Saturday, January 28, 2012

Au Bonheur Jeans

Table of contents:

The Usual Stuff

Last week I tested the Au Bonheur jeans pattern in ponte. The only problem I encountered was the gaping front pockets (though I didn't test the back pockets).

I decided to forge ahead with the denim version. I found in my stash a piece of stretch denim that I had purchased from Fabrix and washed/dried several times. Unfortunately, it turned out that I had less than 2 yards of the fabric, barely enough, but I was able to squeeze them out.


  • Stretch denim from Fabrix. I believe it's 3-4% lycra. 5" stretches to 6.5", which translates to 30% stretch. The ponte stretches from 5" to 8.5", or 64% stretch. Because the ponte had more stretch, I cut the denim with 5/8" seam allowances at the inner leg and side seams, rather than 3/8". But I ended up sewing them with 5/8" seams, so I didn't need the extra ease.
  • The pattern calls for two rivets to secure the flaps on the back pockets, but I used 2 metal buttons, from Fabrix.
  • Topstitching thread. I used Guterman color #272, navy blue. Not sure I should have used blue, as it doesn't really show up.
  • 1" waistband elastic.
  • I did not use a zipper, or a waistband button, since I made the pants with a mock fly with an elastic waistband.

Alterations and Modifications:

I outlined the alterations and modifications on the previous post. There are a couple additional things I did for this pair:

  • The vertical pocket was gaping unattractively on the ponte pair. After much consideration, I decided to use an angled pocket. This echoes the other angles in the pants and creates much less gaping.
  • Closeup of fly front and angled front pockets
  • I wanted the look of a fly, without an actual fly front, so I used my favorite fly front tutorial, Debbie Cooks' Jeans Fly. I followed the instructions, but left out the zipper. This made the process so much easier. :) Since there is no zipper, the fly is quite flat.
  • Look Ma, No Zipper!
  • On the ponte version, I did not make the back pockets. I had just enough denim to cut one set of pockets. These feature a back flap and darts, so they are three dimensional. To be honest, I don't like the look of the flaps, but I didn't have enough denim to re-make them. I left them as-is for this pair, but if I use this pocket pattern again, I would leave off the flaps.
  • Back pocket pattern piece
    Left back pocket

The Dreaded "Mom Jean"

For a long time now, I've heard references to a horrible phenomena. One that women, past a certain age, who may or may not have borne children, should avoid at all costs.

The Mom Jean.

I've heard it referred to on numerous style shows, in numerous articles. But, to be honest, I had only a vague notion of what a "mom jean" was. Then, blogger Robin, of A Little Sewing, posted a 2009 article she found to Stitcher's Guild.

In this article, a woman took some mothers who were guilty of wearing "mom jeans" shopping for a better fitting, more youthful jean. This post generated a lively discussion on SG.

Evidently the size, position, and location of the back pockets has a large contributing effect to the "mom jean." Once I got to the point that the pockets were constructed and ready to be attached to the pants, I then carefully read the article.

Based on the article, as well as style shows I've seen, my understanding is that a Mom Jean has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • A light wash denim.
  • High waisted.
  • Muffin top.
  • Camel toe.
  • Pants that fit the butt poorly, contributing to a "una-butt" look, or a long flat butt look.
  • Pockets that are too high, or that are parallel to the back yoke and, therefore, point outwards to the "saddlebag" area, or that are too small, making the rear look big, or that are too far apart, also making the rear look big.

My take-home point from this is that the back pockets are important. I therefore spent some time playing with the placement of my back pockets, ignoring the suggested placement on the pattern. I moved them closer together, and made them parallel to the CB seam. There wasn't much else I could do as the pockets were already constructed and I was out of denim. Not that I cared that much, but I wanted to test the theories I had learned.

Do my jeans fit like a mom jean? Yeah, I think they do. Oh well. I don't really care that much. :)

What do you think? A "mom jean" sort of derriere? :)


I do like the funkiness of these jeans, but I would change the back pockets in future pairs - I am not loving those flaps. I really like the angled front pockets much better than the vertical pockets on the original pattern. I also might try using a contrast top-stitching thread to highlight the interesting lines of the pattern.

Originally, I was going to enter these jeans in the jeans contest on Pattern Review, but now I'm not so sure that they would stand out enough.

More Pictures

Front knee

Back knee


  1. Love those re-shaped front pockets. No gaping now! Well if these are "Mum's Jeans" aren't we a stylish lot?? I agree with you about the top-stitching.....a contrast colour would have given these gorgeous jeans 'zing' by highlighting all the unusual seam/style lines. No matter, you can make another pair!

  2. I think the jeans look terrific. I think you have made them smart looking and modern while maintaining comfort.

  3. They are terrific jeans. I love the front yoke, and the knee detail. The back pockets are very cute. The flap looks fine to me - does the darted pocket stick out at all?
    I think people with great legs and slim hips look terrific in jeans of all sorts, and probably very fashionable and non Mum like in the current jean trends. The rest of us can just wear skirts and well cut loose trousers ;). I am not sure why it is a terrible thing to look like a Mum though? I have no wish to look like a childless 20 year old.

  4. Too stylish to be "mom jeans". Although I understand why you don't like the pocket flaps, I think they add a certain sumpin sumpin on this pair. They would probably be too much with a nice contrast topstitching.

    I think they look great on you! Stylish, but comfy. I love the angled details.

  5. P.S. If you make them again w/o the flap, I would also eliminate the darts in the pockets...that would make them dangerously close to the dreaded "MJs". In order to avoid the MJ, back pockets must be so tight as to render them nearly useless. (insert rolling eyes here)

    1. Thanks, JillyBe! Yes, I'd come to the same conclusion. But, still, I'd want to put some sort of twist on the pocket, even though it wouldn't be a dart. :)

  6. These look fantastic! Mum's jeans? I don't think so! I've hear that term too, and I agree that once a pair of jeans gets old and baggy then they do look AWFUL and I think that is what "mum's jeans" really means! Like, you get to caring for your children and household and forget about looking out for your appearance and updating your wardrobe and just hand out in your oldest and comfiest jeans each and every day, until they look horrible but you don't notice because you are so busy...
    These jeans do not fit into that category! I really like the pocket flaps and re the pocket placement, you have done well.
    Very clever. I think you should definitely enter these in the jeans competition...

  7. I just don't get the whole mom jean thing, so I can't comment on that. However, the knee detail is very now, and no one looking at these would think they were unfashionable.

  8. The knee detail is fantastic and very un-Mom-jean.
    I like the waist band treatment, too. I've been ponder something similar.
    These jeans are sylish - let us know how they wear. That will be the true test.

    and thanks for the shout out!
    I had come visiting your blog to find a knit top you made at least a year ago. It has a little twist detail at the front of the neckline. I think it was based on an Ottobre pattern.... off to search...

  9. Very stylish jeans -- definitely not mom jeans! I love the details, especially at the knees.

  10. I really like the new front pockets,the angle fits in so perfecting with the rest of the angled seams. I have 2 pair of RTW jeans with flaps on the back pockets and they seem to just get in the way, so I'm with you - leave them off the next pair. Great looking jeans!

  11. First, thanks for giving me something to read as we drive through the Iowa farmland:)
    I am not the popular vote here, but I like the idea of the darts in the pockets and I think I'll give it a try. I think it might make for a nice round butt look. Again, not the popular vote. The jeans look great on you. I especially like that green top. Really, really nice and fabulous on you!

  12. I love the front with the angled yoke and pockets. very successful. As for the back pockets, they don't make them into mom jeans, but I think you are brave to try any sort of experimentation there. Are those pockets actually slightly 3dimensional? based on the pattern with dart, appears to be so. Also I think these pants would look interesting in a light color linen, so the details could be highlighted. You are a master at all these pants variations, I am so jealous!

  13. Those angled front pockets are genius -- and I think I'm going to follow your lead when I make my pair. The really compliment the look of the jeans in a way that the original pockets don't at all. You've out-Au bonheured Au Bonheur!

    I'm not seeing the "mom jean" derrière; I think the fit in the rear is very good, though I see what you are saying about the pockets. I like the *look* of the flaps -- maybe stitch them down, or make faux flaps, next time, so that they lie flat?

    Love the proportions, and the way they look on you -- what a success!

  14. I hate back pockets on jeans. I don't wear a short top or jacket, my tops would cover them anyway, so why add the extra to my abundant backside. I really like the angled pockets and the details on the front. Do you need pockets on the backside?

  15. Love your angled pocket solution. I think you have achieved a nice fit in the tush, not MJ-like at all. I agree about the flaps. The position of the pockets seems right, though.

  16. The tweaks you made to the front are genius! Those pants are so interesting and look perfect on you, Shams. I'm not a big fan of back pockets mostly because they're kind of useless to me. But the darted styling is definitely cute.

    "Mom" pants of any sort to me means elastic waistbands. And, er...that would be every pair of pants I own!!! Otherwise I'm just not comfortable and comfort trumps fashion in my world. And anyway I'm not just a proud mom but a grandmother! My excuse and I'm stickin' to it. Besides, my tops are long enough to cover any mortal sins.

  17. Oh I think these are funky and fun. To heck with that term. These are too stylish to be called Mum's jeans

  18. These are most definitely NOT mom jeans. I think you placed the pockets perfectly, and I like the dart in the pocket, as a matter of fact I am filing it away for future use on Pinterest. I think the other key point about mom jeans is the extremely high rise, and clearly these ones don`t.

  19. I think the front pockets are fabulous! And I am very tolerant of all types of back pockets. I don't want them on my pants for reasons similar to Carolyn. Also, I usually don't add stuff that I won't use (e.g. back pockets) to clothes.
    The photo of you and your jeans with that limy green top is great! You look completely "au bonheur des petites mains" and very stylish!

  20. Adorable, stylish jean and definitely not MJs in my opinion. But then I can think of much worse than MJs--a unibutt for one, muffin tops for another. Anyway, back to your jeans--I love all the detail. Great job as always.


  21. The jeans look amazing! All those bits and pieces! Definitely a far cry from Mom jeans. I thought at one point, that back pockets are unnecessary when making jeans and left them off - only to realize that I do use them - to park my hand(s) when talking to people when standing - but only when wearing jeans, of course.

  22. Well I have a 'Mum-bum' and am proud of it!!! But I do keep it under wraps most of the time. Don't think your jeans fit the Mumsy jeans category at all - as usual your choice is brilliant ....

  23. This is my first time to your blog, and I'm so glad I stopped by! I'm a 34-year-old mom of two, and I've struggled with getting well-fitting jeans for a while now. Everything is so darn low-rise these days! NOT flattering! But I have to say, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the pockets you made on the back of your jeans. I don't think they're "mom-ish" at all, and I would be happy to wear jeans with back pockets like that.

    I think one of the things that screams "mom jean" is the tapered leg. No one really does a tapered leg any more... most trendy jeans seem to be either straight-leg, boot cut or flare (or, the dreaded "skinny" jean, but we won't talk about that). I see that the jeans you made have a little bit of tapering to them, but nothing too obvious, and the dark wash is VERY trendy and very flattering. The fact that you used matching thread isn't necessarily a bad thing; it actually makes the jeans more "dressy." I have several pairs of "trouser jeans" that are sewn with matching thread, and I love the nice, clean look.

    Honestly, I wouldn't change a thing about the back pockets on the jeans you made. I think they look fabulous on you. Very, very flattering, and quite on trend. If there's anything I would change to get them even further from the "mom jean," it would just be to make the legs slightly longer so they bunch a little at the bottom, and to use a straighter cut rather than a tapered leg.

    But seriously, these are just teensy little adjustments that don't need to be made for you to look amazing. I think you did a fabulous job!

    Anyway, it's nearly 3 in the morning where I am, and I should be sleeping rather than browsing through sewing sites! LOL But I'm glad I stopped by, and I'm going to follow you so I can keep up with all your awesome creations!

    Have a great week!
    Smiles, Jenn @Misadventures in Motherhood

  24. Shams, you have the most beautiful smile and when you model something the joy on your face is an inspiration! I love these jeans on you! Sorry, I don't see anything wrong with the pockets I think you did a great job.

  25. I am on my way out the door for a birthday dinner for Mr. Biblioblog...but wanted to say-those are wonderful jeans. Love the details you have so artfully included. And, the green top is TDF.

  26. those yeans look pretty damn good!!! Great job!!

  27. I think you should enter this in the PR Jeans contest - just got back from looking at entries so far, and I think about half are the Jalie jeans pattern - which is great BTW, I've made I think half a dozen times for the kid - but this entry would certainly stand out as different! - Heather

  28. Love your jeans. I am new to Arc patterns have to try one of those.

    But....what is the top? Love me asymmetrical things.

    Thanks in advance