Monday 21 July 2014

Retro Sweatpants ~ a Refashion...

Retro Sweatpants... made using a pattern by 'Elegance & Elephants' ~ Threading My Way

When my kids were young, I made all their track pants. They were a quick and easy garment to sew. Unfortunately, I no longer have the patterns I used to sew with. Not a problem, as there are so many patterns to be found online. I've recently come across several versions of Elegance & Elephants' Retro Sweatpants. Everyone had given the pattern a good write up and it's free, so I thought I'd give it a go.  

I was determined not to spend much money on these track pants and used a women's dress, which once belonged to the mother of a friend. There was enough fabric in the skirt of the dress, so, essentially, I'm just using the dress as fabric. I've kept the top half of the dress, but have no idea what I'll make with it.

Why on earth I thought this fabric would look good on track pants, I have no idea. Almost as soon as they were cut out, I knew they were not going to become a favourite. Never the less, I kept going.

Retro Sweatpants... made using a pattern by 'Elegance & Elephants' ~ Threading My Way

I don't like matching up stripes on woven fabric, so I'm not sure why I thought I'd try with a knit, but it worked. As you can see, the stripes are all pretty much aligned. Yay!!! Basically, I took my time matching the stripes at every step - before cutting, during cutting and sewing. And I reduced the presser foot pressure just a little. Amy has some good tips and links on how to match stripes in knit fabric

Retro Sweatpants... made using a pattern by 'Elegance & Elephants' ~ Threading My Way

As expected, the track pants came together very quickly. The pattern pieces were very easy to tape together and the instructions, clear and easy to follow. Details include in seam pockets, an elasticised waistband with optional drawstring ties and cuffs on the legs. If you've never sewn an in seam pocket, they really are very easy to do. I added an extra step by topstitching the pockets, but it's not necessary.

Knowing that Little Mister would probably not like the fabric, I didn't waist any of my ribbing making a cuff, instead I lengthened the pants and hemmed with a twin needle. I also omitted the drawstring in the waistband.

When I used to sew track pants and sweaters, I always used an overlocker (serger). Recently, I read somewhere that seams done just with a three thread overlocker are not strong enough, unless you do an extra row of stitching, but I didn't ever have any trouble with seams coming undone.

Never the less, I thought I'd try using a stretch stitch on my regular machine this time, instead of the overlocker. Given that I figured the pants were not going to be used much I decided to use them as an experiment and try something new.

After consulting my manual, I sewed the seams with the recommended stretch stitch, or so I thought. From the wrong side, the seams looked good and they stretched when pulled. Upon finishing and with the pants right side out, I could see that the stitches were 1/4" apart. I'd looked at the page for another model sewing machine and therefore chosen the wrong stitch... LOL!!! The one I chose was a 3 step zig zag (sewn out zig zag), for attaching elastic. Now that I've had another look at the manual, I can see there's quite a few stretch stitches to choose from.

Retro Sweatpants... made using a pattern by 'Elegance & Elephants' ~ Threading My Way

As I predicted, Little Mister is not at all keen on the pants. He loves the pockets though, just not the fabric. Actually, no one in the family likes that fabric. In retrospect, I think the fabric would have been better made into a sweater, which also had a lot of black. Little Mister was a good sport and did agree to a photo shoot, as long as he could watch TV at the same time. He said I could take the pants home with me... LOL!!!

Lesson learned - think carefully about fabric choices. The fact that a project costs next to nothing, doesn't mean it will be a success. Even though I know the pants will be worn rarely, if at all, I'm not at all worried. I've revisited stretch sewing, I have experimented with stitches on my machine and I've found a great track suit pattern. Next time I might choose black fabric. I don't think you can go wrong with black for a boy.

I'll be adding the retro sweatpants to the Sewing with Stretch Fabric link party, here at Threading My Way. If you've made a garment with knit fabric or have any stretch fabric sewing tips, I'd love you to add them to the collection.

... Pam


  1. Adorable! I love the stripes! Thanks for the link!

  2. I am a fan of stripes, so I like them. I usually sew knits with my regular machine, and I use a zig zag stitch, since mine is a bit basic and doesn't have a lot of stitches.

  3. I love the stripes! The solid pockets contrast looks great, too. I'm so jealous of your sewing skills. Everything looks so perfectly sewn.

  4. They are a really nice fit Pam.

    1. Yes, I'm really pleased with the fit, Sherry, and will be using the pattern again.

  5. You did really well matching those stripes Pam!

  6. Great job on those stripes Pam - thanks for sharing! :)

  7. The fit looks great, Pam! Even though he wasn't a fan of the fabric at least you know he likes the style.:)

  8. Very nice job! They look great. A great upcycle.


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