The jeans of many sizes

Possibly subtitled “the best laid plans…”

Instructions: "Look cute."

In a fit of obsession yesterday afternoon, Syo and I decided to tackle her jeans. The project was simple; all the materials were on hand: one traced version of Jalie 2908, size K (aka 7); one metre of dark blue stretch denim; gold jeans topstitching thread, and a little metal zipper.

The pattern is the same size I traced out for Tyo’s jeans last spring, which she had outgrown by August. Syo is now wearing these jeans, quite comfortably, so I was feeling pretty confident about the fit. They would probably be a bit long, but otherwise shouldn’t be problematic.

Syo required only one, simple alteration. Tyo’s jeans had been flares, the pattern’s basic shape. Syo’s must be skinny. Yes, my seven-year-old is much more on-trend than my ten-year-old. Which probably says everything you need to know about their respective personalities. So I measured what seemed like a reasonable distance out from the midline of each ankle, drew a line that angled out to the knee, and we folded the pattern in along that line. Just in case Syo wants a pair of flares in the future (not likely, but this is how I roll). Oh, yeah, I double-checked my reduced width with the circumference of her pointed foot, to make sure she could still get her feet through. All seemed good, so we set to cutting it out.

Syo really wants to be able to sew. And cut out fabric. Unfortunately, the fabric shears

The back

are still too big for her little hands. This didn’t stop her from doing her best with the embroidery scissors on the pocket lining, and she actually did an excellent job, but man, it took forever.

Pocket closeup, with fancy stitching.

After much discussion, we settled on stars for the back pockets. The first pair I made Tyo has stars on the back pockets (stars are nice and easy to embroider on stretchy denim when you don’t have an embroidery machine and are too lazy to stabilize your fabric).

This is the first pair of jeans I’ve made since I got my serger back in order, so it was my first chance to remember to serge seams after sewing, but before ย topstitching. I mostly managed this. (Note: this pattern only has 1 cm seam-allowances, so you need to serge without cutting anything off or your second row of topstitching may not catch the seam-allowance.)

I like the Guterman jeans thread; it’s not as heavy as their topstitching thread, so

Side view

doesn’t require dirty tricks to get the upper tension high enough on my machine. Still, I can tell that my newish Janome doesn’t quite have the balls of the Grand Old Dame when it comes to stuff like this. The Dame would eat projects like this for breakfast—the Janome I have to baby along here and there. And this is with really thin denim.

I only hit one hitch in the construction, when I realized I’d cut the size Q back yoke (my size) rather than the size K. I think the size K yoke piece may have evaporated… oops. Another reason why I love tracing my patterns. However, I was pretty sure the outer width of the yoke was pretty close, so I just trimmed the wide, inner portion to fit. If there is any actual difference in the size, it’s well within my usual cutting-inexactitude; the side pieces went together just fine.

Calf detail

Oh, yes, and I added in a detail on the back lower legs ripped off from some RTW skinny jeans owned by one of Tyo’s trendier friends: basically a long, thin topstitched dart with a stud at the top of it, forming a very small amount of shaping below the calf. I keep meaning to do this on jeans for myself, but forgetting as it has to be done quite early in the process. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, though, though I suspect my studs are not perfectly aligned.

With the aid of Debbie Cook’s tutorial, I once again achieved near-perfect fly insertion. I actually had double-sided wonder-tape to use to stick the zipper down this time, and it was very nice indeed, although using pins instead really isn’t that terrible either. I did manage to put it in backwards (so girl-version, as opposed to boy/jeans version), but in my defense this is because I was matching the topstitching direction of the crotch to the one I’d already done on the rear of the pants, and I find it pretty much impossible to think that far ahead. The moral of this story is that I should probably construct the jeans front and fly before the back.

My straight-stitch topstitching is getting so good!

Fly... almost perfect.

My around-pocket and around-fly stitching… not so much. Perhaps I am sloppy because they’re for the kid… I’d like to think I wouldn’t wear such shoddy work.

I can’t promise anything, though. I’m pretty lazy about un-picking.

I sewed up the outer sideseams, and Syo came to try them on…

and they were HUGE.

Now, I don’t want to repeat my mistake with Tyo and make pants she’ll outgrow in three months. But these are supposed to be skinny jeans, not tapered-but-baggy jeans. I took in the side-seams by a cm on each side (so 2cm off each leg).

Better, but not perfect. Take another cm off. Hrrm. Well, maybe that’ll do. Keep in mind this is the same pattern as the other pair she’s wearing that are actually getting a wee bit tight. The only thing I can think of is that the first pair shrunk, which isn’t impossible, but I have a pair of my own out of the exact same “denim” that I’m still wearing just fine, and I promise you I definitely haven’t shrunk.

CB belt loops. Can you spot the booboo?

Putting waistbands on kids jeans is so much more relaxing than putting the waistband on a pair for me. For one thing, I use the pattern’s straight waistband piece, instead of my own contour band (coopted from the Ellen pants, if you must know). I also didn’t bother with interfacing. The only thing to remember was to put in buttons and buttonholes for the attaching of the buttonhole elastic. I did have one problem with the sizing, as my waistband wound up being too short to centre the CB seam on the back and cover the fly-extension. Maybe I’m doing something wrong with the fly extension, although what I end up with seems to be the same as what I see on my storebought jeans, so I don’t know what. Rather than fuss around, I gave in and put the CB seam of the waistband about an inch off of the true CB seam. It’s a problem, but it’s mostly covered by the belt-loops anyway.

Her coolest pose.

Finally, all that was left was to hem them to an appropriate length. This is always dicey with children, and skinny jeans are even worse than flares in this department. In the end I opted for a length that would be floor-brushing in socks if they weren’t being pulled up by the front of her feet, and just folded the excess 2″ of fabric under, topstitching three times to make sure it’s well in place (this mimics the three rows of topstitching on the top of the pockets, so it’s a design feature, right?). In theory this means that when she hits her next growth spurt and grows three inches by summer, I can let out the excess length. In practice, we know this’ll never happen, but hey, allow me my fantasies, all right?

Also, Syo was very helpful in the hammering of rivets, and only hit my thumb once. And Steph, the awl from your sharp and pointy giveaway kit is divine. How on earth did I live without it?

So that’s one more project down on the “madly off” list. Which leaves, mainly, shirts for my hubby and those skinny cargoes! If I can get the neck alteration figured out for the hubby’s shirt before he abandons me, I can putter away at that until he gets back. And I think I’ll take a stab at the drafting for the cargoes this weekend, if I can find paper I like for it. I’d rather use craft paper than tissue paper for stuff like this.



Filed under Sewing

14 responses to “The jeans of many sizes

  1. Very nice little jeans, you do gorgeous top-stitching work. Isn’t it great to check something off the madly list? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love the stars! Also, I really like that dart in the back. I should scrap the whole trouser project (since I don’t like wearing trousers anyway) and make jeans instead – I’d LOVE a little dart poking up above my boots!

    Speaking of boots – do you mind if I use your comments as a confessional? In the last 24 hours I have purchased 4 pairs of boots (end of season sales, even though the season doesn’t end in Mpls for months!) which brings my total boots to 10. I have a boot problem. I require many pairs of jeans with calve darts….

    Also, I would be so scared of doing topstitching in gold thread. I get nervous topstitching in same-color thread! I’m definitely more interested in the fitting side than the technical sewing side. I need to work on that!

    • Haha! Um… How long has it been since your last confession? Say ten “Hail, Singers”… Um, sorry, not Catholic, that’s as far as I get.

      I wish I had ten pairs of boots! I confess I bought another pair that I totally didn’t need the other day… But they’re super cute and comfy! Comfy is a big deal…

      By the way, I totally want you to try jeans, especially if that’s what you like to wear. Just copy your TNT crotch-curve depth and you should be good to go.

      Though sourcing good stretch denim can be a pain (the stuff I use is more denim by courtesy.

      Why not replace straight topstitching with some of your fancy stitches? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Lucy

    Gorgeous! Oh, how I wish that I’d had custom-made trousers as a kid. My mum’s response to my continuing growing (5’9″ by age 11) was to put me in leggings in the hope that they’d stretch with me. They didn’t. And I have a Tyo-esque backside.

    I am also the elder, less ‘on trend’ sister. It certainly tells you a lot about our respective personalities, even at the ages of 23 and 20.

    • Wowza! Tyo will be eleven in the summer and she’s not even 4′ 9″!

      I think fit wise Syo would probably have been happier with jeggings. But then, her booty is more, ah, modest like mine… Tyo got dubs on the bubble butt around here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. You lady are like a jeans-making machine :)!
    And… Syo is so definitely model material (must take after her Mum ;)) with her cool-kid poses. She’s lookin’ fierce girlfriend!!

  5. i bow to your continued awesomeness! the stars are fantastic (my fave shape!)…..where do you get your stretch denim? what cotton to stretch percentage is best??? halp!

    • Thanks! I have so far just picked up stretch denim at my local chain, it’s pretty thin and wimpy but quite stretchy, and if I wait for sales, under $10/m. I wouldn’t even bother with the % Lycra as it doesn’t seem to correlate directly with how stretchy the fabric is. Do check the % stretch—the Jalie pattern is designed for 25% stretch (a 10 cm length stretches to 12.5 cm) but my fabric is more like 40% stretch (10 cm stretches to 14 cm). A lot of stretch patterns have a gauge on the envelope somewhere so you can evaluate the fabric as you shop. If you’re ordering online, I’d look for anything between 3 and 10% Lycra, and just adjust my pattern sizing after I have fabric in hand and can figure out how much it actually stretches. With my fabric and the Jalie pattern, I went down a size, and then wound up taking in the out seam about another cm… Ok, I have a whole process, go read my jeans posts from last summer! ๐Ÿ˜‰ and maybe check the % stretch on your favorite RTW jeans, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Cute Jeans!

    I like to use wrapping paper for pattern making. It’s stiffer than tissue paper and wider than craft paper and oh so cheap. I stock up after Christmas when it’s 90% off!

  7. Impressive little jeans! I am still deathly afraid of the fly front. I’ll have to check out Debbie’s tutorial.

  8. Those jeans are totally awesome. The stars on the pocket look great and Syo shines like a star in them…super cute.


  9. The Mom

    Love the jeans (and the model, of course). Perhaps I should try to sew jeans, as that is basically what I live in.
    To those boot-a-holics out there, I counted up my boots the other day, and have about 19 pairs. Only 3 pairs have I purchased new at a proper shoe-shop, another pair came from Winner’s (a brand-name discount store). The remainder have come from my various favourite charity shops, including Value Village. The big problem is storage, as most of them are knee-height. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  10. Those are some pretty stylin’ jeans for a sassy Syo look! I doubt anyone in real life will notice any of the minor issues you mentioned, they’ll be too blinded by the stars to notice anything else!

  11. Pingback: The Pants that Wouldn’t Be | Tanit-Isis Sews

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