I did it, I made my own jeans! In fact as of writing this I’ve actually made 1 and 3/4 pairs of real, wearable, comfy jeans! The 3/4 is for my trial run “muslin” pair which I made as Capri length. I didn’t really doubt that I could make jeans, but I certainly didn’t expect a wearable version on my trial run.
The new sewing machine I got myself in December last year took the challenge and even managed attaching the belt loops with no issues. Fist pump! This was one of the main reasons I decided to get something more than the hobby machine I’ve had since high school. I am so pleased my machine handled jeans and feel this really puts me in a position to do something I’ve wanted for a long time, to make ALL my own clothing. Well, not quite all, I still would buy running socks and shoes. I’m not at all ready for the shoe hurdle like Carolyn (who awes me to no end). I do feel I can take on the challenge of other attire though and even hope to knit my own non-gym socks. Eek, maybe I shouldn’t have put that goal in writing just yet 😳.
Enough of that side tangent…Jeans! What this post is really about is my oh so awesome Ginger Capris and Ginger Jeans. Let’s start by talking about the muslin pair. I used a lighter stretch denim with 3% spandex from my local Fabricland. It is a bit lightweight for what I would normally want but it was reasonably priced, perfect for me to practice with.
I decided I would make my trial run in capri length because not only did I need a pair of capris for summer but it would save fabric on a potentially unwearable trial. I carefully cut out my fabric in a size 14 based on my hip measurement then basted them together to see how they would fit. They didn’t seem bad at all! The crotch curve seemed fine and the rise was about what I wanted. They also had room for my butt without seeming like it was way lower in the back than the front. The only issue seemed to be that the waist was to big. This is the problem I have with RTW jeans too, by the time my ample rear and thighs fit the waist gapes significantly.
I used both the pattern instructions and the Ginger Jeans sewalongs for these and they are very detailed. The post on fitting explained to fix my gaping waistband I could take darts out of the back yoke. I did this taking out 6/8″ darts from the yoke for a total of 1.5 inches removed. I also adjusted the waistband, recut these pieces, pulled out the basting and completed sewing properly.
I did have some struggles with my trial pair but they were all me making foolish mistakes. I had trouble easing the back into the waistband. I had used quilting cotton for the facing to have no stretch but I also realized later, when I had adjusted the waistband, I folded rather than cutting and overlapping to take out the excess to match my yoke. So I should have folded 3/8″ but folded 6/8″ and ended ups removing 3″ of waistband length instead of 1.5″. Doh! The dumb mistakes didn’t end there either… I got my zipper installed, including stitching the fly shield, topstitching and even bar tacked only to realize I’d put the zipper in backwards! 🤐 Gah! Luckily, consulting the internet consoled me that I was not the only person to have ever done this. It also helpfully advised I could cut the top zipper stops out and flip the pull tab around. Fixed! No need to even put a new stop on since the zipper ends up being stopped by the waistband after that is added.
Even with my struggles I was pleased as punch when I finished my test pair. Pretty darn wearable! They do have excess room in the rear even before they bag out after wearing for a day as shown in photos. I decided my darts needed to extend further down past the yoke and trimmed a half inch dart out of the center back of the rear leg for the next pair. Even after taking a larger side seam pair #1 is a bit loose but I didn’t want to size down since I though a better quality denim would fix that. Better to err too large than too small I figure. The only other thing that bugged me about my test pair was the topstitching. I did pretty well in terms of keeping it straight and evenly spaced but I used a normal stitch length and realized later I should have used a longer stitch.
After a test run that was so successful I was ready to move onto my beautiful grey stretch denim. I got this fabric on a recent trip to Saskatoon, SK. My N was in a board game competition last month. When we arrived lo and behold a fabric store, Unique Textile Studio, in the same strip mall as the game store! So of course I popped in to check it out, expecting a quilting store as they are plentiful here. Well, I just about toppled over in delight when I saw garment fabric! Beautiful fabric with labels telling me fiber content (no mystery fibers!) Silk!! Knit linen!! Rayon batik and, obviously, coloured stretch denim! I may need to make the 3hr drive to Saskatoon more often than every 2yrs…
I wasn’t sure what stitch length for topstitching this pair. On my machine 3.5 length seems to worked nicely. I adjust my tension settin to 3 to nicely handle topstitch thread in the top and regular thread in the bobbin. Much happier with the appearance of the top stitching on my second pair. I even stitched a design onto the pockets, sewing over tissue paper to stabilize and avoid stretching. How do you like the pocket pattern I chose? I wanted something clean and simple and this looked a bit like an A for Anemone.
In my grey pair I used the instructions in the sewalongs to draft pocket stays even though I was still making the view A with regular rise. I wanted to see if it would give a nice look at the front, keeping my tummy sucked in. I think it does make them lay nicer and I will use this pocket style again. In the instructions though I didn’t like how it had this 2 layers of pocket extending to the very edge of the fly extension. This would get folded over and then you would have 4 layers of quilt cotton between 2 layers denim for each fly piece and behind the overlapped fly pieces there is a fly shield too!that seemed like a lot of layers so I trimmed my pocket stay down to the edge where the fly extension folds back so I would only have 2 layers of cotton in the middle of each fly piece.
The pocket stay and my extra darting out of the rear were my only fit changes from pair #1. I corrected the darts to take out more and match the smaller waistband used in pair #1. Much easier to ease in when my adjustments match, lol. I think I may need to go a bit smaller on the waistband or perhaps just add interfacing to make it more stable. The waist feels a bit loose after I’ve had them on for a bit, then they slide down lower on my hips.
In my grey pair I took my time and tried for real flat felled seams at the back yoke and center seam. The technique I used in the center seam is a bit different than the sewalong and most tutorials on doing flat felled seams at home. I tried to take pictures as I did it and will post more about this later since this has already turned into quite a long blog post.
There are a lot of reviews out there on this pattern so my reviewing it seems rather redundant…but for my personal tracking and anyone who is curious about my thoughts here’s my summary:
Garment Cost – Blue Capris $24.55 CAD (costs include taxes)
- 1.5m denim $18.15 – Fabricland
- 5″ jeans zipper $1.40 – Fabricland
- 0.5m cotton for pockets $5.00 – Fabricland
Garment Cost – Grey Jeans $46.15 CAD (costs include taxes)
- 1.75m denim $42.25 – Unique Textile Studio
- 5″ jeans zipper $1.40 – Fabricland
- 0.5m cotton for pockets $2.50 – Astrins Attic
Pattern cost $28.45 CAD for paper pattern (including Canadian discount, exchange and shipping)
- The base cost of this pattern is $18 USD (printed) $14 USD (PDF) at Closet Case Files
Size chosen and modifications made:
- Size 14 chosen based on my measurements.
- Modified to take take darts out of back yoke, and upper back leg and making waistband smaller to fit my proportions.
- Trimmed pocket stay to reduce bulk in fly.
What I liked
- Printed instructions and online sewalong were very detailed making an intimidating project less scary and easy to achieve good results.
- Love the fit and details of pattern, giving you jeans very much like ready to wear!
- Multiple lengthen/shorten lines in various areas and details in sew-along to help with fitting.
- Very nice crotch curve.
- Layout of pattern on printed sheets for each pattern view to have a separate pattern sheet.
- Even includes details like sourcing materials, avoiding pitfalls like leg twist, getting nicely attached jeans hardware and properly placed pockets!
- High and regular rise version included.
What I disliked
- Pocket stay pattern to very edge of fly extension.
- Flat felled seam method shown is really tricky to get nice results and makes topstitching not be exactly centred in rear of jeans.
My rating for this pattern is 9.75/10
Love this pattern and the resulting fit I got. Even at this early point in my jean making I’m getting jeans I like as much or more than RTW pairs! Extremely well drafted, with great instructions, fitting help and accurate materials stated. This is, just as everyone says, a real winner. The pattern may have been expensive but it is well worth it for the level of detail it contains and the fact it will be used a great many times.
- Smaller or stabilized waistband.
- Make a skinny leg pair with ankle zippers.
- A flared leg pair.
- Maybe see if the high waisted version works on my body type.