Putting in the effort to get more exercise is no easy task, especially when you don’t have the proper athletic wear. You want to make sure you’re making an educated decision when picking out yoga pants, or maybe you want to try making your own. You need to find the best fabric to work out in. But what is the best fabric for yoga pants?
The best fabric for yoga pants depends largely on your personal preferences and the athletic activities you plan to do. The best options include large percentages of nylon, polyester, bamboo, and/or Lycra because they’re durable, stretchy, moisture-wicking, and comfortable.
There is a huge range of athletic wear fabrics to choose from, and they all come with their own pros and cons. The best yoga pants fabric for one person may not be the best for another. It’s important to note what YOU want in a pair of yoga pants and what sort of activities you will be doing in them. In order to give the best recommendation, we have to go far more in-depth!
What Is the Difference Between Yoga Pants and Leggings?
Before we dive right into the thick of things, let’s first talk about the difference between yoga pants and leggings. Leggings are usually much thinner than yoga pants, as they are not typically made for athletic activities. Yoga pants are generally made with exercise in mind and will be thicker and more durable for this purpose. Yoga pants also come in more styles, whereas the only style variations of leggings are the different lengths.
Fabric Properties for the Yoga Pants
What will you be doing in your yoga pants? Chances are, you’re planning on exercising in them. Keep that in mind when choosing your fabric. While exercising, how do you want to feel? What qualities do you want your yoga pants to have? All of the best yoga pants are:
- Breathable – Do your pants maintain proper air circulation? You want to get enough airflow while exercising, so you can remain comfortable and dry.
- Sweat-Wicking – Do the pants wick sweat away from your body? You’ll want the pants to be made out of a fabric that transports moisture away from your skin and allows it to evaporate out of the pants.
- Fast Drying – If you sweat, will your pants stay wet? You don’t want to feel bogged down, slippery, or soggy from your own sweat while exercising, so a fast-drying fabric is ideal for yoga pants.
- Comfortable – How does the fabric feel on your body? If you’re planning on running in your yoga pants, a fabric that feels soft against your skin will be desired. Running in improper pants can cause chaffing, and you definitely don’t want that. Also, consider if you will need compression or extra support in your pants.
- Not See-Through – If, for example, you’re doing squats in your yoga pants, do they stretch to the point of being see-through? If the fabric is too thin, this might become an issue. Make sure you choose a fabric that is thick enough for the activities you plan to do in them!
- Good Stretch, Not Restricting – Good stretch is being able to stretch to the max without your pants tearing, pulling, or losing their shape. You need your body to have full mobility in yoga pants, especially if you actually plan on doing yoga in them. You also want the pants to be non-restricting for this same reason. Don’t let your pants hold you back from getting a good workout!
- Good Fit – Your pants should be body-hugging and flattering. You also want a pair that stays in place while you’re working out. No one wants to constantly be pulling up and readjusting their pants during a workout.
- Odor Resistant – Does the fabric have antimicrobial properties? Some fabrics are naturally antimicrobial, meaning they resist odor-causing bacteria, keeping you fresh. If that’s a priority for you, consider a fabric that will help.
- Durable – Yoga pants should be thick enough to handle any stress you put on them. If you plan on going outside, they will need to handle any conditions you might come in contact with. If they will be coming into contact with the ground, they should be able to resist wearing. Some fabrics even offer a certain amount of water resistance, which may prove useful if you want to go hiking in your yoga pants.
- Lightweight – Even if you plan on wearing your yoga pants in the cold, you will still want them to be on the lighter side. The lighter your pants are, the less likely you are to be held down by them while exercising. You want maximum mobility in these pants.
Best Fabrics for Yoga Pants
In general, the best yoga pants are made with different percentages of a blend of fabrics. Let’s take a look at what fabrics are the best for yoga pants, and what percentage of each you’ll want to suit your needs.
PolyesterPolyester often makes up a large fiber percentage in yoga pants, and for good reason. It’s a very light fabric with amazing durability, despite its weight. It also has amazing sweat-wicking abilities, making it practically a must-have for your yoga pants. By itself, it is far less breathable than other fabrics, but that’s why you only want a percentage of your fabric to be polyester.
There is a polyester fabric that utilizes ITY, or interlock twist yarn. The ITY design adds stretch and breathability, but it can be difficult to sew. If you plan on making your own yoga pants, this type of polyester may be best left alone if you want to avoid a headache.
Most yoga pants that use polyester, use somewhere between 80 and 90% and are usually combined with spandex or Lycra.
SpandexSpandex (elastane) is the fabric that is really going to give your yoga pants the stretch that you want. It is known for its ability to stretch to extreme length and then snap right back to its original form. It’s not quite as durable as polyester, and it tends to be less flattering as well, so it’s typically used together with other fabrics.
You will typically see 10-15% spandex used in the best yoga pants.
One of our favorite yoga pant fabrics is a polyester-spandex blend because you tend to get the best of both worlds. However, if you plan to do different activities than usual in them, there may be better options.
LycraLycra is actually the same thing as spandex. It’s just a trademarked fabric. This means that it was patented by a company, in this case, the DuPont Company.
Other patented fabrics can be difficult to find or are only purchasable through their respective companies. Luckily, Lycra is not one of those.
Lycra can be found everywhere you would typically purchase fabrics.
RayonRayon is a cheap, soft fabric that is common in athletic wear for its breathability. Many cheaper pairs of yoga pants use this fabric in place of polyester, but it’s not nearly as durable as polyester, so we don’t really recommend it. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not the best.
Modal is a form of rayon typically used in underwear. It is stretchy and soft but can be pricey. With there being other fabrics better suited to yoga pants, it isn’t necessary to splurge on modal.
NylonNylon is an extremely durable and quick-drying, stretchy fabric. Tights, pantyhose, and athletic tights are often made with this material. It’s also fantastic in yoga pants, but most of the best fabrics only use a small percentage of it. It tends to have trouble with color fading and changing.
Nylon spandex knits are popular in yoga pants for the high stretch, but they can be on the thinner side. Only use this fabric if you aren’t going to be too hard on your yoga pants.
Polypropylene is very similar to polyester, as they are both basically plastic, but polypropylene tends to dry much faster. Polyester is much easier to wash and care for, however. In general, polyester is better for the average person.
Best Natural Fabrics for Yoga Pants
Natural fabrics tend to struggle less with odor. They are also less harsh on the environment, so if you’re ecology-conscious, these options may be the way to go.
Bamboo is an amazing fabric for yoga pants that has gained a lot of popularity recently. It is possibly the most well-rounded fabric on this list, as it meets all the criteria to make a great pair of yoga pants. Bamboo is also antimicrobial, so your clothes will smell far less after a hard workout. Bamboo is going to cost you much more than synthetic materials, however, so it’s up to you if you think it’s worth it.
When you think of wool, you typically imagine thick, bulky winter clothing. Merino wool, however, is soft and moisture-wicking just like athletic wear needs to be. This makes it a great choice if you want a thicker, warmer pair of yoga pants for colder seasons.
Fabrics to Avoid
Cotton is the only true fabric to avoid in your yoga pants. Cotton absorbs moisture incredibly quickly and is very slow to dry. It’s a light, natural fabric, but it’s a terrible fabric for athletic wear.
Synthetic vs Natural Fabrics
Synthetic fabric tends to be more durable than natural fabric and is commonly cheaper too. However, if odor is your concern, natural fabrics are definitely the way to go. Many natural fabrics have natural antimicrobial properties too, which synthetic cannot boast.
How to Make Your Own Yoga Pants
Interested in making your own yoga pants? We can’t tell you exactly how to make your pants, because there are so many different patterns available, and it’s up to you to decide what you want. We do, however, have some helpful tips for you!
- First, you’ll want to find a pattern you like. Activewear patterns are not difficult to find online, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that suits your style.
- Next, you’ll want to buy your fabric. You can purchase your fabric anywhere fabric is sold! Luckily, the fabrics we talked about are not difficult to obtain. But what if you’re not sure if the fabric you picked out is perfect? You can request a small sample of the fabric if you want to take it home and test how fast it dries. Otherwise, just stretch it a bit at the store and see how well it snaps back. Imagine the fabric as a pair of yoga pants. Will the fabric be everything you want it to be? Once you’ve decided on your fabric, it’s smart to purchase a bit more than you need just in case you need to go back and alter the finished product later.
- You’ll want to get your other materials together too. Stretchy fabrics should be sewn with a ballpoint or stretch needle for the best results. A stretch needle is going to be best for working with stretchy fabric, but the ballpoint needle is usually fine too. Both of these needles have rounded tips so that the needle goes between the threads instead of stabbing the threads directly. The stretch needle is less likely to skip stitches with stretchy fabric, however. Stretchy fabric must be stitched with care to avoid any tears or snags while hemming. You’ll also need thread and possibly elastic for the waistband (if required in your pattern).
- Make sure you take accurate measurements for yourself. Understand that yoga pants are going to be stretchy, so the finished product is going to be smaller than your actual waist. You want the pants to stretch and conform to your body comfortably.
- You should always wash your fabric before cutting out your pattern. This ensures that your final product will fit perfectly, and not shrink after you wash it the first time. Get the shrinkage out of the way first!
- That’s it! Just follow the instructions with your pattern, tailoring to your own measurements. Have fun sewing, and let us know how your pants turned out!
How to Take Measurements for Yoga Pants
An easy way to take your own measurements, if you don’t have a fabric measuring tape, is by using some yarn. Wrap the yarn around your body and use a piece of chalk to mark off where it meets again. Then use whatever measuring tool you have to measure the length of the string.
When you measure your waist, ensure that you are measuring the proper area. Your waist is considered to be the little dip beneath your ribs and just above your navel.
When you measure your hips, make sure you wrap the string around the fullest part of your butt. You want to make sure everything stays snug in your new pants.
Your inseam is the length from your crotch to the bottom of your ankle. If you can’t reach to measure yourself this way, have a friend help you, or measure this length on a pair of pants that fit you very well.
You’ll also need to know how wide your thighs are. Once again, make sure you wrap the string around the thickest part of your body part.
How to Incorporate Compression Panels
If you want to add compression panels to your DIY yoga pants, you’ll need to buy compression fabric. Compression fabric is meant to be tighter on your body to add support, so it won’t stretch as easily. Don’t go overboard with this fabric, or you won’t be doing much yoga in your yoga pants. You may also want to cut your fabric a little larger for areas you want to use this fabric. You still want it tight for the compression to work, but make sure you’re not going to be uncomfortable.
Where to Find Yoga Pants Sewing Patterns
Most places that sell patterns offer activewear patterns these days. You can find many cool and creative ones that were hand-designed on Etsy. A quick google search will find you plenty of other pattern offerings. If you really don’t want to pay for a pattern, and you’re not super picky, there are actually some really nice free patterns to be found. Whatever you’re looking for can be found through Google. There are even some nifty sew-along videos on YouTube!
Only after you decide what you are going to be using your yoga pants for, can you determine what fabric they should be made out of. Whether you decide to use a natural fabric like wool, or a mix of synthetic fibers like the polyester-spandex blend, you can be confident in your choice if you’ve read this guide. In the end, only you can decide what works best for you. We hope we’ve made it easier for you. Tell us about your experience with yoga pants in the comments below, and if you’ve ever made your own, we’d love to hear how it went!