Gosh it’s been a long time since I finished anything wearable. And even longer since everyone else made their Gingers! What can I say, I have a streak of the anti-fashionista, a refusal to wear a trend while it’s still trendy. Can we make that a new trend?
Anyway, converting my 0-ease Pants Wrap Block into one with ease took 1 step forward & 2 steps back. I needed gratification sooner & thought making my first pair of jeans would at least put that 0-ease Pants Block to some use, ie by pointing to where I might need to alter commercial skin-tight pants pattern…like Ginger Jeans.
I actually bought this as a PDF bundle with 3 jeans patterns (Ginger Skinny, Ginger Flares, Morgan Boyfriend) + Sewing Your Own Jeans ebook + bonus back pocket top-stitching design templates (can’t remember how I obtained this, sorry). Too impatient to wait for paper patterns to cross the pond & be held hostage by customs!
As I’m a tracer & reuse back of old A4 printouts, PDF patterns don’t bother me, even if they run over 30 pages (view B). (Copyshop printouts not really an affordable option in London.) Having said that, because I’m a tracer, I would have preferred if the pattern pieces can be overlapped like on Burda magazine pattern sheets, so fewer pages would be needed. The other hairy moment is trying to trace the correct line when the 11 sizes merge or cross-over! It would have been great if each size was on a separate layer so you can hide the sizes you don’t need. I’ve suggested it to Heather. It’s too late for Ginger, but she said she would consider this for future patterns.
I’m not a jeans connoisseur. Apart from opinions about fit & practicality I don’t really pay much attention to the details. So Heather’s guidance was really helpful – lots of things I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise like back pocket positioning, etc. The pocket top-stitching designs came in handy too as I didn’t have enough brain cells to come up with my own. I did have to adjust these designs slightly though because they seem to be for generic back pockets rather than Ginger back pockets. I also took inspiration from one of my RTW jeans & worked the rivets into my pocket top-stitching design.
Style Shots & Mug Shots
WORN WITH: 6 Ginger B + Self-drafted Stripe T-Shirt; 7-8 Ginger A + agnes b homme shirt;
Size 4, as recommended by the sizing chart. For once I didn’t have to second guess the size recommendation. Yeah!
Must say the combination of this pattern & the stretch fabric fitted me pretty well even without much changes (just 1 & 2 below for initial fitting). But as I’ve just completed my pants wrap 0-ease Pants Block, I thought I’d tweak the pattern anyway to see if I can get it to fit even better. Also noting Melissa of Fehr Trade‘s advice – she has sewn many more jeans after all – I aimed for a skin-tight fit down through the thighs to counter any future ageing denim sagginess.
- Shorten legs at knees
- View A’s Stovepipe leg width for both A & B to accommodate my bigger calves
- Crotch curve – initially just scooped more. Later tilted at bum crease level & shortened the inseams at the crotch in the process. Originally I thought maybe the negative ease (compared to my 0-ease Pants Block) should be distributed evenly between side seams & centre seams. But I get a little bit of bunching/excess fabric at the crotch – especially the front. I could pinch out a wedge at the crotch tapering to nothing at the side seams. I didn’t want the crotch length to become too short, so I took the wedge at the top of the leg/inseam. This also tilt the angle of the crotch curve / centre seams to match my 0-ease Pants Block more closely. So now the negative ease is at the side seams.
- Leg tilt – my knees seem to rotate inward slightly, so that my knee bulges are closer to the inseams & my calf bulges are closer to the side seams. I ended up slanting the front legs towards the inseam like on my 0-ease Pants Block, & bulge out the back leg side seam slightly at the calf level. Strangely my alteration is the opposite of the one recommended for inward rotating knees in the Fitting & Pattern Alteration book!!!???
- Skinny thighs – this only affected the back of my legs. I curved in the back thighs on both inseam & side seam. The front was left alone as my prominent front-thigh needed the full width. I think this help reduce the back thigh wrinkles slightly.
Originally I was going to only sew the high-rise View B as I hate how low-rise jeans feel like they’ll falling off my hip. But having a Scottish wallet 😉 I was going to squeeze 2 pair of jeans out of >2m of denim da**it! So pair two had to be the shorter length View A.
- Shortened View A legs to Capri length – I do love my Capri length RTW jeans after all.
- Raised View A waist slightly – to minimise that pants falling feeling.
My Scottish wallet also demanded that I fit with my final denim rather than source a cheap substitute. So I cut the main pieces with extra wide seam allowances: 1-1/4″ for inseams & side seams, 2″ at CF/CB waist tapering to normal 5/8″ at the crotch fork (where the crotch starts to curve). I had compared the original pattern to my 0-ease Pants Block before cutting to ensue these seam allowances were enough to accommodate changes should I needed to alter the pattern to match my Block with minimum 3/8″ final seam allowance.
Fabric & Notions Used
- Jordan 11oz 98% cotton/2% spandex stretch denim from Sherwoods Fabrics UK (almost sold out, but many other stretch denim suitable for jeans are still available.)
- For pockets & waistband facing: old John Lewis bed sheet. Sadly I don’t have any nice scrap of quilting cottons. So leftovers from my Pants Wrap Block muslins will have to do. I did my best to spruce it up with gold fabric paint, pressing my underused custom stamps into service, & paid homage to home-made by tracing the pattern piece info & listed the key supplies with a red marker.
- Opti 18cm (6″) 4mm teeth width (#4) zipper with jeans coloured tape & self-lock pull from John Lewis UK
- 25mm (40L/1″) Antique Gold Jeans Buttons from Minerva Crafts UK
- 1cm (3/8″) Antique Brass Jeans Rivets from Thread Theory Canada
- Gutermann Extra Strong Polyester Thread #40/Tex 75 in colour 412. This is slightly thinner than top-stitching thread, which I avoided because of scare stories about how difficult they are to sew with.
- Maxi-Lock Stretch (woolly) Nylon Serger Thread Tex 30 in colour 43006 Blue Jean Gold.
- Fusi-Knit interfacing with crosswise stretch for the waistband + some other non-stretch fusible interfacing from the Stash for pockets & buttonhole.
- Both the instruction & the sewing guide were excellent.
- I did deviate in places. Eg for the crotch seam I tried a trick suggested by Baste & Gather Birkin Jeans to get the top-stitching centred between left & right sides. If you just stitch as usual, press to one side, & top-stitch on that side, then the top-stitching would be slightly off centre.
- The denim I was using is on the thicker end of the recommendation. So I also didn’t double fold the hems for the pockets. I was worried my machine would choke on so many layers, especially as the pocket hems are interfaced as well.
To flatten bulky seams I had to use clamps instead of hammering because it would have been anti-social in my urban neighbourhood! It’s also quite satisfying to squeeze the bulk down hard! It helps to steam press the bulk first, & clamp asap. Also protect the visible right side with a scrap, otherwise the clamped area may acquire a circle of unwanted sheen.
BTW, DON’T try to straighten your denim grain by neatening the cut ends along a crossgrain/weft thread!!! The weft threads will always be slanted. I didn’t know this & did my usual cut ends straightening. Ended up losing a bit too much of my 2m of denim to make 2 pairs of jeans, even after shortening my patterns & using the pocket fabric (instead of the denim) for the waistband facing. I had ordered more of this denim.
- For waistband I settled for the denim + stretch interfacing + pocket fabric facing option. The pocket fabric does have a slight give crosswise. So I hope the waistband won’t be too restrictive. But also won’t stretch out so easily like my RTW jeans. Hate that falling pants feeling.
- Because I don’t have an extra machine to dedicate to top-stitching & I didn’t want to constantly switch threads, I re-ordered the steps so I can do as much regular / top-stitching as possible in one go before switching threads (Jeans-Consolidated-Instructions.pdf). It does make for more confusion for first attempt at jeans making. But once I get the hang of it I hope it’ll speed up the sewing.
- My top-stitching still need a fair bit of work. I couldn’t get consistent stitch length. Plus even with my thinner top-stitching thread, I had trouble getting the tension consistent, especially when going over humps or back-stitching. The top-stitching thread slacks & loops on the underside in places. I didn’t want to increase the upper thread tension since in other places the tension seems just right. Strangely zig-zag bar tacks didn’t cause me much trouble.
- For shortening the metal zipper after sewing the fly, I followed the Zipper Ladie’s metal zipper shortening YouTube tutorial. Basically you clip the protruding teeth with Diagonal Wire Cutter then the teeth are much easier to pull off.
- My button & rivet attachment skills also need a bit of work. I banged a bit too hard, causing the button shank to slant a bit. One was so bad I had to replace it. The ring rivets middle splits quite easily too even with the extra length of the backing tack clipped to 1-2mm. But I just couldn’t get the rivet front to attach to the tack without the heavy hammering. I wasted a few rivets trying to get it right. Eventually I found that if I dull the clipped tack tip by hammering it into a placeholder (ruined) rivet front first, then replace this placeholder with the real/final rivet front & hammer it hard, the rivet middle doesn’t split as much. Good thing I ordered a few extra buttons & rivets!
As these are my first couple of pairs & I didn’t really stress-test at the fitting stage (eg by sitting etc for long period of time), they are really still wearable muslins. So I’m also cutting myself some slack for the less than stellar construction of these learning jeans. And boy were there plenty of oops. It got quite chaotic & somehow I ended up with one coin pocket practically hiding inside the right front pocket. Oops.
So if the stress-testing goes well, these will become my Skinny Jeans Blocks & I’ll have plenty of opportunity to improve my jeans sewing skills. I already bought enough denim over the last few weeks to make another 14 pairs probably! OK, maybe not all Skinnies – I still have Flares & Boyfriends to try out! Then I shall be victim of fashion trends no more mwahahaha!