Since it’s not looking like I’ll get a chance to work on the Red-Leaf Clovers before the weekend, I thought I’d ramble a bit.
I’ve been making my own jeans for about a year and a half at this point. Which is close the natural life-span of a pair of jeans, especially the way I wear them, which is all the time.
So I thought I’d do a bit of rumination on the success, longevity, and idiosyncracies of making my own jeans:
|Jeans:||Materials||Screw ups||Strong points||Current condition|
|Cheap, unpleasant fabric, plain gold jeans-thread topstitching||Nothing major, except when I converted them to capris, a) I didn’t add enough length, and b) the topstitching sucked. Also there’s no internal seam finishing, so the insides are a bit raggedy (but still sound.)||Super-comfy, and the fabric improves a lot as it wears.||Wearable but definitely B list. I may re-convert them to capris come summer, which would remove the ugly topstitching, and potentially return them to A-list status.|
|Black denim, silver Gutermann topstitching thread||I used crappy serger thread in the bobbin when I was topstitching, which resulted in a LOT of topstitching failure. I also used cotton salvaged from a worn-out duvet for pocket lining, which has since shredded.||Super comfy, flattering, and probably my single favourite pair to date, despite the material failures||B-list due to the failed topstitching and shredded pockets. I keep meaning to stitch the front pockets up and make them at least decent again, because I really like this pair. The fabric has actually held up really well.|
|Heavy blue denim, gold topstitching||I tried to add a small wedge to the CB to get a bit more height in the back, but added it to the hip instead, by mistake. Miraculously, they still went together and fit.||I love the heavier fabric for these—I got it at Fabricland but have never found it again. It makes them so much sturdier than my other pairs.||These are still practically pristine, as they’re only worn during the summer months. I love them.|
|The identical denim to the black & silver pair, with red triple-stitch topstitching.||Construction went pretty much flawlessly for these, as far as I can recall.||I liked the red topstitching and got kinda creative with the belt-loops, which was fun.||Although construction went fine, this pair was kinda cursed. I had issues with the buttons, and then the zipper pull came off. I actually undid the fly and re-inserted it on the bottom, but it came off again a few weeks later. At which point I threw up my hands.|
|Black denim (same as the black jeans), silver Gutermann topstitching thread||I accidentally bought separating zippers instead of regular ones for the legs. This made inserting them interesting, and the other week one side separated, which was really hard to get back in. Construction went well, but some of the decisions (like stitching down the pocket flaps) would be problematic later on.||Really stylish and unusual. This makes it hard to wear them too frequently, but they are sure fun for a change.||A-list. I’ve had some ripping of the pockets due to pulling too much to use them with the flaps stitched down at the sides. And the leg zippers occasionally try to separate. Other than that, they’re great, though. They’ve held up well but are not in as heavy rotation as less striking pairs.|
|Blue denim, gold jeans topstitching thread||The skinny ankles are very skinny, especially on the right side. Getting them on and off is a bit of a pain. Also, one leg twists really badly. (the other is basically fine) Aside from being annoying, it means that the knee-wear that’s showing up is mis-placed, so even if I bolt them into place with tall boots they still look a bit funny.Oh, and I forgot to pre-wash my pocketing fabric, and I usually extend my pockets into the front fly, so after the first washing it shrank and I couldn’t figure out why they felt so tight while still seeming loose across the front. I had to slice up between pocket and fly to release the tension.||Cute topstitched-dart feature in the back leg.||A-list, bordering B. Mostly because with wear, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the twisting is a real, big problem. They’ve had a lot (LOT) of wear, though I’ve never liked them as much as my black and silver pair.|
|Heavy, non-stretch indigo denim, really nice stuff. Gold jeans topstitching thread. Modified from the Burdastyle.comEllen pants pattern.||I used the same waistband as I do for my stretch jeans, and it’s really not long enough for non-stretch. There’s no overlap at the front, which makes me feel just a bit insecure wearing them, even with a belt. I wish I’d considered the construction in this area a little more thoroughly.||Cute laced-front fly, great idea although not perfectly executed.||B-list. I rarely wear these, partly because of the too-short, non-overlapping waistband and partly because my husband doesn’t like them. Not that I care what he likes, but I do prefer receiving compliments. They’re still a nice change from time to time.|
|Light-weight cream denim, pink topstitching, japonesque print piping||I could’ve handled the piping and the little cuffs a little better with a bit more forethought (I did much better on the little jeans I made my nieces recently).||I love the colour-combo and the piping details.||A-list. Although since they’re limited to summer wear, they are still pretty much pristine.|
|Medium blue denim, Sulky cotton topstitching thread||Using cotton topstitching thread. Probably you could get away with it in non-stretch jeans, or using a stretch stitch, but not straight, as I tried to. The stitching on the rear pockets is completely broken. I did stay the front pocket edges during construction, so that part is fine. Also, I messed up the insertion of one of the studs (left the nail too long) and so it’s quite mis-shapen and sharp and can be pretty uncomfortable. I need to fix that.||I love the colour of the topstitching thread (a darker, antique gold) and the construction went great.||A-list, but just barely. The failed topstitching and uncomfortable stud weren’t enough to put me off these jeans, but when I tore a big three-corner hole in the front thigh, they became almost unwearable (I’m so over wearing my jeans with holes in…) I have since mended them, and they’re back in regular rotation, but they’re definitely not “best.”|
I know, I should really add links to the various posts with the photos. But it seems every time I twiddle something in the table, it breaks and I lose a column, so I’m going to leave well enough alone.
So, overall? My self-made denim doesn’t have a great record in the longevity department. That being said, more of it has to do with failures of supplementary materials (thread, zipper, pocketing) than the denim itself—surprising considering how crappy-thin most of the denim is. I haven’t yet gone through the knees of any of the pairs, which is a minor miracle for me. And only one of the pair is completely out of comission, although I don’t really like how many of them have turned out (or into) B-listers.
Some very sturdy stretch denim followed me home from the thrift store in December, so that’s an upcoming plan should I ever finish the Clovers. It doesn’t have as much stretch as I’m used to, however (20% rather than 50%), so I think I will need to re-draft my pattern a bit.
ETA: crappy tables. It looked fine on the preview, I swear. But I can’t seem to fix it—sorry.