I didn’t think it could be done. Could I ever make jeans? I doubted myself and procrastinated for ages. Until finally, I used my old sewing trick that has served me so well: just do the first step.
This is great for life outside of sewing as well, but I mainly use it to get myself moving on “scary” projects. Even if the first step only takes one minute, once I do it, I can be done for that day. Next time, take the next step.
Eventually I tend to get caught up in the process and things move along. That’s what happened with these jeans. It took me forever to trace the pattern, and forever to cut them, and forever to get to sewing them, but at the point of sewing, I took the first step…and then the second…and then worked on them for a whole day! By that point, things were getting exciting, and I couldn’t wait to work on them again. After another day of sewing, I had them done! They are the most comfortable jeans I think I have ever worn. And they fit!
Aside from jeans-making being new to me (and therefore intimidating), pants in general intimidate me in the area of fit. The few times I have made/attempted to make pants or shorts, I can tell something is off, but I don’t know how to fix it. There were two things, I think, that really saved this pants attempt. One was that the drafting on these is different from what I have encountered in the Big 4 patterns that I have tried. In those, I always feel like the front is too high and the back is too low. This jeans pattern didn’t feel that way at all. The second thing that saved this project was all the excellent fitting advice that Heather (the designer) offers both in the instructions and in the sew-along on her blog, Closet Case Files.
So, let’s talk process a bit (Technical Talk Ensuing. Skim this part if you just want pictures.).
I chose to make this first pair of jeans out of an inexpensive denim in case I had a lot of problems. I got my denim at Jo-Ann Fabrics on sale. I noticed that many others had used denim from Jo-Ann’s with success, and so I decided to give it a try. I also got some interfacing there.
I found some rainbow topstitching thread in my stash. (I wish I knew where it came from so I could get more, but I have no idea. It may not even be real topstitching thread.) I used navy thread from my stash for the non-topstitching parts, and some really old thread for the basting. I’ve decided that basting is an excellent use for old thread. I have lots of hand-me-down thread and I know you’re not *supposed* to use it, but I do. I can’t let it go to waste. Basting seems the perfect use, because if it breaks, it doesn’t really matter.
The fabric for my pockets is some very old Amy Butler fabric that I had in my stash. My husband saw it and said, “Oh! You’re making your pockets out of diaper bag!” Back when I had my first baby, one of my best friends made me a diaper bag with this fabric. Time to put the scraps to a new use!
Now on to the jeans. I made View A in a size 14. View A has a low rise with stovepipe legs–similar to what I wear on a daily basis.
Because I’m new to fitting pants, I just cut the size that fit my measurements without any initial adjustments. I assembled the front of the pants completely. Then I basted the back of the pants with the exception of the pockets, which I pinned on. After that I basted the sides together, all before assembling the waistband.
My main issue came at the back. The back waist gaped. Heather explained very clearly what I needed to do, and so I made a few darts in the yoke, tried the pants on again, and then took out just a bit more until they felt right. Then I sewed everything minus the waistband together.
After that, I assembled the waistband and basted it on. It also gaped, so I followed Heather’s directions and put a few darts in. On my first try, I sewed the darts in opposite to how they were supposed to go! Argh!! I contemplated just recutting the whole thing, but I ripped out the darts and resewed them in the end.
Once I got that right, I sewed it all up and went after the back pockets. I started to get nervous when I sewed them on because I was nearly out of topstitching thread. I managed to finish the pockets with just a little bit left. Success!
When I put these pants on for the first time…oh, it was wonderful! They were so comfortable and fit so well. I had done it thanks to help from Heather Lou! What an amazing thing to make your own jeans!
If and when I make these again, here is what I would do differently.
- I would interface the waistband. I thought I wanted one that would stretch but, I think because I chose a cheaper denim, mine tends to stretch out.
- I would also consider basting the jeans the slightest bit tighter. These are so comfortable, but the denim doesn’t have the greatest recovery despite the spandex content.
- Lastly, I’m curious about how to do a midrise version, something Heather explains on her blog. I’d like to try that.
If you are considering making jeans, I highly recommend this pattern. It gave me enough confidence to move forward and to want to try making more pants so I can learn how to fit other styles to my body as well. Heather also has a jeans making e-book and published a blog post on basic pants fitting that you might find helpful.
Update: I’m linking this post up with Allie J.’s blog for her series called “The Social Sew”. Each month she puts out a sewing theme and you can link up your recent projects that fit within the theme. Since this month is ‘Me Made Basics‘, I thought these jeans would be a great fit. You can also check out what everyone else has made. It’s a great way to find new sewing blogs!
- I just found out that one of my favorite podcasts, Thread Cult, is back up and running. I thought perhaps it had been abandoned, but it turns out it was only on hiatus. This podcast is “for the sewing, fashion and textile obsessed”.
- I’m fascinated by the Instagram account of Tara Curtis @t_jaye. She makes these fabulous geometric designs that remind me of quilts, but she does it by weaving strips of fabric. If you love pattern and design, I think you’ll like her work. She also has a website.
- Have you ever looked at Cooking Light magazine? I like their recipes because they are healthy AND they taste good! Several of their recipes have become family favorites. You may be able to read Cooking Light at your library (ours lends out magazines) or check out their recipes via their website.
- Here is an important lesson on compound words. (Preview this before showing it to your kids–there’s nothing bad, just a few surprising parts that could scare little ones.)