I’ve done it! I’ve finally made myself a pair of jeans!! And they fit!!!
I’ve had the Ginger Jeans pattern on pdf (always off-putting for me!) and a paper pattern of the Morgan Jeans for years, and I mean years. I just kept putting it off. When my last pair of jeans became too indecent to even wear in the house, I deccided I had to buckle under and make some, after all I had all the denim and all the hardware extras to make them, I just needed a kick…
Ginger jeans by Closet Case Patterns are well known amongst the sewing community, , their Morgan jeans pattern is less well known, in fact it’s rarely mentioned. Ginger jeans are described as skinny leg, low waisted jeans, though I think you can get an adaptation to raise the waist level. They are designed for stretch denim. Morgan jeans on the other hand are described as ‘boyfriend jeans’, they are higher waisted, a button fly, and more straight legged. This style appealed to me more. It is also designed for non-stretch denim.
I thought I had some non-stretch denim, a heavy black one, it didn’t seem to give when I tried it, however once I started to sew with it I realised it does have some stretch, but the pattern has worked great with it.
I measured myself before and came out as a 14 leg and 12 waist. Helpfully it gives finished garment measurements, including calf and thigh, I decided I would make a straight size 12 instead as there was a fair bit of ease allowed for.
My original plan was to sew the whole thing with black thread, so all the top-stitching would be black, I wanted to be able to concentrate on sewing the jeans rather than constantly having to change my top thread. The first part to be stitched with jeans is always the back pockets and their stitched design. I decided to play with my new sewing machine as it does alphabets. I tried various fonts, but in black it hardly showed up, after trying various shades I plumped for dark grey, which shows up nicely whilst being fairly subtle, and I could sew all the seams in the same thread. My overlocker was already set up with black, so I could easily change between the two.
I stitched Crafty Creek on the back pockets and added a simple decorative row below. It’s not perfectly central and I’ll probably do it differently next time, but as an idea I think it works. So if ever you see someone with Crafty Creek on their bum, it’s me!!
As with the denim skirt I made recently, with jeans you just have to steadily work your way through the instructions. They’re not actually difficult to make, it’s the fit that’s the tricky bit! The instructions were OK, though I thought the Merchant Mills instructions for the jeans skirt were clearer – I was glad I made that first. There was one instruction that I’m sure is incorrect and another which I didn’t understand until it was too late.
I made the jeans as per pattern until the stitching of the side seams, I machine basted these so I could try on and alter if needed. On the first try on the waist was huge, so I took some in at the side seams. It still gaped at the back. I was going to accept it and hope the waistband brought it in, but luckily I slept on it and this morning I undid the top-stitching and edge-stitching down the centre back seam so I could take it in there. It made all the difference. Next time I’ll make everything up to the point of stitching the main pieces together and then just baste until I’m happy with the fit.
I lined the pockets and backed the waistband with some cute quilting cotton, it’s got daisies and little mice on!
My sewing machine coped pretty well with all the layers of denim. It started skipping stitches at one point, but I just gave it a new needle and it was fine. I remember a tip I saw on facebook about the little black button on your standard sewing machine foot. I’ve been sewing for 40 years and I never knew this!! If your sewing over really lumpy seams and the needle is in danger of hitting the foot due to the angle, lift the foot, hold it level and push in the black button. It will hold it in the level position whilst you go over the hump! It works!!
Extra equipment I found useful; my wooden tailors block, I used it for all the seams, you press and steam with the iron and then quickly press hard with the block, it helps set the steam in and makes a lovely flat seam. Tailors ham, the sausage shaped one, great for pressing down trouser legs! Silver gel pen, great for marking top-stitching lines or button holes. Bernina buttonhole cutter, these are like mini chisels which cut straight through the buttonhole – they are so sharp!
I’m really pleased with the final fit, the adjustment at the back helped, I know which bits to look at next time. I think the stretch worked really well with the pattern too.
Closet Case do an on-line ‘book’ for making Ginger jeans and obviously it’s just as relevant for the Morgan jeans, I found it really helpful, they have pictures of ‘normal’ people in jeans with fitting issues to show which bit needs altering, lots of tips of choosing denim, sewing with it etc.
As you can probably tell, I’m well chuffed with my jeans 🙂