Ok I know I have already shouted that message before when I made my Jamie jeans, twice. But this time I have made traditional 5 pocket jeans and am so chuffed with the result.
This is not only my Minerva make this month, but also what I pledged for the Made Up Initiative and I have managed to finish them well ahead of the deadline. And worn them too (once!) And the Made Up Initiative has just a few days left to run & has so far scaled huge heights in how much money has been raised …
I used the Ginger jeans pattern by Closet Case files, having seen so many examples popping up in my blog reader that all extolled wonderful sewing & fitting experiences that I caved in. Pattern selected, I hopped across to Minerva and looked for some awesome denim & thread. I wanted an aged look & nothing too bright (on my scale of brightness that is!) so with the help of Vicki at Minerva I went for this ‘distressed’ (it’s not full of tears & bleach, don’t worry!) stretch denim & bronze top stitching thread. Immediately I have to say this is a magical combination – the denim is absolutely divine to cut, sew & wear. It has the look that I was after – aged – but not overly, plus it is very dark indigo. The top stitching thread too is muted enough but most definitely delivering on the detail 5 pocket jeans provide. Note you need enough thread, even though you only use it in the upper spool with a regular thread in your bobbin, I eeked out two reels (you have to allow for a few mistakes afterall!).
And pre wash your denim, a few times. I washed mine at least three times – it helps to finish the cut edges otherwise you can end up with unravelling threads, denim & the lycra tangling up in the wash.
OK, so onto the jeans. I followed the written instructions at times but mainly used the sewalong. If you want to sew any jeans, use this sewalong. The detail, the guidance is second to none- photos, tips and demystifying jeans construction. Of course it is supporting the Ginger jeans pattern, which I have to say has worked out brilliantly for me. I REALLY enjoyed making them too. These were going to be an investment make, one of my ‘high hitters’ this year & so I knew that I was going to perfect as much as I was able, spend a decent amount of thinking time as well as sewing time on making a pair of jeans to see me into autumn/ winter.
The Ginger jeans have two styles- a low rise style (this is what I made) & a higher waisted version. I kind of wish I tried the higher waist version after making these – so I am sure that’s what my next pair will be. I think the leg cut are slightly different, however & I really like the way these are not skinny jeans. I did not want a skinny cut, I wanted more of a straight leg & this is absolutely spot on- as designed in the pattern I should say.
So I made a size 8 (UK 12), according to my measurements & basted the jeans, including the waistband, to get my fit right. It was exciting doing this, racing with long stitches to get a pair of jeans around my bod. I could almost immediately see what I was aiming for! I did have to make some fitting adjustments. But not many. These were:
- Sway back adjustment – the back waist sat way higher than the front waist, I whilst it might not be 100% perfect now, just think how odd it would have been had I not done this.
- Waistband needed a couple of cm taken out of it at the top – I did not take this out of the centre back as a wedge, but cut the waistband several times vertically & distributed this around the waistband, taking 3 or 4 ‘darts’ out of it. There is still the littlest bit of gaping, but would I want it any tighter when I wear them? Not sure.
- The upper thigh inner back leg also had a small bit taken out, blending into the rest of the leg
- Finally I needed to take a smidgeon out of the front crotch seam.
So you can’t necessarily tell from the photos, but I am pretty happy with the fit- the horizontal lines are mainly wear lines & are not pulls caused by fit. Honest! And this denim, can I reiterate, is the loveliest denim to wear ……
OK so that ‘s the fitting. Once I had basted & fitted, I took them all apart again & started sewing jeans – for real. I am not going to go into a load of detail about the construction of jeans. But I will say again how brilliant the Ginger jeans instructions are and how the sewalong is super comprehensive & an invaluable resource. What I will share are some of the things that I revelled in doing, some of my trials & errors.
I had conceived that my jeans would be embroidered. I wanted some form of love & creativity added to these jeans to elevate them from my usual sewing. I did not know what I was going to embroider, I am not a seasoned embroiderer so it would be a bit of an experiment. I had thought it would be flowers, but after choosing the peacock fabric (left over from my Fancy Moon Miette skirt) I was inspired by peacocks. I thought I could simplify a peacock’s tail & embroider the eyes in the colours that I adore. So I made a few tests & this shows some experimentation.
I rejected all of these as they were too brash, even for me! I wanted something that was ‘there’ but not so ‘there’. So I plumped for a less brazen design using decidedly less gold, & altogether less solid thread.
Tools – this time I asked for a jeans twin needle- & forgot about it at first! Doh! Having two reels of topstitching thread makes life much easier when you sew with a twin needle. What I found out about the twin needle was that it was good for some seams, giving a pure parallel seam finish. However, there are areas in jeans sewing that it is less effective. Sewing around corners- I had a few missed stitches.
As you can see I tried to sew the pockets on with it, but wasn’t pleased with the result so took them out & used two separate lines of topstitching instead.
It also looks different on the reverse- see the zig zag of the twin needle against the traditional parallel lines?
Plus my machine, brilliant as I find it, (it is seriously good at coping with all the thick layers of jean sewing) sometimes struggled & when it struggles, the bobbin & top threads get chewed up & create a mini mess on the reverse- this happens a bit more with a twin needle for me.
The yoke seam is sewed with a twin needle and looks ace. Not that you can see it in this pic!
Top stitching – I upped my stitch length from the usual 2.5 to 3mm – I like the longer stitch length for top stitching. I didn’t find it too much of a pain to keep swapping thread around- it is just the thread spool, at least the bobbin stays the same. And another top stitching tip you might like – I tried not to cut my top threads on the right side of the jeans, but pulled them to the inside by pulling the bobbin thread & hooking it through with a pin to then tie them both together. That avoids wispy cut ends that with topstitching thread can be more visible & fluffier!
Ever heard of a ‘humper bumper’? Well this is something you use to help your machine deal with thick seams- particularly sewing over/ across thick seams of which there are a lot in jeans sewing. I used a folded up piece of cardboard – you use it once you have actually just started to sew the lumpy bit, pausing, to add the folded cardboard underneath the back of the sewing machine foot to equalise/ steady it for going forward. Even though I use a walking foot, the added ‘humper bumper’ was a boon. I used it a lot – eg crotch seam intersection, belt loops, hemming.
And while I am onto it, belt loops. Heather Lou suggests using fabric glue instead of pins to place them for sewing. Wow I thought! Have I got anything I can use? I used Wondertape & it worked a treat- belt loops stayed in place while sewing. No pins to contend with. Pins did not get bent out of shape whilst being contorted into such awkward positions through so many layers. What a result!
I am especially pleased with my jeans fly. The method for sewing is one I will try to remember to apply to other front fly trousers. Really easy to get a precise result.
Other details I love. The front pockets. In the Ginger jeans pattern Heather Lou suggests using the pocket fabric the other way so that you get to see the lovely fabric more than as the inner of your pocket. I got this wrong. Doh! I can’t pretend that it was deliberate- I just messed it up so that I get to see peacocks when I am shoving things (hands usually) into my pockets.
But I opted to line my waistband with this awesome peacock fabric & am loving that I did. It feels lovely to wear, & looks super joyful. I interfaced it, which made the waistband top stitching process far easier to control I felt.
I actually got the finish I wanted for my waistband – outside & inside- by handbasting the facing in place first. I have sewn so many wasitbands that were either top stitched or stitched in the ditch that look great from the outside, but on the inside the seam on the facing is not aligned against its edge so evenly. This time I was going to make sure that both sides looked neat, & as much as I stay away from handbasting, there are times when it brings the difference you need, & this is one of them. Look, a great & simple idea (in the Ginger instructions) to mark on the waistband where your top stitching lines need to be- so hard to see when you are actually in the process of sewing it.
This is how much top stitching thread I had as I finished the last hem!
I finished my seams with a mixture of flat fell seams & overlocking. This is the overlocked finish – I used grey thread so it isn’t too startlingly visible. Looks OK doesn’t it?
Another bit of topstitching love is the upper side seam. Just a detail that is precise & makes me feel glad.
I did leave hemming my jeans for a couple of evenings after making them as I wasn’t sure how long to make them. After allowing various thoughts to percolate, I remember that I like a little turn up for everyday flat shoe wearing so went for that. This allows a little essence of a contrast (which I do enjoy) but I could always turn them down if I wore them with some kind of a heel.
Oh my this is a long post! Have you snoozed off OK? It’s odd that making these jeans is one thing that is helping me to face the cooler weather. Definitely going to be wearing these a lot! Are you a jeans-maker? I had thought that sewing jeans was the holy grail of sewing, but with a certain amount of confidence & a little experience all you need is enough support – & I think Ginger jeans might give you that….