First, thanks to each of you who posted on my first blogiversary entry. I truly appreciate all of your comments and feedback – it definitely motivates me to keep posting. :)
I managed to surprise myself by exercising a little self discipline – I focused and I made myself a pair of jeans! Phew, jeans are a lot of work, but there is a certain satisfaction too, especially since the RTW brand I most recently purchased cost over $100 and tends to throttle me through the waist.
For some time I have been accumulating supplies and patterns for the Jeans Project. I initially planned try the current Sandra Betzina jean pattern, Vogue 1034. A month or two ago I spread the pattern out and laid my one pair of (fits-well-through-the-hips-but-strangles-the-waist) Not Your Daughter's Jeans (NYDJ) jeans on top. Wow. Even the smallest size on the pattern was much larger than my NYDJ jeans, and the shape was quite different. So I put that pattern away and ordered three patterns that have received excellent reviews online.
Left to right: Vogue 7608 (OOP), Jalie 2908, J. Stern 0037
For those not familiar with Jalie patterns, they are from Canada and they contain all sizes (from young child to plus-size adult) in one envelope. For example, the size range for the jeans was girls size 2 to size 13 and women's size 4 to size 22.
I bought a couple pieces of indigo stretch denim from JoAnns and Fabrix, and one piece in white from Emma One Sock. I searched, high and low, for a nice stretch black denim, to no avail, though I did buy some black knit "denim" from Emma One Sock, perfect for jeggings. I washed and dried all of the fabric pieces multiple times. I also purchased Wonder Tape (for the fly front, as per Debbie Cook's tutorial, though mine was sold by Dritz), a good quality metal zipper, blue jeans rivets and buttons (from Junior), a cute cotton print for the pocket lining (purchased for a couple dollars in San Diego), Gutterman top-stitching thread in several colors, and sewing machine needles specifically for jeans.
In the end, I decided to start with Jalie. This pattern has become quite famous and, as of this writing, has 70 reviews on Pattern Review, many of them positively ecstatic about this jean. I didn't read many of the reviews (it was a bit overwhelming), but I did scan through the photos to see if anyone who made them had my particular shape. I couldn't find any. Typical. ;)
I traced off a size V, View B (regular rise), based on my 40" hip, but I increased the waist considerably and I shortened the leg at the knee by 1". I made up a quick and dirty muslin of one leg only. I was using what was left of an old, holey flannel sheet and I didn't have enough for the entire pants, so I made one leg. The leg was fairly fitted through the knee, and the length seemed ok (it was rather hard to tell), but, wow, what a wedgie it gave me! I decided that I needed to muslin both legs, so I used what remained of the sheet to muslin a short version of the pant, but one that went all the way around. Again, what a wedgie!!!
It was about this time I realized I had omitted the back yoke from both muslins. lolol This shortened the crotch length by several inches, so no wonder I was experiencing a wedgie.
After both muslins were complete, I altered the pocket yoke, pocket lining, pocket facing, back yoke, and the waistband to accommodate the new waist shaping, and cut them out of a stretch denim, giving myself another quarter inch of fabric on each side of the knee where it was most tapered (front and back - a 1" increase total). I think this denim came from JoAnn's, though it might have been Fabrix. I would guess that it is an 8-9oz denim with 3% spandex. The denim is definitely a bit lightweight but had the most stretch of my available pieces, so I wanted to start with that. I have read that before cutting a stretch fabric like this, it's best to let it relax on the cutting table for awhile before cutting it out. So I did.
Before I cut my jeans out, while the fabric was busy kicking back and "relaxing", I rummaged through DD1's pant drawer. I pulled out all of her jeans, jeggings (leggings made to look like jeans), denim skirts, jean shorts. Sheesh, there must have been 15 different garments in all, and she tells me she has more at her dad's house. Previously, I had stopped by my local Goodwill Boutique and looked at their rack of upscale jeans (for $20-$30 a pair). I studied back pockets, belt loops, front pockets, coin pockets, top-stitching. The variety is so interesting, but so is the uniformity. For example, out of my daughter's 15 jean-style garments, all but one had a coin pocket. All of the coin pockets were 2 1/4" wide, except for one that was 3 1/4", but that one was a welted pocket, not a patch pocket.
In the end, I decided to leave off the coin pocket, which isn't included on the pattern anyway, not to mention that I've never used a coin pocket - my stubby fingers can't possibly retrieve coins from that narrow little opening while plastered against the body, though I guess I could take my pants off to retrieve the pocket's contents. ;) I also decided to keep the back pocket plain, but I enjoyed all the creative variety I saw in RTW.
After much deliberation, I decided to topstitch with the classic gold-colored, heavy thread. I generally like my top-stitching to match, so this was a bit outside my comfort zone, but these are jeans, for heavens sake, and I felt I should get with the program. I used two spools of Gutterman top-stitching thread (color: 865) and I set up a second sewing machine just for top-stitching. (More about the machine in another post.) I also used my serger to finish the seams, so this project had me running between three machines set up in two rooms. Because the gold top-stitching was so bold, and I was using a machine that was unfamiliar to me (so I kept making mistakes that were quite obvious), I did a fair amount of ripping - more than I can ever remember doing for one garment.
This was my first Jalie pattern and the instructions were... deficient. I can't remember the last time I made a fly front (but it's been over 20 years), and it was difficult to make sense of the Jalie instructions/diagrams, so I referenced Debbie Cook's excellent Jeans Fly Tutorial, which I hope is always available on the web. As recommended in her tutorial, I used the same cotton fabric for the fly shield as for the pocket lining. She doesn't mention this detail, but when it was time to attach the waistband to the pant, I used the wire cutters (from my jewelry-making supplies) to remove the zipper teeth from the seam line and waistband seam allowance. That way I didn't have to worry about breaking a sewing machine needle or the added bulk.
Even though I don't plan to wear these with a belt, I included belt loops. How else can I pull my pants up? :) If you follow the instructions you will end up with a few raw edges. For example, the back of the belt loops are left raw, so I used Fray Block in those instances to secure the edges. (Had I thought of it, I would have serged one long edge of the belt loops beforehand.) The front pocket yoke was sewn to the pocket lining with a 1/8" seam and left raw - so I zigzagged over that edge.
The pocket yoke is stitched to the pocket lining with a 1/8" seam. After taking this picture, I zigzagged around the raw edge of the denim.
In the end, I didn't use the rivets or jeans button from Junior. My denim was too lightweight and, after trying a sample, I realized I would have to cut down the nail portion of the rivets and the button. I was determined to finish these jeans by Sunday night, and it was more effort than I wanted to expend, so I sewed on a 10 cent brass button from Fabrix and called it a day.
I have to say it - 70 ecstatic reviewers aren't wrong. These are great jeans. My only alteration after they were constructed was to cut another inch off the bottom. The jeans fit, they are amazingly comfortable, they are flattering, and they are wedgie-free! DD1 gave me a very enthusiastic thumbs up and especially loved the pocket/fly shield fabric. I had planned to make a white pair for the summer, but since we are now entering fall, I may just wait until next spring. When I told DD1 that I wanted to make a white pair she said, "How 80s!"
Hmm... Is that a bad thing? :)