Sewing with Stretch Cotton Sateen


Have you ever sewn with stretch cotton sateen fabric before? It’s often listed as a suitable fabric for making a variety of pants, dress, and jacket patterns, but I’ve just never really selected it for myself. I think I had this preconceived notion that it might be too fancy for this stay-at-home mom to get much wear out of, but I just couldn’t ignore this beautiful vintage inspired print when I saw it on Cali Fabrics, and I pleasantly discovered that it’s not too fancy at all!

This beautiful print is peach, yellow, and stretch flowers on black stretch cotton sateen, and the soft colors are perfect and mellow for spring. This is a midweight fabric with about 35% two way stretch and great recovery which makes it absolutely perfect for so many garments. The cotton/spandex gives it a very comfortable wear, yet it’s so incredibly easy to sew with. Since the fabric is 50″ wide, I was able to make myself a pair of pants and a dress with just 3 yards of fabric, although I am on the smallest sizes for the patterns I used.

Trousers Front

First, I decided this print would be perfect as a pair of Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over It, but the cotton sateen recommended by the pattern only requires a bit of stretch, and this fabric has almost 35%, so I needed to make many fit changes to accommodate for the stretch difference (I used some scraps of cheap stretch twill that had a similar weight and stretch for my muslin).

Trousers Back

You might wonder that with all that stretch, is a stretch stitch required when sewing? I didn’t use a stretch stitch since this is a woven fabric, just a straight stitch, but I did make some test seams with scraps and yanked and pulled at them to see if the stitches would pop, and they didn’t. I used a straight stitch length of 2.8 on my machine, I reduced my presser foot pressure, and I made sure not to stretch the fabric while I was sewing. I also used a universal 80/12 needle.

Charleston Front

Since I just couldn’t let any of my scraps go to waste, I was able to use the Charleston Dress pattern from Hey June Patterns to use up all of my narrow fabric scraps. I didn’t even size up since this fabric works perfectly with the stretch of this fabric, but I do wish I would’ve had an appropriately sized zipper as this zipper is quite short for pulling the dress on.

Charleston Back

I finished the hem with a blind hem stitch, and to prevent any stretching out while sewing, I used fusible stitch witchery, leaving the 1/4″ necessary for sewing the blind hem. If you look closely below, you can just see the stitches at the bottom.

blind hem

Also one last thing, I didn’t press either of these garments after taking them out of the dryer, making them very low maintenance items in my wardrobe which means I’ll wear them a lot. Unfortunately this specific print only has a couple of yards left at the moment, but here are some other lovely stretch cotton sateen fabrics on hand at Cali Fabrics right now. Goodness, many of these colors would look beautiful as a dress, ready to be paired with lovely accessories…

Well, happy spring sewing my friends, and don’t hesitate to play around with fabrics that are new to you!

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2 thoughts on “Sewing with Stretch Cotton Sateen”

  1. would Lovely print and a great introduction to stretch sateen! I’ll definitely try. A question from an adventurous beginner: since you made the fit changes to accommodate the generous stretch, I’m guessing it means that patterns made for non-stretchy fabric need to be modified/sized down? Thank you in advance for specifying!

    1. Hi! Gina asked me to post her response for her, as she was having some technical issues while trying to respond to you last night. Here’s what she said:

      “Thank you! Not all patterns can necessarily change from one that doesn’t need stretch to one that does, as designers draft patterns to accommodate specific fabric characteristics such as 2-way or 4-way stretch, fabric weight, etc. In this instance, I made a practice version beforehand to make sure I could make it work with my stretch cotton sateen (also I didn’t size down because I was already at the smallest size for the pattern). I would definitely try to find a pattern that recommends a stretch percentage that is similar to your fabric. The Sabrina Slims pattern would’ve been a better match for this fabric but not a pattern that I own, so that’s why I went with the Ultimate Trousers pattern. Hope I answered your question!”

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