Yayyyy I made jeans, I made jeans, la-la-la-la-laaaaaa!
So once I had made the Landers earlier in the year, I knew it couldn’t be too far along before I made myself some jeans. I have ready to wear jeans and the fit is always hideous. So once I had learned to make fit adjustments like I did on the Landers, the fear just dissipated.
I deliberately looked for a fairly standard denim colour to start with, as I knew it would be easier to hide any scruffy work. But I do want to make some brightly coloured jeans too. And a really nice deep blue pair too. But the indigo denim from Sarah’s shop was really attractive and it has lots of stretch, so I thought I would start off with that.
Definitely from the start, I also knew that I didn’t want to make the seemingly standard skinny jeans that everyone seems to wear. I had my eye on Ginger Jeans from Closet Case patterns but their skinny shape wasn’t what I was after. I bought the Flares add-on pattern, as I thought I might be able to work with that. But those were really flared.
Once I got the two patterns – the skinny jeans were a tissue paper version and the flares were on printed paper – I realised I could see through the tissue pattern to compare it to the flares underneath. I could see that the top half was the same shape, so that was reassuring. Then all I had to do was decide on the lower leg. In the end, I traced a pattern that copied the top half and got to the knee level and I just drew a straight line between the two patterns to find a nice relaxed fit shape that would suit me the best.
Initially I made a shorts toile with some old bedsheet fabric with no stretch in it. I didn’t take any photos because I couldn’t get the thing on. It was crazy. I spent a few days licking my wounds and feeling bad that I had put a bit of extra width on, since the Landers. Fast forward to making the final jeans and I actually sized down because the stretch in the denim was sufficient to fit me great at a smaller size. It’s good to know how much of a difference that makes.
Here’s me grading between sizes with coloured chalk, before tracing a new pattern out. Using a french curve, you can get a lovely smooth line between sizes that are already curving.
Making a toile with some of the proper fabric made all the difference and I found all the other little adjustments I wanted to make. Firstly from the measurements I did a size 16 to cover my hips. But because of the stretch in the denim I realised the whole thing was too big and I could go down to size 14 on the hips and 12 on the waist. A slight full tummy adjustment again, as with the Landers, and next time I will also do a swayback adjustment on the back. I will also do a deeper full bum adjustment because even the final version has some creases under the bum. They look great but it’ll be nice to get a great smooth look for the more brightly coloured version I want to make. As it went, by the time I finished, I was probably down to size 10 on the waist cos there was loads of room and they’re still a tiny bit of a comfy fit, not tight at all. Proof that doing a toile when it comes to stretch makes a huge size difference.
Construction then began in earnest and I started to do some topstitching. Man, am I NOT a fan of topstitching. Especially on my machine. It was looping at the back and so I increased the tension on the needle thread. I also was reminded to increase the stitch length too.
Tweaking the tension rectified itself for a bit of the work, and then went back to looping again. In the end, none of it shows and none of it is in places that make it itchy when wearing it, so I’ve let it go a bit. See my blog about the Sewing Weekender though, to see how I fell in love with slow speed topstitching on a computerised machine. It made all the difference to the whole thing. The manual machine chewed up that topstitching thread all the time. Drove me mad.
What I was pleased with were the pocket linings. I used this lovely cotton lawn inside the pockets of my Miette skirt last year, and I was using up the last of it. Very satisfying.
There were one or two bits that I wasn’t too sure about in the construction phase and was shown where I could check another handy pdf that went into more detail for me. One thing Closet Case patterns do well is helping you to bring up your skills with loads of pdfs.
For fitting adjustments – Basic pants fitting;
For making the jeans – Sewing Your Own Jeans;
Also a wonderful set of back pocket designs for you to try out.
I relied on these throughout. If the main instruction booklet wasn’t quite doing it for me, the pdf above chipped in, and vice versa.
I was pretty pleased with the zip fitting. I had to redo some of the topstitching later, on the nice slow-speed machine though, just for aesthetics.
Then I put the legs together and I could check all the adjustments I’d made to my traced pattern. The only slight tweaks I then had to make were to bring the hips in slightly just below the widest point, to get the right shape. This is going to be different on each pair of hips, so it’s good to give yourself time to make this shape nice and smooth.
Remaining steps to do were fitting the button (felt rather butch getting the hammer out for the purpose of garment construction!) Haha. Also the back pockets, belt loops and hemming.
I got the button on before the Sewing Weekender, and the hem baste-stitched, so that they could be worn. I tried a couple of different hem lengths before I found one I was happy with. I wanted to wear the jeans a bit before completing this step, and wearing different shoes with them – just to make sure I’m completely okay with them.
At the Sewing Weekender, I was able to do the lovely back pocket topstitching on the lovely slow speed setting. I couldn’t be more proud of my swishy feminine design.
Then after some help from other sewers to get them placed properly, I also made the most of my time with the machine by attaching the pockets with lovely neat topstitching.
Once I was back home from the Sewing Weekender, next I had to do was fit rivets (more hammering).
Bit of a tip there… the rivets I bought from Prym come with a little plastic holder and some fittings so that you can hold everything in place while you hammer. One has the shape of the rivet inside it and one is flat. I didn’t notice and banged in one rivet using the flat holder. It knocked the rivet flat and looked rubbish next to other rivets. Pulling those things out is a lot of work so I advise to learn from my mistakes! Here I am sitting on my concrete driveway, hammering one evening this week. 😊
Next were belt loops and again I was topstitching on my machine so the loops themselves work beautifully but getting them onto the jeans was arduous, despite the fact that I’d hammered them down a bit to thin them out. I persevered though and was able to get all of them in about half an hour. Hemmed them and they were ready to wear to work that day.
Really I couldn’t be more happy with my jeans. I’ve learned so much and picked up so many new skills. I have plans to make some brightly coloured ones soon, but for now, these are going to be worn every chance I get. Yay, I did it! And so can you – go on, you know you want to!