Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Jean genie

I won't lie to you folks, this post has been a long time coming! Skinny jeans have been on my sewing list for pretty much as long as I've been sewing consistently (so a solid four years now) and the road to this point has not been easy...  Now I could go back to the beginning and tell you all about how before I started sewing I wore skinny jeans and oversized ironic band t-shirts everyday until a series of unfortunate events made it impossible to find jeans that fit. I could tell you how, when I started sewing, the joys of being able to make things that fit and looked exactly how I wanted resulted in a style overhaul where I proceeded to boycott jeans for 3 years. I could tell you that I first tried to make jeans in 2013, by rubbing off a pair of ill-fitting Primark skinnies, resulting in a a pair of trousers I couldn't sit down in. (Probably best not to think about that) I could also tell you that hidden in the muslin graveyard in my room there are 2 fully constructed but badly fitting handmade pairs of jeans and no less than 7 jean muslins. I could tell you how I tried and failed, and made multiple alterations and failed again and learnt a lot in the process...

...However, this is not the time for looking back at past mistakes. This is the time for victory jumping and happy dancing and singing the praises of a magical pattern! Because it finally happened y'all!

If you've been anywhere around the online sewing community in the past two years then this pattern will need no introduction; I made the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans pattern, view B the high-waisted skinnies version. I finally caved last Christmas (after all the afore mentioned failures) and decided trying a new pattern wouldn't hurt. This may be one of the least regretted decisions of my life!

I traced a size 8 based on my hip measurement and made a quick and dirty shorts muslin from some white stretch twill I had lying around. To my utter astonishment almost no alterations were needed! *Inset gasping and spontaneous dancing!* My only minor tweaks were to straighten the front crotch curve 1/4" to shorten it a little and take in the CB seam a little as there was some gapage. (adjusting the waistband accordingly) Oh and I also raised the back pockets and moved them inwards about an inch. Looking back, a lot of my subsequent issues could have been solved if I had taken a little extra care at this muslin stage, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I didn't start the actual pair of jeans until late January/early February. I had just finished costuming a production of Phantom of the Opera at my Uni which had required me to sew a million tutus and floufy dresses, not to mention an 18th century wedding dress (Don't ask!) After selflessly sewing all those whisps I was craving a more hard wearing project so immediately cut out a pair of jeans and this shirt.

The fabric is  a grey stretch denim from Macculloch and Wallis, bought last summer. It's a nice medium weight with good stretch and recovery (atleast it held up to me yanking half-finished legs off every 3 seconds whilst fitting....) I would say it does have a slight sheen to it in some lights (see first picture) which I'm not a massive fan of. The pocket bags are left over chambray from the stash and the waistband and hem facings are navy cotton lawn, also from the stash. I also uses a knit tricot interfacing on the denim waistband in an effort to stop it bagging out. I actually really like the extra firmness the interfacing gives the waistband, and I'm pretty sure the extra stability is the reason the corners actually match up (unlike previous attempts...)

Topstitching pride, right there!

Construction actually went very smoothly. The Ginger instructions are incredibly thorough, and every pattern piece is thoughtful and fits beautifully. The fly instructions are very different to my go-to Grainline Studios version they resulted in some dreamy top-stitching, so I might be a convert. Seam-finish wise, I sewed all the seams then zig-zagged over the raw allowances using my overcasting foot for a mock-overlock look. Then I top-stitched two lines in grey top-stitching thread for  a traditional jeans look. I have to say, of all the things I love about these jeans the uniformity of the topstitching is definitely my favourite! Gotta love that precision! I also created a vague pattern from my initials for the back pocket topstitching. A bit arrogant perhaps, but a monogram is better than mono-butt, riiiight...?

Monogram buttttttttt

As you can hear, everything was perfect until I attached the waistband... You see as I previously mentioned my muslin earlier in the year wasn't the most thorough and as such I didn't add a waistband. If I had then the issue would have been clear. You see according to Heather Lou the pattern is drafted so that the top of the waistband sits just above the belly button, with 2.5" ease at the waist. However my waist is about 1" smaller than the size 8 waist and when I attached the wasitband major gaposis ran rife! To fix this I darted out the excess (a good 3-4") at various points on the waistband, ripped it out and transferred the darts to my pattern- essentially redrafting a 2 piece curved waistband. I then cut this new waistband, attached and top-stitched. If i'm being honest, I still haven't fixed the problem. The back waistline still doesn't lie flat. If I'm wearing a tucked in top then I can hide that with a belt but if I have a longer looser top then (No shame) a gather up the excess in a giant safety pin at the back.... Sooooo... that's probably something that should be addressed before my next version...
Waistband safety pinned in shame
Other than my waistband issues I made a couple of other changes on the fly for my design preferences. I increased the seam allowances below the knee by 3/8" on the in-seam and out-seam to get the SUPER skinny look I wanted. I also found that the legs would have ended up borderline cropped if I'd've hemmed them the full inch indicated by the pattern. So, instead I used a bias facing to preserve length. (Although since the bias binding is A LOT less stretchy than the denim the legs are  a liiiiiiiittle difficult to get on and off at the ankle, especially with my extra skinnification.


These jeans you guys! Despite all the trials and tribulations I love these jeans! This is evidenced by the fact that I wore them out atleast 3 times before I'd actually attached the front button. I also wore them for an interview/induction event for a job that I then got soooo... Clearly they're also lucky jeans!

I would say that whilst I love the dramatic high-waisted look, for  a more everyday pair of jeans I'll probably try shortening the rise 1-1.5" for my next pair. Oh, and lengthening the legs 1" as well! If I was feeling super nit-picky I might consider altering the back to get rid of the underbutt wrinkles, or fiddling around with the front crotch curve a little more... but honestly these fit well and feel good so I don't want to overfit...

Oh, and by the way my top is another strappy sorbetto hack, I made last June. It's an absolutely dreamy rayon (You can still find some here) and I absolutely adore it. This is a top that was worn pretty much every day of summer and has been on every holiday, day trip and night out I've been on since! It's the absolute perfect thing to throw on when it's hot and because it's completely french seamed it has stood up admirably to the hard-wearing it's received. It'll be a sad day when it finally disintegrates on me!

So that's about it, y'all. One major life goal accomplished and now I just want to jump in and start a million more pairs! Heather Lou, I absolutely tip my hat to you! The good thing is that over the years I've amassed around 8.5 meters of stretch denim op various hues, so now I've got a well fitting pattern.... expect many pairs of jeans, cut-offs and one long-awaited dungarees hack in the future! Exciting times ahead!

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