If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already know that I love making jeans. I started making my own earlier this year, when I noticed that all my RTW jeans seemed to be giving up the ghost simultaneously, like they’d all decided together that they wanted to retire en masse. In fairness to my jeans, they were all purchased circa 2009-10, so apart from my two pregnancies when they got a bit of a rest, they had been working very hard for quite some time.
First off I just tried to find new ones. I don’t know whether styles have changed since I last bought jeans, or whether I’m just more picky about fit now that I sew for myself, but nothing felt great. So I decided to take the plunge and buy a couple of patterns I’d had my eye on for some time: The Ginger skinny jeans and the Morgan boyfriend jeans by Closet Case Patterns.
I made my first pair of Ginger skinnies before I used social media, so I don’t have any photos of the construction process, but this is the finished result:
This is the low rise fit with no alterations, so I was pretty chuffed as you can imagine. If you’re planning on making jeans, set aside some time: I’d say these took me about 9 hours in total (though my later ones have gone together a bit quicker as I’m used to the instructions now). The one thing I regretted was having interfaced the waistband: the instructions recommend it for the high rise version, but leave it up to you for the low rise version. Well, it was like having a band of steel round my abdomen every time I sat down (in case there is any doubt, this is not my preferred fit ;)). So I unpicked the waistband and ordered some new denim to make another, skipping the interfacing. That worked much better, though I ran out of topstitching thread so thought I’d just hammer the button on and then redo the topstitching another time… what a fool! You can’t topstitch once the button is on, and you can’t remove the button. So my first pair of jeans are wearable but have an odd-looking only-topstitched-along-the-bottom-edge waistband, so I try to wear them only with longer length tops (note strategic angle of this pic!) They are also a little tight fitting at the back of the knee (you can just see a bit of wrinkling in the photo), so I find that after a whole day wearing them I quite look forward to taking them off.
Lesson noted for the next pair of Gingers…
The next jeans I tried were the more relaxed fitting Morgan boyfriend jeans. Again, they fitted straight out of the packet, and I like them even more than the Gingers (which is high praise indeed!) I made this Capri version out of gorgeous organic denim by Amandine Cha.
it’s fully reversible and I do slightly prefer the darker side (which you can see in the turnups), but I made these using the lighter side because I’d already made my husband a pair of shorts in the darker side and didn’t want to go all “Howard and Hilda”…
The mistake I made was with the buttons. I hadn’t clocked this with the Gingers as they have a zip fly, so I hammered in my jeans buttons to correspond to the centre of the buttonhole, as I would with ordinary buttons. But because there’s so much pressure pulling on the buttons, this makes the fly gape a little. At first I didn’t realise this was the issue, I thought I must have just gained a little weight!! So I didn’t realise I should rectify it for my second pair, which followed quite swiftly:
I’m ambivalent about these ones, but take full responsibility for my own ambivalence: the pattern calls for denim with no stretch, but I had a length of the stretch denim left after my second waistband attempt, and so I thought it might make for a super-comfy pair of jeans if I used the stretch denim on the boyfriend cut. Well, it does, they are indeed super-comfy, but they’re also not the most flattering, as they just look a bit too big (you can see it more on the photo of the back). BUT, how gorgeous is the red topstitching?
And I couldn’t resist playing around with one of the decorative stitches on my machine for the back pocket detail. I attached the buttons as I had done the previous time, and again there was that gaping at the fly, even though the jeans were actually quite roomy on me. And the penny finally dropped (OK OK, what I really mean is I showed it to my husband and he explained it to me): the buttons need to be attached at the furthest point of the buttonhole in order to sit perfectly.
So onwards to the next pair of Gingers, armed with all the lessons learned.
For this pair I reduced the seam allowance around the knee to 3/8”, and it has given me plenty of ease to wear them comfortably all day.
I also went for red topstitching again (thanks to some encouragement from my Instafriends!), and although in the end I couldn’t use that lovely faux leather trim, I did get happy with the rivets:
I also decided to assemble and attach the waistband with a 3/8” seam allowance, as on my other pair I did notice a little bit of hip splurge, and let’s face it, no-one needs to see that. So it was a bit of a punt, but I gave it a go and I’m so unbelievably happy with this tiny modification! The rise is just perfect for me. The one thing I wish I’d done is put two buttons on the waistband (one above the other) since it’s now 1/2″ deeper, so that’ll be how I do the next pair. At least I got the button placement right, finally!
Also, my favourite little tip for the waistband: as is usually the case with turning out a point, the instructions advise you to snip diagonally across the corner, making sure that you don’t cut into the stitches. But just before I sewed this waistband, I was pulling down my favourite pair of RTW jeans and I noticed something (I’m not the only one who inspects RTW clothing to see how it’s constructed, you all do that too right?!):
See that bulge in each corner, that looks square-shaped? That’s not a clipped-off corner, that’s all the seam allowance folded over inside the waistband corner. So I thought I’d give it a go, as I’m always quite nervous about how long those clipped corners will last before they start fraying. Plus this would involve no cutting or sewing, so the worst that could happen was that it wouldn’t work and I just would follow the instructions.
So I sewed the waistband and waistband lining right sides together as instructed, but then instead of clipping the corner, I grabbed hold of it with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, turned the waistband right side out with the other, and used my point turner to get the insides sitting flat and the corner looking neat. And it worked! I don’t know how this would work on a point that isn’t a right angle, but I’m so pleased with it as a little trick for this (or any) waistband. No need to worry about cutting too close to the stitches or about the corner fraying!
If you look very closely in this pic, you can see that the top of the waistband above the button flips outwards a bit – hence my desire to put two buttons on next time. I”m sure it won’t be long before I’m making Ginger #3…
But for now, the next stop in my jeans adventure is the Jalie Eléonore pull-on jeans. I’m really excited to try a different style, and will report back soon on how that goes!
Thanks for reading my adventures in sewing jeans, have a great end of the week and till soon!