Part 2 - Construction
Did you want to know more about the manufacturing process to get those ‘perfect’ leggings? Let’s confirm one thing first: Your idea of perfect leggings might not be the same as your friends, but generally there are some common elements that you may want to consider in critiquing which brands are right for you.
Higher end brands use the flatlock machine which creates a smooth flat seamline and has an attractive ‘stitch pattern’ usually made on a machine with 6 to 10 needles! They are hugely expensive machines often up to $15,000! This production method is tricky and skilled workers stick to this type of sewing as their specialty. The flatlock finish is best on fabrics that have a little more body like our Novelty Leggings and the Athletica Leggings. These styles really can support the wider stich finish and the action of so many needles piercing the fabric during the sewing process.
The majority of leggings are finished on the serging machine which, if it is set to the right tension, will provide a seam that stretches with the fabric. This is a fine stitching method for leggings. Additionally however, we have to consider ‘finish’. The cover stitch machine provides a favoured finish to hems and also to stitch down elastic at the waist in a nice flat way. This machine allows the hems to stretch with the material so seams and stitching will not break easily. Good sewing technique is of course very important to all construction in the sewing industry.
There’s all sorts of considerations to keep in mind when producing any active wear. After years and years (okay, not too many ‘years’ please) I myself know the intricacies of how fabric types work with different sewing and construction methods. It didn’t come easily…….oh no! After convincing the retailers that there was some merit to “those funny little stretch pants that will probably be just a jump in the fashion pan” I managed to secure a huge order for ‘leggings’ from Fairweather’s and delivered 1000 pairs to them. Well let’s just say I learned a lot from that one……..I mostly learned you can’t sew four-way stretch fabrics on a straight needle machine!! With their kindness and patience and the help of my most valued machine operator, Surti, we managed to turn a disaster into a great success.
Take some time to inspect your leggings and know that, though they seem like a simple little nothing, a lot goes into their manufacture and many hands and minds work to give you a product that you will enjoy and love for a long time.
Written by Roslyn Ruso
Artistic Director, Designer