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stabilize tummy area on stretch cottons?

kjp | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I have been sewing some beautiful and easy stretch cotton capris and simple skirts.  I love the stretch and it seems most of the fashion color fabrics I like have a little lycra added these days.  I have noticed, however, that my tummy looks much better in a nonstretch fabric which can flatten it out a little more than mother nature.  Or – an exercise lycra which firms it.  I’m thinking of building some kind of support or stabilization into the front of my skirts & pants, either with an underlining or interfacing.  Has anyone tried this & any thoughts, ideas, advice?  Thanks!  karin


  1. SewNancy | | #1

    I just got some samples of cotton lycra fabric that I really liked but it is not drapey, what kind of skirt pattern are you using?  


    1. kjp | | #2

      Just a basic straight skirt (burda), above the knee with 2 front darts, so I doubt I need the underlining to be too drapey.  I haven't found anything in my sewing reference to do this, but they do it with bathingsuits, so I figure there must be a way to make it work!

      1. SewNancy | | #3

        Maybe you need to adjust the fit.  Some very stretchy fabrics really show every bulge if fitted too tight.  It sounds like you need more room in the tummy area so that it falls straight from largest area.


        1. kjp | | #4

          Thanks, no plenty of room - fit is perfect!  Just want some camouflage effect to look a little flatter there - like before kids! :)  In the meantime, I'm reemphasizing pilates & abs :)  Non-stretch fabrics tend to look just a little better, but I love the comfort effect. 

          1. Elisabeth | | #5

            Maybe you could get your smoothing layer from an undergarment? I have seen but not tried some pretty amazing smoothing type underwear that looks just about like regular underwear. It looks like it would actually be comfortable to wear. At least until the Pilates gets the work done :-) Pilates is great for the middle and everything else for that matter, I love it! Remind yourself that we lose muscle mass as we age, even in our 30's and less muscle mass = less metabolism = you know what. Ok, I'm going to stop now. I teach fitness/wellness classes at a college so it is too easy for me to chatter on about exercise.

          2. kjp | | #6

            I may just resort to an undergarment :-)  In the winter, that's best, but in 85 degrees, I want to be cool!

            On the exercise note...I know what you mean!  I can usually manage to exercise 3 - 4 times a week.  This year, I took up tennis, but that replaced one of my pilates classes.  I notice the difference!  I really need to watch what I eat!  The closer I get to 40, the harder it is to keep it off!  How I miss my high school days when I was trying to gain weight (sigh!)

            Back to the skirts/pants... I think I'm going to try to get to the mall & inspect the miracle suit bathing suits that "take off 10 lbs"  I'm guessing I could adapt the idea to my stretch fabrics.  Karin

          3. SewNancy | | #7

            I bought one of the foundation garments that are like the top of panty hose and they are comfortable and take me in just enough to smooth the bulges under a jersey dress.  I excercise too, but  at almost 54 there is only so much you can do! I would think that they are no less comfortable than a stretch panel.  I have tried on the miracle suits and they are not all that comfortable.


  2. EileenB5 | | #8

    Nancy Erickson used to recommed making a separate panel inside the front of pants, unfortunately this was in a newsletter before I got a tummy so I can't find it!  (wish I had it now!) I think you cut a panel of either solid fabric or Lycra to hold you in, and made it slightly smaller than the front and attached it at the side. 

    Can anyone else remember how exactly to do this?


    1. kjp | | #9

      Thanks, I think I may try this on my next pair.  If it doesn't work, I'll just rip the panel out!  karin

    2. Bernice | | #10

      Thanks for reminding me of this technique!  I haven't used it and didn't read about it in a Nancy Erickson newsletter, but I THINK it may be addressed in Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing step by step book... don't have it in arm's reach... But what exactly would you use for the panel? I think it'd have to be a pretty firm lycra to really do the job, maybe just because swimwear type lycras are coming to mind now I'm thinking there wouldn't be as much control as I'd like (need)!


      1. EileenB5 | | #11

        Actually for a stretch cotton I would use a woven fabric in a compatable weight.  Maybe a rayon lining fabric, although that might be problematic if you wanted to wash the pants.  I guess I would use whatever fabric I would use to line the pants.

      2. FitnessNut | | #12

        What about using power net? I think it has pretty firm control and still has some stretch for comfort. Its generally used in bra backs, but if memory serves, girdles were made from power net also. Just an idea.

    3. JeanEsther | | #13

      There are instructions for adding a hidden tummy panel in Easy Guide to Sewing Pants--I think I saw something similar in one of Sandra Betzina's books or patterns, too.

      1. KarenW | | #14

        I have some power net stashed for this very use!  Haven't tried it yet, but when I first found this my instant thought was of the girdles my mom had when I was a kid! I think there are various "strengths" (for lack of better word) of these stretch nets... I haven't found one this firm even in the priciest tummy control swimwear.  I'll tell ya, if this stuff doesn't produce a washboard flat stomach I don't know what will!

        I'll check the book references you give, I'm just wondering though, if you use something like a powernet and cut it so the front's the same width as your pant, you won't really get added control, will you?  But if you cut it smaller, I'm wondering if it will "pull", or cause the side seams to look like they're pulling where the net is sewn in.  Anyone know?  Again I'll check the books but I think I've read the instructions in Sandra's book and remember thinking this same thing.


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