• Londa

Refinements on One Seam Sweat Pants

Sweat pant, Jogging Pant, PJ Pant - whatever you want to call them, if you're making out of a knit that creates any amount of BULK, these are some 'refinements' that will improve your garment AND make the sewing a bit more fun and different!

The pant shown below is for my almost 16 year-old grandson - something wam and cozy to wear around the house - AND these days, at home 'virtual' high school. Drawstring and elastic plus slim leg and cuffs all defined features. OK... 'Nana on call'

I found this nice lofty double knit - kinda thermal in nature, at JoAnn Fabrics. I held it up to myself and bought twice the length I would need. Of course, I pre-washed the fabric!!!

Having PLENTY of patterns on hand, but none with a slim leg - I opted for this old Simplicity 8022 (discontinued) one-seam pant. That makes sewing easy, but narrowing the leg a bit more challenging

From back during my retail shop days and the infamous 'One Seam Pant' classes I offered, I remembered that slashing the pattern 5 times, and overlapping was the way to narrow the leg.

Realize...without side seams, to just narrow at the inseams wouldn't really 'work'.

I had measurements of his favorite pants on hand from my NON-sewing daughter, so that helped. Those measurements included:

*Waistband at rest

* Inseam length

* Side Seam length

* Front Crotch length

* Back Crotch length

* Total width at hip - at crotch point

* Circumference at lower leg - of the band at the ankle, and the width of that band.

So - I slashed the pattern as shown applying the measurements I'd been given. Note that at the waistline edge, doing the slashing makes the center 'bow' upwards. With the crotch length info applied, you can see by the straightedge at the top, where I cut the top edge - allowing 1.5" at the top for a turn-down casing.

To change to having a 3" wide cuff at the ankle, I cut off 2.5" above the HEMLINE - 1/2" seam allowance allotted for.


The days of pressed open seam allowances are long gone - but that means lots of bulk to deal with, especially when sewing with knit fabrics. In addition, finishing edges with a serger generally finishes the seam allowances TOGETHER and pressed one direction. Therefore....

note the following to BALANCE the BULK.

Wherever the fabric will fold on itself (the waistline casing), or where stitching layers together (cuffs), this bulk is the challenge.

The above photo is of the upper waistline edge. The crotch seams have been sewn and serged. The uppermost edge of the pant has been serged as this fabric was far too heavy to turn under for finishing.

CLIP the seam allowance at the FOLD of the upper casing, and send the seam allowance in opposite directions.

Having done that, you can see in the photo above that when you match the seamLINE, the bulk is then going in opposite directions - BALANCING the bulk!


A drawstring calls for a buttonhole on both sides of the center front seam in the Front of the pant, in front of the turned under casing. Since this fabric was a stretchy knit, I knew I needed to STABILIZE that area - so I grabbed some wide grosgrain ribbon and stitched it in place down the center.

I selected a stretchy 'knit' buttonhole and worked small ones as shown. Nope - they are not Perfect, and I even ripped (from the wrong side) and did one of them twice. Unless I showed you the backside, you'd never know that they aren't perfect. Honestly, I find giving my students permission to NOT be perfect is one of my roles as a sewing instructor. I know for a fact that many have given up on sewing due to teachers insisting on perfection. I decided years ago, that if the end result was good, perfection was not a necessity. That philosopy has served me well. Do some thinking about that.....

You'll also notice that my serging is 3 thread (one needle, not two). I see serging as finishing, not constructing. I sew, then serge. Saves on thread at the serger. I just feel that I have more control to seam edges at the sewing machine than at the serger. If I were constructing with the serger, I would use 4 threads. However, I do not personally like the 'pull apart' look on the outside of serged seams - thus why I construct with a sewing machine. I share this and much more about sewing knits in my 3 disc DVD: Stretching Your Knit Sewing Know-How. This is at CLOSE-OUT pricing and can be found HERE. In a hurry to learn all about sewing with knits? I offer my DVD by DOWNLOAD as well. Find that HERE.

Note how the buttonholes look from the outside. The 'pink' Frixion pen disappears with heat.


I did some thinking regarding the drawstring - and decided to create a 'channel' out of a lightweight knit scrap from my stash. This is a 1" wide cross-grain strip. See how I stitched it to the garment side of the casing area in the picture below. I could as well have stitched it to the turn-down casing side, but I decided I would like the end look of the stitching of this casing showing on the outside of the pant. I've added below a picture in the middle of how it looks on the outside. Note I added my label in the back casing stitching.


The ready-to-wear pants I checked out that had drawstrings ALSO had elastic, so I added 1" wide elastic as well. In the last photo above, you can see that I am using one of my favorite machine accessories. This Seam Guide hides in many accessory packages never to see the light of day! GET IT OUT and USE IT! In the picture, you can see that I've allowed plenty of width in the stitching of the lowermost edge of the casing for the elastic to 'ride'. Using the Seam Guide easily helps me stitch the casing down (leaving a hole into which to enter and exit the elastic).

Nothing beats a good old BIG safety pin for guiding elastic through a casing. One of these BIG SAFETY PINS is at each of the sewing station baskets here at my Sewing Studio. Note how I guide the pin in and out of the elastic several times rather than just once. This habit ensures that the pin won't tear away from the elastic.


Note in the 2nd and 3rd photos above, that I BUTT the elastic ends rather than overlapping them - thus again reducing BULK. I learned this trick years ago from Nancy Zieman - Sewing with Nancy. I think it makes SEW much sense! A piece of that yellow grosgrain ribbon worked great as the 'backing' for this stitching.


First, selecting the cording took some looking around at JoAnn Fabrics! The first cording I found on a bolt was WAY too stiff, so I kept looking and found the perfect cord on a tiny bolt in the sale stuff. Even a ribbon would work better than cording that is too stiff, so be careful with what you select. The construction of this cording made it clear that pinning to the end of it would NOT work, but the circle at the end of the safety pin was perfect! See the 1st picture below. Darned if it didn't come un-threaded when I was about 3" from the front, so the hook of the Loop Turner came to the rescue to stick into the knit channel, grab the end and pull it out - seen in the middle photo below. That tool comes in SUPER handy - I keep several on a hook in my Sewing Studio!


Managing the bulk enters in once again. In the first photo below, note that I have trimmed half of the depth of the 'cuff to a lesser width - thus 'grading' the seam allowance. See in the 2nd photo below how the cuff edge looks when it is folded in half - and that what I did in the 1st step reduces or GRADES the bulk. I always consider the wider seam allowance the 'front' or 'public' side of that piece. Note in the 3rd photo below, that I'm stitching 'inside the tube' as with even the free arm on sewing machines, alot of times even that is too big to get some of these narrow 'circles' around. I quartered both the lower Leg edge and the Cuff edge, matching them to distribute the additional 1.5" width of the pant leg into the Cuff. I think all worked out quite well.

I made a 'Slouchy Beanie' to match for dear Grandson. I'll add photos of this gift after the giving...

Meanwhile ... I hope in my sharing these techniques, that it might have brought some learning your way.

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