Crikey, I’ve actually made jeans!

Proper jeans, with rivets and coin pockets and miles of top stitching. And they fit! All very miraculous.

It is of course the Ginger Jeans pattern from Closet Case. I chose these as a) I love the look of the high rise option, b) I have read so many blog posts and reviews about them and everyone, without exception, enthuses about the pattern, and c) Heather Lou (of Closet Case) has a huge amount of help on her website for making them, including blog posts, a comprehensive photographic fitting guide, a sewalong and an online course you can buy. The latter of which I did, and can highly recommend. I also bought the jeans hardware kit that Closet Case sells, so that I would know I was using the right bits and pieces.

After my last trouser making foray (see my last post) I felt I had learnt enough to try making proper jeans. I was having a ‘how hard can it be?!’ moment, it appears.

And fortunately, it all worked out more or less ok.

The cutting out process was a bit painful, as it is recommended you cut out in a single layer to stop the legs twisting. The only flat space I had that was almost big enough was in our upper hallway landing, which only just fit the fabric and me. I had to scamper my way round holding onto door frames to avoid stepping on the fabric! And had very sore knees by the end! It took three hours in total to cut everything out and do the interfacing. I’m hoping it will be a bit quicker next time.

The next step was working out the machine tension for the top stitching.

Everything I had read indicated that getting your machine to work properly with the thicker topstitching thread is one of the trickier bits of making jeans. As you can see, the problem my machine had was with the bobbin tension. I ended up with the tension at 8 and the stitch length at 3. It wasn’t perfect from the underneath bobbin side of the stitching, but it was ok and looked good from the top.

My machine did struggle a bit with the top stitching on the parts with seriously multiple layers of denim, and it didn’t like backstitching with it. But with some full on cranking of the handwheel when things got stuck, and the odd occasion of cutting away stuck threads from within the bobbin case, I (and the fabric!) made it through fairly unscathed.

My first bits of top stitching:

Constructing the front involves all the multiple pocket pieces and facings, getting them in the right order, position and the right way up, clipping, turning and toptstitching. All lots of fun and very satisfying when it all lines up. Even if some of the time I really couldn’t envisage how it was all going to come together. And I did manage to sew the coin pocket on the left side rather than the right. Hey ho, I’m calling it one of my personalisation details šŸ˜„.

The only thing that really went a little wrong with these jeans was the fly front. Probably not that surprising! I very nearly got it right, but think I positioned the zip just a little too far over. It meant I had very little space to get in the two lines of top stitching, and the thread was very close to the zip teeth when I did the second row. In fact I found I could barely unzip the fly, which would make the jeans a tad pointless! So I unpicked the second, inner topstitching and decided I would just have to live with only having one row.

But I really wasn’t happy with how that looked. And later on when trying them on as a basted trial run, I found I had a strange hole at the bottom on the zip front area where the bottom of the zip hadn’t been caught properly in the stitching, which was just too low. I slept on it and the next day I unpicked the bar tack (which had actually gone in quite well!) and the bottom bit of the topstitching around the fly front. I re-sewed it in about an inch higher. It makes the curve of the stitching line a bit square, but it fixed the hole problem and I also found I could sneak a second line of stitching in. Yay! This area has turned out to be the worst bit of the topstitching I did on the jeans, but actually I’m ok with it. It’s not horribly wobbly and probably no one else is staring at my crotch, as Heather Lou would say. Plus, hell, I made jeans!!

So, a few other notes:

  • I sewed the back pockets on whilst the back legs were still separate. Heather Lou recommends doing a pocket fitting later in the process to see what position suits you best, but I wanted to sew them on whilst the pieces were flat, to make it easier for my first pair. I positioned them up very slightly, so the second row of topstitching was in line with the tailor tacks (yes, surprising even myself, I am starting to use tailor tacks fairly often!). When trying on the basted pair I realised the back pockets sat out too wide. More or less ending at the very side of my behind / hips. Not really the look I was after – making my behind look wider! I couldn’t bear the thought of unpicking all that topstitching and redoing them so I came up with another solution. When sewing the jeans together properly, I used a 20mm seam allowance along the back crotch seam and a 12mm allowance on the side seams adjacent to the pockets. This brought the pockets into the centre a little more but gave me the same circumference.
  • I also blended the two views of the pattern together at the cutting stage, so I had the high rise waist with the stovepipe legs. At the basting stage I decided to slim the legs down a bit more. I still kept the straight leg but from the top of my thigh down I used a 20mm seam allowance on both the inseam and the outer seam

Anyway, more photos:

The buttonhole went in well, hallelujah. I had done a test run on an interfaced scrap of the denim but was still very nervous of ruining my almost finished jeans. Installing the button and the rivets is great fun. You can see my high tech rivet-installing kit in the photos above!

I took about 3 or 4 cm off the final length of the jeans to get them the perfect length. I compared their inseam to the ones on a couple of RTW pairs of jeans and worked out where I wanted them to end. They then hemmed up like a dream and ta dah! Jeans!

And another one of my #makenine ticked off.

I am so thrilled with these jeans. Yes they are not perfect (the zip doesn’t like pulling up past the pocket stay when they are on, but luckily I can get them on with the zip done up to just past that section) but I made them. And I really wouldn’t have believed I could do that, even a few months ago.

So of course, having finished them, the weather in the UK immediately turned unbelievably lovely with temperatures in the mid 20s. In April. Yes, that same April where it snowed on the 1st of it. Hence I haven’t been able to wear my happy-making jeans yet. But I’ve just started working on two summer dresses, so it’s bound to turn cold and rainy again next week…

2 thoughts on “Crikey, I’ve actually made jeans!

  1. Pingback: Sashaying in my Sasha trousers – Tailored by Kate

  2. Pingback: Make Nine – looking back at my plans for 2018 – Tailored by Kate

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