Heck yeah, I’m a jeans maker! Or a jeans-like trousers maker, as the case may be :). I’ve joined the Ginger party, a bit late, buy hey, better late than never, for Jeans in January jamboree, as organised by Chris over at Said & Done. So, welcome to my Gingerland adventures, down the rabbit hole we go…
I will start by saying that after my wedding dress, this was one of the most complicated, yet incredibly satisfying makes ever, and though by no means perfect, I absolutely love the outcome. Plus I’ve learnt more skills that I can count. And it’s darn additive, I just want to jump straight into making the next pair!! I’m a convert and not afraid to admit it, already a #diyjeansaddict (please spread this hashtag of you’re one too).
So, as you can observe, these are not exactly jeans, more like a jeans-like trousers. This is because I didn’t have denim fabric with the right amount of stretch at home and I couldn’t wait to go to the shops or wait for an online order to be delivered. Also, the fabric I had bought last year for my first pair of Gingers, this polka dot stretch denim from Guthrie & Ghanie, just didn’t feel right, as I was sure I will never actually wear polka dot jeans.
Anyhow, these were actually a previously made pair of capris trousers from Fashion with Fabrics, the Sewing Bee book 3. We had to make those on the Bee and I really loved that pattern, and they filled a coloured trousers hole in my wardrobe. I actually never blogged them because I hated the pics when I took them, but they did get quite a lot of wear, including on Christmas Day. However, I had lost a bit of weight and there were quite a few things wrong with them, so I thought they would make a great wearable muslin for my very first Gingers. With the original 4 pieces (2 backs and 2 fronts), and some spare leftover fabric, I had enough to cut out all the necessary pieces for Ginger view B.
FABRIC: I genuinely can’t tell you what this fabric actually is, but if you saw it, you would recognise it. I think it’s a sort of cotton/spandex mix, with a slight rough texture that was super popular in the early Noughties. I had loads of RTW items made of this fabric back in the day. It has a bit of body, mid-weight, but it’s incredibly stretchy, so I thought it would work well for the skinny version. Plus I loved the colour, a cold red, that goes very well with a denim jacket, white or black t-shirts and some navy as well…
For the pockets and waistband facing, I used a piece of left over cherry fabric from the summer dress from the Bee, it went so great with the red of the fashion fabric. It worked rather well because it’s quite stretchy as well.
TRIMS: As per the pattern instructions, I used a 20 cms nylon zipper, plus a jeans button and some iron-on woven interfacing. Also, because of the super stretch material, I used iron on stay tape here and there to keep things in check.
ALTERATIONS: I cut a size 10 all over, according to my measurements. After the initial muslin, in non stretch fabric, I realised that the calves and thighs will never fit in, but there was a inch wedge to be taken out at CB. Otherwise, it all fitted quite well, especially over the hips, were I was worried I might have to grade up.
I also had to work within the confines of the existing pre-cut trouser legs, so I ended up with capris versions instead of the full length, but that’s not a bad look after all.
FIT: Overall, I am as happy as I could be with a first attempt on the fit. The fabric is ultra stretchy and it makes a lot of wrinkles, especially at the knees front and back, but that’s because I didn’t have enough fabric to make the large calf adjustment which I know I needed and they ride up to the knee. Also, I probably need to extend the upper thighs a bit to remove the whiskers in the front. The waistband will need a bit more curving, as my waist/hip ratio is really small.
CONSTRUCTION: The main reason I wanted to make Ginger and not another jeans pattern out there was because I really love Heather Lou’s instructions on all her previous patterns and there was a sewalong available as well. So, for a change, I actually followed the instructions really carefully and paid attention to every step (also, because I really had no idea what I was doing really).
Although my fabric wasn’t exactly denim, I wanted to follow all the steps, including the top-stitching. This was actually the first hurdle. My machine didn’t really like the top-stitching thread at all, not sure why, because I had used this before without any issues… So I had to find a plan B. Which was a a great tip I picked up from Claire Louise Hardie from the Thrifty Stitcher: using a doubled-up normal thread to ‘fake’ top-stitching. Have a look here. It worked like a charm.
Out of the jeans making operations, I found the front fly zipper most complicated. I could not work my brain around it, in spite of the sewlong and the illustration. So not until I’ve actually seen it done in a video it clicked as to what goes where. I very much recommend this video with Sandra Betzina demonstrating how to insert the zipper. I am still a bit puzzled as to the zipper shield, not sure if I did it correctly in the end, but I’m fairly confident on how to insert the zipper now.
The other part that was a bit difficult was the top-stitching of the fly. My fabric was super stretchy and the curve just didn’t want to get sewn, not to mention the second row perfectly parallel. So I ended up with only one line.
I also had trouble with the waistband, but that was totally my fault. I had sewn the centre back at 1 cm (3/8”) seam allowance, as when I tried the basted version for for, they felt a bit tight over the bum. And of course I forgot that when I put in the waistband and was really confused as to why the notches didn’t match. Luckily, Heather Lou allowed for issues like this and the end of the waistband either way come a few good centimetres beyond the end of the front.
I ended up not putting in the belt loops, although had made them using the coverstitch (there is even an attachment for belt loops, but haven’t got it). The bar tacking didn’t work with the double thread and I lost patience trying to make it work. But the trousers stay up without a belt, so I figured I can get away without them. Might go back and add them later.
The jeans button was so much easier that I thought, just used the Prym Vario pliers and they went right in. However, the buttonhole was a different matter. Easy to make, but probably not in the best position. I hadn’t realised the needle was moved to the leftmost position from the topstitching, so it ended up 1/8” lower than I had meant it, so now the top of the waistband is flopping a bit.
WHAT I’D DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME: Oh, where to start? There jeans/trousers are by no means perfect, neither was I expecting them to be. And this is ok, because I learnt loads and I know I will wear them so much in the summer, because the stretch is so comfy and I love the colour and they have pockets. Main thing next time will be the fit, because this fabric was ultra stretchy and I doubt any jeans I’ll end up using will behave the same. So I probably have to rethink the size I cut out. I have reprinted the updated version with the pocket facing, to cut a different size. I’d also change the placing of the pockets, they feel a bit too low on the bum. And, as I already mentioned, I’d move the positioning of the buttonhole.
OVERALL: I LOVE this pattern!! It’s really empowering to find yourself the other side of this daunting project and realise that you have something wearable to show for your efforts. It was hard, but nowhere near as hard as I made it up to be in my head. Had you asked me this time last year, I was deeply entrenched in the ‘I’ll naver make jeans in my life, don’t be silly!’ camp, because I didn’t see the point. But because of my RTW fast, I really need a pair of jeans, so I had plenty of motivation. And I would say this to any one of you: give it a go, even if you are not particularly keen, but there are so many skills you can pick up to use on other types of project. And not to mention you can add the “jeans maker’ badge to your hat!
So yeah, I’ve made (sort of) jeans in January, and couldn’t be happier. How about you guys? What was/is your white whale of a sewing project? How have you overcome it or working on overcoming it?
Have a fab week!