I’m excited to share a really fun pair of trousers with you today!
I’ve secretly been working with Spoonflower to share my thoughts on their latest fabric addition, Dogwood Denim™. I’m sure you’ve heard of them but if not: Spoonflower does print-on-demand, eco-friendly digital printing on fabric. They have thousands of designs to choose from, and a bunch of types of fabric for different applications.
When I first chatted with Spoonflower, I initially felt a little hesitant about testing out printed denim. Was that going to look totally 80s? All I could picture in my head was splatter painted white denim pants. If you lived through the 80s, you know what I’m talking about.
Then it dawned on me… denim is a twill weave, and a print on a twill weave might just look like…. any print on any twill weave! But a nice and sturdy version, since it’s bull denim and 11.6 oz per square yard. That’s pretty hefty. For reference, the Morgan jeans I made Mel are 12.5 oz Cone Mill denim.
And guess what? I was right! No 80s vibe here, these look and feel like a trouser in a nice and beefy cotton twill. Just what I was hoping for. This print is called Tiki Beads 1b by designer Michael Uhlenkott. And it’s amazing! A few shades of brown, from deep deep chocolate to tan, plus a bright turquoise and teal.
So was it a bit of a wacky idea to choose a slim fitting trouser to pair with a heavy weight fabric? Maybe. Do I regret it? Nope! These are quite comfortable to wear.
But what if you’re shy about working with heavier fabrics? To correspond with my project, I did a separate blog post today for Spoonflower giving some of my top tips for working with heavy weight fabrics! 🙂
Anyway, I used a vintage trouser pattern that I’ve sewn and modified extensively before, Simplicity 4401 (including my denim pedal pushers, tropical seersucker capris, and red twill pants). But all you’d need to achieve a similar look is a slim fitting trouser pattern that’s either not meant for stretch fabrics, or sizing up in a favorite that is. Butterick B5895 would be a good candidate if you sized up! Or maybe the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers.
Because of the fact that I was working with a heavy fabric, I opted to go with rotating out the waist darts. This pattern has 4 total to remove (2 front, 2 back), but I’d done it before. Subversive Femme has a good blog post for a way to do it. That’s basically the method I use, except with so many darts, I really needed to add back width at the hips and center front/back seams a bit or else I couldn’t get my rear end into the pants. If you take away the space that part of your body would normally fill in (i.e. the darted fabric), you may have to think about giving some of it back. 😉
That all being said: I could have kept the darts with the Dogwood Denim, but since I had 4 on each piece, I just felt that was going to look bulky. In the end I’m glad I omitted them. But if you only had one dart per pattern piece, I think you’d be fine with darts in this fabric! I was just being extra cautious.
Now, let’s talk the fabric. Digitally printed fabric has become more and more popular, especially because it’s so much more eco-friendly than traditional fabric processing (read all about Spoonflower’s statement on sustainability). But it still has drawbacks in terms of durability of the printed design on the fabric over time, especially for cottons. It truth it’s what’s kept me from choosing digitally printed fabric very often… I don’t want to worry about things fading a lot quickly. But the fact that the process is so much better for the earth with very little waste is an extremely compelling reason to try it on occasion! Especially because unique prints are so difficult to come by. And you’re spoiled for choices with Spoonflower.
In full disclosure, I had a bit of a snafu when pre-washing my Dogwood Denim yardage. But I didn’t at first! I had several samples of the denim, and ran them all through the laundry several times, trying to not baby them. I washed and dried them several times, throwing them in with regular laundry. Spoonflower recommends you machine wash their fabric with phosphate-free detergent (my normal detergent), on a gentle cycle with cool or warm water. My normal detergent is phosphate-free, and I used cold water (I don’t have a cool option) on a gentle cycle.
I saw no fading, no white lines marking them up—nothing. They looked exactly the same as they did before all the laundering! I know that Spoonflower’s Ultra-Color technology has resulted in a lot better performance of their dyes long-term, so I was really impressed.
Then, I washed and dryed some smaller yardages I had of a few of their different heavier fabrics—Eco Canvas, Celosia Velvet™, and Faux Suede. (All are lovely but I seriously want an excuse to sew up the Celosia Velvet, omg, it’s amazing. And… almost tempted to sew faux suede pants, the color on the fabric is so lustrous.) All of them washed and dried the same as the Dogwood Denim samples—no fading, no white marks, nothing. This photo is my yardage of those after the laundry.
Left to right: Celosia Velvet in Danish Modern Jade, Eco Canvas in Mod Graphic Red 50, Faux Suede in Baby West Diamond
But when I washed my yardage of Dogwood Denim, I did something I normally do with traditional fabrics but hadn’t done with the other Spoonflower yardages nor the denim samples: I basted up the seam allowance so it was a long tube (helps prevent the grain shifting), with the print on the inside. This was a mistake.
My yardage didn’t go through the wash as well as the samples or other fabrics did, as a result. I think because I placed the design on the inside, particularly with the stiffness of the denim, it rubbed itself together in the wash. Overall, I didn’t see any fading compared to my samples, but I did some small streaky white spots throughout in various spots (obviously where it’d rubbed together too much). Ugh.
I definitely would not recommend pre-washing it the way I did!!
The kicker is I even anticipated that could happen, but spent too long over-thinking it and did it anyway. In the end, it was easy to work around, as I just placed a little piece of paper and pin anywhere there were small troublesome areas and I cut around them to largely avoid any issues.You can see that in the photo below.
I’m annoyed that happened, especially after anticipating it might be an issue. And yes, I know washability of digitally printed fabrics can still be an issue and will prevent some people from wanting to try it, but Spoonflower has definitely gotten it a ton better with their Ultra-Color technology. I’ll remember not to wash my yardage in a tube next time! And for me, there definitely will be a next time because I went from kinda liking these pants when I finished them to really loving them the first time I wore them.
And I think you’d probably agree that my final pants still look great! 🙂
How are they to wear? Fantastic! These aren’t so slim that I can’t bend over or sit comfortably, and the lower leg has a nice crisp drape. The Dogwood Denim feels durable while still presenting like a nice trouser and not looking like I’m trying to force denim to be something other than jeans, if that makes sense.
Yeah, that means they aren’t form-fitting, and are a bit roomier than my head aesthetically wants them to be (in the back in particular).
But guess what. My body says: this is perfect.
These are comfortable and cute. You can’t always go with what your head thinks looks better, because your body doesn’t want that. And that was the case here! By body is super pumped I can wear these all day without them feeling restrictive or anything like that.
Now, this being said, it was a bit of a poor choice to sew pants while I was trying to lose a couple of pounds (my excuse is this project was in the works long before the holidays, ha ha) so I already think I could stand to take the hips in just a smidge. That was part of the reason I opted for no pockets in these, so it would be easy peasy to take them in if need be. But I don’t want to overfit them; I like that they’re comfortable.
So, what’s the verdict?
Will I sew with Spoonflower fabric again? Yes. Will I sew with Dogwood Denim again? Yes. Will I wash it inside-out in a tube? No.
Will I go frolicking this spring in my awesome new tiki trousers?! I think you know the answer to that one!
The Spoonflower fabric was given to me in exchange for a true and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 🙂