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making full seat rding breeches

Kilroy | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Has anyone done this? I got the Suitability pattern, and I ripped out the seams on an old pair of breeches that I loved to death. I got the Herringbone four way stretch fabric from Seattle Fabrics, and I’ve got some deerskin, some suede and some man-made suede – not ultrasuede – something cheaper to use for the seat. So I don’t like that the Suitability pattern doesn’t have fabric under the leather, and I’m trying to adapt the pattern to put cloth there as well. My issues are that I’ve very carefully avoided ever sewing a knit fabric in any project before, so I really don’t know how to handle ease with knits. I also only have a sewing machine, no serger, and the breeches I ripped apart definitely look like they were serged for some seams. Is there a serger stitch that not only does the serged edge, but also leaves topstitching on the right face of the seam? I am planning to sew the seams with an interrupted zig-zag stitch, but I would like to topstitch some of the seams so they stay flat, how can I do this without the topstitching ripping out the first time I pull them on? I also want to put in pleats and slash pockets, which were on the breeches that I tore apart, but not on the suitability pattern, and I am worried about the ease required for the pleats with the knit fabric. And finally, do I pre-wash the herringbone knit fabric? It is something like 96% cotton, 4% lycra. Part of me says pre-wash the cotton, and part of me says it’s a knit pre-shrinking won’t matter, and leave the conditioners in it so it sews up more accurately. Any help or hints much appreciated!


  1. jjgg | | #1

    ok, I'm p.o'd, I just wrote you a long answer and lost it before it posted, Will try again.

  2. jjgg | | #2

    Take 2Kilroy,You've got a bunch of issues here,"Is there a serger stitch that not only does the serged edge, but also leaves topstitching on the right face of the seam? "I don't think there is any industrial machine that will serge a seam and top stitch it at the same time. There is the cover hem which gives you 2 or 3 rows of parallel top stitching and sort of a boxy zigzag on the back, but that is only for hemming sleeve, t-shirt hems etc. If the seam really is serged and top stitched, it would have to be a two step process - serg the seam, press to one side and top stitch.I'm not sure what to tell you about the ease for the slash pockets etc that you are trying to do, coz I"m not sure waht you want here. Were the pants you took part knit? Did they fit well? Can you just copy the pattern?And, lastly, I don't think you need to worry about pre-shrinking the fabric, but it never hurts to test a sample of that either, esp if it's expensive stuff, better safe than sorry.Hope this helps some"I would like to topstitch some of the seams so they stay flat, how can I do this without the topstitching ripping out the first time I pull them on?"Several things to do here. First is test, test, test. take scraps of all your fabrics and run test seam. Hand wind wooly nylon onto your bobbin, sew with regular thread in the needle and the wooly nylon in the bobbin. you may want to adjust the top tensions up or down to see if that improves the seam. After stitching this way, stretch the fabric and see if the threads pop. There are also other stitches that are useful here, but it may depend on how visible this seam is. Most machines have a "stretch stitch" It's a 3 step back and forth straight stitch, and works great with knits. set your machine to a 3 or 3.5 stitch length for it to work well, and again run tests.

    1. Kilroy | | #3

      The herringbone fabric I bought is the same material as the breeches that I tore apart, so I'm pretty sure I can just use them as my pattern although the edges are a bit "lettuce hem" now.
      So the topstitched side seams had to be done in two runs through the machine, well, they were very accurate!
      Thank you for describing the stitch, I told the machine I was doing stretch and topstitching, and it went to a picture of three stitches side by side, and now I know what that is for!
      I haven't used wooly nylon before - should I use that rather than regular thread in the bobbin? I do have a ball point needle for the knit, and a leather needle for when I get to the deerskin.

      1. jjgg | | #4

        Try it both ways - with and without wooly nylon. I've done the stretch stitch without wooly and it worked great.

  3. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #5

    I have that pattern, and I have made breeches, but I haven't made breeches from that pattern.  Is that messed up?  Anyway, on the breeches I made before I didn't have my serger yet so there's no seam finish and it didn't seem to matter at all.  I washed them all the time, and outgrew them, passed them on, and the other girl is washing them all the time.  They were cotton/lycra.  The stretch goes around the body, and I used a straight stitch and "slightly" stretched the material as I stitched.  If it gets wobbly looking an ironing will flatten that right out.  If you open the seams to top stitch on each side then you'll want to tape the seam for strength.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  Sew a straight stitch, iron open the seam allowance, place a 1/2" wide strip of self fabric over the open seam allowances and stitch that down on both sides.  (from the right side, so your top stitching is even)  I see that alot on the really expensive breeches.

    When I got the pattern and checked it out, the instructions advised that the full seat breeches are much looser than the patch breeches because the leather doesn't stretch like the lycra does.  I believe that the instructions also advised that you should put the deer hide on with an all purpose needle if your machine doesn't skip, so the leather needle won't cut holes in the fabric.  Put the leather on top and use a walking, roller, or teflon foot.  Or maybe I read that somewhere else. 

    Keep me updated, I want to make the dressage patch version.



  4. PASDENOM | | #6

    You can get the effect of a serged edge on the inside with two rows of topstitching on the outside by using a double needle. The bobbin thread zig zags underneath and you use two spools of thread for the two needle ends.

  5. krichmond | | #7

    Hi Kilroy:

    I won't be much help with most of your questions, and I'm not familiar with herringbone 4-way stretch fabric, but I used to work in a fabric store about 20 years ago and when customers purchased cotton/lycra blend fabrics, we'd recommend pre-shrinking the fabric THREE times before laying out the pattern.  It sounds tedious and fabric technology may have evolved since  'the old days', but it is worth it to pre-wash a sample swatch at least once (most of the shrinkage, if any, will occur on the first treatment and will affect the fabric mostly lengthwise).

    The pants sound like a lot of fun to make.  Good luck!



    1. Kilroy | | #8

      Yikes! Kay, thanks for the warning, I haven't started on the breeches yet, the fabric needs to age in the stash for a bit since I got side-tracked into making a freeform quilted saddlepad instead. However, now I will definitely do a 4x4" test wash first!

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