2018 Makes

Ginger Jeans


Jeans have been a dream make for me for pretty much as long as I’ve been sewing. I put them on my 2018 Make Nine list to encourage me to get on with making them. I chose the Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern and opted to make the mid-rise skinny version. I also signed up for the Sew Your Dream Jeans e-course for some extra support.

Fabric & Notions

I bought the fabric and notions for my jeans a good while before actually buying the pattern. Guthrie and Ghani had some limited edition ginger kits which included the fabric plus all the notions and hardware for jeans making. Buying it all in a kit took a little bit of the fear out of sourcing all the right materials, but I’m glad to see all the necessary items are sold separately through Guthrie and Ghani as well.

The fabric included in the kit was an 11oz classic blue stretch denim which was 70% cotton, 28% polyester and 2% spandex. After watching the first few videos of the e-course this is exactly the composition of denim I’d have looked for if I’d been sourcing everything individually.

Not included was the lining fabric for the optional pocket stay. I chose to use a flamingo print cotton that had been in my stash for ages.

Sizing / alterations

Aaaaargh! This was always going to be the scary bit! But I have surprised myself with my patience on this particular make and was determined to take my time and get it right.

Initially I planned to make a full toile for my jeans but was struggling to find an inexpensive stretch denim to practice on. Thankfully Heather-Lou recommended just cutting into your fabric and basting the pieces together for a test fit as the majority of alterations can be done on the cut pattern pieces.

So I started off comparing my waist and hip measurements to those on the pattern. I initially opted for the size 14 with the intention that if it was a little too big that was OK because I’d be able to scale it down rather than starting with pieces that were too small.

The size 14 were huge on me, so much so that I couldn’t actually see enough shape to tell where the alterations needed to be made. So I picked everything apart and trimmed my pieces down to a 12. Once I basted the 12 together I was able to see the areas that needed to be changed. By the time I’d finished playing with the fit they were closer to a size 10-12 on the original patten pieces.

The Closet Case guide to common pants fitting issues was really helpful at this stage as I was able to browse through it and note the areas on my own jeans that matched the description and image of the fitting issues.

In the end I had 5 major fit changes to make.

1. Gaping waistband = swayback adjustment

2. “Smile lines” at crotch = lengthen crotch seam

3. Horizontal creases under bum = seat adjustment

4. Leg width too large = take in inside leg and side seams

5. Leg length = remove 1″ at the knees

Heather-Lou’s explanation of the fitting adjustments is done in the most positive way – your body is a shaped a bit differently than the block the pattern was drafted with. It got my thinking how in the past I’d somehow never considered thinking of it this way when buying rtw clothes.

Sewing experience

For the actual sewing part I referred to both the written instructions and the videos from the Sew Your Dream Jeans e-course. The e-course is absolutely worth signing up to, especially if you’re more of a visual learner. Heather-Lou talks you through all the steps and adds in wee tips as you go along which was so helpful and took the intimidation out of sewing jeans for me. She’s also on hand to respond to questions as you go.

At first jeans seem scary because there are so many pieces, a huge set of instructions and the pressure to get the fit right but it was so well explained that once I got going it just felt exciting to make. I think knowing I’d basted the test pair helped me feel confident that I wasn’t putting in loads of work to then end up with ill fitting jeans.

Once I’d sewn & overlocked the inside leg seam I got a notion to baste the side seams just in case. This was actually recommended as an optional step in the e-course but I had initially (naively) thought I might not need to do it seeing as I spent so much time basting at the beginning. However I’m glad I did, in the end I changed the seam allowance for the side seams to 10mm for a wee bit extra room to manoeuvre. They’d have fit at the usual 15mm SA but that extra 5mm off on each side made them much more comfortable.

For inserting the zip and the waistband I paid more attention to the video tutorials which I found clearer than the written instructions for these parts. I spent a bit of time with my seam ripper on the waistband after realising I’d jumped ahead of myself and tried to sew the waistband and facing at the same time.

I enlisted the help of my husband for the back pocket placement. It really does make a difference to shift the pockets around a little to find the right place for you. So he very patiently took photos for me and gave feedback as I gradually adjusted the pockets to the right position.

For the rivets and jeans button I used a teeny wee awl that came with my rivets pack, a hammer and a cast iron stone. I used my prym pliers for closing the rivets initially and gave them a tap with the hammer if they needed a little bit of help to stay together. (also how fun is when you can get a hammer out while sewing!)

How long did it take to make

I began on 15th January and finished them on 28th January. I spent a full weekend just working in getting the fit right on my pattern pieces before going anywhere near the sewing machine. I reckon it was equivalent to around 5 full days sewing for this first go at jeans making.

Finished garment

I absolutely love my finished jeans and I love that the process of making them has given me so much more confidence in my sewing abilities. Learning to make and correctly fit jeans is an empowering process. As someone who would usually struggle with buying rtw jeans it was refreshing not to have to worry about the usual ‘it’ll fit at the hips or the waist or the legs but not all of them’ dilemma. The final instruction page states “congratulations you’re officially a sewing ninja!” and oh boy does that accurately describe the feeling!

Wear with /wearability

Wear with everything! This is one of the main reasons that jeans were such a big deal to me. Being able to make my own jeans brings me a giant step forward in the number of days a week I’ll be wearing clothes I’ve made vs rtw. Having now worn them for a few days I can feel the material loosening out a bit so will probably wear them with a belt most of the time unless they’ve just come out the wash.

Will there be a next time/any changes?

I would love to make these again. In my experience making this pair it’s definitely one to do when I’ve got plenty of time to dedicate to them.

I think next time I make them I might do a bit of batch sewing and make 2 pairs at the same time.

If you’re thinking about making jeans and are still feeling nervous I hope this helped. I’m also going to share a link to a Closet Case blog post on boosting your sewing confidence which was tremendously helpful for me and I keep bookmarked to go back to.

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