One of the benefits of goal-setting and planning your makes is that you might . . . actually accomplish them? If it hadn’t been for 2019 make nine challenge, my new Ginger jeans may not have come into existence this year. When January rolled around and everybody was planning their make nine list, I hopped right on that hashtag bandwagon and made my own.
To my surprise, it was not as quick and easy of a process as I thought. My original list was about twenty projects long, and can pretty much be summed up with, “SEW ALL THE THINGS!” However, it was a great exercise because it forced me to clarify and get realistic about what I could actually plan to accomplish in twelve months.
This included adding a rough timeline to each of these projects. In the case of my Ginger jeans, I knew September was the earliest I could plan to tackle them (as well as the earliest I could plan to wear them). January and February were reserved for turtlenecks and knitting, while spring and summer were designated for wedding-attending attire and linen tops. But fall? Clearly jeans-making season.
I will admit that this project intimidated me, and I was nervous to start it. Which if I’m honest, is at least part of the reason I reserved it for September. Waaaay back when September seemed nice and far away.
To help ease myself into the newness of everything that is sewing ~pants~, I decided to purchase the Ginger jeans making course from Closet Case Patterns to walk me through the entire process.
When I first started sewing garments, I bought the Start Up Library course for sewing on what was then known as Craftsy (now Bluprint). The class was over six hours long, went through everything fairly slowly, and on top of it I wasn’t a fan of the dress pattern they used for all the lessons. But! I made it a point to take my time and work through the course lesson by lesson. The end result was a dress that was beautifully constructed (albeit poorly-fitting), and me 100x better off in my sewing practice. That class was essentially what took me from consistent sewing fails to regular sewing wins.
So anyway, I knew I needed something similar to educate myself on pants fitting and jean construction. As an added bonus, the course price includes the Ginger jeans pattern – which is universally regarded as an almost (if not) perfect jeans pattern. All in all, it made sense as the jumping off point for my pants-making journey.
Now that I am on the other side of my project, I can confirm that the course was a good decision. First of all, Heather Lou is amazing and I could listen to her talk about sewing all day. Second, there’s something oddly therapeutic and relaxing about watching well-filmed sewing tutorials for hours at a time? And third (!), I did in fact learn a ton of helpful information about jeans construction, and I felt confident heading into the project. So confident, in fact, that I opted for contrast top stitching thread . . . but we’ll come back to that.
The biggest benefit of the course, however, was getting a basic understanding of how to adjust the pants for a good fit. This was the part I was most nervous about and felt overwhelmed trying to research. I knew close to nothing about pants fitting (and projects can be daunting when you feel clueless). And for me, it’s generally poor fit that will ruin a project for me.
Side note: I know rationally that no garment is ever a waste of time and that this is a good mindset to cultivate. There’s lessons to be learned from each experience, etc., etc. But I am human, and I prefer to avoid making something that doesn’t fit, if it can be avoided.
I’m happy to report that fitting pants is not nearly as complicated as I made it out to be. Closet Case patterns put together this PDF of common adjustments which was SO helpful, and I am also lucky in that I didn’t need to make many changes to be happy.
Basically, I cut a straight size six and basted all of the pieces together per Heather’s instructions. This in and of itself was tough for me because I’m not very comfortable with fitting garments after the fabric has been cut. I’d much rather make a muslin first. But I recognize that it’s a useful skill to have, and so I’m trying to get better at it. And in the case of jeans, I can see why it’s necessary. Two different denims can behave very differently (even with the same pattern), and cotton muslin is not a great substitute.
So I was a good Miranda and followed Heather’s instruction to just baste it all together and figure it out later. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I stretched out the back left leg a little during this this process. If you look realllllllly closely, you’ll see that the back seam line doesn’t actually come down the center of my butt. However, I suspect this has less to do with the basting and more to do with 1% stretch denim I used (the Ginger jeans pattern calls for 2% but I recklessly plowed ahead anyway). Oops!
Ultimately Heather was correct, and the changes I needed to make could be done post-cutting and baste-ftting. The drag lines were pretty clear per this PDF, and I made my changes accordingly:
- First: shortening the length of the crotch.
- Second: a flat pubis adjustment. I think I could stand to do another 1/8” or 1/4” of this particular adjustment, but I’m happy with the pants as is (see below). I realized that the drag lines indicating I need the adjustment are fairly typical on my RTW jeans, but I no idea until now that they were indicative of a fit issue. So they never bothered me! And they don’t really bother me now.
- Third: A low seat adjustment. To be honest, I’m not sure this helped anything and I might not bother next time.
With the fit taken care of, it was then just a matter of putting everything together. With jeans, this means miles and miles of topstitching. The good news is that I love topstitching, and frankly, I’m not sure why I didn’t identify this as something to love about jeans making sooner.
That said, Heather makes really neat topstitching look super easy. So easy, that while I didn’t initially plan on contrast topstitching, I found myself super pumped after the course and feeling like I had to do contrast stitching. Overall, I’m happy with the final result, but it was a roller-coaster of emotions getting to the finish line.
Cause guess what? If it’s your first rodeo – your top-stitching isn’t going to be perfect. This was a tough pill for me to swallow, and I had to resist the urge to unpick my stitches with just about every seam. And that’s the thing with sewing and perfectionism. When you are knee-deep in the project, literally working on individual seams, it’s so easy to get lost in the weeds and lose sight of the entirety of the project. To let go of that, you have to cultivate a certain amount of trust that when you pull back and take a look at the whole, those tiny imperfections really and truly do not matter.
And that’s where I eventually ended up with my top-stitching. If I look closely, I can see oh yes, this line is totally straight, or, oh, here’s a skipped stitch. But now that the pants are done and I’m walking around in the them? Completely insignificant.
All in all, I’m calling this project an 8/10 in terms of success. By no means perfect, and a few minor changes I made next time – but nonetheless cute, wearable, and something I’m really proud of!
PS: These photos were taken during a recent trip to visit my grandmother (she lives in wayyy east / mountainous San Diego County) and I can confirm that my grandma is also proud of my jeans. Which really, is all I ever really want and need in this life, anyway.
- Fabric: 10oz S-Gene Stretch Denim from Blackbird Fabrics (2 meters)
- Pattern: Ginger Mid-Rise Jeans by Closet Case Patterns
- Size: 6, Stovepipe Legs
- Shorten Crotch 3/8″
- Flat Pubis 1/8″
- Low Seat 1/4″
- Shorten Hem 1″
- Total Cost: $99