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Repairing darts in stretch knit pants
Liz in Cville
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Date: 7/10/14 6:12 PM

Hi everyone,

First, this may just be a theoretical discussion, so please don't go to any trouble to respond. I bet this job should take a good sewist about 2 minutes, but for various reasons -- not the least of which is that I don't sew these days-- I may not get to it.

So: I have two pairs of stretch knit pants with one broken rear dart apiece. One break is about a 1/2 inch long, and I believe the other is much smaller (so far, at least).

According to the retailer, the fabric is "smooth jersey-knit cotton with 10% stretchy LycraŽ 3D."

I assume polyester thread would be right, with a ballpoint, jersey, or stretch needle. Or would a universal needle do? Since it's a dart, I assume I'd want to use a straight stitch and stretch the fabric slightly while sewing. Does that sound right? Do I need to draw the stitching line in first to keep it straight? (Yes, it HAS been a long time since I've sewn.)

Since it's not at the dart point, can I backstitch, or still better to tie off by hand? Any recommendations on stitch length? Yes, all this angst for a 1/2 inch repair in pants I wear to lounge around or exercise. But if I'm going to do it...

BTW, love these pants for around the house, and plan to buy more. So I called LLBean to let them know, in case it's a manufacturing defect and not entirely my fault. They said I could return the pants, even though I've had them the better part of a year. However, since I probably washed them at least once on a higher-than-recommended temperature, and have worn and washed them a *lot*, I wouldn't feel right about it. Anyway, thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any tips.
-- Edited on Today at 6:14 PM --

Maripat
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Date: 7/12/14 0:06 AM

I would go with a stretch needle and a smaller stitch length (maybe 2.0). If the stretch gives you trouble you can always stabilize it with tissue paper between the feed dogs and the garment, then tear away once you've stitched.
Your concerns aren't too out of line with that stretchy stuff. Once you sew, especially if you are slightly stretching and using a small stitch, it is a nightmare to rip if you make a mistake. Even after all these years, I've torn a hole when trying to remove stitches. Use a new seam ripper if you need to rip, and rip one stitch at a time.

Hope that helps.
Maripat

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tourist
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Date: 7/12/14 10:46 AM

Isn't L L Bean one of those companies with a "no questions" return policy or am I thinking of Land's End? Anyway, if you have decided to do the little mend and are nervous about it, I think I would hand baste well outside the stitching line to make the fabric really stable and possibly inside the stitching line, as well. If you backstitch, be careful to stay on the stitch line. I would only do a stitch or two and probably sew in the thread tails by hand for extra security.

I think we all know what it is like to have these awesome favourite garments that we wear for EVER.

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Debbie Lancaster
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Date: 7/12/14 10:54 AM

I'd sew it up with a basting stitch, then when I knew it was right, that impossible-to-remove triple stretch stitch. It's already popped once, and is likely to do so again if you don't use a stretch stitch on it.

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Debbie

Liz in Cville
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Date: 7/13/14 8:50 PM

Thanks, everyone. In light of your comments, and the fact that DH says that he washed the pants according to instructions, perhaps I will take up LL Bean on their generous return policy after all.

goodworks1
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Date: 7/14/14 11:32 PM

My personal opinion? If it were me, I'd keep the pants if you love everything about them except the dart seams.

Either that or I'd order more and see if they meet your standards? I've had trouble (not w/LLBean) with inconsistencies in fit/fabric quality, etc for items I've reordered in the past. You may decide that these are worth keeping...

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Liz in Cville
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Date: 7/18/14 9:58 AM

Oh, don't get me wrong! I will keep ordering those pants... lots of 'em. I do like them, and they are my lounging/treadmill standby. Just a matter of whether to ignore the broken darts, send them back so they can have a look at the issue (and issue a refund, though I still feel a bit weird about it), or toss them and start over. But they will remain my staple. I'll just try to be more aware of the issue as I put them on and take them off, as I believe that's what stresses the seams most.

BTW, I accidentally "liked" my previous reply. Does anyone know whether or not there is a way to undo that?

Thanks again to everyone for your input, and for scaring me out of touching the repairs myself ;)

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