Tiki trousers

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!

outfit details

pants – made by me
surplice top – made by me
vintage Matisse copper cuff – misc.
vintage Matisse copper earrings – misc.
shoes – M. Gemi Stellato

The Spoonflower fabric was given to me in exchange for a true and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 🙂

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , , ,

Golly, 33 Comments!

  • […] I sew a lot with denim, and I had the opportunity to test out the new Spoonflower Dogwood Denim. I made this pair of slim fitting vintage style pants. You can read all about them here!  […]


  • I loooooove them! The fabric pattern is to die for!!! Super choice and I think they fit great. Love the matching shoes and top too—-fun outfit!


    • Thank you! I love the print so much but it was so tough to narrow it down! 😀 I was lucky I happened to have the perfect shoes and top to match, it was meant to be!


  • Aimee McEnerney February 7, 2018 at 9:15am

    Those look amazing! And thank you for including the information about the image rubbing when you washed in a tube with the print on the inside. That’s great to know because I wash a lot of my clothes inside turned out. I’ll make sure I don’t do that with any printed materials!


    • You’re welcome! I probably normally wash fabric in a tube with the design inside about 50% of the time and the design outside about 50% of the time, not really paying much attention to which, and same with finished clothes in the laundry. But for a printed design I think it’s safest not to be inside out!


  • Adorable! Frolick away!


  • Oh wow I love these!!! I was hesitant to to try Spoonflower fabrics but I think I need some fancy denim. And your pants are adorable.


    • Thanks, Bex!! I too was hesitant (although I have some of their sateen for a killed kitschy Halloween skirt that of course I didn’t get around to in time last year), but I’m loving these pants so much!


  • Your pants turned out great! I look forward to seeing your future Spoonflower creations.


  • These are fabulous. I love that Spoonflower designer’s prints.


  • Adorable pants, loooooooooving the fabric!


  • argh! these are wonderful and you are adorable! xx


  • I just about swooned when I saw this blog! So lovely! All I can think of is making those trousers and traipsing off to Disney World to enjoy the Tiki room!! Brilliant! The entire outfit is lovely – and is that a Papillon I spy? My little doggie is 13 yrs old and going strong. 😉


  • You shouldn’t be sitting down anyway when you have on something so fabulous!! Everyone needs to be given the chance to admire it!! Ahhh I absolutely love it! I think it’ll look cute as a skirt too!! In fact it looks similar to a skirt I have. Also turquoise looks absolutely smashing on you


    • Ha ha! Thank you! I can’t wait until it warms up a bit and I can actually wear these since they’re cropped. Thank you about turquoise, it’s one of my favorite colors but not the easiest to find vintage I find, so I’m happy when I can sew it! 🙂


  • These are absolutely fantastic! That print is just perfection, the colours really pop with the matching blue of your top and shoes.

    I’d love to ask a technical question, if I may? It’s sort of tricky to tell from your (excellent) pictures as to where the zipper is, so I’m guessing it’s a CB seam one? How on earth do you manage to do a CB seam zipper that DOESN’T casually start to unzip itself? All of the trousers I’ve attempted making with a zip in the CB seam have the nasty habit of unzipping themselves, which makes for very awkward conversations when out in public. Is there a trick to it?


    • Thanks so much! Yes you’re correct, I did a CB zipper since I wanted to be able to take the side seams in a bit if I needed to in the future, though I’d prefer a side zipper. But honestly I’ve never had an issue with them coming down, eep! I’m not sure what to tell you, I don’t think I do anything different to keep them up. 🙂 And for reference while I sometimes use vintage zippers more often than not I buy new YKK ones (though in a pinch I sometimes have just Coats & Clark ones from the fabric store). Maybe zipper type makes a difference??


  • Beautiful fit, lovely pattern and colours, perfect job. SO well done, dear. I wish I could sew jeans like these. I’ve only tried once, and they are doomed for gardenwork, haha.


  • Cecile Batchelor February 26, 2018 at 10:05am

    What was your experience with raveling? Cotton denim is notorious. How did you finish the inside seams?


  • Spoonflower has come a long way in dealing with crocking (where the print works off the fabric) and the ‘ultra’ printing process has helped a lot. That said, darker colors ranging to black on cotton will fade and show lighter more often than the same print on a polyester/synthetic base. It’s an optic white base, and even on commercial prints (Cotton and Steel, talking about you) the white breaks through.
    All that in consideration, I use Spoonflower for most of my commissioned sewing. It’s a great thing to be able to design something from the fibers up. And I’m very excited about making a pair of polka dot denim jeans from my own print.


    • Interesting comment about Cotton + Steel! I hadn’t sewn with enough of their fabric to notice (I like a lot of their designs but their color palette time and again is just totally not me).

      I love the idea of your polka dot jeans!! I’m considering it for a harlequin print, need to take a look through and see if there are any I like. Such a great print and I can’t really find any modern I like (or, if I want them as pants, can’t find them in a bottomweight).


  • Tasha, I’m seriously into all things Tiki right now and when I saw your pants I’m like whaaaa? They look awesome. They fit you and your home perfectly! I need tiki beads to line the inside of my kitchen tiki hut!!!!🗿


  • […] maybe a French terry version of either of those patterns with cute cropped trousers (of course I already have a pair in mind). In fact, I’ve got a casual outdoorsy trip lined up later this spring and that might be just […]


    • Hi! I found your blog via a Spoonflower blog post that mentioned your tutorial for sewing thick fabrics. (And your tip for hump jumping.) Unfortunately the actual blog post is missing from the Spoonflower site and only the comments appear on that URL.

      I’m dying to read it, as dealing with thick sections often deters me from starting sewing projects. I mean, I can only take so many broken needles and jams before giving up on the project.

      Is this article published anywhere else? Or could I get a PDF of it? (I think you’ll get my email address with this comment, and I’m totally ok with you emailing me.)

      Thank you so much!

      – Pam

      (PS: I also enjoyed reading your posts about visiting Eagle River, WI and other trips up north. I love in Portland Oregon now, but grew up on the shores of Lake Superior & love vacation stories from my “homeland.” If you haven’t been to the Bayfield Apple Fest in northern Wisconsin, do check it out sometime – it always takes place on the first weekend in October. I think you’ll love the quirky, artsy vibe up there.)


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