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. Nice one! Isn’t it so flattering to have a jeans pattern named after you? I almost felt the hand of history when I read about this! And then to have the jeans turn out absolutely gorgeous. Complete winner, ey?!

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    • It really was so sweet of her to name the pattern after me! I have to admit that I was really worried that I would end up bombing out and she would have to pick a new muse to name the pattern after!!!

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  2. I sewed mine up yesterday and was feeling exactly the same – I’ve made one pair of jeans before and while the construction was fine, the fit was…. very frumpy. These are completely different, and fit just as well as my NYDJ, with minimal adjustments!

    Now I just need to find some (novelty) denim…

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    • OK, you are the FASTEST sewer! You always manage to get new patterns sewn up first! πŸ˜€

      This pattern has a much more modern fit, IMO, than other jeans patterns that are widely available. It’s nice to have an option that’s more like what I would choose in RTW!

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  3. Jeans are the scariest thing I can think of, sewing wise. But so were swimsuits and Heather got me through that so… Not yet though dude, maybe next summer?! Also, you are the perfect muse for this pattern, just so you know and man friend sounds like a saint!

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  4. I haven’t tried to sew jeans, yet. Yours is the second pair of Ginger jeans that I have read about. I think I may jump in. Yours look great! I think you did a wonderful sewing job on them. Bras are on my to do list. You could have a set of Ginger underwear to go with your Ginger jeans.

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  5. This is a pattern I can get behind. I haven’t seen a jean pattern yet that I liked. And I don’t feel confident enough to make major changes. These are also not Harry Highpants. My biggest pet peeve. Cannot stand high waisted jeans. I need this pattern & make myself some. Nice. Long. Jeans. (I’m tall and bitter about RTW jeans)

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    • Same here- I hate a high waist! Plus, when my weight fluctuates, it’s always through my middle, so anything high-waisted is either too tight or too loose depending on whether I’m up or down a few pounds… annoying!

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  6. These are fantastic. You did a terrific job.
    I have the Kenneth King copy your jeans class and then realized that my $20 Old Navy jeans don’t fit me well enough to copy. These are on the list after the already lined up projects…

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  7. For sure they look like real jeans, cause the are real jeans! I hear you on the waistband wackiness – I did something similar on a pair of Jamie jeans, I couldn’t for the life of me cut a waistband and a facing, and ended up with two waistbands and had to do something awkward. But these look amazing, and I will definitely use two machines if/when I get around to sewing jeans again. Not sure what my sewing phobia is, but it could be bras. Or underwear…

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  8. When I read Heather named the jeans after you I wondered if you would sew them (I wondered more when they would be on your blog so I could see them LOL). They. Look. Awesome! These are only your muslin? You put my muslins to shame! I just dropped $50 (on sale) on a new pair of jeans cause my last pair died (somehow I have it in my head I can only have one pair of jeans at a time- no wonder with that price!). After your show of fearlessness, I feel inspired (or as inspired as my current to-do list will let me be :-P). GREAT job!

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  9. These most definitely look like real jeans! Nice work!! I think that jeans are up there on my sewing fear list, right next to swimsuits and silk chiffon. I ordered the Ginger pattern and the kit though, time to kick jeans in the butt!

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  10. Ginger Ginger Ginger… Do you know I invite folks to sew at my house because of a blog post you wrote? Now, maybe…. Just maybe…. I’m gonna make some jeans??? I don’t typically wear jeans but maybe if I got the correct fit and fabric…. Nicely Done Sister!

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    • Ahhhh, that makes me so happy!!!!! Isn’t sewing with others WAY more fun than sewing alone? Although… I’ll confess that about half the time I make a sewing date, we’ve ended up just talking and talking and talking the whole time and not getting any sewing done! πŸ˜€

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  11. Wow, your jeans look SO good!! I definitely want to try the Ginger pattern in the future, and I’m thinking flat felled seams would be a good improvement too. I found the jeans buttons a bit finicky to install as well–I assume it’s because I can’t swing a hammer straight… Or level. Rivets, snaps , etc tend to look lopsided when I’m done with them :/ oh well, they haven’t fallen off yet!

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    • Oh man, I can’t get things level, either! Part of my problem, I’m sure, was that I was hammering on my skillet, but it was resting on a card table and wasn’t stable at all. Normally I would just go outside and do it on the sidewalk, but it rained about five days in a row and I just got too impatient! I tend to overpound rivets and snaps, well… maybe I should just stick to regular, sew-on buttons!

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  12. These jeans look great on you & how lovely that they are your namesake! I’m going to take your word for it that jeans are not to hard to sew…I’m SO not ready to go there yet!

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  13. holy shit these are amazeballs. I’m in love with the top stitching detail.. plus on the side as well just like RTW ones.. I feel like people hype up jeans to be something super scary like invisible zippers, and afterwards it was like if you follow the instructions you’ll be fine.

    PS – I almost had the same thing happen to me with the waistband. I was dead tired and was looking at like like why isn’t the end matching up and the notches? I was pinning the wrong one to the wrong side.

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  14. Love em! They look fab on your and the fit is great. Perhaps try straightening and shortening the front curve under the fly to remove the excess from that area. That’s what I do πŸ™‚ I’ll also cross my fingers that she doesn’t make a bra pattern – ick!

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  15. Whoa! I’m a DIY jeans skeptic, I’ll admit it. But I’m really impressed with the fit, because, quite frankly that’s what it’s all about and that’s what’s been keeping me from them. But these look like they fit your superbbbbly.

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  16. Nicely done! I’m still really afraid to tackle jeans! I have a pair of Jamie jeans cut and ready to sew for over four months now, but I’m still avoiding sewing them. I loved the Ginger jeans the moment I saw them, especially for the high-waisted version. I think I need to buckle up and face this fear once and for all. I can’t be missing all this fun!

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  17. I don’t understand: do you mean Man friend could not love to sit for hours and listen to two crazy sewing ladies talks?! Strange…
    Your jeans makes me want to buy the pattern even though I promised to myself I wont buy any before at least Christmas and even if I don’t have the skills needed. But, just like you, I wear jeans every single day!!
    Tell me: what is this magical foot you’re talking about? I can’t find anything about it on the web…

    And, also: please, forgive my poor english. I used to be able to talk (and write) much better. But it all went away… Sad.

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  18. OMG I think I have to make a pair of Ginger Jeans – yours look fantastic! I’ve only ever sewn the Jalie jean pattern (after reading such good reviews), and while I was just so stoked that I actually made jeans, the fit isn’t as good as my RWT ones. I’ve got the Jamie Jeans pattern but I’m being rather hesitant as I’m still trying to get my head around how to fit a pant. I have the same problem as you, with that extra room in the front leg/crotch area, but I’ve got no idea how to fix it. I suppose that is a better problem to have than a camel’s toe!

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    • Agreed re: the camel toe! That is, hands’ down, THE WORST. The general consensus from comments here is that shortening and/or flattening the crotch curve should solve the problem. I’m going to compare the crotch curve to the crotch curve of my favorite Levi’s and see what’s happening when I look at them side by side!

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  19. These look so good on you! I just posted about a pair of pants I made with similar front “whiskers” and readers have offered some very helpful advice. It seems the front crotch is too long, and the curve should probably be a bit shallower. Most people said though, it’s not that big a deal, and seeing your pictures, I would tend to agree!

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    • Your pants are gorgeous! After trying them back on, I think the crotch is a bit too long, like you said. I’m not 100% certain how to shorten it correctly but I’ll be consulting my fit book and trying to work it out for the next pair!

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  20. These are so cool! I have sewn trousers/jeans before and I had exactly the same concerns as you, but once you made one pair you acquire more confidence and move to another one. And, yes, I did enjoy sewing my jeans and will definitely make more because a girl without a pair of jeans is like …. a pizza without mozzarella.

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  21. I love these. You did such a good job. I actually tried to order the kit and hesitated a bit after putting in in my shopping cart since I have never made jeans before. By the time I decided I really wanted the kit it was sold out. Such a bummer!

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  22. THESE ARE FANTASTIC!!!! Yaaay!!! Your namesake pattern is the bees knees!!!! It makes my heart so happy to see so many people sewing jeans! These look totally professional! Your topstitching is ace! I only have one machine so I always have to go into zen-master mode when it comes to constantly switching out thread. Jealous of your two machines (and these ‘sewing friends’ you speak of that can come over and sew with you… what wizardry is this??) I think this is a great jeans pattern, too. Sounds like with a few minor tweaks you’ll have a perfect fitting jeans pattern! How awesome is that!?!? Oh, and regarding the little bit of weirdness you’re getting at the front crotch – which is pretty minor from my side of the screen – I think you just might need to alter the shape of the crotch curve slightly – either straighter or less curved. Not sure which off the top of my head, but I bet Heather could help you, or google!

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  23. They look great! I already have a mainly self-drafted pattern for jeans, but I may need to pick this one up anyway so I can transfer my fitting adjustments to something with a better waistband and all. I’m also jealous that you live somewhere that has a place that will do the buttons for you–on the last pair I made, the button started getting loose after the first time I wore them, my dad had to use some mega epoxy glue stuff to get it to stay, and I still have to sew a patch over top of the backing so it doesn’t scratch up my stomach! (I wore them on the Paris trip with the quick and dirty fix of putting a bandaid over the back.)

    And now that you know jeans aren’t scary, I hope you make more! I love jeans too, so I completely understand!

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    • That’s a good idea- using your self-drafted pattern as a block and pulling all the details from this pattern! I bought the Craftsy Jean-ius course with the intention of copying Man Friend’s favorite pair of jeans, but the process was just so intimidating! Maybe I will take your idea and buy a pattern, but copy the fit from his pants!

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  24. They look really great and I would not have known they are hand-made by looking at them, you did a great job:-) I think sewing jeans is very difficult but I would like to try one day (your results are definitely encouraging!)

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  25. These are amazing! I must try this pattern.. I really want to make jeans but thus far I haven’t found a pattern that seemed unscary enough while also being the right style. This might just give me the courage! πŸ˜€

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  26. These are amazing and look great on you! I’m a little scared to make jeans, but am tempted by the Ginger pattern… Seeing yours makes me want to give it a go! πŸ™‚

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  27. You look amazing in these! I’m so impressed. You can keep saying you’re not going to sew jeans, but when someone names a jeans pattern after you how can you say no to that? Perfect motivation! πŸ˜‰ Might have to try these one day…

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