Tag Archives: jeans

Tutorial: How To Adjust the Waistband of Your Jeans

1 Apr

jeans waistabdn tutorial

Hey friends! I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy during these strange times. I think most of us are firmly in the “stay home and self isolate” camp (at least, I hope all y’all are! STAY HOME!!) (except for those who are, of course, on the front lines – thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, for your sacrifices every single day. Y’all the real MVPs <3), and while it’s a great excuse to catch up on all the projects we’ve been putting off… I know I’m not the only one who is experiencing a dip in their creative energy. It’s not surprising; stress can really do a number on your mental health and overall energy, and sometimes the first thing to go is the desire to do anything other than [barely] survive. However, for me – and I’m sure this can be said for a lot of us – being creative is what brings me joy, so it is important that I make at least a tiny effort every single day. Sometimes that means I sew, sometimes I draw, sometimes I just read. And sometimes I want to sew, but not necessarily start a new project. This is where alterations are so useful! I can get a little bit of sewing in – 20 to 60 minutes – and let my brain have a little stab at problem-solving. Plus, it feels pretty good to take something previously unwearable and make it wearable!

So with all that being said – today I want to share a tutorial on how to alter the waistband of your jeans! This is something you can do on both handmade and ready-to-wear jeans (I actually perform this alteration frequently for clients as one of my side-gigs). You can of course use these steps for any waistband adjustment – trousers or skirts for example – just be aware that some steps may differ depending on what you are working on.

I am sorry in advance for the quality of the photos. I originally shot these with the intention of posting them on Instagram, but while typing my caption i realized it was too long for the app! So I’m moving it here to a blog post (and I can’t re-shoot the steps since, well, all my pants fit now! LOL). For more mini-tutorials and pro tips, please follow and/or occasionally check in on Instagram – the hashtag is #lladybirdprotips

Some notes about this process – as I mentioned, this is not technically jeans-specific, as you can use this process to alter any waistband, including trousers and skirts. Keep in mind that anything you alter without belt loops will mean a visible waistband seam (which I personally thing is a worthwhile trade-off for having a fitted waistband, but you can be the judge of your own wardrobe!). If you don’t like the idea of a visible waistband seam, you can either re-cut a new waistband (I keep leftover fabric from projects specifically for this purpose!) or remove volume from multiple areas (which would make the adjustment appear more of a ~design element~ rather than an alteration).

Heart on Ginger Jeans

When determining the amount of take out of your waistband, you will be tempted to overfit. Don’t do this. You want to aim for snug, but not tight. It’s hard to really articulate this into specific words, but I’ll try. A waistband should not have negative ease (unless it’s super stretchy), but should be quite close to your own actual measurements, if not slightly larger (no more than 1”, but this will vary based on body shape and personal preference). For me, I like a waistband that is fitted enough to only allow a couple of fingers, but not so snug that it gives me back fat / love handles. I know with some body shapes, this can be unavoidable – so use your best judgement, and understand that it’s totally fine if you end up needing to re-adjust later down the line. It’s a learning process, after all! Better to not take out enough and need to re-do the adjustment (think of it as another chance to practice, rather than that you did it “wrong” the first time), than take out too much and render the pants unwearable. Because of this, I tend to err on the side of a looser waistband when first sewing my pants, with the understanding that I can always make adjustments later down the line. Sometimes your fabric – especially if you are working with a rigid denim – takes a bit of wearing and washing before it really settles into its shape. A LOT of my pants start out needing a belt for the first few wears, then the waistband shapes itself over time and washing. I recommend waiting a couple of months before doing this alteration!

I know a lot of people recommend adding darts to your yoke to get a better fit, or subbing a curved waistband. While these are certainly viable solutions, I personally find a curved waistband uncomfortable (and it’s something you rarely see in RTW – most waistbands are cut straight and eased in) and I think darts in a yoke look terrible (there, I said it! Fight me!). So my method is a little different, but it works! Try it!

Now, without further ado- Altering the Waistband of Your Jeans: A Lil’ Tutorial!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
1. Try on your jeans and pinch out the center back waistband until it fits snugly. Pin this measurement (or use a binder clip), and then measure the distance from the pin to the fold. This is how much you will need to take out- in my case, 1” total. Don’t worry about doubling the measurement or anything, we aren’t mathing here! If you are fitting yourself, you may need to pinch the side seam rather than the center back.

Trying to figure out if you just need to adjust the waistband or the whole back of your pants? A good rule of thumb is if it fits everywhere *except* the waistband (like you just need a belt to snug it up, or else the waistband shelfs open when you sit down)- then you will just work on the waistband. If you’ve got quite a bit of extra space down the center back of your pants as well (like you can easily shove your whole hand down there), then you will want to also take in the center back seam in addition to the waistband. If you’ve got loads of unnecessary room everywhere in the back, you probably just cut a size too big – so take a bit out of the side seams in addition to the center back. Don’t be afraid to pin shit until you’ve got a fit that feels good!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
2. Ok, time to start unpicking! Completely remove the center back belt loop, and remove the bottom stitching lines from both side back belt loops.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
3. Remove the back waistband from the jeans, from side seam to side seam. Depending on how much you are taking out of the waistband, you may be able to get away with unpicking less (although I tend to err on the side of removing more than less, since you’ll be closing the whole thing up later anyway). I do not recommend unpicking far beyond the side seam!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
4. Remove all top stitching and under stitching from all sides of the waistband, so that you can completely separate the waistband from the facing. You don’t need to unpick completely from side seam to side seam here – 3”-5” is plenty, depending on how much you are taking out. If you are removing understitching, you will need to unpick about 1” of top stitching beyond the understitching on either end. Mark the center back of the waistband (I used a pin here).

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
5. Fold the waistband at the center back together short ways, with the right sides facing, and open out all folded seam allowances so it is completely flat. Sew a new seam line from one end to the other, with the distance from the fold being whatever measurement you took in step #1. Repeat for the waistband facing.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
6. Cut open the fold, trim seam allowances if needed (I like to trim my facing seam allowances slightly shorter so there isn’t a bunch of bulk right at the center back), and press both seams open.

7. Sew the waistband and the facing together along the top edge, and understitch.

8. Pin the center back seam of the waistband facing to the center back seam of the pants, with the right side of the facing against the wrong side of the pants, then ease the top edge of the pants to match the new length of the waistband (no photo, sorry!). You will probably need to pull the waistband quite a bit to stretch to fit (#unintentionalpoetry), but it can be done! I took out 2” total from my waistband (1” on the fold), using a very low stretch denim cut on the cross grain, and was able to ease it in with some womanpower. If your fabric is very rigid or you need to take out a lot, you may want to unpick the top stitching from the center back seam of the pants and remove some of the excess there, grading to nothing along the CB seam line. Use your best judgement here!

10. Now sew the facing to the top edge of the pants, pulling the waistband to stretch and easing the top edge of the pants to fit (pro tip – keep the facing on top and the pants against the feed dogs of your machine. This will kept ease the excess fabric, as well as give you more control over stretching the waistband). Press the seam allowances up toward the waistband, steaming out any ease wrinkles at the top edge of the pants if necessary.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
11. Now just sew everything back together! Pin the waistband on the outside to cover the previous stitching line, then topstitch along the top edge of the pants. Topstitch the waistband to the facing along the top of the waistband. Re-attach the center belt loop (which ideally will cover your CB stitching line) and the bottom of the side back belt loops. Give everything a good press and you are done!

Claryville Jeans

And that’s it! Honestly, this is a very easy (and very emotionally fulfilling!) adjustment – I think writing this blog post might have taken longer than actually making the alteration! I encourage y’all to give this a whirl if you have a pair of jeans that’s just a little loose in the waist – even the smallest adjustment can make a huge difference!

Some notes: The jeans in this tutorial are the Claryville Jeans from Workroom Social (blog post can be found here). Also, I am still offering Virtual Private Lessons if you have an alteration need that you’d like to chat about or get a little guidance with! So far they’ve been a blast!

How is everyone holding up these days? What are you doing to bring a little creative joy to your life?

Completed: Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans

7 Jan

Alright y’all, I’m back with one more jeans post – the ~Designer Jeans~ Edition!

Thanks to Vogue 2442, I was able to make my own pair of Calvin Klein jeans 😀

Before we get too far into the post, though, I just want to acknowledge how absolutely stupid this envelope cover is. You can barely see any of the details of the jeans (although the butt close-up is helpful, and to be completely transparent here, it’s a nice butt), and I don’t know why that woman is holding her leg up like that because you definitely can’t do it in these jeans. Nothing about this cover art (or lack thereof) makes me want to try this pattern, but nevertheless, I persevered. For science.

Anyway, here are mine!

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

I went down a little rabbit hole last fall while looking at vintage jeans. I reaaaaaally wanted some vintage Calvin Kleins, if only for the brag factor, but my budget currently doesn’t allow me to spend hundreds of dollars on someone’s used jeans (RIP, the vintage market). I considered sewing them, but recalled looking up vintage CK patterns years ago and they were going for obscene wads of money. Just out of curiosity, I checked again – and was surprised to see that there are plenty to choose from for $10-$20. Calvin Klein licensed his name to Vogue patterns a bunch throughout the 80s and 90s, occasionally offering a jeans pattern. There were loads of mom jeans to choose from (including a truly horrifying Vogue 2851, I mean, come on) but I went with the OG, the Vogue 2442 from 1980. In the effort of being as science-y as possible, I re-measured myself and chose the size that closely matched my measurements – in this case, the 8.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

It took me a while to find a suitable denim to make these up – I wanted something non-stretch (as the pattern calls for – this was before stretch denim was really a thing!), but not too heavy, and a lighter wash. A bunch of the stuff I was coming up with ended up being way too lightweight, or had too much stretch, so this project ended up being shelved for longer than I would have liked.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

As you can see, I did end up finding a great denim – from Art Gallery Fabrics, of all places! I’ll admit that Art Gallery Fabrics wouldn’t be my first thought when it comes to denim, but they’ve been expanding their denim gallery and I was curious to see what the offerings entailed. There is a great selection of lightweight (4.5oz, like what you’d use to make a button-down top or a sundress) denims, both printed and dyed various colors. The heavier denims clock in at 10oz (which is the lighter end of a pants-weight denim, and my personal preference), and come in a smaller selection of colors, nonstretch only.

After playing with some swatches, I chose the Crosshatch Textured Denim, in the Bubbling Brook colorway. My other choice was the Solid Textured Denim in Bluebottle Field, but that was sold out, so hopefully I can try it out in the future!

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Anyway, about the Crosshatch Textured Denim! First off, you probably noticed that my jeans don’t exactly have a crosshatched design on them – that’s because you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric, baby! I actually don’t mind the crosshatch look, but upon receiving the fabric I fell in LURVE with the less contrasty wrong side of the fabric, so that’s what I went with on my jeans! My sewing project, my rules! The denim was pretty stiff and definitely not soft upon first receiving; but did get really soft and supple after just one wash. Be warned that it frays a lot, though – you’ll want to make sure you finish your seams (whether serging, or zigzaging, or even binding them) because otherwise the inside of your garment will get real hairy, real fast. If that bothers you, I mean. You do you.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Other than the fraying part, this denim was easy to work with. I recently got an Oliso Steam Iron (yes, the little iron that stands up when you stop touching it and yes it never ever stops being hilarious, no matter how much I use it) and this was my first real project to use it on. It doesn’t get quite as melt-your-hands-off-hot as my industrial gravity feed iron does (granted, this is cotton, so it doesn’t really need to be beaten into submission haha), but it heats up quickly, delivers a satisfying steam burst, doesn’t auto shut off every 2 minutes, oh, and IT STANDS ON IT’S OWN LITTLE FEET. My only regret in life is that I can’t find my stick-on googly eyes, because this iron needs eyeballs. Ok moving on.

Oliso Iron!

Oliso Iron!

Oliso Iron!

So, more about the pattern itself! Like I said, I went with the size 8, which was based on my current measurements. I did not make any prior fitting adjustments or a muslin before cutting my fabric – I just went for it! I wanted to see what would happen! (this might be my new motto for 2020). Fit-wise, this was almost perfect right out of the envelope. I did end up making a few minor tweaks before I attached the waistband – because I am extra, and I like fiddling with things! – but if I hadn’t done anything at all these still would have absolutely been wearable.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Adjustments I made:
– Removed 1/2″ from the inner thighs, keeping the crotch length intact
– Scooped 1/8″ from the front crotch curve
– 5/8″ wedge at the center back yoke + waistband
– Cut 5″ total off the hem (I have a 28″ inseam, y’all lmao)

Sorry I didn’t take before photos, but these were all minor tweaks that didn’t translate very well in a photograph. Also, when I’m fitting, I don’t want to stop to take a bunch of weird ass selfies. Sorry, not sorry! Looking at these photos, I see I could have removed a little more from the inner thighs (as evidenced by the horizontal wrinkles pointing directly at my butt), but I can assure you this is a big improvement from the start, and I actually think they look worse in the photos than in real life! But, you know, it’s good enough. I spent far too much of my past sewing days overfitting myself to the point of frustration (and sometimes, actual discomfort). Nowadays, when I feel like I’m done fiddling with it, I just stop. As long as it’s not actually uncomfortable, I think it’s good enough! It has been very liberating and I encourage y’all to consider the same outlook 🙂

The instructions on this pattern certainly were interesting! As someone who’s made loads and loads (and loads) of jeans, these were a little more based on the home-sewer, rather than how RTW jeans are made (granted, I don’t have access to vintage jeans at this time, but the 1980s isn’t exactly the same type of vintage as, say, the 40s, and generally the construction methods back then were more similar to how they are now, i.e., serging seam allowances and such). As this is an older pattern, it wasn’t common for the average home sewist to have a serger – so the instructions include turning under edges, or finishing seams with a zigzag or overcast stitch. Interestingly, there is NO interfacing called for in this pattern (I interfaced the fly facing + outer waistband, out of habit and because I know that gets the me the result I like), but they do have you add twill tape to the top and bottom edges of the curved waistband to keep it from stretching out (that was a no from me, dawg). The other weird thing I noticed was that they have you double topstitch the side seams, and not the inseam. I also skipped that part (I prefer a stronger inseam, thnx) and did it my own way. However, I did follow the instructions for the most part.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

The pattern includes a back pocket topstitching design, front pocket stays (pocket lining is also from Art Gallery Fabrics, fyi!), and a two-piece curved waistband. The pants are fitted at the waist, hips and thighs, and then the leg goes straight down (which is not what the line drawing suggests; they look a little more tapered on the envelope). Since my denim is such a light color, I opted for a pale brown topstitching thread (my beloved Gutterman Mara 70), rather than gold or copper. I alter a lot of jeans for clients and one thing I’ve noticed is that most jeans use brown thread, not gold or copper! My rivets and buttons are from the Garment District (I think these rivets might actually be for bags, but whatever, I like them); I had 1 extra rivet so I attached it to one corner of the back pocket. I saw this on a pair of jeans the stylist I work with was wearing, and while I normally hate rivets on back pockets, I thought it was kinda cute.

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

My only issue with this pattern is the two-piece curved waistband. Since it’s in two pieces, that means there a seam at the center back – great for fitting, but it also means a lot of bulk at the center back when the inner and outer waistband are sewn together (and then later, a belt loop is sewn on top of that). I also admit that I was running on fumes by the time the waistband facing was attached, so it’s not my best work. But, it’s on the inside, so who cares!

Vogue 2442 Calvin Klein Jeans made with Art Gallery Fabrics denim

Overall, I enjoyed making this pattern and I think the finished jeans turned out great! I love the high waist (better for wearing crop tops with!), and the straight legs are a big style departure from my usual look. I love the lighter wash and subtle texture of the AGF denim, and I love love LOVE how soft it is! I don’t feel like I even really need to break these in, which is wonderful! If you’ve been looking for a good non-stretch, not-too-heavy denim, definitely check out what Art Gallery Fabrics has to offer!

** This post was sponsored by Oliso. All fabrics were provided by Art Gallery Fabrics. As always – all thoughts, opinions, and weird ideas are my own! **

Completed: Black Dawn Jeans

11 Dec

Hello everyone and welcome to my third installment of Operation-Jeans-Drawer!

Black Dawn jeans

This time, I’m sharing the Dawn jeans by Megan Nielsen. This is another great jeans pattern that, again, has some major differences from the other 2 that I previously shared. I don’t like to say that I have a “favorite” jeans pattern – since they are all so good and serve different purposes! – but right now, I gotta say, this is the one that is getting sewn the most in my studio these days. I shared the first pair I made at last year, and they still get lots of wear (they’ve truly broken in beautifully). I’ve actually made the shorts several times this summer, but this is only the second time I’m sharing the pattern here on this blog.

Black Dawn jeans

So, again, I can’t really compare these jeans to the Ginger or the Claryville since they are very different – but I’ll tell you what their key features are:
BODY TYPE: I don’t think these are necessarily designed for a specific body shape? I will say that they fit me pretty well straight out of the envelope. I did not make a muslin, just cut according to my measurements on the envelope.
FIT: These are slim-fitting, rigid jeans with a high, high waist! Like, the rise will completely cover your belly button (I love it!). If this is not your jam then this definitely is not the pattern for you lol. They aren’t a true “mom” jean – the legs and hips are a little more slim fitting than that – but they do have that suuuuper high rise. I should also add – the standard size pattern comes in sizes 0-20, and there is also a Curve range that includes sizes 14-30! Yay!
FABRIC: You want rigid denim for these! No stretch whatsoever! The good news is it means you don’t have to interface anything except maybe the fly facing (yup, I don’t interface my waistband! Not even at the button hole! Fight me!). The not as good news means that these are not gonna be the most comfy jeans you ever wear. I don’t mean to say that they are uncomfortable… I just mean, you can’t do, like, yoga in them (I can, and have, done yoga in my Ginger jeans lmao). I would not say the jeans are tight so much as they are restrictive. I hope that makes sense. Think pencil skirt vs circle skirt. I love them and I wear them all the time but I will be damned if I wear these on a 5 hour cross country flight, you know what I mean? Also, there is no law saying you can’t make these with stretch denim (def size down tho) but why? Just use a stretch pattern, save this one for those cool rigid denims, twills, and corduroys that you don’t know what to do with!

Black Dawn jeans

So, with that out of the way – here’s my newest pair! I wanted some black jeans because I made black shorts for the summer (also with the Dawn pattern) and I got a surprising amount of wear out of them. This fabric is a rigid denim from Darrell Thomas Textiles, which I bought when I was there this summer for a Jeans Workshop. When I say “rigid,” I mainly mean denim with no added stretch. A little bit of mechanical stretch is good. I have learned that I don’t like the suuuuper rigid denim that does not stretch at all; I find them hard to move in (granted, most of my moving involves a lot of squatting and crawling around the floor so maybe that doesn’t apply to you lol). Anyway, this is a nice denim and no I don’t know the weight! I felt it, it felt good, I bought 2 yards.

Black Dawn jeans

Black Dawn jeans

My only grief with this style of jean is the time that it takes to properly break in. Ugh! Like I said in my previous post, washing them a lot up front does help quite a bit. But you do still have to wear them around and get the wrinkles to soften up and have the denim mold to you body. One of these days I’ll woman up and sit in a bathtub full of warm water with the jeans on and let them dry that way. I’m not brave enough quite yet to try that tho lol. Please don’t be scared of my talk about the breaking in… it’s really not that bad, and it is ABSOLUTELY worth it. But if you make these jeans and they are super uncomfortable… that’s why! Give them some time (and WEAR THEM!) and they will soften up quite a bit.

Black Dawn jeans

Anyway, this denim wasn’t too bad as it was already pretty soft. I washed it three times before I cut it (I always do this with new denim) and that helped a lot. As you can see in these photos – it does relax out (compare these to the Dawn Jeans in my first post and you’ll see what I mean. They are the same size, those were just more fresh!). What you’re seeing is a pair of non-stretch jeans that I wore for probably a week without washing. They don’t bag out so much as they just relax. Yes, there are wrinkles under my butt but they are there to help me move. Otherwise I don’t think I’d be able to sit in these things haha.

Size-wise, I made a straight 4 but ended up letting the hips out a little. I think my hips are more in the size 6 range now, which makes sense (when I originally made these, the size 4 was fine but since then I have gained weight and also had to let my original ones out lol). I also reduced the height of the yoke by 1″ because it was too tall for me – I just ended up with a 1″ fold right in the middle when I put them on, so I cut it off the top. Finally, I also adjusted the pocket bags on this pattern. They are CRAZY deep. Like… I understand wanting deep pockets (I guess, I dunno, I don’t really use my front pockets) but with pants this tight they are absolutely fucking useless. I just cut the bottom curve off so now they are straight. Mainly it was really annoying trying to push them back into place after using the bathroom, and not being able to reach the bottom. They were THAT deep. Absolutely useless.

Black Dawn jeans

Black Dawn jeans

Black Dawn jeans

I kept these pretty simple, with black topstitching thread, black rivets and buttons (matte black from Blackbird Fabrics and I love them!), and a black leather back patch. One of the back pockets actually has a design topstitched in it (yes it’s the TCB lightning bolt, thanks for noticing) but it’s quite subtle. I am hoping that over time, as the jeans are washed and started to fade and crinkle, the design will be more noticable. We shall see! Oh, and you can’t really read the tag in the back pocket, but it says “You Can’t Buy This” Ha!

Black Dawn jeans

Black Dawn jeans

Black Dawn jeans

Forgot to say – this is the slim leg version, with the short inseam (and yes they are actually hemmed in these photos haha). This pants pattern comes with 4 different leg versions – skinny, straight, wide, and shorts – but I’ve only tried this one and the shorts. I have plans to make a pair of cropped wide-legs out of some corduroy, but we’ll see when I actually get around to it (not anytime soon now that I can’t leave the house without socks on haha).

Black Dawn jeans

Anyway, that’s it for this post, as well as for this series of “Lauren Talks About Her Favorite Jeans Patterns While She Also Revamps Her Pants Selection”! I have one more pair of jeans/pattern to share, but I need to sew them first (it’s been a busy month!). Hoping to get that accomplished before the end of the year, we’ll see!

Have you sewn jeans yet? What’s your favorite pattern?

Completed: Ginger Jeans, With A Heart On

25 Nov

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Fun fact: I am wearing this same outfit as I type this blog post. Don’t be fooled, though, I took these photos months ago! I don’t know what my deal is, but for whatever reason I’ve become the sort of “blogger” (I am putting this in quotes because I think I’ve maybe written 6 posts this entire year lol) who takes photos and then… hoards them? Whatever.

Anyway, here’s a new pair of jeans to share! I think I’ve made enough pairs of Ginger Jeans to probably warrant never needing to post them again – students always ask me how many I think I’ve made, and the answer is I actually don’t know! I’ve lost count! – but I feel weirdly guilty about all the blog neglect this year, so I’m posting for the sake of posting something and keeping the ol’ stomping ground alive.

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Also my hair looks really good in these photos, so there’s that. Gotta take those small victories wherever you find them!

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Even though I’ve made tons of jeans, I recently reached a point in my wardrobe where I realized I was in pretty dire need of some wearable bottoms. My wardrobe goes through a lot of shifts and purges – things don’t turn out the way I envisioned, the fabric or fit is weird (let me tell you right now that no matter how much you sew or even use TNT patterns, you will never be immune to making these mistakes from time to time!), it’s a strange color or style I don’t actually wear, my weight has fluctuated and it doesn’t fit anymore, or I’ve worn them so much they are wearing out and need to be replaced. The last 2 reasons have really hit hard this year, when it came down to me owning 1 pair of (very poorly fitted) shorts and maybe 2 pairs of jeans. So I’ve been on a pants and shorts making binge which has been quite fruitful!

I used 3 different jeans patterns to really round out my pants wardrobe, so stay tuned for the other 2! Today, I want to talk about the Gingers!

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Heart on Ginger Jeans

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you probably know I have a mad love affair with this pattern. It’s one of my TNTs (tried’n’true), and like I said, I’ve sewn it so many times that I’ve literally lost count of how many pairs have passed through my sewing machine. I don’t know if it’s my favorite because it’s actually the best, or if it is just familiar. I do like the style and the fit works quite well for my body, though! It also helps that this is the pattern that I use for my Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshops, so I feel like I truly know this pattern like I know the back of my hand.

I haven’t made this pattern since the end of 2017, and while I love that pair and still wear them regularly, I can see that they definitely have an end date – they are starting to wear very thin in some places, and the lycra is losing its elasticity. I think they still have quite a bit of life left to live, however, I think it’s always good to secure your back-up plan before it’s needed!

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Heart on Ginger Jeans

My fabric is a wonderful stretch denim that I purchased from Crafty Gemini back in August when I was in Florida for a sewing retreat. Usually whatever shop hosting my class will carry the specific denim that I recommend (this one from Robert Kaufman!), however, some shops like to source their own and that is also fine! In this case, Vanessa was able to get her hands on some very nice, dark indigo US-made stretch denim, which everyone in the retreat used. I was kind of jealous of how nice their pants were turning out so I decided to get a couple of yards for myself, too! This denim is just as stretchy as the RK, but a little heavier – maybe a 9 or 10oz. The color is nice and dark but I haven’t noticed as much dye rub-off as I tend to see with the RK denim.

I decided to go up a size in these jeans, which turned out to be a mistake. As I mentioned, my weight has gone up a bit this past year – mainly in my hips – so I’m sizing my new makes appropriately, and while I could squeeze into those 2’s if I really put my mind to it, I wanted some jeans that were a little less… painted on. Unfortunately, these ended up way too big so I should have just stuck with the 2’s! They look great now, but I did have to size down the side seams, and after taking these photos I also took in the waistband and center back a bit more. I think the issue is that 1. I’m exactly in between sizes with Closet Case Patterns (a little bigger than the 2, and a little smaller than the 4); and 2. My denim is very stretchy (about 25% stretch, the same as the Robert Kaufman that I usually use) which typically warrants sizing down, not up. Anyway, it was a fun experient and it all worked out in the end so I’m not mad about it, just making a mental note for next time!

Other than the sizing stuff, I did not make any other changes to this pattern. I added 1″ to the calf (ages and ages ago), but otherwise I get a pretty good fit out of the envelope, so that is nice and easy!

I did change the front pockets to be actual pockets, and not a pocket stay. I am fully aware that I am the minority in this thought process, but I HATE HATE HATE those pocket stays! I find them rigid, uncomfortable (which is all kinds of wrong when you’re wearing stretch denim, I mean wtf) and they make the fly area incredibly bulky. I know people loooove their pocket stays so please don’t @ me with your defense, just stating my personal choice here! Free-hanging pockets FTW! I have no issue tucking my pockets back in if it means I can eat a plate of nachos and not feel like I need to unbutton my pants! Fight me!

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Heart on Ginger JeansHeart on Ginger Jeans

 

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Heart on Ginger Jeans

For some fun customization, I used contrasting thread to do my bar tacks, and stitched this cute little emoji patch on the butt pocket. Mostly because it makes me laugh, but also because I love any excuse to tell people I have “a heart on” lulz omg.

I also do not use the back pocket markings as suggested in the pattern, because in my experience they are too low and kind of unflattering! I think a high-waisted jean needs a high pocket, so I always place mine a little higher. In my Sew Your Own Jeans workshops, I custom place these on each booty (oh yeah I bet you didn’t know that fee included a nice hand down your pants!). For me when I’m sewing alone, though, it requires a lot of basting, trying on in the mirror, removing pants and unpicking stitches, rebasting, putting pants back on again, repeat ad nauseum. Fortunately I’m at a point where I have a general idea of where the pockets should be placed with just a good confident eyeballing, but my point is that you too can have good pocket placement, even if you don’t have the luxury of a second person to help you! Just be prepared to take your pants off a LOT and also maybe consider taking photos of your butt (why is this starting to sound like a Tinder conversation… ?).

Heart on Ginger Jeans

I left the jeans unhemmed, because I’ve learned over the years that no matter how much you pre wash your denim (this one was 3x!), the length will continue to shrink in length over several more washes. I used to just hem my jeans on the long side, but these days I don’t bother hemming at all and just wear them rolled for a few months until I feel like they’ve gotten their shrink out. These are hemmed as of this posting, but were not as of the photographs.

Oh, I also made my top! It’s a True Bias Nikko Top, made with some really fun chartreuse knit that I bought at Fancy Tiger Crafts when I was there in June! I was very drawn to the color, but wasn’t sure how it would look on me – it took a lot of convincing from Bob, and then another few months of me staring at it on my shelf wondering if I had made a mistake. Honestly, though, I LOVE how it looks on me! I think it really works well with my skin tone and hair color, and it’s also a color that just makes me happy! So, Bob was right and I stand corrected!

Heart on Ginger Jeans

Ok, I’m wrapping up this long-ass post with a photo of me + Amelia. Don’t be fooled by the bitchface, she loves me and was purring very loud during this photo haha.

Want to learn how to make your own jeans? Join me in 2020 and let me teach you how!

Announcing Sew Your Own Jeans 2020 Workshop Dates!

19 Nov

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

Friends, readers, and random people who just dropped in via an interesting Google suggestion – I’m happy to announce that my 2020 dates are finalized and I’m ready to announce my ~2020 workshop tour~! Yay!

I’m trying something a little different this year and announcing everything at once, rather than as they are listed and available for registration. Last year, it felt like a lot of people missed out on signing up because the seats would sell out before I even had a chance to announce them! I also felt like I was posting WAY too much about workshop stuff, which I completely understand can be super annoying for those who are not interested in ever signing up for one! My hope is that this burst of dates (as opposed to the slow trickle last year) will allow everyone interested to plan in advance, and be informed when the seats are available to sign up for.

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

Please note that not all the classes are listed as of this posting (I will update as they are!). I strongly recommend that you follow the shop hosting the workshop, to be notified when the class is listed so you can sign up quickly and hopefully secure a seat! I will update my classes page as workshops as listed, however, I cannot guarantee they won’t be sold out by that point (this happened quite frequently last year!).

All dates and links are listed on my WORKSHOPS page, as well as in this post. For more information, including pricing, please visit the shop’s website or send them an email!

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

A few notes and frequently asked questions about my workshops:

These are the ONLY workshops that I am offering for 2020! I am completely booked! Once they are sold out, they are sold out (i.e., I will not be adding additional dates) so I encourage you to sign up ASAP!
For my jeans classes, we will be sewing the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns. This pattern is a high-waisted, stretch denim jeans pattern that is available in sizes 0-20. Plus sized? Girl, I got you! You can make the Cashmerette Ames Jeans, which is available in sizes 12-28 and includes options for both an apple shaped torso or pear! Dudes or Non-Binary, i.e., don’t wanna wear girl pants? Yo, I got you too! You can make either the Quadra or the Fulford jeans pattern from Thread Theory. Jeans for everyone!
“I don’t wear high-rise jeans – will we have the option to make this change in class?: If you are interested in sewing a mid-rise jean, there is a Mid-Rise Ginger jeans pattern available for purchase on the Closet Case Patterns website that you are welcome to use instead. Additionally, there is a Flared Leg add-on if you don’t do skinny! Unfortunately, there is not enough time in class to make drastic changes to our patterns, especially with adjusting the rise, outside of minor fitting issues. It is definitely something that we can go over in class, though, so you can apply the changes to all your future jeans!
Required Skill Level: You don’t need to be a Sewing Master to tackle this class, however, you absolutely need to have experience using a sewing machine and following a sewing pattern. All skill levels are welcome!

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

+ + + 2020 LLADYBIRD Workshops + + +

JANUARY
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
January 10 – 12, 2020
Urban Sewciety, Westfield, NJ

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
January 24 – 26, 2020
Crafty Gemini, Gainesville, FL

FEBURARY
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
February 21 – 23, 2020
Craft South, Nashville, TN

MARCH
Jeans Making Sewing Intensive
March 7 – 8, 2020
Workroom Social, Brooklyn, NY

Sew Your Own Classic Shirt Weekend Workshop
March 20 – 22, 2020
Hello Stitch Studio, Berkeley, CA

APRIL
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
April 17 – 19, 2020
Blackbird Fabrics, Vancouver, BC

MAY
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
May 1 – 3, 2020
Pintuck & Purl, North Hampton, NH

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
May 29 – 31, 2020
Darrell Thomas Textiles, Ottawa, ON

JUNE
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
June 12 – 14, 2020
Josephine’s Dry Goods, Portland, OR

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
June 26 – 28, 2020
Fancy Tiger Crafts, Denver, CO

JULY
Jeans Making Sewing Intensive
July 18 – 19, 2020
Workroom Social, Brooklyn, NY

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
July 31 – Aug 2, 2020
Darrell Thomas Textiles, Ottawa, ON

AUGUST
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
August 14 – 16, 2020
Crafty Gemini, Gainesville, FL

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
August 28 – 30, 2020
Blackbird Fabrics, Vancouver, BC

SEPTEMBER
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
September 11 – 13, 2020
Stitch Sew Shop, Alexandria, VA

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
September 25 – 27, 2020
Fancy Tiger Crafts, Denver, CO

OCTOBER
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
October 2 – 4, 2020
Hello Stitch Studio, Berkeley, CA

Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
October 30 – Nov 1, 2020
Pintuck & Purl, North Hampton, NH

NOVEMBER
Jeans Making Sewing Intensive
November 14 – 15, 2020
Workroom Social, Brooklyn, NY

DECEMBER
Sew Your Own Jeans Weekend Workshop
December 4 – 6, 2020
Sew With Sonia, Menlo Park, CA

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

Sew Your Own Jeans weekend workshop at Blackbird Fabrics 2019

Whew! I was going to share a pair of my own recently finished Ginger Jeans, but I think that’s enough for this post! Actually I have 3 pairs of finished jeans so stay tuned for a ~Jeans Extravaganza~ here on this blog shortly! In the meantime – who’s taking a workshop next year?! I am so excited!!

Note: All photos in this post were taken at my workshop at Blackbird Fabrics this past April!

Completed: The Hampton Jean Jacket

27 Mar

I actually finished this project months ago – like, as in, 2017. Took the photos in mid-November, and then started this blog draft at the end of that month. I have no idea why I never finished writing it up, but… better late than never, I suppose?

Hampto Jean Jacket

At any rate, despite my apparent reluctance to post this project, I am actually pretty happy and excited about it! I love me a good denim jacket, and have always considered it a wardrobe staple for the way I dress. My style has changed a lot over the years – in my teens I was ~punk rock~ (insert hysterical laughter in hindsight yere), in my 20s I was really into vintage, and now I tend to dress just pretty boring overall (I like to think I look “classic,” but let’s be real – it’s boring AF, whatever, don’t care). With all those style changes, the humble denim jacket has always held a special place in my heart and a leading role in my wardrobe.

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

I think it’s safe to say that there are lots of people who feel the same way as I do about the versatility of a denim jacket, however, it’s been hard to find a sewing pattern that includes all the features you see in one (such as the welt pockets, or a sleeve placket). I have made the Staci Jean jacket in the past, but it wasn’t quite up to par – the fit was more generous than what I prefer, and it really bothered me that it didn’t have actual pockets. I ended up not getting a lot of wear out of that jacket and later donating it.

The Hampton Jean Jacket is a great pattern that includes all the features I like in a jean jacket – those welt pockets, functional in-panel pockets with a top flap, a two-piece sleeve with a placket and cuff, and front and back yokes. Sewn up in a denim fabric with contrast topstitching and metal jeans buttons, it’s almost indistinguishable from the RTW versions you see in stores (almost, but just a little bit better – because it’s handmade by meeeee 🙂 haha). I love that someone took the time to create this pattern, and y’all, it’s a good one. Not that the Style Arc Staci jacket is a bad one, but it’s very basic and lacking compared to this one. This was exactly the type of pattern I have been looking for to fill this hole in my wardrobe.

I bought my denim at Mood Fabrics when I was in NYC last year – specifically for this jacket (sometimes I buy for specific projects, sometimes I just stash… but in this case, it was indeed for this pattern). I wanted something that was a good weight for a jacket, although not too heavy, and with little to no stretch. I found this piece in the denim section of Mood (on the bottom floor) and I just love the dark indigo wash. I originally thought about distressing and bleaching the fabric, but ended up just sticking with what you see here (apparently you are supposed to distress before topstitching… so yeah, that wasn’t happening). As with all denims, this fabric should soften and fade as it is washed and worn, which I’m looking forward to seeing. In the meantime, I do like the way it looks now, too!

The pattern looks complicated, but it’s pretty easy to follow. Sewing a jean jacket is pretty similar to sewing jeans – minus the obvious difference between the two articles of clothing (like, you don’t sew a fly front in the jacket and you don’t set a sleeve in jeans.. or maybe you do, I ain’t here to judge your life), just a lot of flat felled seams and topstitching. Y’all know I fucking LOVE making jeans, but I also have way too many pairs as it is, so this was a nice way to get that jeans-making experience without adding yet another pair to my wardrobe. Instead, I managed to fill a gap at the same time! I love it when that happens!

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

I waffled for a bit on what size to cut – my measurements are closer to a 2, but I ended up making the size 0 after comparing the finished measurements to an existing RTW denim jacket I own and like the fit of. I wanted this one to be a slim fit that looks great both opened and closed (I rarely ever wear my denim jacket buttoned unless I’m like, actually cold or something, however, I needed to make sure there was enough space to close it if it came down to it!). My only complaint about the sizing is how the sleeve length is measured – for whatever reason, it’s measured from the top of the shoulder to the bottom, instead of at the underarm. This led me to originally believe that the sleeve was something crazy like 5″ too long, and I actually altered the pattern and nearly cut it before I thought to actually compare the pattern piece to a different sleeve pattern piece. I was under the impression that the standard is to measure from the underarm to wrist (like what is basically your arm inseam), but now I’m second-guessing myself and thinking maybe I’m the nutty one? Thoughts?

Anyway, like I said – this pattern is really easy to follow. It’s obvious that a lot of thought when into the instructions; they are clear, easy to understand and follow, and the diagrams are beautifully done. There is also a sewalong on the blog if you do happen to get stuck, although it seems like it’s basically a photographed copy of the instructions (i.e., no additional information or tips, just the exact same instructions except with photographs to guide you). I found the sizing to be accurate and the pieces fit well together. I don’t know much about Alina Design Company, however, this was a very pleasant first experience so I am happy about that!

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

For sewing, not much different than sewing jeans. I used a 90/14 denim needle, navy all purpose polyester thread to construct, and a lightweight topstitching thread for all the topstitching – Mara 70 from Wawak, which Jennifer introduced me to a couple years ago during one of our jeans workshops. It’s heavier than regular all-purpose thread – which is 100wt – but not as heavy as traditional topstitching thread – which is typically around 30wt. It still looks nice and thick so your stitches really stand out, but it’s not so thick that it causes your machine to jam or nest, and it is very easy to thread through a standard needle. If you’ve been having issues with topstitching thread, I really recommend trying this weight!

I tried to finish most of my seams with flat-felled seams, but a few (such as the front yoke seam and the armscye seam) had to be serged and topstitched for a mock flat-fell. My RTW denim jacket is like this – a combination of flat-felled and mock flat-felled, and this is all explained in the instructions as well. I washed and dried the denim on the hottest setting a few times before cutting, and have washed it more than necessary since finishing to get it to soften up a little bit more. I know it’ll fade with time, I just want to speed that time up 🙂

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

Hampto Jean Jacket

My only complaint with the pattern is that I think it is lacking some necessary interfacing. There is interfacing at the button placket, sleeve cuff, and bottom band – and that’s it. No interfacing at the in-panel pockets or flaps (which have buttons and button holes, so they *should* be interfaced – at least with a little square where the aforementioned buttons and button holes are), or on the back tabs where, again, there are button holes. I was able to add these in before closing up those areas, but I am a little surprised that they were included with the instructions, especially considering how in-depth the entire pattern is as a whole. One thing I did like was that the collar is not interfaced – you might need to do that if you are using a lighter weight fabric, but for this denim, the weight of the 2 layers of fabric was plenty. I love the way the collar sits!

Hampto Jean Jacket
Anyway, the jacket turned out pretty fucking awesome – if I do say so myself. I think the sleeves could stand to be shortened about 1″, but I usually wear my jacket sleeves rolled up anyway so I’m not terribly concerned about it. The length is perfect for wearing with pants, not so much dresses and skirts (perhaps with something that has a lower waist, but I think the long length paired with a high waist looks unbalanced and a little sloppy – at least on me!). That being said, I already made a second version that is cropped – specifically to wear with dresses and skirts – so watch this space for that!

*Note: The fabrics used in this project were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.