Thankfully I wasn’t going it alone as I’d signed up for a 2-day course at Crafty Sew and Sew with the very same Sarah who taught me to sew my first dress (and is solely responsible for the resulting addiction to dressmaking although, to be fair, she did warn me!)
I opted for the low rise, slim leg version as these are the style of jeans I find difficult to find in RTW.
Next was the bewildering ‘choose your size’ process. I was lost. Using the finished garment measurements the waist and hip put me at a UK size 8 (I am RTW size 10-12) and the rise at UK size 20!!! Thankfully I had Sarah on hand to reassure me that it was OK to make a size 8 and add a whopping 5″ increase to the back rise!
I also chopped off 8cm from the length but, at 5ft 1″ tall, this didn’t surprise me. And the final adjustment was to reduce the waistband size – again a typical adjustment for me.
Next I set about cutting out the, literally a billion, pattern pieces.
As usual with first makes I went cheap. Dark blue stretch denim from ‘the man on Leicester market’ aka Stuart’s Fabrics did the job. All the other notions were provided as part of the course.
This is where you really need an array of machines to hand – two sewing machines, one with standard thread, one with top stitching thread and ideally an overlocker. There’s a lot of toing and froing between stitch and top stitch so be warned that you would need to be an exceptionally patient sewist to keep swapping out your standard and top stitching thread on a single machine! (An older sewist I once met advised me that if I ever wanted to upgrade my sewing machine to always keep my old one – now I understand why)
I decided to go with gold top stitch thread, basically because the machine with that thread was not being used by my fellow class-mates! I also opted for some lovely yellow spotted cotton from the Crafty Sew & Sew scrap bin for my pocket bags (another technical term learnt!)
It’s hard to say how easy these jeans were to make as, when I’ve got a tutor to hand, I get very lazy about reading the instructions. Constructing the fly seemed a bit mind boggling so I think I’d need to view an online tutorial to help me out with that next time.
By the end we were all going a bit ‘top stitch crazy’ – it seemed never ending. That said I was determined to find time for a personal touch on the back pocket (partially copied from the Angela Kane jeans sewing tutorial) – it was the closest design I could find to a letter J.
My fellow classmates, minus one who couldn’t make it to day two because she got snowed in (hence the massive roll neck jumper, brrr…)
Cutting out the pattern pieces I did start to get a little worried – the legs looked so thin! But when I tried them on they fit perfectly. Well, apart from one area – the waistband. I was disappointed as this was an area I have trouble with on RTW jeans and I still hadn’t manage to resolve it. This was partially down to not making enough of an adjustment on my pattern but also due to me stretching out the waistband when sewing. In my defense I was very much in a rush to finish them off! I have though already made the adjustment on my pattern so maybe next time…
Overall though I’m really pleased with my first attempt, they fit perfectly on the legs, hips and the dreaded crotch area. And I have even worn them a few times, although they seem to look better with the legs rolled up, 50’s style!
- Reduce waistband further and try not to stretch it out when sewing up.
- Cut the leg pieces out separately. I think, by doubling up the fabric when cutting, this led to the grain being slightly off and a bit of a twist in the legs of the finished article.
- Reduce the width of gap between my top stitched lines a bit – my class mates had gone for a narrower gap and this looked a lot better.
- Try and persevere with the bar tacks. These little blighters drove me crazy. They were either wonky or became a tangled mess. But now my small pocket is coming away I understand how important they are.
- Add some rivets! Unfortunately I didn’t end up with any time to do this but it would have finished them off properly.