Let’s get this straight. I planned to make these jeans as my February Minerva Blogging Network make before I had ever sewn jeans. And you may or may not know that I generally never make “test garments”, “muslins” or “toiles” . But taking a gamble using my Minerva supplies for my first ever pair of jeans seemed just too risky. Remember, I worried about sewing jeans for the following reasons:
- That my sewing machine would cope with all those layers
- That my top stitching would be neat enough
- Jeans buttons
- Jeans zip fly
- And fit again.
Therefore I actually trotted along to my local fabric shop to make my “test” pair in advance of sewing my Minerva jeans. So if you fancy reading about my learnings, trials but super tribulations & exultations in making my first pair of jeans, you can read about it here.
So here we are, one pair of jeans under my (Rhinestone buckle) belt & it was time to develop my plain jeans into a pair of jeans fit for a badger. I have been using the Jamie Jeans pattern by Named patterns. Now I understand that the pattern instructions have had a wee overhaul – and whilst I haven’t had chance to download my updated version yet – I expect there will be a few diagrams to supplement the surprisingly clear written instructions. I use the word “surprisingly” respectfully since I would never be able to write so technically about inserting fly zips or the canny front pockets as clearly as the peeps from Named have. Remember if you haven’t made jeans before, I’d strongly recommend this pattern – I have referred to it as “entry level jeans”!
To summarise the design of the Jamie jeans in case you have not come across them before – they are skinnies & need a stretch denim. They are not a classic western style 5 pocket jean, but are constructed with the front leg made in two pieces with a centre front top-stitched seam. There are cute horizontal front pockets that look like welt pockets – but fear not – are not – they have just been cleverly designed for maximum style & optimum simplicity to sew. The back pockets are sewn in two pieces with a horizontal seam.
If you are thinking of making this awesome pattern check out this fab photo tutorial that Jennifer has made on Flickr documenting everything in technicolour. I would also say that if making skinnies you do need to approach the whole fitting business as well (see my thoughts about this in my first pair). If making looser fitting jeans I guess the fit business will be different & maybe not so intense? I don’t know – you tell me?
OK, you want to know what I did to my jeans to make them fit for a badger, don’t you? Well, look at the kit- it has the most gorgeous indigo denim – it’s a mid weight with a slight vintage finish. The kit also has top stitching thread, a jeans zip, jean button, denim needles and …..wait for it …gold ric rac!!! Woo hoo! It’s going to be a party on my jeans!
So my original plan had been to use the ric rac in the cute back pockets as part of the mid pocket seam – remember they are constructed in two pieces. However, plans changed & I had other ideas about the back pockets ….mid sew, I decided to add the ric rac (like piping) to the front pockets. (I’ve written a tutorial about how to use ric rac like piping here). Not stopping at that I judged that ric rac on the back yoke would be *just tasteful enough*.
So, the back pockets – I was inspired to draw a personal design on the back pockets & topstitch it before attaching them to the jeans. And it was the pocket lining fabric that gave me my lead– I used the same pocket fabric I used in my test jeans – the elephant fabric from one of my Colette Laurel dresses. And so copied one of the elephants freehand onto some brown paper before tracing it onto the pockets themselves using a sharp chalk marker. But can you see what I did? One pocket has the front half of the elephant, the other pocket has his rear! I topstitched using top stitch thread (regular thread in the bobbin) & for the elephants used a short stitch length to allow greater precision. And I have to say I really like my ellies!! And my ric rac! And I don’t think they are too flash – really. Do you?
My original design concept for these jeans did not really plan in how to use the contrast top-stitch thread, but as I sewed I integrated single line top-stitching (or edge stitching to be precise) into the design. I used this effect across the front pockets, to attach the back pockets, along the yoke, and around the fly. I also used it along the inner leg seams & the belt loops. And there is enough thread in the kit for this – but any more top stitching – eg double lines – & you might need some more top stitching thread.
One of my favourite details & sewing processes was sewing the “jeans seamed” crotch seam. Somehow it was hugely satisfying to get such a neat & RTW –ish finish.
If you are wary about using a jeans button (they come in two pieces & look like a screw one side, with the button as the other), don’t be scared. You need a hammer, something sharp & a piece of scrap wood to absorb the DIY you are in fact performing, but I asked for a spare button in the kit in case I made a boo boo – but didn’t need it. This video on Youtube was my reference.
So if you want some tips about sewing jeans – I’ve listed a few as I wrote about my first pair. What I discovered about sewing a second pair of jeans is that my fear came back to bite me on my [elephant] pockets. Never ever expect any two fabrics with lycra in to behave or fit the same. I transferred the pattern adjustments from my first pair of jeans to the second pair, but I have to say they have turned out a little bit more on the snug side. I’d recommend always allowing a little bit more seam allowance to play around with fit. And next time I shall practice what I preach. However, it’s no biggie with this pair – they still fit, & are comfy but are perhaps not the clothing of choice for long journeys!
What I have also discovered about skinnies is that they suit numerous types of footwear.
To funky boots.
And that makes me happy. Because I (more than) like shoes & boots…. I also think there is something of a vintage vibe about skinnies with turn-ups. Love it!! So, if you fancy having a go with denim & ric rac give it a go – here’s the kit here. And for a chance to win it, there’s a few days left on the giveaway here.