You know I try to be really honest about my sewing mistakes, so I feel I must tell you this little cautionary tale about always paying attention to the stretch percentage of your denim. You may have noticed that when I suggest stretch denims for the Ash jeans I not only recommend a fabric content to look for, but also to always test the stretch percentage before you sew to make sure it stretches enough – regardless of whether the fabric content seems right.
That’s because I learnt the hard way that the percentage of spandex/lycra/elastane doesn’t necessarily equate to the appropriate level of stretchiness across denims.
I have been on the hunt for the perfect pair of black skinny jeans for quite some time, so while i was developing the Ash jeans it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make some. I ordered a beautiful black denim from MRecht that had 2% spandex, and just started sewing. I had already sewn a lot of Ash jeans at this point, and a lot of denim from MRecht so i didn’t both baste fitting, and didn’t bother checking the stretch percentage of the fabric, nothing. I just finished the whole pair, down to rivets and possibly the best topstitching i’ve ever done. I went to put them on and… couldn’t get them past my thighs.
Is there anything worse than the feeling when you get stuck halfway into trying something that doesn’t fit?
At that point i realised something horrible had gone wrong. I went back to the pattern, yup I cut the correct size. I checked the specs and the finished garment measurements were right. Only then did i check the stretch percentage.
It was less than 5%. I wouldn’t even class that as a stretch denim. I made an entire pair of jeans in fabric with stretch content and they didn’t stretch enough. I was devastated.
This epic failure taught me to pay careful attention to stretch percentage – and I’ve found that stretch percentage across denims with the exact same percentage of spandex/lycra/elastane can vary wildly!
I always think that a mistake is worth it if you learn from it – so here is a lesson I learnt the hard way so that you don’t have to – always ALWAYS check the stretch percentage of your denim before you sew with it, even if the content is appropriate for a stretch denim. If you need some help calculating stretch percentage, you can always check out this post and download our stretch percentage ruler.