Prototype Evolution - Part 1

Prototype Evolution - Part 1

This post is part of a series called 2020: The Year of the Pants. Catch all of the posts via the YOTP tag.

In my last post, I shared how a well-meaning garment can completely fail as pants. So in this and the next couple of posts, I'll be showing some other iterations I've done, with different fabrics and patterns.

For this next pair, I chose to use a different fabric with stretch built in, added articulated knees, threw in some back pockets, and experimented with the waistband. As a scientifically-trained engineer, I know better than to change more than a single variable in every iteration of an experiment. But as a living, breathing, impatient AF human, ain't nobody got time (or the money!) for that many iterations! So forgive me, dear scientific community. I've got pants to make. 😉

The Changes

Stretchy Fabric

In my last prototype, I used a wholly non-stretch fabric. The result was - as you may recall - rather entertaining, as the pattern didn't allow me to bend my knee to even 90 degrees. This time, I used a fabric with four-way stretch, which means it can stretch both with the grain of the fabric and perpendicular to the fabric. (This is as compared to two-way stretch, which can only stretch either with the grain of the fabric or perpendicular to it, but not both.)

Articulated Knees

I mentioned in my last post that to fix the inability to bend my knee issue, I could either change the fabric or change the pattern. I decided to do both (because I'm silly in addition to being impatient) - and the pattern change was articulated knees. In brief, articulated knees are simply added fabric to the front leg without affecting the amount of fabric in the back leg. The adjustment can either include darts or be a separate panel added to the front leg in the knee area. I've seen both on hiking pants at stores.

Having tried both approaches (darts vs panels) in muslins (not shown here, unless one of y'all specifically asks for them), I opted for panels on this pair.

Back Pockets

Since the first pair didn't have any back pockets at all, I chose to make single welt pockets using Kathleen Fasanella's tutorial on It is by far the easiest and most fool-proof method I've found anywhere, and I highly recommend it, along with all of the other tutorials on her site!

Waistband Experiment

Finally, I decided to play around with the waistband a bit, as the curved waistband in the original pair fit me perfectly in that moment in time, but any fluctuations in weight could render the pants unwearable.

For the waistband, I decided to experiment a bit. Not wanting to mess with the front look of the pants, I added some elastic to the back of the waistband, curious to see how that might affect the pants overall.

The Result

Overall, I think this is a great next iteration! Let's go through the changes one by one (in no particular order):

Back Pockets

I really like the single welt pockets in the back! They look a little too close together, and I don't totally love the square-ness of the pocket topstitching, but these are all little design changes I can make in future iterations.

Other things to try: adding flaps, adding zippers, adding flaps with zippers... so many possibilities!

Waistband Experiment

I can't really say I like the elastic in the back waistband. Really, my issue is that the drag lines (aka the wrinkles/pattern bugs) from the waistband to the center back mess with the fit of the back of the pants. I will admit, however, that the elastic is really quite comfortable, so if someone's using my tutorials to make their own ideal hiking pants and don't care about the aesthetics, then definitely go for it! I think I can make an equally comfortable but more aesthetically pleasing (to me) waistband, so the iterative design continues!

Other things to try: Moving the elastic to other parts of the waistband, making the entire waistband elastic, using non-elastic as a means of changing the size of the waistband...

Articulated Knees + Stretchy Fabric

First, let's check out the knee bend test:

Hey now, look at that knee bend!

The four-way stretch plus articulated knee combination is fantastic! Definitely comfortable, definitely movable! Given the amount of stretch in the fabric itself, however, I'm not totally convinced that the articulated knees are all that necessary.

In Summary

The perfect hiking pants are coming along! I'll need at least a few more iterations before I'm feeling really good about the pattern and design elements, but that's all part of the fun 😊

I can't wait to show you the next one - it's even better! Have questions? Leave 'em in the comments or ask on social media!