Thursday, February 13, 2014

Some Jeans Notes

So, if you remember, one of my goals for this month was to make the Named Jamie Jeans.  And I've been working on it pretty consistently since the beginning of the month.  But today is the first day I actually sewed on them.

I had a couple set-backs.  I first traced out the size 38 pattern because I had some confusion about what size to make.  The confusion was actually more like denial I think.  I was measuring my "hip" - NOT the widest part of me.  After taking some flat pattern measurements, I realized that was never going to work.

So I retraced the pattern in a size 40, because I've purchased size 40 clothing before.  For that round, I even went so far as to pin it all together to do a tissue fitting.  Go ahead and laugh - I deserve it!  It didn't dawn on me until I was struggling to get my paper pants past my calf that stretch denim stretches - paper doesn't!  D'oh!!

I did a few more flat pattern measurements, and compared the pattern to my measurements and some jeans I have that fit me well in the hip.  I started watching the Pants Fitting Craftsy class.  I started reading Pants for Real People.

And then I got real, and traced out the size 42.  Some more measurements and comparisons confirmed that this size and shape is very close to my RTW jeans.  So I'm hopeful that the fit refinements I have to do will be to tweak the things I don't like about the jeans I have.

While all that size-choosing was going on, I had a fabric crisis as well.  I fell in love with the "muslin" denim I'd bought, and anticipating a fitting nightmare, decided to order some extra from Fabric.com.  I got 4 yards each of 2 different weights, thinking that I'd have enough to make 4 muslins if necessary and then the first fabric I bought could be the real thing.

Yesterday I went through the teeeeeedious process of prewashing that 8 yards of denim - twice (PFRP recommends thrice, but I just didn't have it in me), and then ironing it.    And when I went to cut out my pieces, I found that they didn't fit on the fabric as shown in the layout.  And I'm not really sure why - my fabric is 52" wide, more than enough to go around my hips.  I haven't measured it yet, but could I really have gotten that much shrinkage?  So, I had to alter my placement, which meant that I won't be getting 2 pair of jeans out of that 4 yards.  Good thing I bought extra! 

I also found that while the pattern says what length of fabric to get, it doesn't mention a width, although I suspect most denim comes in 52" - 54" widths.

Anyway, I cut out all my pieces yesterday, to get ready for sewing today.


I decided to sew this heavy weight denim on my Kenmore rather on my Janome - it's just a sturdier machine.  And I'm pretty sure that was the right choice.  I didn't really have any trouble, except when I was attaching the back pockets.  The denim needle went through everything nicely.  I'd heard that it's best to use a topstitching needle for the topstitching, and that's where I had trouble on the pocket.  On my first pocket, the needle kept getting hung up on the thick areas.  I couldn't even move it - I had to cut the top and bobbin threads, remove the bobbin and the race and pull the thread free before I could lift the needle.  I had to do that 4 times on the first pocket, and I'll have to go back and hand-sew those ends in.  However, I finally realized that the denim needle might work better in that instance, and once I switched, things went much more smoothly.


The process for this pattern is sew a seam, finish it (on the serger) then press to one side and topstitch.  There's a lot of back and forth between machines, needles and threads - and for me, between floors of my house, as I sew downstairs but iron upstairs.

So I decided to sew as many little seams as I could with the denim needle and regular thread, then finish them, take them upstairs to press, and come back down, switch to the topstitching needle and topstitching thread and then do all my topstitching.  Because I was working on so many steps at once, I crossed out each instruction as I finished it.


Also, you can see that before I even started, I highlighted all the names of the pattern pieces and wrote their numbers next to them.  I did this because I noticed that the names on the pattern pieces themselves are sometimes different from the names used in the instructions, and I didn't want to have to stop working and figure out which piece I needed as I was sewing.

Here's a pile of pieces that have been seamed and finished, and are waiting to get pressed:


That pattern piece for the slanted pocket edge has some very fiddly angles to cut around.  I chose not to do it.  Instead, I cut a piece the same width, but about an inch longer.  I sewed it to the pocket and leg front, and then trimmed away the extra after it was all put together.  Much easier.




So, my next step is to put the legs together.  I'm planning on basting it all together with the seams on the outside, to make fitting adjustments on my asymmetrical body easier.  I probably won't be doing that until the weekend though. 

30 comments:

  1. It sounds like quite the process, but I'm sure it's going to be worth it in the end! I'm a bit scared of making trousers so I shall be watching anxiously :)

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    1. I hope it will be worth it! Pants fitting is quite the chore. I spend a lot of time procrastinating about it :-)

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  2. ugh i feel your pain! (minus the having to run around to press seams...) i love how the topstitching thread looks, but switching back and forth is such. a. hassle. if i had two machines, one would be for topstitching and the other for construction! i'm having a bit of a hangup on my own jeans... my denim seems to have less stretch than required. haven't had time to finish them, but they may end up as muslin #2.

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    1. Oh no! Yours are so beautiful too! I hope it works out. I'm finding the whole "amount of stretch required thing to be confusing. But this fabric seems to be about as stretchy as my RTW jeans.

      I do have two machines, and I thought of doing that, but then I'd have 3 machines total on my small table!

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  3. You are so patient. I would love custom made jeans.

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    1. I just love to make stuff! It might as well be useful stuff!

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  4. I'm really keen to see your finished version. I'm sure all of your attention to detail and fitting will be worth it.

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  5. How timely! I just purchased me denim for these jeans even thoough I'm yet to buy the pattern. Had to ask another blogger how much to buy! I can't wait to see how it goes for you. I have heard that they just seem to "fit" everybody, but I guess "fit" is relative. I'll be waiting with baited breath to see your finished product. And it's a bit disappointing to hear that there have been some complications with the pattern. Hmmm

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    1. I guess I'd say 2.5 yards to be on the safe side. I chopped 2" off the bottom of the legs from the get-go because I'm a shorty, so that saved some length.

      And the pattern isn't super complicated really - I just have some attention issues :-) I wanted to be as thorough as possible to avoid mishaps.

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    2. Eek! I only got 2m of 140cm wide. I think you're right, it requires a wider fabric and we just don't get that here. I sure hope I have enough, because its gonna have to do even if they end up capris. :(

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    3. OK - with Shar's help, I found the fabric requirements. It's right on the first page of the instructions, d'oh! And it says that 2 meters of 140cm should be enough, even for the size 42 (which I doubt you'll need). So . . . I probably cocked it up somehow.

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  6. I really want to make these, but I'm so daunted by the thought of trying to fit them. I guess it would be worth it to end up with a pair of jeans that actually fit properly though.

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    1. I know - pants fitting is kind of a drag! But I think if one can get oneself to do it, it ends up being worth the trouble. Hope I don't have to eat my words!

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  7. Good luck! I hope the fit is just fabulous and all that hard work will be worth it!

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  8. I bow down to you, you amazing woman!

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    1. Don't bow yet - you might jinx it, LOL!

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  9. I cannot wait to see them! I hope to buy a new machine this year that can handle denim. My lil' Singer just won't.

    That pocket is looking professionally made! Love it!

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    1. I'm really glad I have two - they are quite different. My old Kenmore is a workhorse!

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  10. Oh, I can tell these are going to be lovely! For some reason I thought you lived in a high-rise (one-floor). I do want to know more about how you sew on one floor and press on the other. How does that go? I think I'd lose it!

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    1. No, it's a townhouse, and we have 2 floors. Of course, I could bring all my ironing stuff downstairs with me when I bring all the sewing stuff, but I like to leave it upstairs to encourage myself to go up and down the stairs more. Every little bit helps - my body hurts if I'm too inactive!

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  11. I should have let you start sewing first since I missed out on some great ideas you posted here! I didn't highlight or number anything but then I had to keep double-checking. Also, good call on the pocket edge. I have such a hard time trying to sew slanted pattern pieces so that the edges match when you turn them right side out. I hear you on the pain of switching out the needle and thread for topstitching, but I have to say that I could sit and topstitch all day long! I thought it would be tedious, but it's very satisfying when you get it right.

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    1. I felt bad because I told you I'd be posting as I went along, and then I lagged behind! But you did great without me :-)

      I found the topstitching kind of nerve-wrecking! I've become so reliant on my blind hem foot or stitch-in-the-ditch foot to keep my topstitching and edgestitching straight, but neither of them fit on my Kenmore. Just not used to having to eyeball it any more!

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  12. Ugh, I can't even begin to comprehend sewing pants yet. I love your pile of freshly sewn bits waiting to be ironed :) Can't wait to see the final product!!

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    1. What?! You've sewn pants! Leggings are pants, just without the zipper! Maybe if these were in leopard print, it would resonate with you more . . .

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  13. I love that you highlight and write the pattern numbers down. Totally something I need to start doing.

    How much stretch does your denim have? Just wondering. I made a muslin of what I thought would fit me (of the Jamie) and I think the denim I picked was way too stretchy because it was so loose everywhere. I even had to look up the photo of the model in the sample because I wasn't sure if it was supposed to have a slightly loose fit at the knees and ankles, but nope - it's like skin tight on the model! haha. Would love to know how much stretch your denim has and can't wait to see how it turns out!

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    1. I don't usually do the highlighting thing, but in this case, since the names were slightly different, I thought it was a good idea. I tend to gloss over things sometimes and then regret it!

      Good question about the stretch - that's something that confuses me too. I took a look and this one has 2% lycra, which Fabric.com says is 10% stretch. I really don't get that . . . I'm a little afraid of the lycra fabrics, because I've heard that each one is different. So I have a feeling I'll have to fine-tune each pair of jeans.

      I'm wondering if there's some sort of resource that explains how the stretch fabrics work. I haven't taken the time to research it yet though. Anyone? Bueller?

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  14. Ahhh, these jeans are stressing me out! I'm scared that my denim doesn't have enough stretch! Yikes!

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    1. I know - it's such a grey area! The first denim I bought (which is not the one I'm using) has only 1% stretch. I'm hoping it will be OK. Probably better to add some insurance seam allowances for that one!

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