You’ve decided you want to make a new pair of pants. You know the general style you want, but have not yet limited yourself to one pattern. Of course, if you have a successful fit pattern (sloper), then you can apply whatever styling you want to that pattern. Let’s start with four general categories of pants patterns: Tailored trouser, Unstructured Pant, Combined, Jeans. Now to choose the fabric. First, knowing fabric characteristics is key. Being able to feel the actual hand of the fabric is ideal, but it is not necessary if you know fiber characteristics and weave qualities. I’ve chosen a few fabrics to illustrate the process.
This fabrication is available in three colors… a plus if you like the fabric or if you have a specific color in mind. The content is 58% rayon / 40% wool / 2% elastic and it is described as a fine basketweave. With this knowledge you can deduce that slightly more than half of the make-up of the fabric will be drapey with perhaps a slight lustre; the remainder will be more stable and will handle easily on the machine or the ironing board. From the photo you can imply that it is probably full-bodied, rather than flimsy, a classic fabrication rather than a novelty. So far, you’ve eliminated jeans for this fabric because of the drape which is not desirable for a fitted pant. You can still consider some unstructured patterns, although if the look requires full drape, this fabric will not do. So this fabric would work best for tailored or slightly structured pants patterns.
This 100% wool is suitable for tailored pants. From the content and the description, you can surmise that this is a stable fabric with a slight surface texture. There is no indication that this fabric will fall softly enough for unstructured pants such as elastic waist or those with drapey design details. It does not have the pliability for a close fitting jean style, so tailored trousers with constructed details would be the best choice for this fabric.
An obvious choice for jeans style pants. With the denim description and your knowledge of cotton twill, this fabric will do just fine for traditional jeans. But you can use it for certain trouser pants also. Consider the fact that this fabric has stretch and is described as suitable for trousers also. Often you do not have all the information you would like such as the weight of the fabric. Look for indicators in the copy such as light, mid or heavy weight. Consider what will happen to a denim when washed several times…it begins to soften just a bit, making it more pliable for trousers, but still sturdy for five pocket jeans.
This soft and drapey silk herringbone is a good example of a fabric that works best with light structuring. Although a combined look of slightly structured pants would work, so would a completely fluid pant that falls softly from the waist or high hip. Be sure to consider carefully diagonal details as the herringbone weave will determine the look of the drape.