Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Finished jeans ... and some tips!

So, you have been warned, my jeans are finished and, yes, they are purple

But that is the wonderful thing about making your own jeans – you can make them any colour you like! The fabric is a cotton twill with a little lycra and it’s just perfect for a summer-weight pair of jeans – it is sturdy but cool.

These jeans are the product of taking Jennifer Stern’s ‘Blue Print to Blue Jeans’ course on Pattern Review. It was excellent – I got some great fitting advice by posting pictures of my muslin for Jennifer to comment on.

Here is the back view


And this is the pattern I used, it’s McCall’s 5894
I did, however, make the fit a little different because I lowered the front rise by about an inch and I narrowed the legs from the hips to the knees. I was aiming for a ‘relaxed’ fit with a slight flare. If you are thinking of using this pattern, the instructions are excellent but you might want to go down a size from the one they give for your measurements.

When it comes to making jeans I do think that it is worth the effort of adding the details that turn a pair of pants into a pair of jeans




The contrasting topstitching, the coin pocket, the rivets and the belt loops all give the garment ‘authenticity’ and a nice toughness, even if you aren’t working with denim.

When looking at the close-up photograph of the front, above, you might be wondering if I lost control of my sewing machine when it came to topstitching the coin pocket because on one side of the pocket the stitching extends to the waistband. This wasn’t a mistake, it’s one of the design suggestions that Jennifer gave us in the course and if you look at RTW jeans you will find that quite a lot of them have similar interesting stitching details.

While constructing my jeans there were two pieces of equipment that I found invaluable. This one,

called a Jean-a-ma-jig, is a simple but ingenious device that helps your machine get over the hump of lots of layers of fabric. In fact my jeans weren’t as bulky as denim but the difficulty wasn’t stitching through a lot of layers of fabric so much as when I had a difference in layers, i.e. when there is a hump of fabric and the presser foot can’t lie flat. Without the Jean-a-ma-jig I would never have got my belt loops sewn on without throwing my machine (and myself!) out of the window.

The second thing is a pair of Prym Vario Pliers.

These pliers, which cost about £9.50, make inserting rivets very easy indeed. One squeeze makes the hole, then you change the heads, place the rivets in the pliers, another squeeze and they are in. It’s very quick, simple and secure. I also used the pliers for attaching my jeans button (when you buy the buttons they come with the special heads for the pliers). No need for hammers, screws, wooden blocks etc. I purchased mine at Kleins in central London. If you want to see them in action, Kleins have a video on YouTube, you can see it here

Another tip. I discovered that it is much easier to make a neat buttonhole if you don’t sew down the front belt loop on the buttonhole side until after you have made the buttonhole. I made a couple of trial buttonholes on spare fabric without any difficulty but when I tried it on the real thing my machine jammed up. What was happening is that the back of the buttonhole foot (which extends quite a long way) didn’t like having to go over the belt loop. Once I had unpicked the stitching that held the belt loop down, so that I could fold it out of the way, the machine did the buttonhole without any trouble.

Before I go, I must, of course, also mention Peter’s MPB Jeans Sew-Along. If you want a clearly explained tutorial on jeans construction then Peter’s blog is the place to go.

Having finished making a pair of jeans I feel quite light-headed. Designer jeans cost a lot of money – it’s a billion dollar business - and there is something very liberating about the thought that I can make some of my own. In any colour, with any of the little design details that I fancy. And if I can, then believe me, so can you!

45 comments:

  1. When your jeans come out this good I can see no jeans buying in your future! These are really flattering on you.

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  2. Love your purple jeans! What a great fit and appreciate your tips as well as the info on pliers. Dreading the attachment of rivets has delayed me from making jeans and now I have the answer - mucho thanks!

    Karen in Houston

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  3. Congrats on your success in making a stunning pair of jeans! It must be rewarding to know you can make your own from here on out! You're right, there's no need to go back to RTW.

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  4. I am so jealous - I have a jeans pattern sitting here for months, but I have not tried it yet. Great purple jeans, they look so professional.

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  5. I love the colour. It really fits you too. Does the jean-a-ma-jig work on any machine? or just particular brands. I have a Pfaff select 4.0. tnx

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  6. Your purple jeans are incredible!!! They fit fabulously and look professional - I'm very impressed!

    Thanks for the tip about the jean-a-ma-jig. There are several times when I've fought with the difference in thicknesses of fabric and ended up with wonky looking stitches - I'm going to have to try this jig.

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  7. Amazing! What a rewarding feeling it must be to make your own jeans.....

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  8. You have a great looking pair of jeans.

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  9. Wow! You did it! You have a great fit and a sassy colour too. Thanks for all the tips on jeans sewing. If I ever get the nerve up to try it, I will be coming back to your post and of course Peter's sew-along.

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  10. Can you please tell the needle type and size you used for both construction and topstitching of your jeans?

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  11. Great jeans! You got an excellent fit!

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  12. Wow! I am so impressed. The thought of making jeans brings me out in a cold sweat so very well done

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  13. Those are so great. When I made jeans I thought they were a lot of work, but also the most rewarding thing I have ever made. Now that I have had them for a while I am also amazed at how wonderful it is to have pants made just for my body, they feel great! Yours look fabulous, I love purple! Thanks for the tips, I will use them on my next pair. One thing that worked for me was that I found a double needle specifically for denim topstitching. It was kind of a pain to change it out so much, but my topstitching ended up perfect. Great job:)

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  14. Excellent. I'm very envious of your perfectly fitting purple jeans!

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  15. Great job with the jeans, Eugenia! I love the purple color. Thanks for the tips. When I made mine, the rivets were easy but that bulk at the waistband was frustrating. I'll have to try the jean-a-ma-jig.

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  16. Those jeans look great Eugenia!! I have this exact pattern on my long list of things to sew, so thank you for your helpful tips! And I love the color btw!

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  17. Fabulous looking jeans. I know they are a lot of work, having made some myself, but so worth it when you end up with a great fit like you did.

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  18. Fabulous!! I love them in purple!

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  19. As someone who has always considered jeans to be the Final Frontier of home sewing, I have to add my congratulations and compliments to the comments list.
    Awesome, just awesome!

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  20. They are fabulous! And I love that you made them purple. I'm very interested in the pliers you mention. Seems like they'd come in handy for lots of things.

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  21. Your jeans look amazing. How cool to have purple!.

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  22. Oh they're cute! They fit you really well and you did an excellent job. Just think how much easier the next pair will be...

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  23. They are adorable.
    Anyone who can tackle a pair jeans in my estimation, is the New Prophet.

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  24. Awesome fit and I love love the purple!

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  25. Brilliant Eugenia! The fit is perfect and I really love the colour.

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  26. Wow Eugenia. These are definitely the best jeans I've seen in two years of blogging. Thanks for the tips too.

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  27. They look amazing! Thanks for the tips and the inspiration.

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  28. Too cool for school! These are so fun. Your top stitching is also perfect -- the jeans look great.

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  29. Those are so fabulous! Thanks for the information on the pliers, I think I need those.

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  30. Woah. The fit looks excellent. Love the colour. I have to shop for hours to find a pair of jeans that fits, so this may be the way to go. Am slightly scared. One day, one day...

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  31. The fit is great and I love the colour. You look really good in them.

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  32. Hi Dibs, thanks for stopping by. To answer your question, I believe that the jean-a-ma-jig works for any machine because you don't have to attach it to anything you just place it under the presser foot behind the needle. I got mine online from Jaycotts - this is the link http://www.jaycotts.co.uk/acatalog/Notions_and_Gadgets.html.

    Also to Anonymous who asked what kind of needle I used - I used a size 14 topstitching needle for both the construction and the topstitching - I didn't want to have to keep changing needles. There are, of course special needles for sewing denim but my fabric wasn't thick enough to need one, a size 14 did fine.

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  33. That jeans look superb... Well done Eugenia! Very well done!

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  34. Thanks Eugenia.

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  35. Oh my Gosh! Purple Jeans! I love them! Thanks for the tip about the Jeans a majig....good idea.

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  36. Truly an excellent fit on these. All your detailing looks so professional. And I love the purple color!

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  37. Great jeans - and very of the current fashion moment - Grazia keeps talking about coloured jeans! I really want to make a pair of jeans - one day maybe!
    By the way, I'd love to see how that jeans a ma jig actually works - I'm having difficulty imagining it!

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  38. Your jeans are awesome!!! And I love the color...maybe one day I'll work up the courage to attempt jeans..have such a hard time finding RTW ones that fit...

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  39. Wow! Those jeans look fabulous! Love the purple

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  40. Perfection and I adore the purple colour .

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  41. Great looking jeans! They look fabulous on you. One of these days, I'm going to get up my nerve and try jeans!

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  42. Hey! I was hoping to get a chance to talk to you yesterday at the Fabric Fandango! I love your blog!

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  43. Your jeans look fantastic on you. I love the colour - I've never seen a pair of purple jeans before. Well done!

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  44. Excellent job on the jeans. Purple is a great color too.

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