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Choosing the right fabric: Clover


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The Clover pants are a great wardrobe staple. While you can make them up in some great basic colors such as navy, black and khaki, think of all the fun colors for fall!

Fabric drape

Since these are very fitted pants you’ll need a medium weight fabric with a slightly stiff drape. Stay away from fabric you’d use for making a shirt as that’ll be too light. If you use a heavy weight fabric, you need to make sure you cut away much of the seam allowance to keep the bulk at a minimum.

If you have a fabric you think might work, try draping it around your legs to see if it will work for fitted pants. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this fabric wrinkle too much? Fabrics that are too light will tend to show every bend in your leg, whereas stiffer fabrics will maintain their shape better.
  • Will it show my undies? Again, thinner fabrics will show every line underneath.
  • Does it look like leggings? We find this a good question to ask yourself with these pants. If the fabric is too drapey, these fitted pants will look more like leggings than trousers.

If you have a fabric that you love but seems a little too light or drapey, you can even try underlining them with a stiffer fabric! Sarai is going to share how she’s using this technique for a pair she’s sewing for the Fall Palette Challenge.


This pattern calls for fabric with 1-3% lycra (AKA spandex). This isn’t because the pants have negative ease (i.e. smaller than your body measurements). It’s because they are very fitted, and the little bit of stretch makes them more comfortable, especially when bending the knee. So just a teeny bit of stretch will make a big difference in comfort.

When choosing fabric with stretch, check the label, you generally don’t want more than 5% lycra or you risk the “leggings look.”

Types of fabric

There are so many types of fabric that work for this pattern: corduroy, wool gabardine, wool blends, stretch cotton twill, cotton sateen, silk dupioni and lightweight denim. Oh, did you see that? I said lightweight denim. That’s because denim is usually pretty thick. Choose something light with stretch if you go the denim route.


  • try a contrasting waistband for a color blocked look
  • use a bold fabric for days when you feel like bursting out in color
  • try a great plaid fabric (carefully matching up the plaid)
  • go all out and make them with stretch silk dupioni or twill, real fancy pants!

Are you planning to make the pants, and if so, what fabric are you planning on?

Some related posts you may be interested in:

Caitlin Clark   —  

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.

Comments 28

Ms. Cleaver

For my first pair, I’m making them in kelly green twill!


Oh my gosh, that sounds SO cute! I really like kelly green with white and/or navy.


I got some really fantastic lightweight wool at a fabric sale this past weekend, but it doesn’t really seem to have any stretch to it. Is that a dealbreaker? Can the pattern be modified to account for that?


You could try a muslin and see what you think, but they really are extremely fitted, so a lack of stretch would make them less comfortable and harder to move around in.

Claire (aka Seemane)

Great post! Especially liked the tips to make these trousers not look like leggings LOL!

P.S. For anyone fabric shopping Elastane is another name that Lycra (aka Spandex) goes by too :)


I’m going with denim for my first pair. I really want a coral pair too as i had a pair like that when I was a kid, but I cant find any fabric that fits the bill!


I want a coral pair too! I think I’ll leave that for the warmer months, and do the shorter version, unless I find the perfect wool somehow.


Heather charcoal wool/lycra flannel! It’s so beautiful but it is itchy. Can I line the pants? Does the lining have to be stretchy too?


I’m making a pair right now and underlining them. Yes, I’d recommend a stretch lining if you plan to line (or underline).


A post about fancy pants – this made my day! :-)


I got a great deal on a 98% wool/2% lycra blend at, they are having a major fall sale right now. I also got a 98% cotton/2% lycra black sateen. The only issue now, which to make first?


Excellent tips, you can get some great deals there.


The pattern just arrived yesterday and I’m elated how simple the pattern looks (I’m just finishing up a pair of very complicated pants – pockets, front fly, belt loops, and so on), so now I can pour my energy into fit and details! So simple, so full of possibility :)

Trying to sew my way through my stash, so I’m going to try my first pair in a stiff navy twill, though I’m pretty sure it has a wee bit more than the recommended stretch, but I’ll survive if it has that legging look. I’m thinking a contrast facing with piping on the waistband (thanks for the tute!).


I know… I’m making some right now (finishing them up in just a few minutes, in fact) and they are so so easy and quick to sew. I already have two fabrics picked out and I can’t wait to shop for more because I am going to be wearing these pants A LOT.

Jane W.

I definitely plan to make these, but likely not until November (please keep the sew-a-long up!). October will be devoted to my daughter’s parrot costume.

Would these work in stretch denim, or would that be too heavy?


Don’t worry, the sewalong will stay up!

Stretch denim should be fine, just choose something that isn’t too heavy. You also might want to think about doing a heavier duty zipper (like a metal zip), rather than the invisible zipper the pattern calls for.


Great tips – I think people generally really struggle with fabric choices – this is great!


Two questions: Can these pants fit the larger figure and still look good? And, can the zipper be moved to the front from the side? I am large busted and size zippers are usually difficult for me to use.


Oops. Please disregard my question. I didn’t look closely enough at the pattern. :-)

Jesse Lu

So, with the topic of choosing fabric up for discussion, I thought I’d pose a related question. I just moved from San Francisco, Land of Many Fabrics, to Albuquerque New Mexico, Land of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (about fabric). It looks like I am going to have to rely on my trusty internet connection and FedEx. Do you have any recommendations for great fabric stores online? I am having the darndest time finding a good selection? (This might be a good post topic. ::wink wink::)

Laura Isabel

I cannot wait to make these pants. I am considering a pair in a dark brown stretch wool and a teal and black herringbone wool (stretch also). I definitely want a pair that have some texture. I’m so glad you are having a sew along. I’ve never made pants before and actually struggled with my sorbetto (fit issues) if that is possible. But I’m game. Mood actually has some really nice suiting that is not overly expensive.


Do you think a double knit would work? has some 2% lycra doubleknit in really pretty colors… Thanks!


How about stretch poplin, would that be the same as using stretch twill? My store only had the poplin with Spandex.


I have a heavyweight double knit laying around at home. Can I use that?


I trying really hard to pare down my fabric stash before dashing out to get new stuff! I have a few yards of a 25% wool/75% cashmere–but I don’t think it has any lycra in it. Do you think this will work? Can I just make the pants a bit more straight out of the knee? Thanks!


I have coral colored denim from the Garment District, it seems perfect, I know it has a bit of stretch because the frayed edges have elastic thread like strings, but not sure how much?

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