Saturday, 31 December 2016

Heather: Happy New Jeans!

This week marks one whole year since I joined the Sew It Yourself Challenge!  Earlier in the year I decided that my final project for this challenge would be a pair of really well fitting jeans. Technically the challenge allowed me to purchase jeans, but I've been wearing a great pair from Dorothy Perkins for almost 10 years and I couldn't find anything on the high street to meet my needs. These have finally given up the ghost and so I needed to find a replacement pretty quickly! (I never realised how often I wanted to wear jeans until I didn't have them!).

Thankfully, stylish jeans patterns are becoming more and more popular, so I had plenty of great indie patterns to choose from! I narrowed the search down to the Sew Over It 'Ultimate Trousers', the Closet Case Patterns 'Ginger Jeans' and the Deer and Doe 'Safran Jeans'. In the end the decision was simply a case of which one I wanted to try first and the Ginger Jeans won the toss. 

One of the major worries with considering any jeans, handmade or otherwise, is the fit. We have all experienced the misery of visiting the high street fitting rooms with 30 pairs of jeans and finding nothing at all. Thankfully the last garment I purchased before starting the challenge was a really excellent fitting pair of chinos from Fat Face. I used these and my trouser block to guide my cutting, and decided on an 8 waist, graded to a 10 at the hip and back in to an 8 for the legs. I graded the back panels further to a 12 at the widest part of the bottom to make sure I had enough room to sit down! 

The next challenge was finding a suitable denim. The pattern required the fabric to be at least 2% stretch and the jeans I was trying to replace were a very dark, overdyed indigo denim. Sounds straightforward, I hear you say, but try as I might I found it difficult to find anything of this specific nature. (I've subsequently found a few good denim suppliers, but please do share your favourites with me in the comments below!) I even took a trip to the fabric markets in Birmingham (what a chore! đŸ˜‰) but found very little variety. I requested a few samples from The Denim Company which were really nice quality, but in the end I headed over to new favourite Sew Essential for some of their Dark Blue Medium Weight Stretch Denim. It wasn't necessarily the shade of blue that I wanted but the fabric properties were suitable and I figured it would be good for practice pair.

Denim swatches 
I have a confession to make here... I didn't pre-wash this denim! I put a small piece in the machine with some old trousers that I was dying and didn't get any shrinkage so decided to risk it! 

So, the only thing that remained was to just get on with it! After cutting, I followed the instructions closely (really, I did!), starting by constructing the front sections, back pockets and fly front. I chose a contrast front pocket fabric for a bit of fun and a back pocket design from a selection released by Closet Case with their newsletter signup. I printed the pocket design twice, once as a mirror image, and then pinned this to the pocket, carefully lining up the design and then topstitching over the paper to ensure accuracy. Peeling off the perforated paper was very satisfying!  

My husband chose the white topstitching thread, which I wasn't sure would work, but I think it looks great!
 The fly front instructions and diagrams were clear enough, though I did have to reread them a few times, and compare with other trousers to really understand how they should look. When I made the Jedediah Pants for my husband back in September I found the instructions for flat-felled seams to be particularly good, and so I followed this technique throughout rather than using the faux flat-fell technique detailed in the instructions for these jeans. 

At the final fitting stage I took 1/2" out of the centre back seam (after wearing for half a day I probably could have got away with an inch) and attached the waistband according to the instructions. I was really impressed with how well my machine handled the denim. At the centre back the needle had to pass through 10 layers of denim in order to attach the belt loop through the flat seam, and it barely even slowed down. The topstitching needle I purchased also really helped with this and I didn't break any needles during the process!

I'm really pleased with the final result! 


Update: By the end of the day I started to think that I probably could have gotten away with a size smaller all round, especially across the back waistband, so fingers crossed they will bounce back in the wash!  


So all that's left is for me to say a huge thanks to Bridie for inviting me to join the challenge. I've had a really enjoyable year improving my sewing skills, getting to know my shape, and becoming part of such an amazing sewing community. I'll be still writing about sewing over at my blog 'Dresstoration', you can follow me on Instagram for all my latest sewing news, and I hope you'll still see the occasional guest post here too. 

Happy sewing  and a Happy New Year to you all!


  1. Looking good! Jeans are something I havent made but are def on my to-do list.

  2. They look really good and reminds me of my first jeans project that I had to throw away(!) My second jeans project which I made over a year ago I managed to salvage only a few weeks ago and I now regularly wear them. They are not as good as yours!

    1. Thank you! I hope you have another go in 2017- I can see me wearing mine a lot!