Sunday, October 11, 2020

Free Range Hiking Pants

 I made hiking pants!

If you follow me on my non-sewing Instagram, you'll know Tim and I do a fair bit of (mostly low key) hiking and camping and other outdoorsy adventures, more so now that that's one of the few safe things to do.

But finding hiking clothes for bigger bodies is really hard, y'all! I live in a place with an ample amount of outdoors stores, but they are all sorely lacking in plus size outdoors gear and clothes. Even if they do have them, they're ill fitting and very limited as far as options, colors, styles...

I've been wanting to make myself some hiking pants for a while now, but agonized over which pattern and fabric to choose. Most of the outdoors fabric I could find was online, and it was a bit of a struggle to know what I was buying and whether it would meet my needs/desires (lightweight but sturdy, quick dry, a hint of stretch). 

I ultimately went with this PALISADE™ Durable Stretch Woven with DWR fabric from Rockywoods in navy. I have no idea what DWR is, but it seemed to check my other boxes. I found it by putting "hiking" into the search bar. Very sophisticated on my part. But it worked out well! I really like the fabric. It's matte, almost papery, easy to sew, and the price is right.

For a pattern, I have really been loving the tapered version of the Sew House Seven Free Range Slacks I made at the end of last year. They're comfy, high-waisted, and I can move in them, which is pretty much what I was looking for in hiking pants. And Peggy, the designer behind Sew House Seven, is an avid outdoors woman herself, so it seemed fitting.

I made a size 16 again since it worked for me last time. I did make a couple changes for my hiking Free Range slacks, though.

First, I added a drawstring on the inside of the waistband. I put two buttonholes on the waistband facing at center front, and topstitched the elastic to form a channel for the drawstring. I just like the extra support the drawstring adds, knowing that the pants might stretch out when they're worn (and they did!).

The Free Range Slacks are cropped and therefore a little bit short for hiking pants. I decided to add an elasticized cuff to add length and cinch them in. I just measured the bottom of the pant leg and cut a long rectangle to match that measurement, by twice the elastic width plus a bit extra just in case, as well as seam allowances, of course. Worked well!

At the last minute I decided to do some high contrast topstitching for a fun pop of color. I had some electric green thread on my table left over from my last caftan of the summer and went with it on a whim. I added some extra lines of stitching to really make the pockets and side panels stand out. I love it! My waistband stitching is not the straightest, but I'm feeling like I killed it on the pocket and panels.

I'm so happy with these pants! All the photos I took are from a recent camping trip (at Little River State Park). Some are from before hiking, some after, so you can see that the pants got a little bit saggier after hiking. But they were really comfy and definitely quick dry. 

I think the size is right, too, slim enough to not catch on branches, etc., but with enough room to layer over long underwear in the colder months!


  1. DWR stands for Durable Water Repellant.

  2. This post is everything I ever wanted!! I've been looking for "Tech" fabric, but had no idea where to even start- thank so much meg!

  3. Very helpful. DWR is durable water repellent, a finish applied to the fabric that can be renewed when it loses effectiveness. REI carries a wash in product.

  4. Thank you for sharing your fabric source. I've been scouring the internet for just this kind of fabric for some shorts I'm making for my husband, but I haven't had any luck. And the pants turned out great. I love the topstitching. I think I'm going to order some yardage for myself, too, now that I've seen your pants. :)

  5. These look great! Thanks for your tips re fabric and pattern for hiking pants.

  6. Well done! I've struggled to find hiking pants that fit too (I usually just end up in one of my sturdy straight skirts, which is not ideal). I'm not a big hiker, but I think some of it is a gear issue! I've bookmarked this post so I can come back to it when I'm ready to tackle some pants like this. Thanks for a great idea, and best wishes for many happy hiking outings for you and Tim!

  7. Thanks, this could be what I'm looking for as well! I trust the fabric did not shrink much- I'm sure you would have mentioned it if it did!

  8. Thanks for the fabric recommendation! Love the drape on these. I did a google search for DWR and came up with this: Durable water repellent, or DWR , is a coating added to fabrics at the factory to make them water-resistant (hydrophobic). Most factory-applied treatments are fluoropolymer based; these applications are quite thin and not always effective. Durable water repellents are commonly used in conjunction with waterproof breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex to prevent the outer layer of fabric from becoming saturated with water. This saturation, called 'wetting out,' can reduce the garment's breathability (moisture transport through the breathable membrane) and let water through. As the DWR wears off over time, re-treatment is recommended when necessary. Many spray-on and wash-in products for treatment of non-waterproof garments and re-treatment of proofed garments losing their water-repellency are available from sources of sporting apparel. From Wikipedia. Mary_in_AZ

  9. StitchesbeunsewnJuly 15, 2021 at 4:40 PM

    Do you have any tips on sewing this fabric? I'm curious how you handled the back pockets... nylon is so hard to iron!