Ginger jeans

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Worn with an Archer shirt

So firstly, yay I made a pair of jeans! Overall the experience was very positive and while I’m happy with the end result it was certainly a learning experience for me and I’ve come away with some changes that I’ll be making next time.  I used some stretch denim from the Fabric store and you can read more about my denim bleaching journey here. It took quite a few months from purchasing my fabric, to bleaching it, to having a finished garment and I’m glad to have finally brought my vision to life.

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This pattern needs no introduction in the sewing community, it seems many of us pick the Ginger jeans as the pattern to hold our hand as we dip our toes into jeans making. I found the instructions to be very good, and the sewalong on the Closet Case patterns blog to be even better. I’m incredibly lucky that these fit me pretty well straight out of the packet. Apart from my usual adjustment for length (removing 4” at the lengthen/shorten line) the only changes I made were to remove about ¾’ from the centre seam of the yoke tapering to nothing at the yoke side seam, and to curve the waistband more as it was gaping.

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I made view b and really like how the pocket stay extends all the way from the side seams into the fly front. I used guterman Mara 70 thread (colour 887) for topstitching as recommended on the love to sew podcast and found it very easy to sew with. (Also if you’re interested in sewing with denim I highly recommend listening to that episode!) My machine did not have any issues with it and it made all that topstitching a lot less stressful. The only problem was sourcing it – despite extensive googling I was unable to find a supplier locally in Australia so ended up ordering some from Blackbird fabrics. While I was at it I also bought some jeans buttons and rivets from Blackbird and I have to say the shipping from Canada wasn’t as exorbitant as I was expecting.

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Worn with my well loved Elliot sweater

I used a denim needle (size 90/14) with the stitch length set to 3 for topstitching. This next point is more for my personal reference than anything but I was able to squeeze these jeans out of 1.2m of 150cm wide fabric (one of the perks of being petite!) Also the instructions suggest cutting the belt loops 3 ½” long however I ended up cutting 3” long belt loops after referring to a RTW pair of jeans.

The instructions have several different options for stabilising the waistband but in the end I did not use any of them as I felt the waistband might feel too restrictive. Unfortunately it stretches out quite significantly after one wear so next time I will definitely have to interface at least the waistband facing.

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So I took the sewing at a very slow and steady pace, taking my time with the topstitching and trying to not just speed ahead. I’m pretty pleased with how the topstitching turned out, and overall everything went smoothly until the waistband. Ahh the waistband – it got unpicked twice! Firstly because I’d forgotten to lower my presser foot for one small section of topstitching so there was an unsightly thread nest in one corner. Secondly because there was significant gaping at the front of my waistband which meant that I had to redraft the pattern piece to be more curved and cut out a new one.

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Bit too much room in the waistband!
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Waistband unpicked for the second time (not happy Jan!)

A couple of weeks later I can casually condense all of that unpicking into two sentences but at the time it felt like a huge drag! I don’t know about you but more recently I’ve been trying to embrace getting the little details right, even if it means lots of unpicking. I just know that I’m not going to wear a garment if the fit isn’t quite right so it’s been worth going back to tweak things.

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Seam allowance removed before removing length from top edge of waistband
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Top: original waistband, bottom: new waistband (noticeably more curved)

Installing the button was an absolute breeze and I can highly recommend the jeans buttons that Blackbird carries. The post has ridges on it (compared to some buttons I’d bought elsewhere which has a smooth post) and it literally took a few whacks with my hammer and it was perfectly installed. I’d also recently bought an awl which I was pretty excited to use. It certainly isn’t essential (I believe you can just use a nail to make the initial hole) but I felt a bit profess using it.

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So while the process was fairly enjoyable and I’m pretty happy with the end result what you don’t see in these pictures is how bagged out these jeans get after only one wear (sad face!) I’m not sure if it is a problem with the fabric not having good recovery and/or the waistband not being stabilised but they certainly feel too baggy at the end of the day. Next time (yes there is definitely going to be a next time!) I’m going to size down one size and see if that makes any difference. I will make sure to draft a more curved waistband again and interface the waistband facing with some stretch interfacing.

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Gratuitous topstitching shot

Details:

  • Pattern: Closet Case Patterns Ginger jeans view b
  • Fabric: bleached stretch denim from the Fabric store
  • Fabric required: 1.2m of 150cm wide denim
  • Pattern mods: shortened by 4”, ¾” taken out of centre back yoke tapering to nothing at yoke side seams, 2 1/4” taken out of top seam of waistband (making waistband piece more curved), belt loops cut 3” long rather than 3 ½” as suggested
  • Other garments: Archer shirt, Elliot sweater

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I’m not sure if it’s possible to end up with high waisted jeans where the waistband doesn’t bag out, but that you can actually sit down in comfortably? Or is that too much to ask? Also I’m super keen to give the Dawn jeans a try but am a bit scared of non-stretch jeans and whether they can be comfortable or not? If you’ve got any jeans making tips I’d love to hear them! Happy sewing xx

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