I made jeans.
I MADE JEANS!
When I began sewing my own clothes I figured if I ever made jeans I could say I have arrived. I still don’t think I’ve arrived, but as an apparel sewist, jeans are a pretty big deal so I’m quite pleased.
I sewed the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans in Cone Mills S-Gene Denim from Threadbare Fabrics. I only spent most of my pregnancy last year thinking about them. Then in the springtime after loosing my baby-weight I made a muslin. But soon after that the heat index soared past 100 degrees Fahrenheit and I lost all my motivation. However one morning in August I woke up and decided it was time. 10 days later I had an awesome pair of jeans to show for it! (and two months later I’m finally blogging about it!)
*excuse the variety of stylings. My camera was having focus issues so I attempted pictures several times!
I have a lot to talk about, so I’ve created links and you can jump to the parts that interest you 😉
- List of fit adjustments
- List of modifications
- Embroidered waistband – “hear me roar“
- Back pocket design
- Overall fit
- adjusted the crotch curve slightly using the flexible ruler method.
- took about an inch out of the rise.
- added length, my usual 2-3″ (My finished inseams is 35″).
- added some width at the seam allowances. (more about that here).
- topstitched the waistband facing
- embroidered the waistband facing (more about that here)
- distressed all the seams prior to topstitching
- flat felled the inseam
- added a detail to the bottom inseam, visible when cuffed
- put the pocket lining on backwards so I can see the design when I use my pockets
- used the Closet Case Files back pocket template guide for the pocket design
My favorite design element of these jeans is by far the embroidered waistband. Heather proposed writing something on them in her sewalong, but I doubted I would come up with anything worth writing, so I got to work selecting my pocket bag fabric. I had just picked up my menagerie pre-order and was admiring some of the metallic floral prints when my eye caught the yard of Jungle print that was set aside for my son’s blanket. With Katy Perry’s Roar song in my head from my last spin class it all just came together and there was no turning back. For real, I tried to convince myself not to do it. The fabric was for my son’s blanket. But he couldn’t defend himself so I selfishly decided these jeans would be more awesome than the blanket and since he’s a baby (a boy baby at that) he wouldn’t care. Then I set to work figuring out how to operate the embroidery feature on my machine.
Heather offers back pocket template guide with 30 designs on them if you sign up for her mailing list. I highly recommend this. There is something for everyone and I really like the design I chose. To transfer the design to the jeans I traced it onto my Swedish tracing paper and then simply sewed the tracing paper to my pockets along the template lines! Then it was pretty easy to tear off the Swedish tracing paper. So if you weren’t sure how to transfer the design to your jeans, try that!
You can also see my distressing in these pictures. I took a fine grade sandpaper lightly to the seams prior to topstitching. I was going to sand some larger areas like the thighs, but I didn’t like the fuzzy look so I decided to let them wear naturally.
My biggest fear going into these jeans was topstitching the waistband. I had previously made the Chi Town Chinos skirt and struggled topstitching the waistband, but learned a lot of tricks to the trade in the process. I was more prepared this time. Here are some things that worked for me:
- I pounded the thick areas with a hammer
- I utilized a make-shift hump jumper
- I used Schmetz Microtex Sharp needles. They worked better than denim or topstitching needles for me.
- I switched back and forth between two guide foots, one to guide me along the seam and one to get me 1/4″ away from the first one.
- I had a dedicated topstitching machine which was actually my Janome. It handles layers better than my Baby Lock.
In the end, topstitching the waistband went just fine until the last couple stitches, so I just left myself a long thread and finished it by hand. The bar tacks gave me more fits though. I eventually got the hang of it, but the one on the fly looks tacky…no pun intended.
I also topstitched the waistband facing before topstitching it down from the top. My RTW jeans have topstitching on the inside and I wanted to replicate it.
When people think about making jeans or pants for that matter I think the scariest part is crotch fitting. Like I mentioned I followed the flexible ruler tutorial and made slight curve adjustments. I also tweaked it more during the muslin phase along with a slight rise adjustment, but overall I didn’t change much and I do really like the seat fit. The zipper doesn’t bubble up when I sit down and I don’t feel or see any weird drag lines. It is very comfortable and I’m happy with the front and back seat fit.
The legs however are a little too tight. The 9.5 oz. denim probably exasperates the issue. RTW skinny jeans I have are made with lighter weight denim and more stretch. So a heavier denim feels more restricting – primarily in the knees. It’s a little disappointing, given that I took time in the muslin and basting phases because I wanted perfect jeans on the first try. When I tried on the muslin it felt too tight in the legs. I didn’t know how much of that had to do with the fact that the twill had slightly less stretch than my denim, so I added a larger seam allowance to work with and kept going. During the basting of the denim they still felt a little tight, but not really that bad or uncomfortable, so I just went with as narrow of a seam allowance as I could and kept on. I didn’t see any drag lines indicating the need for a full calf or thigh adjustment. Now that they are done I notice folds of fabric mostly at the knees, but also just under my seat. I think I will try a full calf adjustment next time….Darn spin classes.
I also notice the inseam is a little too far forward for my preference. It looks like leg twist but I don’t see how that could have happened. The outseam also looks too forward, as if the front leg piece isn’t wide enough. I can’t be sure it isn’t just needing to size up, but the problem seems to be just the front leg. The listing photo inseam does the same thing. When I cut my pieces I spread the fabric out flat on the floor, used pattern weights, and measured from the grain-line to the selvedge to make sure I cut on grain. I traced all the leg pieces with chalk prior to cutting any so that I was always able to use the selvedge as a gauge. I did do a flat felled seam so that adds an extra 1/4″ toward the front, which visually impacts the appearance of leg twist.
Overall I am thrilled with my first pair of jeans and I wear them with pride. The details are legit. They look so purdy! The instructions both in the pattern and the sew along are great. I definitely intend to make them again, only I will work on giving myself a little more leg room and I will try a lighter weight denim next time.
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