Ginger Made: Ginger Jeans!!!!!

Guys. I made jeans.

This is a big deal.

Here’s the thing. I wear jeans every day. Like, every single day. I’m wearing them now. I wore them yesterday. Honestly, I have no idea when I last wore something else outside the house! But I have to admit that I’ve never, ever, EVER wanted to sew a pair! They’re right up there with bras for me- I know some of you sew these successfully and beautifully, but I just don’t have the precision, patience, or fitting skills to do it myself.Β  Then, way back in May, Man Friend and I visited Montreal for his birthday and snuck in a wee brunch with Heather Lou (sidenote: if you want to see an example of saintlike patience, it’s Man Friend calmly and pleasantly eating while Heather and I talked and talked and TALKED about sewing on HIS birthday weekend). This is what went down:

Heather: “Did I tell you I’m naming my next pattern after you?”

Me: [super touched by this gesture]

Heather: “It’s a skinny jean”

Me: [@#$%]

Confession: I had zero confidence in this project the entire way through. Jeans just seem so… impossible! Annoying! Un-fun to sew! I didn’t think I could get them to fit correctly or to be tough enough for everyday wear. I thought they would break my sewing machine. I figured there was about a 97% chance that I’d quit midway through in a puddle of tears and snot… not a pretty thought! Spoiler alert: sewing jeans is totally doable!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Without further ado, meet my Ginger jeans! These look pretty gosh darn good for a first pair of jeans, yeah?

Let’s talk construction! I made view A, with the lower waist and stovepipe legs, which closely mimics the style of my favorite Levi’s. Everything I needed to know was covered in the pattern instructions. I’ve never made pants before, and I’ve only sewn a front fly once (in my Moss mini), so this was all pretty new to me. But I just took it one step at a time and everything went together smoothly. There were one or two things that were confusing to me, but Heather addressed all of these concerns in the final pattern instructions.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Jeans

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it was WAY easier to sew these with two sewing machines. I think this is the first project I’ve done with contrast topstitching since getting my Juki, and it was a breeze to stitch the seams on my Janome, serge them, and then topstitch with the Juki. I’ve done contrasting topstitching before, but I had to keep switching thread spools and bobbins and it was annoying. If you only have one machine, this is the perfect excuse to set up a sewing date with a friend and pool resources! Or just carefully consider your construction order so you don’t have to swap thread as much. πŸ™‚ Speaking of topstitching, I bought a 1/8″ compensating foot for my Juki which made it a BREEZE (and it was only $6… the benefit of your machine taking industrial feet!). Previously, my attempts at even topstitching have been… sad. So if you have an edgestitch/topstitching/compensating foot, this is a great time to use it! Or take a good look at the feet you do have and see if there’s one that can help you get straighter lines than your regular presser foot (I’ve heard that blind hem feet can be good for lining up with your seam/edge). It’s worth it to practice before diving in, especially if you’re using thread in a contrasting color.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

My machines didn’t break, and actually both performed like champs! I used denim needles on both of them, and they happily sewed through everything. The only problem I had was attempting to do bar tacks- I could have easily gone through the layers with my Juki, but it doesn’t do a zigzag. When I tried it on my Janome, with topstitching thread in the bobbin, my machine was like, “You’re hilarious. I’m not doing that.” [ETA: I did my topstitching with regular thread in the bobbin… I just thought I needed topstitching thread in the bobbin to do bar tacks). I can’t adjust the presser foot pressure, which might have solved that problem. I settled for backstitching a few times on my Juki. Fine by me! Otherwise everything was easy- I didn’t even have trouble making a nice buttonhole with my basic Janome! Yay!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Next up, materials. I used denim from Mood that I bought a couple of years ago. I’m not certain what the stretch percentage is in the fabric, but I compared it to a pair of Levi’s that has 2% Lycra and it felt similar to me, so it’s in the right ballpark. I used regular navy thread for the seams and a spool of Mettler topstitching thread. It was my first time using that heavier thread, and it looks really cool! I’m glad that I tried it! I had jeans buttons and rivets in my stash from Taylor Tailor (I used them for my Moss mini and my Romy anorak). I felt pretty bad pounding on the rivets (using a hammer and the back of my cast iron skillet)… my poor neighbors were probably wondering what on earth that sound was! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the jeans button on securely enough, so it popped off right as I was heading out to take blog photos. I decided to scrap the photo op and just take the jeans to Star Snaps so they could set the button, something Puu recommended to me (she told me it’s Kenneth King’s favorite spot for snaps/rivets/etc!). It cost me all of 45 seconds and $2 and I had a snug, secure button! I used scraps of cotton shirting for the pocket bags… actually, every single thing I used for these jeans I already had! Stash-bustin’ win!!!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

OK, let’s talk fit! This is the thing I was most scared about. I’ve seen many sewists discuss pants fitting, and they bandy about all kinds of terrifying terms (ex: “crotch whiskers”. I WANT NO PART OF THIS.) So I dove in with more than a little trepidation. My waist and hip measurements match the size 4 measurements, so I was able to cut a straight size. When I basted everything together, I noticed that I was getting some gaping in the back (a frequent issue for me… I used to have to take my RTW jeans to the tailor’s to have them taken in back there, ugh). So I pinned out a dart in the back yoke and altered the pattern piece by slashing and overlapping 1/4″ to remove the excess I took out in the dart. Then I took out a 1/4″ tuck in the same spot on the waistband, twice (once for each side since you cut two back yokes and only one waistband). If anyone needs a visual for this, let me know and I’d be happy to show you what I did. I could probably have taken out a smidge more, but I didn’t want to risk things getting too tight after a big bowl of spaghetti!Β  After altering the pattern, I just recut the yoke and waistband pieces and my muslin became a wearable pair of jeans! OK, full disclosure: I had to cut the waistband THREE times… once for the original muslin, once after changing the fit, and one more time after I accidentally sewed the pieces together upside-down, completely ignoring the instructions and notches WHOOOOOPS).

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Oh, you know, just relaxin’ with my hands on my head awkwardly so you guys can see the top of my waistband…

On my next pair, I plan to use flat-felled seams for a cleaner finish. Since this was a muslin, I basted the seams to check the fit, then just serged the seams and topstitched them down. I may give myself a little more room just through the knee so the fit is just like my favorite pair of RTWs. And, here’s where I could use some advice- there’s something a little strange happening at the front crotch (I don’t think they’re crotch whiskers… at least, I really hope not) but I don’t know what’s causing it. Too much length? Any thoughts? Also, I didn’t realize until I was nearly done with my jeans that the topstitching thread was getting all gross and birds-nest-y on the underside when my machine needed to go over something thick like a belt loop. This problem was easily solved by folding up a piece of denim and placing it behind the belt loop so the presser foot wouldn’t have to go over it at an angle. I’ll be sure to use this every time on the next pair! You can also buy a “humpjumper” (STOP SNICKERING) just for this purpose for a couple of bucks, so that’s an option if you want something more professional. πŸ™‚

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a jeans sewing convert! I’m so, so impressed by this pattern, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to sew these up! I really appreciate the way that Heather has taken garments that are scary (swimsuit, jeans) and made them approachable and even fun to sew. Thanks, Heather, for the fun pattern, and for letting me be your muse! So if you’re thinking about sewing a pair of jeans, but you feel skeptical or nervous, I really recommend you give the Ginger jeans a try! I was so pleasantly surprised by how easy this process was, so much so that I’ve already planning a second pair [whispers] in a novelty denim! You can buy the pattern here, if you’re interested!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Ginger Makes

Guys. What do you think? Do these look like real jeans? Would you sew your own jeans? Have you already? If so, how did it go? What’s the scariest thing you can imagine sewing?

Now, Heather, PLEASE don’t release a bra pattern because I really, really, REALLY don’t want to sew one! πŸ˜‰

265 responses

  1. They look so great. I’m glad it only took a pattern named after yourself to give them a go πŸ˜‰ Wish I had two machines to tackle seams and topstitching side by side!

    Like

  2. Holy crap these turned out awesome! They look RTW (and I mean that as a compliment) – especially with all the beautiful topstitching. Ugh y’all are killing me with your gorgeous jeans. What an ace pattern to have named after you πŸ™‚

    Like

  3. Wow Sonia! I am so impressed, even though you were nervous it just goes to show what a great seamstress you are, these really turned out to be a fantastic pair of jeans! They look so amazing on you!

    Like

  4. A – mah -zing! They look like REAL jeans for sure. Kudos to you for
    1. Having 2 sewing machines! and
    2. sewing your own jeans!.
    I remember reading your post analyzing your Me Made May and you commented that you wore a lot jeans but had not made any and now here you are! I have been wanting to make jeans too mostly because the RTW ones I see are way way out of my budget. I bought the Jalie bootcut pattern AND Angela Wolfes’ class on Craftsy. Haven’t yet got round to making them. I put it off out fear that machine cant take it and topstitching. I must say though I am feeling inspired to start something in that direction!

    Like

    • Thanks, Hila! Honestly, you should give it a try! I’ve heard good things about the Jalie pattern- people seem to have great luck with it! And while I don’t always save money when I sew, these were a very cheap project. I think I paid $8/yd for the denim and only used two yards (it would have been 1.5 if I hadn’t recut the yokes and waistbands). Plus, you can go crazy with topstitching and add all kinds of details to make ’em look fancy!

      Like

  5. these look amazing!! i remember you saying how you never wanted to sew jeans, so when i saw the pattern and name i was all–hah! now she has to! hehe but you did great, and your top stitching is ACE. helps to have two machines, that’s for sure. i keep trolling craigslist for a cheap backup for just that purpose…

    fit-wise, the only thing i can think of about the crotch fitting is that you may need to lower (or “scoop out”) the crotch curve on the back. since the pants stop under the bum, they may not be snug enough in the front. sorry, pant fitting is totally creepy to talk about… basically, the angle of the crotch curve at that seam point needs to match the angle of your body.

    Like

  6. oh em gee

    These are fantabulous! My favorites so far, and how apposite! You did a sterling job and they certainly don’t look like a muslin. I bought the pattern and even though I’m going to have to grade them up I”m going to Make Them Work!

    Like

  7. I knew you can do this!

    AND YOU THOGHT DENIM WOULD BREAK YOUR JUKI?! OMG GURL! I have the Janome thats basically the same as your Juki and I’ve sewn like 8 pairs of jeans on it not to mention the several winter coats! Your Juki can def take some denim!

    As for the bar tacks – use regular thread in the same color as your topstitching thread, I do it, and it looks good πŸ˜‰

    Like

  8. I might have a single tear running down my face right now. These look so great. Shivers.

    Okay some thoughts: first of all, you don’t need topstitching thread in your bobbin. You can use regular thread and it makes switching spools much easier. You may just need to adjust the tension a bit. Same with bar tacks. I write all my tension settings down for regular stitching, topstitch on top, and topstitch on top for bar tacks.

    Second, I didn’t see this crotch thing in your iphone photos. Looks like you have a little excess here so it could be one of three things: you may need to shorten the front crotch a little. Try sewing the crotch seam at like, 7/8″ seam allowance next time grading down at the thigh and see if that helps. Alternatively, you may want to try flattening out that front crotch seem a little, 1/4″ should do it. Without seeing dead on shots it’s hard to tell, but if none of that works, you may also need a little extra in the front, which just means scooping out the curve a little, but I doubt it’s that. Those are the three big crotch fitting mods and generally will resolve whatever’s going on down there.

    And your tushy looks amazeballs.

    Like

  9. Your jeans looks fantastic! I’ve got a big crush on the Ginger Jeans pattern. I do have a totally unused Butterick jeans pattern at home that I have been putting-off for a while, so I don’t NEED this, but I might buy it anyway if I see enough renditions that come together as nicely as yours did.

    Like

    • Thanks, girl! It was a totally painless process and this pattern is definitely the closest to the style of jeans that I prefer (not sure what your preferred style/shape is, but I love a lower rise and legs that are straight from the knee).

      Like

  10. These look so awesome and professional!! I also love that the muse has made the pattern successfully–that’s got to be a good sign, right? =) I’ve never made jeans or pants before, but I’m really excited to try this pattern, especially after seeing yours.

    Like

  11. Your jeans look fantastic. As does your butt in them. I wouldn’t have thought they were your first pair. And how convenient it is to be able to take them to get the button put in! Brilliant.

    Thanks for the tips! I have my pattern. Just need to tape it together and get going.

    Like

  12. You’ve made an amazing pair of jeans!!! Fantastic! … I love wearing jeans and being able to make a pair was on my wish list since I’ve started sewing – I’ll have to try this pattern!!!

    Like

  13. Congrats on having a pattern named after you (gah!) and for sewing a pair of jeans! They look so professional and the fit is amazing (and I’m right there with you, too, about not wanting to sew jeans or bras!).

    Like

  14. These look AMAZING Sonja! Like seriously amazing! I’ve never had any desire to sew jeans either, until I saw that Heather Lou had released this pattern, and suddenly I was interested! I am definitely swayed, if I can find some decent denim! The fit on these looks ace on you as well. I’d love to see a diagram of what you did to the back as I can’t quite visualise it in my head.

    Like

  15. Glad you overcame your fear, these turned out great! And yes, having two sewing machines is pretty fantastic for making jeans, because changing thread/tensions/stitch settings all the time is a royal PITA. So we can plan to see your finished bra next month then? πŸ˜‰

    Like

  16. great job! they look so professional. i can’t wait to make mine. i have to admit that i am pretty nervous too. i made some kids jeans and it was so much work! and i will care way more about the fit of these. i think it will be worth it though if mine look half as nice as yours.

    Like

  17. Ah these look incredible! Looove that topstitching. I don’t think I have an actual topstitching foot in my arsenal, but I use a variety of other feet to do it…I have no idea what most of my feet are really for, I just look at them and see if they feel right for whatever I’m doing, ha! Anyway, congrats on the namesake pattern, and on your first amazing pair. πŸ™‚

    Like

  18. WOW. They look really ace on you. Good thing since they are your namesake πŸ™‚ I am suffering from the same jeans (and bra) fear as you did, but all the ice words about this pattern is slowly nudging me towards the denim section….

    Like

  19. Those jeans look fabulous on you. I have a pattern to make trousers for work but I haven’t tried it yet. If you can conquer your fear I believe I can too! I don’t believe mine will come out as great as yours. You are my inspiration though!

    Like

  20. These look like high end RTW jeans – amazing! Fit is fantastic and you top stitch like a pro. I bet you can’t stop staring at yourself in the mirror when you are wearing them…..Seeing as man friend has such patience maybe he wants to learn to make bras for you! Ha – just kidding. I actually like buying bras (shame on me yes) so I will never make them either.

    Like

    • I agree- bras are so much fun to buy, so why not? Oh man, I always tell me husband that he would be the best sewer! He’s very detailed, is really good at spatial understanding, and is soooo patient… he’d probably blow me out of the water!

      Like

  21. Super impressed! They look fantastic. I picked up the pattern along with the denim kit last Friday and can’t wait for the goods to arrive! In the meantime, I’ll be perfecting the pattern fit before I cut the super special kit denim. I have the feeling I might need to make the same back gap adjustment as you did.

    Like

  22. I would definitely have to get a new machine to sew jeans. It struggled through multiple layers while I recently constructed the Alder πŸ˜₯ Christmas is comin’ though! So we’ll see if a new machine, then jeans, is in the future!

    Like

  23. These look amazing!! I don’t think anyone would ever guess that they are handmade as they look so incredibly professional and the fit is better than tons of RTW jeans out there. I am super stoked to try this pattern.
    I am far from a fitting guru, but my guess about the front would be the crotch length. You might need touch more length, but I’m not 100% sure. Honestly, I think they look great as is!

    Like

  24. I’ve been waiting for this post since I found out this pattern was named for you! Your jeans really look incredible. I am so impressed by your top stitching! I have never made jeans before and I am very excited to try this pattern (next spring when I am out of maternity wear!)

    Like

  25. Awesome!!! I have a feeling this pattern is going to start a jeans-sewing revolution, if it hasn’t already. Yours came out really well and look totally RTW, in a good way. Congrats on tackling such a huge project and a personal sewing fear! I can’t wait to give this pattern a try, you know, after I finish all my WIPs, ha. πŸ™‚

    Like

  26. They look AMAZING! Excellent work, girlfriend! I’m super impressed with your topstitching. Everything looks perfect – yes, they look REAL! I’m definitely planning on purchasing this pattern in the future (but not until I finish up some of the stuff that’s currently going on).

    Like

  27. These look so good for your first pair! Congratulations!
    I am learning to make my own jeans/trousers because I’m taller than average and have a smaller waist so even my attempts at jeans are a bit better than store-bought. I was also tired of the crotch whiskers or bagginess I was getting in RTW.
    I think I’m with you in the Bras being scariest to sew department.

    Like

    • It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose confidence, isn’t it? But it’s so worth it to try things that are difficult… you get so much of a thrill from getting to the end of the project!

      Like

Got something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: