Jean shorts (or jorts, as I like to call them – because it’s ridiculous and hipster and sounds completely stupid) are something that have been on my to-sew list for a looong time. Super long. In fact, my jort supply has long run dry – I used to get those the old-fashioned way, by waiting until summer to hack the legs off my jeans so they’d be warm weather appropriate (and later realizing my huge mistake come fall – argh! Whyyyy!!). Jean shorts are an American thing – and I haven’t worn a proper pair in years. No wonder I always see pictures of bald eagles crying:
Anyway. Back to jorts. I knew I wasn’t going to get them by way of cut-offs (I love my jeans too much to do that to them!), so I figured I’d make a pair from scratch and call it a day.
My denim is a bit special – I actually bought it during Imogene + Willie‘s big yard sale. I went because I knew they’d have markdowns on jeans (although, when I finally got there, they’d put all the pants away due to threat of rain, wah), but I didn’t realize they’d also have leftover yardage of fabric! For cheap! I got 4 yards of this ridiculously amazing denim for $5 – yes, it’s super narrow (it is selvedge denim, after all), but still. That’s cheap as shit.
The denim was really nice to work with. I always complain that good-quality denim is really difficult to find for the home sewer – either it’s too lightweight, it has too much stretch, it has awful stretch recovery, it feels cheap, the color is awful, etc etc. And while I have found some really great denims that make fabulous skirts and dresses, I’m not so convinced when it comes to pants. This fabric, though, is really good. It’s very sturdy and luxurious, with absolutely no stretch.
Honestly, I think the lack of stretch is what did me in. These jorts are, unfortunately, a fail for me. Wah!
They look WAY better in these pictures than they look in real life – so much, I’m almost second-guessing my fail label. But, no, they’re pretty bad.
I had a somewhat traumatizing experience while making these. Things were going along great – I’d unearthed my Featherweight to do the topstitching (which is BEAUTIFUL, btw! Well. Beautiful where it’s not crooked lolz), I was having a lovely time stitching that denim, I was confident in my TNT shorts pattern, Grainline Maritime shorts. I love my Thurlows, but these are a fab casual shorts pattern if you don’t want all the fuss of the lining and welt pockets! I’ve made them a couple of times before, and while I’m not going to discuss the sizing and construction in detail on this post, you can read all my thoughts on the pattern here and here.
Anyway, I decided to try them on before attaching the waistband, and the zipper immediately popped in half.
“Well, that was probably a shitty zipper. It looked kind of old, probably just gave up on life right as I was pulling them on. I’ll put in another zipper, should be fine.”
So I unpicked the zipper, inserted a new one (have you tried to insert a zipper into a front fly that’s already been assembled? It’s… weird. Not a fan.), attached the waistband, and was getting ready to stitch down the waistband facing when I decided to try the shorts on again.
Oh, right. I popped that fucking zipper too. DAMMIT!
This is when I took an emergency trip to the fabric store (guys, I never do this – but desperate times call for desperate measures and I am DESPERATE for some jorts ok) and bought the strongest denim zipper I could find. I figured the shorts were probably straining against the bottom of the zipper because there was no give in the fabric, so I decided to let out as many seams as I could. I gave myself as much extra room as I could squeeze out, and then reinserted the (third!!!) zipper and finished the waistband.
Then I tried them on. Meh.
The fit is just… weird. I’m guessing my emergency unpick didn’t work as well as I had anticipated, so now I’ve got some weird lumps in seams that shouldn’t have weird lumps. They also just feel vaguely uncomfortable – I get that selvedge denim is pretty tough, and needs to be worn in a bit before it’s actually comfortable, but I don’t like it. Not in shorts, anyway. I know it looks like they are painted on, but they are honestly not that tight (except I guess somewhere around the base of the zipper, where it strains when I pull them on). Then there’s that whole issue with me being terrified that I’m going to snap this zipper every time I pull them off.
Here’s a closer photo of the shorts and the way they fit. You can see they’re kind of off – it’s not horrible, but it’s enough to bother me. Actually, I think the thing that bothers me the most is the fact that the damn waistband isn’t lined up. I have NO idea how that happened – it matched up perfectly the first time I attached it (right before I popped the second zipper), but it looks terrible. Oh well.
Aside from the fit – and the laughingly terrible waistband assembly, seam pucker and all (fyi, that’s where I gave up) – the construction is something I’m moderately proud of. While I didn’t go as far as doing flat-felled seams (and thank GOD for that, since I ended up unpicking them. Well, it didn’t help in the end. But, you know), I did topstitch them with proper denim thread. It looks so good!
Well, I guess it would look better if the topstitching were straight, haha! Oh well! Like I said, I used my Featherweight to do all the topstitching – I figured it would be better than unthreading my Bernina every couple of seams. I’m really glad I did, because being able to switch machines made things go a lot faster. Plus, the Featherweight just produces some of the prettiest topstitching! Now I understand why people flip their shits over these machines. They’re pretty fun!
Of course, that machine handles entirely differently than the Bernina I’m so used to, so I definitely went through a bit of a curve with this project. My topstitching isn’t straight, but that’s ok. It was a good practice and I’m over these shorts anyway :)
I’m totally ashamed to admit that I’ve barely used that Featherweight since I bought it, btw. I used it to make a failed Amy Butler bag right after purchase, and after that it just sat on my cabinet as decoration… until I pulled it out to make these failed shorts. And now I’m wondering if this is a jinxed machine ohgod.
Anyway, here’s that damn fly that gave me so much trouble. At least I have lots of practice sewing flys now! Haha!!
Sorry for all the unclipped threads and general messy inside. I think I just mentally gave up on this project after the first zipper broke.
So, overall – these jorts are definitely a fail for me. Not entirely happy with the fit, I think the topstitching looks sloppy, the back pockets are weirdly in the wrong place, they’re uncomfortable, the stupid waistband looks stupid, but most importantly… I will always always be afraid I’m going to break that zip when I’m taking the shorts off. Not worth the stress. Also, as a side note, that’s my Briar I’m wearing and I’m thinking it looks too big and droopy on me now :( Sad.
I’m not entirely bummed with this project, because I had a good time making them (despite the multiple zipper incidents) and I definitely learned a lot during the process. This probably makes me look bad now, considering I just announced my pants making extravaganza, but you know what? Mistakes happen. None of us are immune to the occasional sewing fail, and even if I don’t get a completed outfit out of it, I at least come away with the knowledge to improve on future makes and not repeat those mistakes. I’m also really happy that I reunited with my Featherweight! Maybe I’ll get around to actually fulfilling my sewlution of using that machine to make an entire garment. Sure, it was set for 2013, but… better late than never, right? :)