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