don't be scared, I'll hold your hand all the way. I think the #1 comment I get from customers is " I love all your groovy knits- but am too scared to try sewing with them!" .
My honest advice? Just jump on in. We all make mistakes and in fact, mistakes are good- how else do we learn?? 

Facts about sewing with knits:

Knits are forgiving. They are on your side! You can manipulate them a little to get them to line up!

Knits need to be washed and ironed  before you use them; or else you run the risk of your beautiful garment shrinking. Mostly they shrink lengthwise- rather than width wise.  

You CAN sew knits without an overlocker/serger. Grab your sewing machine manual, and look for any specific stretch stitches your machine may have.  Why does a normal straight stitch not cut it? The movement knit fabrics experience cause the straight stitches to pop.

Some stretch/jersey stitches your machine may have: 

 Image source:

For hemming, use a stitch that will still allow your garment to s-t-r-e-t-c-h or you will get
popped stitches. A triple stitch, a serpentine ( 3 step zig zag) , or use a stretch twin needle to
great effect too. Or don't hem; just leave and as knits do not fray, they will gently roll over- which I think looks pretty cool.

You are going to need some stretch sewing or ballpoint sewing machine needles. Ballpoint needles are designed to prevent making holes in knits as you sew as by actually sliding inbetween the fibres cool huh?
If you used sharp needle it would cut the fibres and leave holes.

Threads magazines recommend using ballpoint needles on heavier, looser sweater types knits while a specific stretch needle is better for spandex/lyccra fabrics. But I suggest trying both and see which works best on your particular knit. If you get skipped stitches try the other. Use good quality cotton/poly thread ( can't beat Gutterman). 

When pre-washing, wash colours with like- as new fabrics may have colours run still.

When cutting out, ensure you have the greatest stretch running around the body, and that the
fabric is resting flat on the surface ie; not hanging off a table, that may distort your cutting.

Some knits with spandex can experience rolling along the selvage, which is jolly well annoying
when you are cutting out your pattern pieces. Carefully trim off the selvage and your fabric will sit flat.

More good info to be found HERE.


The ZEN pants have a 1cm seam allowance included and a 2cm hem allowance already included.

You will need to cut 2 x pants back , 2 x pants front and 1 x skirt front on the fold, and 1 x skirt back on the fold. If using a directional print or knit with nap (ie;; velour) make sure you run your pieces the same way.

Once you have cut out your pieces, I like to :

1. Make two small double notches in the centre front ( in the seam allowance) of the pants fronts and skirt front.
2. Make a single notch in the centre back of the pants  backs and skirt back.

Just to keep us organised as we go!

And to cut our waistband strip, I am doing a regular one here, not the yoga style.

 So now you have all your pieces cut ! Next we'll start sewing!!

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Crafty Mamas SHOP blog. Aussie agent for Farbenmix, Studio Tantrum, Stenzo fabric, Ottobre design. Stocking Hilco fabric, Mamu design and other cool stuff!