A couple of weeks ago, I tried on some black and white wide-leg rayon pants in the store and loved them. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $40 for thin, cheap fabric and less than perfect pattern matching and construction though. Don’t we all do that? How many times do we leave things behind because we can “make it better ourselves”?
This time I actually did it. I ordered this black and white rayon crepe from Style Maker Fabrics. I know many bloggers regularly shop there and always highly recommend the shop. I actually emailed the owner to make sure this fabric would be heavy enough for pants before ordering. She emailed back a couple of options that would work well, including the one I had my eye on.
I looked at several patterns but in the end, I decided to hack a pattern I already own. I just needed a simple elastic waist pant pattern with a wide leg. I was wearing a pair of my linen Parkside Shorts earlier this week and realized that I could definitely hack the Parkside Shorts pattern. I already knew it fit and I could easily extend the length!
I did some quick calculations and ordered 2 1/2 yds. of fabric. If you are considering ordering rayon crepe, be aware that it shrinks a lot! I lost 12″ in length and 8″ in width. I expected some shrinkage. I always wash rayon, even though it’s prone to shrinking. I don’t have time to hand wash all of my clothes, so I just wash them on delicate and tumble dry on low. This material really crinkles up a lot though.
After washing, I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit my pattern pieces on the fabric anymore. I had planned to place the pant legs side by side, but losing the width made that impossible. I bought enough extra to stagger the legs, placing the wide part next to a narrower part but that wasn’t working either. And I didn’t have enough to place them end to end.
Then I remembered a top I made earlier this year with rayon crepe. I left it crinkled and cut the pattern pieces like that. The top ended up being much too big.
So I decided to try ironing the fabric to see if I could stretch it back out. I gained 4″ in width, which was almost enough to squeeze my pieces across. To save a little more fabric, I taped the front and back pant leg pieces together overlapping the seam allowances to create one seamless pant leg piece. That gave me the last inch I needed to make it fit on the fabric! (I made a medium, so if you are a small or x-small you should be able to get away with 2 yds. of fabric.) – See the end of the post for an update about what happened after washing…
I definitely appreciated not having to match stripes on the outer leg seams, but I did lose the pockets I was planning to add. I think pockets may have been too heavy anyway, so the trade-off worked out. Plus, ironing out the crinkles was a good call for a better fit.
Other than creating one pattern piece and eliminating the side seam and pocket, the other change I made was to add length. I measured a 34″ inseam and cut straight down from the existing side seams on the shorts. That’s it! I had more than enough length to create a 2″ hem at the end.
I constructed the pants with french seams to keep the rayon from fraying everywhere. Without pockets, it’s really just sewing the crotch seams, the inside leg seams, and the waistband. It didn’t take very long to sew these together.
The only thing I would do differently is straighten out the back waist seam. It’s drafted at an angle, which is fine for solid fabric. On the striped fabric, it creates little chevrons across the backside instead of straight horizontal stripes like the rest of the pants. I don’t think it’s too noticeable now, but I did alter the back seam slightly after sewing it to make the effect more subtle.
The pants are super comfortable, but taking photos made me feel like they might not be that flattering. I’m used to wearing more fitted clothes. These make me feel very conspicuous….like I’m wearing pajamas. I’m sure I’ll still wear them. I just need to work out the best way to style them…
UPDATE: So…ironing the fabric was not the right call. One wash and the pants are at least two sizes smaller. The waist still fits, but the pants are a few inches too short and way too clingy now. I think I will save them for my preteen daughter. They should fit her next year, so it’s not a total loss!
Tips for rayon crepe anyone? The time I didn’t iron, the garment was too big. When I did iron, it was too small. How do you prep your fabric?