The Pants that Wouldn’t Be


I’m never sure if famous Saskatchewan authors are really famous or just famous in Saskatchewan (OK, I’m reasonably certain Farley Mowat is Canada-famous-ish, anyway, as he only lived in Saskatchewan as a child), so here’s the book I’m referencing. It’s set in my hometown, albeit several decades before I got there.

ANYWAY, these jeans for Syo certainly seemed as if they didn’t want to be. I sewed the yoke on backwards. RRRRRIP. I sewed the waistband on inside-out. RRRIP. I forgot to bind the the inner edge of the waistband, which I have decided is by far my fave way to finish it, and had to rip the stitching at the ends of the waistband (RRRRIP), and then started sewing the binding on inside-out, and had to rip that, too. Basically, my head is too full of other things to really concentrate on my sewing right now, and it shows.

That being said, we got through it, so here’s the story of yet another pair of kids’ clothes, and yet another pair of Jalie 2908. For those who read this blog for cute dresses or stylish remakes of 70s patterns, I apologize. Again. (Incidentally, despite paying close to $20 for this pattern once shipping was included, cost per-garment is already barely more than my average thrift-store pattern, and continuing to drop. Win.)

I noticed the other week (as the weather declined to the point where leggings are really not seasonally appropriate any more, at least until we break out the snowpants for everyday use), that Syo is really wearing only one pair of jeans of the fifteen or so in her drawer.

Which, fortunately for her long-term survival, just happens to be the pair I made her last winter. The reason has more to do with them being skinnies than being made by me, but anyway. She needs warm pants, and if they have to be skinnies for her to wear them, skinnies they shall be. (Obviously Jalie 2908 is a flared pattern, not a skinny pattern. To fix this, I just folded in the edges of the flares.)

After some cogitation and contemplation, I decided I could re-use the same size pattern I used last winter. The first pair still fits, albeit more snugly than initially, but I had taken them in at least a couple of cm on each side, in an attempt to reach Syo-approved levels of skinniness. And there’s plenty of length that I had hemmed up in the first pair, too. So this’ll be the third pair I’ve made in this size (size K, not that it’s relevant).

The fabric has been sitting in stash since sometime last winter. It’s a thrift-store find, not exactly stretch-denim, but very stretchy and bottom-weight-y. It’s not a colour I particularly crave for myself, but I was pretty sure one or the other of the kids would like it. One side is severely faded, but the other side is fine (bonus points to the original owner who had it folded right-side-in.)

And so I set to work.

Feature Pocket

Just to be different, I decided to use the pocket I originally drafted up for my sailor pants last spring. Yup, my pocket. I based the size on it on the size of the pocket I use on my own Jalies, which is actually the pocket from the size K pattern, because I like my jeans-pockets small (I have this theory it will make my butt look bigger, which in my twisted little body-image world is a good thing). And I wanted to incorporate some piping, because I have some rather ratty thrift-store piping in a dusty blue that is kicking around the sewing room and the fact that it has stains every four inches along the length wouldn’t bother me on kids’ jeans.

So I planned to add piping lots of places—along the pockets (back and front), the outseam, maybe even the waistband. ThenΒ I promptly forgot except for on the back pockets. Oh, well. I really should write up lists of the modifications I’m planning to make. And then follow them.

You may, perhaps, notice that one of the back pockets is a feature pocket. Yes, it’s got topstitching the other hasn’t, and the colour is slightly lighter. This wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that I pressed and hemmed the top of it inside out. Nothing at all.

Ruched Front Leg

You may (hopefully not) remember that Tyo has a particularly stylish friend, who is embarrassingly close to being my style muse. Seriously, this kid has the best clothes. ALL the time. A lot of this is probably creditable to her mother, who is a good friend, too, but her mom’s style doesn’t particularly speak to me (not that she’s unstylish. Maybe it’s just our different body types). I stole the rear-calf dart from her. I won’t even get into the time we bought the same pair of knee-socks, or the stripey hand-warmers. And a few months ago, I was struck by some jeans she was wearing, which exaggerated that scrunched-at-the-bottom look so many skinny-jeans-wearers seem to go for. (This look doesn’t happen to me, at least with RTW pants, but that’s another issue). Basically, the front pant-leg is cut longer, and ruched to fit the back. Instant scrunch, half the bulk!

I added about 6″ of length, and initially planned to gather from just below the knee, but wound up concentrating the gathers in about the bottom 6″ of the leg as well, so although I was highly unscientific about it, I would guess that my gathering ratio is about 2:1. I tried to leave a bit un-gathered at the bottom for the hem, but I should’ve left a bit more. Gathering denim is about as fun as it sounds, and looks really weird in the process, but with a bit of pressing and perseverance it worked out in the end.

Interior waistband: Bound, buttoned, and elasticated.

I even remembered to put buttonholes on the inside waistband for the buttonhole elastic! Of course, I forgot to sew the buttons on at the same time, which isn’t really necessary but is a tad easier than doing it at the end. Incidentally, I decided to use some blue, sueded knit (left over from this skirt) for the pocket linings, mostly because I liked the colour match. Apparently soft, fuzzy pocket-linings are A Good Thing. Syo approves.

Bar tacks, good and bad (actually, these are all good ones).

For whatever reason, I had zig-zag curse with this fabric. My vintage buttonholer was disagreeing with the Featherweight when I went to put in a keyhole button (not unusual for jeans buttons, but still frustrating since this fabric wasn’t terribly thick). My Janome is never terribly happy with topstitching thread, and this time was no different as I tried to do bar-tacks. One or two would go well, and then something would happen with the thread looping or the bobbin tension and the next one would be truly and utterly hideous. There was also a needle-breaking incident that locked up the entire machine and required turning the machine upside down and shaking it to fix (I think a piece of needle lodged in the mechanism)

And then, in one final curve-ball, as I went to install rivets and a jeans button, I realized I’m out of jeans buttons.

So final, modeled pics will have to wait until I can pick some of those up.

In the mean-time, I’m considering experimenting with some more distressing. I think it would look cool to highlight the ruching, and somehow it’s far less frightening on pants for my kid.



Filed under Sewing

25 responses to “The Pants that Wouldn’t Be

  1. These turned out too awesome for words! You must be the coolest mom ever….want to adopt a sister to sew for? πŸ˜›

  2. redbamsews

    Wow! I take off my hat to you. If sewing is like mountain climbing then you have definitely climbed Everest with this project. I give you a lot of credit. I would have chucked this project after the third ripping episode. I have never worked on a pair of pants that calls for a fly zipper. That in itself is daunting for me. I am not a novice seamstress. I rank myself pretty squarely, but, I know my limitations. I’ve reserved them to be future challenges in my golden years to keep the gray matter alive. But, getting back to you. Your honest in your encounter and your perservance is what makes you a talented and dedicated seamstress. You are inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Great job! You prove to all of us that we are only human in this process and subsequently are continuing at perfecting our craft. Thanks.

    • Aww, blush! Shucks. I guess it depends on what you enjoy, and what puts you off about sewing. I am the biggest chicken about slippery, light-weight fabrics—chiffon and satins drive me nuts! Fly fronts in nice, sturdy, stable denim, on the other hand? No biggie. πŸ˜‰

    • Sorry iPhone messing me around! Wanted to say how you are my denim muse – I can’t believe how you manipulate that tough awkward fabric of various weights and stretchiness and take no messing! Another fab pair of jeans, and I love the ruching- could a 40 something adopt it as a style I’m wondering?

      • Silly iPhones! As denim(ish) fabrics go, this one is pretty light. I certainly wouldn’t want to be gathering a real heavy canvas-weight denim.

        I have a strong anti-style-ageism sentiment, so I may not be the best person to ask, but I think that anyone who can rock piped pants with bows could totally handle some ankle-ruching, at any age. πŸ˜€

  3. I got the book allusion immediately, because that was a favorite book in my family and we all read it at least 3 times (along with Owls in the Family). Anyway, I can’t believe everything you went through to make these jeans–for someone else! Are you sure there was no ulterior motive–like maybe you were testing all these techniques so that you can make a perfect pair for yourself soon? Can’t wait to see them!

    • Well, I didn’t *plan* on screwing up that much. πŸ˜‰ And once you have all the little pieces cut out, well, you kind of have to soldier through, don’t you? Don’t you?

      I can’t say I would mind a pair like this myself, mind you… πŸ˜‰

  4. Amy

    I love the ruching… (I’d *totally* wear jeans with that detail). Well done for soldiering through! I think it’s the “million pieces” type patterns that screw me up the most and I always forget my planned modifications (and end up sewing wrong sides together). I think I finally made peace with and actually enjoy my relationship with seam ripper. Just gives me more excuses to watch movies while sewing.

  5. I can’t believe you sew jeans for your kid. I can’t even bring myself to sew jeans for me. And I love the ruching thing at the bottom!

    • Jeans for the kids are WAY easier than jeans for me—I don’t fuss nearly so much about the fit, and if the finish ends up wonky (say, crazy bar tacks) I don’t care. If it gets to a point where they don’t want homemade clothes, or are so fussy about mistakes that it’s annoying, I’ll stop, but for now, it’s easy enough that I’m happy to give it a try. πŸ™‚

  6. Kbenco

    Definitely the jeans Queen. What awesome jeans, lucky 6yo.

  7. Bri

    Oh my goodness, now thats perseverance! You crack me up with images of a sewing machine being picked up and shaken upside down…. Well for all the mix ups these jeans are looking pretty awesome and I like the ruching albeit I can certainly imagine how unfun gathered denim in a hem would be….
    My machine has also decided to stop doing buttonholes and at a most inconvenient time….

  8. I’ve shaken a sewing machine too, to get a broken needle out. My machine usually screws up when I’m doing decorative topstitching — why?? I don’t know! I think it’s the combination of thicker thread with finicky tension because even changing to a new, sharp needle doesn’t help. I LOVE the ruched legs look; I have a legging pattern that is designed that way and I’m considering using the idea on a long-sleeve t-shirt.

    The pants look great, the mistakes are really only noticeable to you.

    I read so much as a child, my mom had one of those “recommended books for kids” books, so she could find more stuff for me at the library. I definitely remember reading Farley Mowat, not sure which ones though. So he’s considered a classic author of children’s literature in the US, although probably less popular now due to being taken over by authors like J.K. Rowling.

    • I didn’t even know books like that existed… I didn’t really read until I was nine or ten, at which point I was pretty darn adept at finding my own books. Not always age appropriate, mind you, but my mom didn’t usually find that out until after…

  9. Wow wow wow these are soo cool! I wish you were my mom…. πŸ˜‰

  10. As Steph said, I wish you were my Mom too!! πŸ˜€ You are a trooper, continuing on despite ALL THE SETBACKS EVER.

  11. ElleC

    “Which, fortunately for her long-term survival” line just cracks me up. I am sure some/most of your readers have no idea how cold it can get where you live. Ah the joy of the prairies. I lived in the Yukon for almost 9 winters and in Saskatchewan for 2, I would take the Yukon over the prairies any day. That M*&%$ing wind chill. Wholly crap. Anyway. Still giggling. Thanks.

    • Haha! I was actually referring to the potential homicidal tendencies that ungrateful children who refuse to wear the clothes lovingly made for them can provoke, but I like your interpretation! That’s really interesting to hear about the Yukon (I’ve never been up north). Wind-chill is definitely a beotch. On the other hand I’ve heard people say they’d prefer a prairie winter to, say, a Scottish one, because “at least it’s a dry cold”. πŸ˜‰

      • ElleC

        Oops, you can tell my mind is on winter! When we moved to Saskatchewan everyone told us it was a dry cold and my response was this ain’t dry! We usually had humidity around 20% in the Yukon, THAT is a dry cold. I have heard Winnipeg has the worst of all weather, high humidity (from the lake) and the wind chill. As far as wet vs dry cold, in Vancouver you come in the house, take off your coat, turn up the heat, have a huge bowl of soup, have a bath, get under a down duvet etc and you are still cold. In Whitehorse you take off your coat and you are done, even at -45. Where I live now is somewhere between the two. I can live with it. 😎

  12. as the kids say, this made me LOL.

    but LADY. i order you to sew at least 10 things in a row for yourself!!!!

  13. I love that ruched leg look. Fab!

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