I repeat, I MADE JEANS! With rivets and miles of topstitching and flat-felled seams and a coin pocket and everything! Apparently this makes me very happy.
A while ago after a jeans shopping expedition that left me thoroughly fed up with the whole world, I toyed with the idea of making skinny jeans. I looked at adapting a Burda cigarette pants pattern, but I didn't want my jeans to look anything other than the real deal and I didn't really know where to start in terms of honing the details that make jeans well, jeans. So I abandonned the idea.
Enter the Ginger Jeans pattern by Heather at Closet Case Files. I'm not normally one to gush about a pattern, and this is the first time I've used one of Heather's patterns, but seriously the level of detail in the instructions, the pattern so finely tuned that the rear pockets are butt-enhancing perfection and the huge amount of research she's done into proper jeans construction techniques, denim and finishes is astounding. I thought it was going to be an ordeal, but the instructions are written so clearly and provide such a significant amount of guidance without being patronising, that before you know it you're hammering in rivets (incidentally, this is supposed to be done from the back ....) and you've a pair of custom-made jeans on your hands.
I loved making these - even with constant switching back and forth between regular and top stitching thread.
So, for the first time ever:
- I have jeans that fit me;
- I don't display my arse to everyone in the vicinity every time I bend down;
- They fit me at the waist AND the hip;
- They're long enough in the leg;
- They are genuinely comfortable as well as being skin tight.
The technical bits
So we all know that the fit, the pockets and how they make your bottom look is what makes or breaks jeans, whether you buy them or make them. I get the impression that Heather's patterns are drafted for those with ample bottom and my BF bottom certainly fits into that category, so that was a good starting point. I still needed to make quite a few alterations to perfect the fit and the key to the success of these was Heather's guidance on small incremental changes. I've learnt from the very baggy crotch on these trousers that I can be a bit heavy-handed when doing the necessary full-butt adjustment (and that really is the technical term!).
- Added 3/8" for a full butt adjustment (see the photo below) which meant slashing and spreading the back pattern piece from the crotch to the side seam. The aim here is to introduce extra curve to the back crotch seam without adding any length to the sideseam which is why it disappears to nothing.
- Added 1/4" to the crotch length at front and back.
- Took 2" out of the top of the back yoke - again I pinched this out so that nothing was taken from the bottom of the piece so that it would still line up with the top of the jeans.
- Took 1 3/4" out of the top of the waistband.
- Angled the front crotch down by 1/4". You can just make out this tiny adjustment in the picture below where the black pen is pointing; it doesn't sound like it would make any difference at all, but totally does.
- Added 3" to the leg length
I didn't have any stretch cotton or denim I was prepared to use for a muslin, so I used regular old cotton muslin to do the fit, which was fine in terms of getting the shape right, but the lack of stretch meant my sizing was off. I ended up taking 1" off the side seams and 1/2" off the inseam (I cut a size US 12), which means next time I should probably go down a size or two.
I also made the legs as skinny as they would go - I like my jeans really close fitting and particularly around the ankle. Which does make for some funny dancing when trying to get them off.
I'm pretty pleased with the innards too - I used flat fell seams (which are the seams used on most RTW jeans) wherever possible but for once really wish I had an overlocker, as apart from those zigzagged side seams everything else looks pretty neat. I'm particularly proud of the bound fly shield as my track record with bias binding is abysmal.
Back in October Heather and Jennifer from Workroom Social colluded to put together a Ginger Jeans kit (they've literally just released another one, bless them), which included all the supplies (rivets, denim needles, topstitching thread etc) as well as two different types of denim from Cone Mills. I don't really know what/ where that is, but for once I was quick enough to get one of the kits and I'm so glad I did. This denim is beautiful. In these pics, this is the fourth or fifth time I've worn these jeans - and can you see any baggy knees, baggy butt, stretched out waist? No, me either, the recovery is amazing, the colour is gorgeous (even if when I wear them my hands turn blue - more pre-washing required me thinks) and the contrast with the top stitching thread is beautiful. And whilst we're here can I just have a little boast about my top stitching. I'm so proud of it!
The pockets and waistband are lined with some pretty leftover cotton from a dress I made my daughter last summer. I decided to line the waistband rather than use denim as I wanted something soft against my skin. But I like my waistband snug so I interfaced the denim to make sure it doesn't stretch out - it doesn't!
The final part of the construction which really makes jeans look like jeans was the rivets. You'd think hammering small pieces of metal through fabric would be a cinch. It probably is if you're not an idiot and manage to deduce that they should be hammered them from the back. Hmm.
Things I've learnt:
- Having made a few pairs of trousers in the last six months or so, I think I have finally nailed the adjustments I need to make and making small changes is the key.
- Rivets are tricky little blighters and need to be hammered from the BACK!
- Topstitching is actually fun and is incredibly pretty when it goes right.
I am delighted with these and have worn them a lot - shedding rivets all over Brooklyn. I will be making some more. With the summer weight denim included in the kit, I'm planning on making the lower rise version with skinny cropped leg and I really want to make a black pair as well.
I'm so happy I MADE JEANS!
See you soon. x