Cream Spice Capris

Cream Capris

I love that I was able to take these photos at 10:00 pm at night, outside, without a flash. Now if that doesn’t scream summer, what does? (This is where someone who’s from the real “up north” chimes in with a comment about the midnight sun. /envy.)

Superfluous shot

So, the capris are done. And they are fun, although as usual there are a couple of issues (beyond my indifferent topstitching). The biggest one is simply the fabric—although a lovely and stretchy cream denim colour, and heavier than some of the jeans I’ve made, the fabric is a bit thin for jeans. Meaning while it stretches nicely to fit, it, ah, hugs all the lumps and bumps rather than smoothing them. When you add portions like the pocket and the rear yoke, that don’t stretch nearly as much, it also creates a few lumps and bumps that wouldn’t be there all on their own. Tucking in tops CAREFULLY and choosing the right pair of underwear are also going to be important (VPL in jeans, who knew?)

Other than that and the Featherweight Tragedy, I’m pretty happy. The piping is nice, the wonky topstitching is fading from memory (fortunately it’s on the butt where I don’t need to look at it), and I finally remembered to make my belt-loops wide enough for all my belts (although it’s the narrow one I’m wearing in the photos).

Rear View

If I were to do it again I would place the pockets higher or make them a little taller. The dip between the petals in the top eats up a surprising amount of space, both visually and practically.

Front view

I like it with the cuffs turned up. Although, the non-stretch lining of the cuffs doesn’t interact especially well with the stretch denim when putting these on. we’ll see how that goes.

Centre-Back belt loop

I put a lot of strain on my belt loops, especially at the centre back, so I like to elaborate them in some way. Often I use three instead of just one at the CB. This time, I made one giant one with piping on both sides. I just piped both edges and topstitched to keep the bias on the inside. Super easy, and a nice finish to boot.

Belt-loop and button

For the other belt-loops, I wanted them more narrow, so I put piping on only one side and just folded the other side under and topstitched.

Vintage buttonholer buttonhole!

This is the first truly successful jeans buttonhole I’ve done—made with the vintage buttonholer and one of my new templates, the short keyhole. It’s the perfect size for the jeans buttons I have (which are admittedly a little wimpy. One of these days I’ll order some genuine good all-metal ones. /sigh.) I will note I find it quite odd that when sewing straight lines on the Janome with heavier thread, I have to turn the tension way up (and often do some other jiggery pokery) but then when zig-zagging I have to turn the tension way down.

You can just about see my neat feature on the fly where I had the two lines of topstitching criss-cross halfway down. This has nothing to do with the fact that my zipper was placed a little too far out from the centre front and couldn’t make the stitch line right where I wanted. Nothing at all… (I find it interesting that some people, who are following the exact same tutorials I do for fly zipper insertion, find that their zipper is still too close to the CF line and tends to gape. I have the opposite problem, with my zippers ending up tucked too far under the fly and often interfering with my ideal topstitching line (the Jalie pattern doesn’t leave you much room for error in this, either, as there’s not a huge fly extension).

Fun pants!

This pink thread is Coats & Clack Heavy Duty XP Dual Duty, or something like that, not the super-fat Guterman topstitching thread. Janome actually likes it fairly well, meaning all I have to do it turn the tension way up, not some of the other finnicky workarounds I’ve come up with for the topstitching thread. But for some reason it all goes whack when zig-zagging—whether with the buttonholer (in which the machine is still set on straight) or the zig-zag stitch. Featherweight handled either flawlessly, although she needed a bit of a tension boost too.

Featherweight afficionados, I have a question:Β I have generally been advised to use regular thread in the bobbin with my topstitching thread up top. Despite the annoyance of winding extra bobbins, there are times when it would be nice to have topstitching thread on both sides (turn up cuffs, come to the front of the class). Also I can’t help but think it might be sturdier (I have had a fair bit of topstitching failure on some of my earlier jeans where the bottom thread has broken). Can the Featherweight handle this? Any particular pros and cons?

My favourite feature is the piping, I think. I may have to add that to more jeans in the future. But then, piping is kinda addictive at the best of times…

Other things to try in the future:

  • change up the front pockets. The Jalie pocket line manages to be both distinctive and boring. I love the double pockets on Patty’s pair ( is transitioning platforms while I write this so I can’t do a direct link, but looks up her pants posts, she has lots of great musing on fitting and styling)
  • something with lots of rivets. Lots and lots of rivets. I love hardware as much as the next crypto-Goth.
  • distressing. I generally like my jeans fairly crisp and dark wash (obviously these are not dark, but you know what I mean). I lost my taste for buying pre-worn-looking denim right around the time I had to start paying for my own clothing. When you have a $90/pair jeans habit and are on welfare home with a small baby*, you need your jeans to LAST, because you’re probably not getting another pair for a long time. That being said, since I’m making my own, it would be ok to have some more casual pairs with a more RTW look. Just no pre-made holes and paint splatters, please.
  • I have had fun messing with the back pockets on these last few pairs, too. It’s the little details that really make (and distinguish) jeans.
  • draft and make a pair for my husband. Yes, I’m a sucker for punishment. I’m also seriously considering using a women’s draft for him (don’t tell him) as he really fits the women’s measurements considerably better than I do (don’t tell him that either). Boy got back. Which is where Tyo gets it, of course.
*This situation lasted precisely one year. I am profoundly grateful for the social safety net, even gutted as it was after the 90s, as my hubby and I would not have been able to make it through the transition from goofy teenagers to responsible parents without this government aid.** And I would rather shoot myself in the foot than go on welfare again. It SUCKED.
**and considerable support from both our families. I don’t once regret having my children when I did (especially as my field, like most academic ones, doesn’t really put you in a good position to have a family often until your late thirties), but it was HARD. I suspect it’s always hard, but I know we couldn’t have done it—certainly not nearly as well—without our extended families. So on the off chance of any of them reading this


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34 responses to “Cream Spice Capris

  1. I dub you the queen of jeans. I LOVE the piping and the cuff. It adds so much. I really like the idea of piping the center back belt loop. I put the most stress there, too. I’ll have to mentally file that away, if I ever attempt pants.

    • I don’t know if the piping itself actually adds any strength, but the extra-wide certainly does :). And I love how the piping looks, if I do say so myself…

  2. I’d love to make a pair of capris! Good idea about the belt loop in the back, it’s nice when we can customize things like that. The printed piping provides a nice contrast to the cream fabric. And hopefully none of your hubby’s buddies read your blog or he’ll never hear the end of it with his women jeans πŸ˜‰

    When I lived in Los Angeles summer days would be really hot and the nights would be cold, which I wasn’t used to and didn’t like! Now I’m back in the land of being outside at 10pm and not freezing. Phew!

    • The nights here are still pretty cool (single digits C more often than not) but it’s still pretty warm at 10. I love the hot days we’ve been having, though, we’ve had more nice ones in the last week than we had all last summer! πŸ™‚ FINALLY! πŸ™‚

  3. The capris look great! I find that it takes me a wearing or two to forget all the things I screwed up while sewing. I’m one of those “zipper too close to the fly edge” people, and I finally devised a workaround with my last denim skirt, where I stitched the zipper directly to the fly overlap before topstitching. I could then put my topstitching wherever I wanted, and it vastly improved the whole experience.

    I’ve never considered piping on pants, but I find myself liking the look. It does take some prep work though, and you have to be very sure that your pattern is a TNT. Since I like to fit while sewing, that’s a challenge for me.

    Did you get the Featherweight working, or is that still in process?

    I also want to figure out how to do distressing, and I was thinking studs rather than rivets (since I live close to a wholesale source for studs) but was unsure how they would wash. I guess the only way to find out is to do a scrap test with a whole bunch of studs and wash them several times.

    I have several friends who struggled through their kids’ early years as you did, and every one of us is grateful for public assistance — as frustrating as it is to deal with the bureaucracy and the red tape and the paperwork, we forget that a couple of generations ago, people regularly lost children to disease and starvation because there were no public services. I always want to throw a hardbound copy of “Angela’s Ashes” at the folks who complain about paying taxes.

    • The piping down the sides was a bit scary fit-wise. Fortunately, I am pretty confident of this pattern (I’ve only made it what, seven times or so, for myself?). You could definitely do it for a second make-up, though.

      Featherweight is still in limbo. I took her bottom off to oil underneath. Next step will be an inspection of the bobbin case for nicks, and then I may have to get really technical :P. But I won’t have the time for that until the weekend.

  4. Those are really cute and I love the idea of adding piping. That was sheer genius. And yes, parenting is really hard with or without money problems. I think you would be surprised at how much help from parents a lot of families whose husbands work on Wall St still get. There ain’t no shame in it.

  5. Love them! I missed the pocket/Featherweight post, so now I have to catch up. The pockets are total genius. I agree that kids get the cutest touches on their clothes. I guess manufacturers think we’re to mature for that sort of thing.
    I hope the Featherweight is OK!! It’s really hard to truly break one of those old girls though, so I suspect she’ll be back in fighting trim soon. It really makes such a difference having 2 machines for jeans, doesn’t it?

  6. Elle C

    Love the capris, so cute. I just you would stop being photogenic and thin and adorable. 😎

    PS-your package is on it’s way. Finally. I am the president of the procrastinators club of Canada, or at least I will be when I get around to starting it.

    • You can’t be president of that club, I’m already CEO in chief for life. I can procrastinate for YEARS. Besides, you had that convenient postal strike πŸ˜‰

      THANKS! πŸ™‚

  7. you know what’s weird? I actually MISS the whole “it’s pitch dark at 4:00 pm in the winter and bright light at 10:00 pm in the summer” thing. This whole “we live too close to the equator and it’s always just sort of dark at 8:30 pm thing is irritating.

    just saying.

    nice jeans! I like that extra-wide belt loop in the back, I’m totally appropriating that one.

    also, family: nice.

    • I think it’d mess with my head, too. I can’t imagine living somewhere equatorial where the sun goes down at 6 year-round. I like to think the “no winter” thing would make up for it, but there’s a very real possibility I’d go nuts.

  8. Those are certainly fun capris! The piping and cuffs are really adding something.
    I have to try my first jeans, soon. At the rate you’re going you’d think it wasn’t that big of a deal… I’ve ‘starred’ all your posts on sewing jeans, as a start πŸ™‚

    • To be honest, I haven’t found them that terrible. I don’t have a huge amount of trouble fitting pants (one of the bonuses of having few curves, I guess), and the stretch ones are pretty forgiving overall, I think. Also it’s amazing how you forget about wonky topstitching if you just don’t look at it. πŸ˜‰

  9. LOVE these! And I promise to not make an annoying comment about how it’s just starting to get dusky at 11pm. oh, oops..did it! Sorry πŸ™‚

  10. These jeans are great. I love the cuffs and the piping. Oh, and the tulip pockets are fab.

  11. Wow! They turned out looking great!
    I had some tears in my own eyes when I thought of your Featherweight ouchie… I can’t find one in my price range here in Ontario but I scan every estate sale and ad I can in my search for one – I keep hoping.

    I have been saving for years for a ‘dream machine’ (at one point that was a fancy HUSQVARNA VIKING machine I can thankfully no longer rhyme off the model number for *small smile*)

    Part of the grand dream was that I would no longer ever have to trouble with the tension – my dream machine would self adjust to any situation…

    How did you settle on your Janome – does it have any features you love that made it the best buy for you? (just curious)


    • Hehe… the main selling feature of the Janome was PRICE POINT. I wanted a sturdy, basic machine from a reliable brand that wouldn’t give me a lot of headaches. The vendor told us that all the Janomes had the same basic motor, so it was just a matter of number of stitches and things to choose between (I’m not absolutely certain this is true, but it’s what she said, anyway). My model was on “special” for under $200. ‘Nuff said. She has her quirks, but really does quite well considering the workout I put her through.

  12. I really like the added details on your capris. Just so darn cute! I am trying to remember all the tips you have given on sewing the jeans, and jean shorts and now the capris!

    I spent the day cutting out drapes! So I am feeling rather smug, enough focus for a day to cut out the drapes for two rooms.. woowhoo its a red letter day.

    • LOL! Drapes is something that takes discipline! I made a couple of pairs when Tyo was just a baby and we’ve been shuffling them around since because I’m sure not inclined to make any more.

      If you click on “jalie” or “jeans” in my tags cloud it’ll bring up a list of all my jeans posts. For better or for worse πŸ˜‰

  13. okay Queen-of-Jeans, question: When get my me-made jeans to fit my butt (I don’t have much in hips, but my butt will not be denied) I then get what I call butt-beak. There is enough coverage when I sit and then extra back-crotch-length (‘butt-length’?) when I stand up straight. So it pooches out in a beak. Does this sound familiar at all? Is this why you put so much pressure on your CB belt-loop? Any suggestions? What am I missing?
    Love that piping!

    • Hmm, I wish I could help. I’ve always followed the “fits right while standing, pulls down when sitting” school of jeans fitting, RTW or otherwise. My solution is to wear a snug, firm belt (hence the CB belt-loop strain) long tops and occasionally give my husband the finger for telling me my plumber’s crack is cute.

    • I totally understand ‘butt-beak’. I have not sewn any jeans for myself, but I find this problem in RTW jeans. I have a short crotch length, and flat butt, and average hips. I do prefer a mid-rise fit (although jeans marketed as mid-rise are often too long in the crotch), but the jeans tend to slide down a bit when I sit, and then when I stand up, I have to pull them up a bit, to eliminate the bulge. I don’t know if a lower rise would help, but at my age (well over 50), I don’t like the jiggly cushion that hangs out over top. I can’t wear pants that come to my natural waist, as I am so short-waisted that the waistband hits at my lower ribs, and is extremely uncomfortable! If anyone can come up with a fitting solution, I would love to hear it.

  14. Your piping and tulip pockets look so good, how clever. I also really like your extra wide back belt loop idea – I usually just add two loops there, but this looks a much better idea.
    It is dark at 5.30pm here at the moment, and we are officially subtropical, am I allowed to feel jealous? It is never light at 10pm. How on earth do you get such good photos all winter? I know there is a backdrop sheet involved, but do you have photographic lights?

    • Well, if it makes you feel better, in the winter here it’s dusk by 3:00 and dark by 4:00. I do love the late summer nights, though, and the sun takes such a long time to go down…

      I don’t have any photographic lights as such, but I do have a rather excessively-lit basement with lots of those bright commercial fluorescent lights. Although it’s still not REALLY bright enough—if you look at the full size, most of those photos are pretty grainy.

  15. Your piping and tulip pockets look very snazzy indeed. As do the cuffs. I really like the Japanese inspired bits here and there. You really are the queen of jeans!

  16. Awesome as always! You got skillz!

    Welfare sucks. I found the attitudes of the workers, and how the system seemed determined to NOT help you the most defeating. Why they wouldn’t tell me I could get a refund on formula (after the first $70/month) is beyond me. They still won’t tell families that little nugget. /rant

  17. Those capris look wonderful! I really like teh contrasting fabric and the piping on the belt loops, a little attention to detail that looks just wonderful. With regard to the zip gaping on jeans, could possibly be a case of the jeans being a tad too tight… I put in the zip; before the side seams are sewn, and the centre back seam of the jeans is the last seam to be sewn. This ensures a good fit with no gaping…

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