Jeans, baby! I MADE JEANS!
If you can't read my blogging tone there, I'm pretty darn excited about it.
Sure, the fit isn't perfect. But, considering I've never even sewn a pair of pants before, the fact that my first pair look like "real" jeans and can be worn in public is pretty monumental for me.
I went into this project excited to beef up my technical skills and just generally learn how jeans are constructed. Like, how does that little coin pocket get there? And where do you even start with a zipper fly? Well, it turns out none of these things are difficult at all. They just take a lot of little steps. If you take it one step at a time and try not to get overwhelmed, before you know it, you'll have a pair of real deal, wearable jeans too! Yay us!
Now I'll give you permission to take my very sage advice with a grain of salt, because I was lucky enough to have hands-on instruction from the pattern designer herself, Heather Lou, in a 2-day Ginger Jeans workshop at Needlework this past December. So I actually have no idea how difficult it would be all on your own. Taking that workshop meant no second-guessing and Googling at every step. It also meant I had someone eye-level with my butt to make all those fun crotch adjustments and pocket placements. (Ahem. Thanks, Heather.) But guess what? No one ever has to find out how to sew jeans alone, because Heather just announced that she is offering an online jeans-making workshop. The class I took with her was so beneficial, I considered signing up for the online one too, just so I would always have it. I still might.
Anyway, enough gushing about lovely, talented Heather. Back to me. Me me me. Let's look at those jeans, shall we?
Woohoo! Look good, right?
So what were those fitting issues I was talking about? It's hard to tell in photos, maybe in real life too, because it's more of a feeling than an obvious visual problem. They just don't feel right.
The biggest issue is the waistband. It's far too loose. And trust me, I tried to fix it. Three times, to be exact. In each case, it fit fine when basted, but stretched out after top-stitching. So I'm 99% sure now that it's a denim stretch issue and that I needed to interface with something more stable than knit interfacing. That or cut it on the cross-grain. Either way, that's an easy fix for next time. My hems stretched out too, which is just more proof that the recovery on this denim is crap.
By the way, the denim is from the clearance section of Fabricland and wasn't labelled in any way, so I had no idea of the lycra content. It had approximately 20% stretch.
My measurements are between a size 6 and size 8, so I cut a size 8. But I will definitely cut a size 6 on my next pair. Here's why.
I ended up taking a whole 1" off my back thigh seam (from the crotch and tapering to the knee). I would also prefer the whole hip and tummy area to be more snug. Hopefully that won't affect the fit of the butt too much, because that's looking pretty good as is. This was a pattern drafted for a booty. Ha!
The front crotch was also too long, so I took 1/2" out there.
And of course that damn waistband. On the second version I took it in by 1/2" and on the third version I took it in another 3/4" (three 1/4" darts). How is it still too big? Gah!
I didn't adjust my pattern for height on these pair and took off a good 4 inches from the length, so I'll adjust that properly for my next pair as well.
There are great illustrations of these kinds of adjustments in the sewalong.
A lot of sewers talk about how difficult top-stitching can be, but I didn't have too much trouble with it, especially once I got home to my own machine and my handy top-stitching foot. All those years of sewing apron pockets came in handy here, I guess.
All the hardware was supplied by Heather in my class, but she has a great list of suppliers in her sewalong. She's also going to be selling Cone Mills denim kits again soon, which is very exciting.
Last but not least, I lined the pockets with a railroad striped cotton from my Alice Top fail. Reduce, reuse, folks.
All in all, I found sewing jeans to actually be a lot of fun. Which surprised me, as I was expecting quite the opposite. Maybe it was because I approached the whole project from more of an experimenting and learning perspective and never expected it to be perfect, for once. (Note to self.) It could also be that completing each step was incredibly satisfying. I could see how people would become addicted to the process, especially once nailing the fit.
There will definitely be many more attempts. Stay tuned.
Now, taking photos of jeans, is another story. Let me leave you with an image that expresses just how much fun that can be. So. much. fun. Haha!