Let’s talk fabric and notions today.
In the pattern, I call for:
Medium weight woven fabrics such as cotton twill, chambray, denim, linen, linen blends, or wool blends. Directional prints such as plaid or stripes may require additional yardage.
So, let’s talk about the “ideal” fabrics. Ideally, they don’t have any stretch, and they have a bit of drape. Think sturdy, but not too thick. The skirt can handle some fairly light fabrics, a little bit heavier than quilting cotton. The pattern is easy-fitting and is not meant to be tight, so anything too heavy (like a really thick denim) can stand away from your body awkwardly–hence, wanting a little bit of drape.
[When I talk about a fabric’s drape, imagine holding the fabric up by one corner. Does it all fall straight toward the floor in one line or does it stand out in a triangular shape? If you dropped it on the floor, would it all puddle flatly or would parts of it stand up? That is drape. A lot of drape means it is very slinky; little to no drape means it could potentially stand up by itself.]
Some people will want to crucify me for this…but, I actually used a high-quality (i.e. thick) quilting cotton for my blue skirt. For a casual skirt, it’s pretty perfect. I would recommend using it specifically for a wearable muslin, as it is sturdy and will give you a pretty realistic idea of the pattern’s fit (versus something like linen that will relax a lot). Just keep in mind that the fit will change slightly with a thicker or thinner fabric.
A medium weight cotton sateen would be very classy-looking. You could potentially use a lighter-weight cotton sateen and underline it.
Thicker cottons–like cotton twill–are closer to the “ideal” side. They are sturdy and will wear well. I made a coral pair using this fabric from Style Maker Fabrics. It sewed up beautifully, but has relaxed a lot (as a twill is prone to do–a run through the wash will help it recover, but I’ll keep this in mind for the next time I use it and just size down!).
I have also used a lighter weight chambray. It was too heavy to be shirting (would have been a great dress!), but it made a beautiful pair of lightweight shorts. The key here is finding something that’s too heavy for a shirting (7+ oz)
The key to denims for this pattern is to stick to something lighter in weight (7-9oz). As I mentioned above, anything too thick or rigid has the potential to stand away from your body and look very boxy. That being said, you could potentially size down and/or alter the pattern to be slightly more fitted, and a more rigid denim would then be appropriate.
Linen and linen blends are great for this pattern. They produce a breezy summer short or skirt that’s going to be ideal in warm temperatures. It’s also beautiful. It will relax a lot, so take that into account when choosing sizing (we’ll talk more about that next week!).
Wool, wool blends and suitings would produce a really classy pair of shorts or skirt. If you’re going for dressed-up, this would be a great place to start. Thicker silks would also be really beautiful.
Seersucker, technical fabrics, etc. They can be done–just know your fabric. Seersucker, for example, would need to be underlined to make it sturdy (and opaque) enough. I have made a pair using SUPPLEX® Nylon and I really love them. Since it is water-resistant, they are the perfect camping/hiking/beach shorts. There is no “give” to nylon, so they hold their shape very, very well.
If you’re having trouble visualizing ANY of this, just pick up your favorite pair of store-bought shorts or skirt. Go to the store and feel what kind of fabrics they’re using. It can be hard to find the right fabrics online, so I recommend shopping locally as much as possible. If that isn’t possible, try to work with a small business online–tell them what you’re needing, send them the link to this post, and ask them what would be best!
In the pattern, I call for:
- Thread (matching or contrast–this is up to you!)
- One 6“+ plastic coil zipper (we’ll be trimming off extra length at the end, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s longer. It DOES matter that it has a stop at the top, so don’t use–or re-use–something that doesn’t have stops)
- One hook-and-bar closure OR one 3/4” button (for waistband closure)
- Optional: Two 5/8” buttons if doing back pocket flaps
- 1/8-yard fusible interfacing
- Optional: If you choose to finish the waistband facing and fly shield with bias binding, you will need 1/4“ -wide double fold bias tape equal to your hip measurement + 6 inches
These items are all pretty straight-forward and self-explanatory, so let me know if you have any questions!
I’ll be back next Monday to talk about different ways of customizing the pattern!
Psssst! Lindsey of Inside the Hem was one of my testers. While testing, she set off to find the “perfect” fabric for this pattern specifically, and this is what she came up with. (Email readers: this is an embedded video. You may have to open this post in your browser if it isn’t displaying correctly.)
Below you will find the list of links to each blog post in the sewalong. If you have any questions, absolutely feel free to e-mail me.
- Introducing the Chi-Town Chinos Sewing Pattern
- Introducing the Chi-Town Chinos Expansion Packs
- Chi-Town Chinos Tester Round-Up
- Chi-Town Chinos Expansion Pack Tester Round-Up
- Part 1 : Inspiration
- Part 2 : Supplies
- Part 3 : Customizing the Pattern
- Part 4 : Fitting + Finishing
- Part 5 : Prepwork
- Part 6 : Front Pockets
- Part 7 : Fly Front
- Part 8 : Back Assembly + Final Fitting
- Part 8.5 : Welt Pockets
- Part 9 : Waistband, Center Back Seam, Inseam, Side Seams
- Part 10 : Belt Loops, Bar Tacks, Hemming, Front Closure