When I told Darling Husband my plans to sew the Named Ruri sweatpants, he had a good giggle. First, because I described my vision for “fancy SUEDED scuba sweatpants,” which does sound kinda corny.
Second, he chuckled over an inside joke we share. We’re both fans of the comic strip “F Minus” and particularly this comic about alternate names for sweatpants. Ridiculous, right? Maybe that’s why sweatpants have re-branded themselves as “joggers.”
Anyhoo, I made sueded scuba sweatpants with shiny snaps at the cuffs and I think they’re chic, in spite of some waistband drama and lint. Read on for all the deets, sewing party people!
Why I Sewed the Named Ruri Sweatpants
The December installment of Project #SewMyStyle 2017 called for sewing a pattern from Named’s Earth Science collection. The Beryl bomber dress caught my eye, but it doesn’t work for my stay-at-home parent lifestyle.
The Ruri sweatpants, though, would be a great addition to my wardrobe. I didn’t have any “smart casual” knit pants. Plus, the pattern looked simple, and after all the work that went into my By Hand London Anna dress, I was ready for simple.
Fabric and Construction Details
The fabric is sueded scuba — yes, that’s a thing — from Jo-Ann. I had a vision of luxe sweatpants, and when I spotted this bolt, I knew I was in business. I had a good time sewing my Victory Patterns Jackie dress in scuba; I figured it was time for more scuba fun.
To fine tune the fit of the Named Ruri Sweatpants, I used the Hampshire trousers pattern. I compared the patterns’ crotch curves and leg lengths and adjusted Ruri as needed.
There’s always something in every sewing project that
kicks my butt teaches me a lesson. This time, it was the waistband.
The Named Ruri sweatpants feature an elasticized back waist to keep one’s pants up. Goodness gracious, did I have A TIME sewing with that elastic.
The pattern calls for 1 3/4-inch elastic. The best I could find was 1 1/2-inch soft waistband elastic (affiliate link). The elastic is velvety on both sides and would be great for pull-on skirts; the elastic doesn’t need to be encased to be comfortable against the skin.
I had a rough time stretching the elastic to meet the length of the waistband fabric. It’s strong elastic that takes a bit of muscle to stretch, which means I was at risk for over-stretching my fabric when I sewed the fabric and elastic at the same time.
And then there’s the thickness factor. Sewing through two layers of medium-thick knit AND a thick elastic wasn’t a cakewalk for my presser foot and feed dogs. Woof.
As such, when I stitched in the ditch at the side seam to secure the elastic, I missed the ditch. This is what happens when you’re stretching and
shoving guiding thick fabric in a tight space. You feel me, yes?
The pattern calls for two lines of parallel stitching across the elasticized back. After the ditch-stitching ugliness, I concluded that I wasn’t up for that fight. I wasn’t confident I could make one row of stitching look nice, let alone two. The omission is a design feature, wink wink.
The worst of the waistband drama came when I sewed the band to the pants. Sewing the unelasticized front went fine, as you might have expected. When It came to sewing the elasticized back… egads. I fought that elastic, guys. It was an epic battle.
In the end, the side seams of the waistband and the pants were not aligned (maybe off a quarter inch). The worst part, though, is the front waistband is loosey goosey around the front of my midsection.
All of this indicates I was too rough with the elastic and I stretched out the fabric as I was sewing. Bummer.
Interlude: Then I Got a Serger
During this sewing project, I got a serger. I didn’t get it because of this project; it was a coincidence.
I was at the sewing machine store (to buy stretch twin needles (affiliate link) FWIW), and I had a heart to heart with an employee about sewing knits. The sewing machine store is basically the only place I can have an in-person conversation with other sewists; this doesn’t happen at Jo-Ann.
(Sidebar: I once bought a bolt of muslin at Jo-Ann, and the cutting counter employee asked me what I was going to make with it. I answered, “Muslins.” She clearly didn’t know what I was talking about, so I changed my answer: “Test garments, for when I’m figuring out fit and techniques.” You don’t need to be a garment sewist to cut fabric, I know, but C’MON. I’m probably asking for too much.)
ANYHOO, BACK TO THE SEWING MACHINE STORE. The clerk told me something I already knew: “If you sew a lot of knits, it’s probably time to get a serger.”
So, after I some research, a serger test drive, and a few days to think about spending a sizable chunk of change on a fancy-schmancy sewing machine, I got a Baby Lock Imagine as an early Christmas present. Thank you, Santa Claus!
What does the serger story have to do with the sweatpants? Well, I wasn’t happy with the waistband. To me, it looked goofy enough where I didn’t want it to show when I wore the joggers.
So I unpicked the waistband and serged it instead. (Also, I was hot to use my serger; can you blame me?)
Serging marginally improved the looseness, but now I had a different issue: I sewed the waistband inside out. The understitched inner side now faced outward. D’OH.
Waistband Lessons Learned
My elastic was too beefy. I played around with different elastic in my stash AFTER the project, and the soft waistband elastic is aggressive stuff. It’s a super-tight knit, which means the needle has to fight a bit more to sneak through.
I also should have used my left hand BEHIND the needle to steady the waistband. When I first started sewing, I constantly fought the urge to pull fabric from the back of the machine. It takes a few clicks to learn to let the machine move the fabric for you. But when you need to stretch elastic so layers of fabric pass flatly under the needle, it’s OK to call up that left hand. (Hey, is this different for lefty sewists? I’m a righty, so I steer fabric with my right hand.)
Oh yeah, my final lesson is: Make sure you’re sewing together the correct sides!
Following are Amazon affiliate links chosen for you! If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
- Fiskars 45mm Contour Rotary Cutter $9.79 – A sharp rotary blade cuts through scuba (and most everything) like BUTTAH!
- Fiskars 45mm Rotary Cutter Blades 5 Piece Per Pack $10.51 – If you had a rotary cutter, it’d be shame to run out of blades.
- OLFA 24″ x 36″ Double-Sided, Self-Healing Rotary Mat $38.32 – The bigger the cutting mat, the happier the sewist ← proven by science!
- Dritz Heavy Duty Snaps Size 24-5/8″-7 Ct in Antique Brass $10.31, Copper $8.44, Gunmetal $10.08, Nickel $10.32 – So many different metals, so little time. (Plus, it’s fun to install snaps! Oooh, hammers!)
- Woolly Nylon Thread 1000 Meters in White $6.29, Charcoal $6.69 – Real talk: Woolly Nylon thread is the stuff of DREAMS when it comes to sewing knits. Make your bobbin happy today.
- Schmetz 1774 Twin Stretch Machine Needle Size 2.5/75 1ct $5.38 – Don’t sew a knit hem without a stretch twin needle!
- adidas Originals Women’s Stan Smith W Fashion Sneaker $33.95 – $299.98 – These are the kicks I’m wearing in my photos, and I love them!
- McCall’s Pattern M7610 Misses’ Pullover Tops with Back Variations and Pull-On Shorts and Pants with Elastic Waist, Size XS-M $11.75, Size L-XXL $11.89 – This sweatpants (and more!) pattern has five-star reviews over at PatternReview.com.
What I Like About the Ruri Sweatpants
Faux fly: The faux fly is a nice touch. The directions for it were great, and my fly looks excellent.
Pockets: The pockets add visual interest. Functionally, they’re like in-seam pockets, but the rounded corners have a jeans-pocket vibe.
Secret pajamas: They’re sweatpants that don’t look like sweatpants. #winning
Warmth: This sueded scuba is 100 percent polyester, and thick-ish poly at that, which means these pants are warm, warm, warm. I need all the comfy, warm pants I can get.
Snaps: I didn’t realize how much I looooved the snaps (affiliate link) at the cuffs until they were installed! So unusual! So chic! I adore how the snaps pull fabric to the front in a gentle fold. (BTW I don’t have to unsnap the snaps to get the sweats on and off. BONUS.)
What Could Be Better
Pockets: In practice, the pockets don’t stay smooth across the opening. They bunch horribly and make me look hippy/lumpy. I constantly stick my hands inside the pockets to flatten them. If I were to make this pattern again, I’d stick with plain in-seam pockets.
Fabric: The sueded scuba looks cool… but it attracts lint, crumbs, fuzz, cat fur, etc. like MAD. I spend a lot of time on the floor playing with my sons, so when I wear these sweatpants, I feel like I cleaned the floor with my butt. Gross.
Side seams: The waistband side seam and the pants side seam don’t align (see: Waistband Drama above). But I’m still not crazy about the transition between the unelasticized front and the elasticized back. It’s somehow not… balanced? See what I mean in the photo? If I were to make another pair of Ruris, I would make the whole waistband elastic.
Styling: So far, this is the only way I’ve been happy styling these sweatpants: with a denim shirt (affiliate link) that covers the waistband. The combo of woven top-knit pant keeps the sweatpants from looking too casual. I don’t have another woven shirt that works with the Ruri pants, so I fear I’ve sewn a closet orphan.
That’s enough sweatpants talk today. What do you make of sueded scuba? Have you made a garment that attracted fuzz and other floor nasties? What’s your fave “smart casual” knit pants pattern? Please sound off in comments! Thanks for reading!
P.S. Here’s the previous post: 2017: A Sewing Year in Review (Plus What’s New in 2018). I share how I did on my 2017 goals and what I’m gunning for in 2018.
P.P.S. For the last time, here are the other Project #SewMyStyle makes for the 2017 challenge:
January: Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater #2: The stylish sweatshirt
February: Named Saunio Cardigan: Harder than it looks
March: Becoming a (Manila) leggings person for Project #SewMyStyle
April: Bridgetown backless, the forever dress
May: Cali Faye Collection Pocket skirt + How to use basting tape like a pro
June: Mom status: Effortlessly cool in a Megan Nielsen Briar top
July: Cali Faye Valley blouse pattern hack: A mini muumuu with no regrets
August: A Modern Darling Ranges Shirt Dress: Megan Nielsen Pattern Review
September: Yona Coat: Proud as a Peacock
October: Sewing Pants, Part 3: A Completed Pair of Hampshire Trousers
November: By Hand London Anna Dress: A Liberty-Feathered Frock
P.P.P.S. ICYMI, I collected all three of my pants-fitting series on one page for YOUR enjoyment: Sewing Pants That Fit: A 3-Part Series. The page gives a high-level overview of each of the three posts.