Week two (this month!) of sewing for Justin produced a fantastic pair of bamboo sweat pants. His old pair of sweatpants served as perennial winter pajamas for the last five years or so. As you can imagine, they are in pretty rough shape. My husband, being the contented person that he is, would probably try to wear them for another five years. Luckily, I’ve made him a new, better pair so he doesn’t have to.
The Rebel Joggers pattern I used for Justin’s pants comes from the indie pattern company Wardrobe By Me. I applied to test the Rebel Joggers a couple of months ago, but I wasn’t selected. I didn’t buy the pattern until a couple of weeks ago, but I’m glad I did. It’s a simple, yet well-designed pattern that sews up really quickly.
It was the perfect pattern for replacing my husband’s old sweatpants. The slim legs are modern, but still comfortable. And the pockets are ideal for storing my husband’s insulin pump while he’s lounging or sleeping.
Justin’s sweatpants are made from bamboo and organic cotton stretch fleece and rib knit from Nature’s Fabrics (links here and here). The bamboo fleece is super soft, really stretchy (two-way) and really easy to sew. The fleece and rib knit are perfectly color matched in a beautiful charcoal heather gray. I have no affiliation with Nature’s Fabrics, but I am a sincere fan.
Bamboo Textiles: a green dilemma
Bamboo has become a darling of the green textile market. Cultivation of bamboo grass is remarkably eco-friendly. It grows quickly, is naturally pest resistant, requires no replanting (it’s a perennial), is great at absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and it helps maintain good soil conditions. From these amazing bamboo plants, we get textiles that are known for their great drape, their soft, silky texture, and their superior ability to withstand laundering.
Unfortunately, the eco-friendly standing of bamboo textiles is called into question because of the process of turning bamboo plants into yarns for making textiles. To extract the bamboo cellulose that can be woven or knitted into textiles, it has to be treated with large quantities of chemicals. The processing chemicals pose a risk to both the workers and the environment if not handled or disposed of properly.
Oeko-Tex 100 Certification
Of course, there are some manufacturers that are more conscientious than others, but it can be difficult to know what the reality of working conditions are all the way up the supply chain. There is some indication that the bamboo textiles that Nature’s Fabrics sells are more thoughtfully produced because they bear the Oeko-Tex 100 certification. I don’t know all of the specifics, but from what I understand, Oeko-Tex 100 is a guarantee that fabrics are free from a specific set of harmful chemicals and substances. When fabrics pass the independently conducted Oeko-Tex 100 testing, they meet the highest standard of textile safety in the world. Unfortunately the certification is based on the chemical content of the finished fabric, so it doesn’t account for usage and disposal of chemical treatments throughout the supply chain.
All of this is to say that bamboo isn’t the answer to all of our dirty fashion problems, but it does offer significant benefits over other textile fibers. And it is soooo soft. Do some research and see what you think.
The biggest change I made to the Rebel Joggers was to the rise. As indicated in the pattern instructions, the pattern is designed to be worn at the natural waist. My husband is a Millennial, so he does not wear his pants way up there. I made a test garment so I could see how much I needed to adjust the rise. I reduced the rise by a whopping 1.75” all the way around.
To maintain the proper length, I had to add the same length (1.75”) back in below the knee. And because my husband is tall (the pattern is drafted for a 5’10” male), I added an extra ½” to the hemline.
Superior Sweat Pants
I am very pleased with the way Justin’s pants turned out—and even happier that I can finally incinerate compost his old pair. I have another piece of bamboo fleece I’m going to make into a zip-up hoodie and matching joggers for me. After working with Justin’s pants, I can’t wait to get started!