Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vogue 8330 skinnies

The heavy duty snap was hammered and these babies are done!
I love them!! When I first started seeing skinny jeans, I was horrified. Could anything be more unflattering?? what would Stacy and Clinton say??? But the more I saw them, the more I liked them.  Still, I couldn't convince myself to put in the effort to sew a pair when I wasn't sure that I liked the style. So, I did the unthinkable and actually bought a pair of jeans. I know. After some judicious back waist darts, the RTW pair fit OK, and I found myself wearing them all the time, even though the fit was only OK. It was obviously time to sew myself a pair that actually fit.
The pattern I used was Vogue 8330, which I found at the thrift store. I was thrilled to see very favorable reviews on PR. Erica B even made these! The only thing I didn't like about the pattern was the low rise, so I raised it to just below my natural waist. That took 3 inches in front, tapering down to 2 inches at center back.
I added 2 of the three inches above where the pocket sits, to enlarge the pocket opening, but I should have lowered the coin pocket. It looks a little strangely tall. The topstitching was done with C&C "jeans" thread on my Janome. The jeans were constructed on the serger as well as my vintage Singer. She purrs through denim like butter.
I used Dritz rivets, although I have some nicer ones coming soon from Hot Patterns. I couldn't wait, so they'll go on my next pair of jeans. For the closure, I used a heavy duty snap, also from Dritz. It was much easier than fighting Janome to make a buttonhole with jeans thread. I will have to explore other color options though. Hancock's only has black and old gold, which doesn't match the silver rivets they carry. Hello.
Inside, I used a striped cotton for the waistband facing and pockets. I extended the pocket bag across the front all the way to center front. I first saw this done on Beangirl's blog, but have since seen that some of my Burda pants pattern have that feature as well. It is really great for keeping those pocket bags tucked in, but also provides a little tummy control for those of us who perhaps don't have the tummy tone of yesteryear.
Changes I made for fit are mostly detailed here and here. I think these are my best fitting pants to date, so I am pleased. Despite the fact that I get front wrinkles if I move, I am still pleased to have figured out the front crotch curve as having a good fit there makes these pants quite comfortable. Nothing pulls, binds or rides up. I'm not sure I am thrilled with the fit of the waistband, since it tends to roll down on the sides. It is a contoured waistband, and I wonder if it doesn't curve too sharply for how high the waistline is on these pants.
Here are the pockets, now actually stitched on. I waited to sew them on until I had sewn and topstitched the center back seam, so that I could balance the pockets an equal distance from the topstitching. In looking at the pictures, I think they might have been a bit more flattering if I had placed them slightly closer in. I'll remember than for next time!

I'm pretty darn thrilled with my jeans. They are comfortable and despite the dogma about pant legs faling straight from the hips, I find these pretty flattering. It was fun to sew along with the ladies here as well. Thanks for letting me play!! I may try to squeeze another pair in before the 15th of December!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slowly but surely...

After having company for the last three days, I have finally gotten around to tracing and cutting out Jalie 2908, my first Jalie pattern ever..  I'm starting out with a pair for my daughter, who has a 22 1/2 inch hip measurement (Size 3/G) and a 21 1/2 inseam (Size 6/J).  I was initially thrown by the look of the front and back pattern pieces after I had traced them - they looked too long (if that is possible for my skinny little stringbean daughter).  But then I read the directions and saw that it included the seam and hem allowances.  Because of the nested pattern pieces, I had assumed that Jalie, like the Burda WOF ones I have used before, required you to add the SA's and hem allowances to the pattern pieces. Fortunately, that was not the case.

I have some beige stretch denim left over from a previous wadder project that I'm using to test the waters.  I think I'm going to put a very basic topstitching design on the back pockets of this first pair, but I'm going to find a small-ish .PES-format embroidery design online for the pockets of the blue denim ones.  She likes the idea of embroidering the front of the pant leg(s) shown on the envelope photo, too, but she's awfully picky (for a six year old!), so this could take awhile.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Back Pockets

Whenever I make a new pair of jeans, the first thing I stitch is the back pockets. Having the pockets done gives me a little mojo burst, which I need at the beginning of an involved project.
I don't have an embroidery machine, so I have to work a little harder to get my pockets symmetrical. Over the course of my last several pair of jeans, I've worked out a system that works for me. I thought I'd share it.
The first thing I do is trace the pocket pattern piece I'm using, then draw in the hem and seam allowances (if it has them). I copy this several times (on a regular copy machine/printer) to give me something to sketch on so that I can try out different design ideas in the space I'll actually have on the pocket.  Once I've settled on a design, I flip it over and trace it backwards so that the two pockets are symmetrical. I used regular computer paper today, but the next step is easier if you trace it onto tissue paper.
Cut out your tracing on the cutting line and glue it onto your fabric with a glue stick. Just dab a little glue in the upper and lower allowances. You don't want it glued permanently, but you don't want it to shift around when you stitch. Wonder Tape would work too, but glue sticks are cheaper. Pins are acceptable, but may distort your design as you stitch.
Now stitch your design through the paper. Go slowly and sew accurately along the lines you drew.
That big fat jeans needle you should be using does a nice job of perforating the paper, so it is easy to remove from your design! Just pull gently, starting with the big pieces of paper. When you get to the little ones, tug on your pocket a little. Even non stretch denim will stretch a little on the bias, and this will help detach the paper from your stitching.
Now all that is left is to press down your hem allowance on top and topstitch it in place, then press under the allowances on the other sides and bottom of the pocket. Since you already traced out the pocket shape, you have a template you can use for pressing. Handy!

Any other tips? Please share!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Picture is Worth 1000 (4-letter) Words

Of course, I only notice this while trying the jeans on *after* sewing the side seams.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whisker Relief

A big thank you to Tanit-Isis and Anonymous who commented on my blog! I think I fixed that pesky front crotch curve.
Better, yes? Here is how it looked before.
So, Tanit-Isis got me thinking about the shape of the curve, but I wasn't sure what to do about it. Anonymous (who are you? You are a genius!) pointed me it the direction of the Savvy Sewer Salon over at Sawyer Brook Fabrics. Jennifer Stern had hosted a couple of sew alongs and addressed several fit issues, including this one. When the wee one went down for a nap, I decided to give it a try. It worked! And it only took about a 1/8 inch change to totally change the fit of these pants.
The original stitching line is in red, with the new stitching line in tan. You wouldn't think that teeny change would make any difference at all, but it did and I am thrilled!!

Thank you both for commenting and getting my mind working!!

Fitting woes

I've started in on my new jeans. I'm using Vogue 8330, which is an OOP pattern from 2006 or so.
It has several positive reviews on PR and I like the shape of it. I've been wanting to make a pair of "skinny" jeans for a while as I wear the RTW pair I bought often, even though it isn't all that great a fit. Anyway, I started out with some flat pattern alterations. This pattern is quite low rise, which isn't a great look for me, so I added some height to the rise and made my now usual crotch alterations (scoop out and lower the back, lengthen front hook slightly). Then I whacked a muslin out of some crazy orange stretch sateen, which has a similar weight and stretch to my denim.
This is back version 2.0, after I took 2 1/2 inches off the CB waistband and darted the yoke by the same amount. I'm pretty darn pleased with the fit back there, actually. There are a few under the seat wrinkles, but without them I can't sit down. Wearing ease is a must.
In front, I'm not so pleased. Those darn crotch wrinkles - what is that about?? I looked them up in The Perfect Fit, which said that this was a full thigh problem. I can buy that, so I tried releasing the side seams, but that actually made it worse! Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit says I need more space in the inseam, and I was about to try that alteration when the small people woke up and I had to stop playing sewing.

So ladies, what do you think?? I know there has been a lot of discussion about these particular wrinkles out there in the blogosphere lately. I always see them in RTW. Do I just live with them, or is there something I can do to fix this??? This is why I sew! I'm off to check out Sunni and Sarai's pant fit tutorial's. If y'all have any suggestions, I am all ears!

Progress Update

Here are some progress photos of jeans numbers 5 and 6.

 non-stretch denim with gold topstitching

 stretch denim with black topstitching and crystal design

I recently lost weight and the pattern I'm using is now too big.  I'll have to trace a new size for future pairs that I make.  For now, I'll just take larger seam allowances.  I should be able to complete these tonight.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plans - Sigrid

How time flies, it's already November 22 and I haven't done a thing yet for this sew along apart from thinking about it.

Though I have a few jeans patterns, amongst those the famous Jalie one, I plan to make a copy of a rtw pair. I never have sewn real jeans, this will be a first for me. I traced my rtw jeans a few months ago when I had bought a new pair which was really good on me. For this I used a plastic sheet which was very helpful to copy, as you can perfectly see through it. My next step is copying this traced pattern to paper pattern pieces and start sewing. Think the only fabric I have in my stash is either blue non-stretch denim or a light grey stretch denim. As the rtw pair has a bit of stretch, that will probably what I will work with, though it's not the season for that color.

Very much looking forward to see what you all will be making.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I'm so excited to be a part of this fun group! I wanted to start with a quick intro. My name is Katie and I blog at Kadiddlehopper. I've been sewing since I was a child, but took a long break and have only started back up again a few years ago. I sew almost exclusively garments, for myself, my children and occasionally my hubby. This won't be my first pair of jeans, but the last several pairs I sewed were before I learned much about pant fitting, so hopefully these will actually fit well!!

I'm starting out with a lightweight denim with a significant stretch. I think I bought it at fabric.com. It is much lighter weight and has much more stretch than most jeans denims I've worked with, but I've seen and tried on RTW jeans that felt similar, particularly in trouser and "skinny jean" styles.
The Vogue pattern is currently my front runner, although I generally gravitate toward more wide leg styles. I really like the wide leg Burda pattern and I think this lightweight denim would drape nicely in a fuller style. Both of these patterns have a pretty low rise though, and after 3 babies, I'm pretty much past my low rise years, you know?!  I am thinking I'll use the rise on the Ottobre jeans pattern, which is higher (but not "mom jeans"), with the legs from either the Burda or the Vogue.

So what do you think? Skinnies or wide leg?

Friday, November 18, 2011

All Cut & Interfaced

I have developed the lofty goal of sewing two pairs of jeans at the same time.  I cut out each pair, including the pockets, and interfaced the waistband and zipper areas.  The first pair is cut out of stretch denim, while the second pair is cut out of non-stretch denim.  I added an extra 0.5-inches to the seam allowance of the second pair for fit.  I've been dropping some pounds, so hopefully this will be enough!

How is everyone else doing?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Online Denim Sources

I thought I'd post about sources I use for fabric. I have gotten denim from a number of online sources since I live in the middle of the woods with no fabric stores less than an hour away and no worthwhile denim at those stores. I am not in any way connected to any of these stores. Here is my list in alphabetical order:

Emma One Sock has fantastic denim on occasion. I have gotten several pieces from Linda that are now jeans that I love. You have to keep checking as her stock changes daily. She even has wool, silk, and linen blend denims on occasion. It is, of course, important to make sure that the weight is substantial enough for jeans (around 11 oz or medium-heavy weight). Her fabrics are pricey.

Fabric.com gets big loads of denims of all different weights. The first denim I bought was from them--the stretch denim that Jalie used to test their jeans pattern. I have bought fantastic denims from them and terrible denims, including some that were labeled as stretch but turned out not be be stretch. Even within what appear to be lots of denim that post all at once the weight and quality can vary considerably. Their prices are very good between sales, coupons and free shipping.

FabricMart Fabrics sometimes has great denims at great prices.

Gorgeous Fabrics also has fantastic denim on occasion. I have also gotten several pieces from Anne. Her stock varies, so you have to check often. Anne is very helpful with advice about her fabrics. Her fabrics are pricey.

Lura's Fabric Shop has a variety of stretch and nonstretch denims at good prices. They give very precise information about weight and fabric content.

If I have left out your favorite sources for denim please add them in to my list.

My Jeans-sewing Routine & Settings

I've developed a routine to sewing jeans and it seems to work well for me.

1. Pre-shrink the denim

I wash and dry my denim three times before cutting. I do this to encourage shrinking, remove sizing/finishing agents, and remove extra dye in the fabric. Usually, I use a warm-water wash and hot air dry. Sometimes I am amazed at how blue the water is during the rinse cycle. That's a lot of dye! Once the jeans are completed, I wash them in cold water and hang to dry. I never put finished jeans in the dryer.

2. Pre-shrink cotton lining

I also wash and dry my pocket cotton lining. I don't want the pocket bags to shrink once the jeans are complete.

3. Make the design for the back pockets

Since I can be a bit indecisive with creative designs, this usually takes me longer than it would someone else. Plus since I want the designs to be symmetric, I tend to get all mathematical, which means out come the compass, ruler, pencil and eraser! This time, I've been paying close attention to back pocket designs on RTW jeans and have a design that I will certainly use on one pair.

4. Gather Materials

As mentioned before, I use three machines to sew my jeans: two sewing machines and a serger. I sew the seams on one machine, serge the seams together, and topstitch using the second machine. Most RTW jeans are sewn with a flat-fell or mock flat-felled seam. Yeah. I'm too lazy for all of that. Serging the seams together and topstitching works just fine for me.

I usually use a size 80/12 needle for the seams, 100/16 for topstitching, and universal needles (90/14) for my serger.

To do the topstitching, I like to use my blindhem foot because it has a little bar in the center. I use this little bar as a way to maintain an equal distance from the seam when sewing the first line of topstitching. Then, I switch to my regular foot (zigzag) and move the needle over a bit so that the space between the first and second lines isn't too large. I also lengthen the stitch to 4.0 and use regular thread in the bobbin.

4. Finish edges

Although the instructions for Jalie 2908 are fabulous, there is no mention of finishing the edges of the pocket lining, upper back pocket edge, belt loops etc. I didn't do any of this on my first pair of jeans and it shows. The jeans are still wearable, but I am constantly cutting random threads and who knows how long that's going to last! So, I make a point to finish all edges as I sew. I'll post progress photos of these steps in later posts.

5. Press while sewing

I spend as much time at the iron as I do at the sewing machine! After each seam, I press the seam to set the stitches and then press the seam to one side for serging. This may seem like a lot of work, but it is so worth it in the end. Everything is nice and crisp!

6. Trim bulk away before serging

Lately, my serger has been giving me fits with bulk. So, I trim the seam down in these areas so that my serger blade doesn't fuss when it encounters this area.

Hmm... I probably do a couple more things, but can't think of them right now. As we progress through the sew-along, I'll discuss more.

Do you have any routines or suggestions? Please share!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Hey, I have a question...

SO, I have sewers block right now because the Jalie top that is about 3/4 done is just sitting on my sewing table mocking me.  Taunting me.  Calling me bad names...


Anyway, back to the question:  I think I know the answer, but i'm going to ask anyway.  I can start having a relationship with my jeans pattern and fabric BEFORE the 15th, correct.  I'm in the mood to just leave that bi-polar top right where it is and start on something else.  That's ok, correct?

Of course, my kid needs jammies in a bad way, I could just work on that for the next few days, but then that would make me the perfect mom, and I don't need to be perfect.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Denim Weight & Designs

Celeste writes:
"This is starting to get exciting....do you have a particular weight of denim that you like to sew with? I noticed when I was shopping online for stretch denim that there were different weights and I'm not sure what that means. Also, I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean when you say 'design the pockets', but could you elaborate on that a little?"

I like to use heavier-weight denim (11 or 12 ounces) and require that four inches of denim stretch no more than a quarter of an inch. The weight refers to how much a yard of denim weighs. The larger the number, the heavier and less pliable the material. I like my jeans a little on the snug side, so this is just a personal preference. The second pair of jeans I made were of a lighter-weight material and with more stretch. After a year of wear and losing 12 more pounds, I can take them off without unzipping/unbuttoning and must wear them with a belt.

By 'designing the pockets,' I am referring to the back pocket design. I don't embroider much (though I'd like to try) and am always thinking of what type of picture I want my back pockets. I have some hot-fix crystals that I am thinking about using on one pair and maybe some sort of geometric picture on the other.

On a technical note...

Does anyone find that this page loads slowly? I don't know if it's the template background, but this page loads slowly for me.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Getting Ready!

Wow! I am super glad to see so many people signing for the sew along. I anticipate seeing some great creations and excited to get started. =)

Becca a, you get the prize for most jeans sewn and most patterns used! I'm stuck on J2908 partly because I spent so much time fitting it and it works for me. There are a couple of issues that need addressing, but they fit better than most RTW and I'm satisfied. If it works, don't fix it. =)

My goal is to try to knock out two pair during the sew along: one stretch and one non-stretch. I'm hoping to include these in my 2012 SWAP plan for the Stitcher's Guild contest. I've not sewn non-stretch jeans, so this will be interesting. In the meantime, I am preparing my fabric by washing and drying the denim three times and getting all my supplies together.

The most challenging thing for me in sewing jeans is designing the pockets! I guess I better start drawing and thinking of something soon!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Choosing a Jeans Pattern

I am so excited to be part of the jeans sew along! Thank you, L, for organizing this sew along. Participating in a jeans sew along on PR a few years ago pushed my sewing and my sewing confidence to a new level. It is inspiring to work together and support each other. I have made my TNT jeans pattern, Jalie 2908 well over a dozen times. I also recently tried StyleArc's Jilly Jeans pattern, which I liked. In addition, I have the J Stern jeans pattern which I would like to try. Finally, I have a HotPatterns jeans pattern which I am a little afraid to try as I am near the bottom of their size range and often have to do a lot of work on fitting their patterns to my shape. BurdaStyle often publishes jeans patterns although I've never tried any of theirs. Decisions, decisions....

Since I love making jeans, I have rivets, jeans buttons, metal zippers and various stretch denims in stash.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sew With Me!

I started making my own jeans after not being able to find any RTW pairs that fit properly. Either they were too long in length or not long enough in the back. I recently completed my fourth pair and am satisfied with the fit. Plus, I really enjoyed making them!

There are no rules for this sew along. Just grab a pattern, some fabric, and the knowledge that in a few short sessions, you will be wearing a brand new pair of well-fitting jeans!

I'll post some suggestions for jeans patterns and the tools I use to make mine.