Jeans! Do you think you’ll ever make a pair? My 2019 New Year’s Resolution was so sew all my own clothes this year - with exceptions: I could purchase up to 2 pairs of jeans, and 2 white t-shirts. Those are the last items of clothing I bought, at the end of 2018. I gave myself those exceptions, because I wear both of those items occasionally, and I had no interest in sewing them. Well! I have now made both (ok I’ve sewn black t-shirts, not white), and learned that I have absolutely zero interest in sewing t-shirts, but….I’m curious about denim.
Sewing your own jeans seems complicated. It’s obvious from looking at a ready-to-wear pair that it’s a lot of work, and its tricky to find a pair that fits, even when you go to a store full of jeans. Combining those two facts, it seems like making them would be awful and a likely failure. Additionally, I personally hate wearing jeans!! But that’s because they never fit…so I started to wonder….
I started collecting jeans patterns. I’ve got a Palmer & Pletch, the Closet Case Ginger, and Megan Nielsen’s Dawn. I’d read them in bed at night like magazines. My curiousity grew! So, eventually, I sewed my first pair of jeans using a McCall’s pattern that I have already recycled - it was a total failure. Honestly, it wasn’t the pattern’s fault, but a combination of bad fit for my body and wayyyyy too stiff denim. IMHO, start lighter. Heavy denim is tempting…but do you own any jeans made of that stuff? If the answer is no, find some fabric that feels more similar to what is already in your closet. After that learning experience, I knew that to find success, I needed to ease into this endeavor. That’s why I decided to start with Lander Pants. I have sewn them…five? six? times, and I feel really comfortable altering the pattern to suit my ideas.
The fabric I used is from Joann’s, I nabbed 2 yards in the sale section a while back. It is non-stretch, I think it was 54” wide, and is about as heavy as I personally want from jeans - feels hearty, but still has some bend and give. I’d guess 8oz, but please don’t take my un-educated word for it. I love to purchase hardware from wawak, and that is where these jean tack buttons are from.
The modifications I made to the pattern are pretty simple. I slimmed out the leg and lengthened legs 1” (I am 5’8”), and used a 1” hem, instead of the 3” hem the pattern calls for. I lengthened the front patch pockets 1.5” for extra room, and used the pattern pieces for the back pockets, but folded in the corners for a more traditional “denim” shape. I lengthened the fly opening 3/4” - if you have a small waist and wide hips like me, I highly suggest this modification! It helps you slip these on & off easily. Because I thought it would look a bit more even, I added one more button to the fly. I also added 1 more belt loop and moved their placement slightly; as called for in the pattern, sewing the belt loops can be really rough on your sewing machine, so feel free to move them to areas with fewer seams stacking up!
Oh, and all that topstitching! I kept a pair of my boyfriend’s jeans nearby as I worked and copied a lot of the placement from there, and improvised when I wanted to. I sewed these jeans with a jeans needle, and didn’t bother switching over to a topstitch needle, however, I did use topstitch thread everywhere except the buttonholes. For the buttonholes, I used regular sew-all thread in the same color (Gutermann 886), as my machine would not make a neat buttonhole with the top stitch thread. I used my regular presser foot, and tried to sew at a pretty fast pace, as it helps computerized home machines ramp up to their best punching power. I didn’t have the machine jam anywhere as a result. If you sew slowly, you may encounter some jams, so just be careful and make tests as you go.
That’s it! I’m going to try to wear these a bunch before their first wash, and I am hoping (fingers crossed!!!) they will eventually fade in a satisfying way, in spite of being made from cheap mystery-fiber-content denim. Have you made jeans? Do you want to? Do you have a favorite denim pattern? Please, let me know! I think the Megan Nielson Dawn jeans will be my next attempt. Wish me luck! XO Martha