The littlest jeans… EVER.

teensy tiny jeans

I didn’t sew for my kids when they were little. I think I made one sundress-type-thingy for Tyo when she was two, and as sundress-thingies go, it was not impressive. So sewing in these extremely small sizes is a bit new to me.

But, a few weeks before Christmas, my Stylish Sister-in-Law happened to mention that she has a terrible time finding pants for her youngest daughter, who is one of those waifish children with the waist-size of a one-year-old and the leg-length of, well, at least a two year old. (Seriously, child is 3.5 years right now and hasn’t broken 30 lbs. Maybe not even 25. I’m pretty sure Tyo was that weight at a year.)


Now, unfortunately, this conversation didn’t take place enough before Christmas that I could actually put together a pair of very little (but relatively long) jeans as a present for the Waif. But now that I’m home and seeking fresh avenues for procrastination, it seemed like the perfect project.

Also, I got to try an experiment—how many sewing machines can you use on one pair of jeans?

The answer, at the moment, is three, plus the serger. If that weren’t the absolute maximum number of machines I can have set up at any one time, it might well have been more.I did the main construction on my Featherweight, and the topstitching and embroidery on the “new” Pfaff 360. The upside of using the Pfaff for the topstitching (and it has an excellent straight stitch, even with no straight-stitch plate) is that I can switch it to zig-zags for the bar-tacks without having to re-thread anything. The downside of this is that the tension settings for a straight stitch with topstitching thread (very high) vs. a zig-zag stitch with topstitchings thread (much lower) are very different, and I kept forgetting to switch back. So I had to re-stitch several areas, and wasted a lot of precious topstitching thread in the process. At least it’s easy to pick out when there’s huge loops on the back because the tension was too low. I used the White for a regular-thread zig-zag to attach the front yoke to the front pocket lining, since that was easier than re-threading the Pfaff (or I told myself it was…). If I’d gone with applique embelishment, I would probably have used the White for that, too. (Incidentally, while I still love my modern, basic Janome, it’s so very, very nice to have machines that can handle the tension required for topstitching through denim.)

Now, kids jeans are fun. Not so much because they’re little (although that doesn’t hurt), but because you can use the most whimsical, off-the-wall details. And jeans, let’s face it, are all about the details. The basic construction is both monotonous and intermittently fiddly—adding the details is where the fun comes in.

Embroidered hearts

After some experimentation, I settled on free-motion embroidery and flat “piping” for this particular pair.  I opted to use the remnant of fabric from my Cream Spice Capris of last summer, since neither of my children seem particularly intrigued by it and I won’t be the one who has to keep them clean.*

The pattern, as always, is Jalie 2908. I cannot explain to you how awesome it is that the Jalie patterns come in umpteen sizes. For the Waif, I traced off the size 2 (F, the smallest size), but used the size 3 (G) length. I then re-checked my measurements and realized that the hip measurement I had for her (49 cm) is well below the hip-size of the 2 (56 cm), even allowing for any growth she might have done in the four months or so since I measured her. (However, as I discovered sewing my first pair of jeans for Tyo, you do want to go a bit big for the kids sizes in this pattern, if only so they don’t outgrow them in five minutes. Although again, I’m curious if this is the same in the really little patterns or if they’re drafted with more ease. The picture of the girl on the pattern envelope certainly looks like her jeans have a lot more ease than the adult version.) So I took 1 cm lengthwise tucks out of the back and front pattern pieces (avoiding the pockets to make my life easier), which should reduce the width by 4 cm total, a reasonable amount.  I forgot to narrow the back pockets by the same amount, which did come bite me in the ass later, but we’ll get to that.

To change things up,

After some experimentation and a lot of trial stitching, I hit on my strategy for embellishment. For the piping, I made some bias roughly 3 cm wide and folded it in half. I tested adding a cord, but decided I liked a flat, soft insert better—a little more flexible for the small niece, although it is a bit trickier to get even and it comes out a little wide. I played around with applique, but wasn’t satisfied with the look with my particular thread and fabric colours. Maybe when I make a pair for Waif’s older sister, Fyon. Instead, I went with some freehand embroidery hearts. I outlined each heart once or twice, for a sketchy, crayon-drawing sort of look. Also, that’s about all I’m capable of for freehand embroidery. Not my forte (although I’m sure hooping the fabric and doing the embroidery first would probably improve things at least somewhat. As it was, I ironed wash-away stabilizer onto the back of the denim, used the same little foot and settings as my mending extravaganza, and went to town.

Now here’s the thing. I could have gone with a more precise design (perhaps not hearts) and created more-computer-quality-looking embroidery. Personally, I rather like the freehand/wobbly look (and there are plenty of jeans out there that have machined versions of this look). But it’s one of those things that could, in the right eyes, just make these cute little jeans look tacky and home-made. Not so much because they’re on jeans, but because they’re on homemade jeans. I’m choosing to reject this opinion; hopefully Stylish will, too.

Waistband inside with buttonhole elastic.

I made some other alterations that are kinda standard at this point for making 2908 kids’ jeans. I curved in the yoke a bit more (easy since I was already putting a tuck in it), although not as much as I often do as Waif’s bottom is considerably less curvaceous than, say, Tyo’s. (She seems  to take after her father in the that department, as Stylish, her mother, is the embodiment of what I think Tyo’s going to look like when she grows up. At least from the neck down.). I cut the waistband in long, narrow pieces rather than short, wide pieces with a back seam, and used my pocketing/piping fabric for the inner facing. This reduces bulk, but mostly I just like the flash of colour it adds to the inside. I bound the bottom of the band with more bias tape, as that’s every so much easier than trying to fold it under and have things come out nicely. And, I added buttonholes to insert adjustable buttonhole elastic, easily the best invention for kids’ pants in the last 20 years. (Tyo is going to have such a hard time finding pants that fit once she outgrows the ones that come with buttonhole elastic)

Excessively tiny change pocket. The blue smudges on the fly are my wash-away marker, and will wash out.

I remembered this time to add a change-pocket, although given the teensy-weensy size of the jeans it’s strictly decorative. I opted for piping only along the top of the rear pockets, and did a much better job of finishing the edges of it this time—you need to fold the ends over at a 45° angle so that once everything’s in place and stitched down there’s a smooth edge and no joogly bits sticking up. As per usual, I positioned my pockets after stitching the CB seam, so they’d be centred around the topstitching rather than around the rear seam itself.


Pocket colliding with side-seam. Oopsie.

Remember how I said I didn’t shrink the pockets when I narrowed the red of the pants?

This, combined with the general tininess of the jeans, means once the outseam was all stitched up, the 1-cm (or less) offset on the one side was enough to put the left pocket right against the side-seam, while there’s about 1 cm of space between pocket and side-seam on the right.



I am not going to try to fix this, even if I could. But note to self—when smallening a pattern, smallen** the pockets, too. Even when you’re lazy.

Final details. I decided to try a heavy-duty snap for the front closure, as several of the children of my acquaintance seem to prefer these (let’s face it, the traditional jeans fly with button for small and even medium-sized kids is not really a good idea). I always find snap-insertion a bit haphazard, and I’m a little worried it will pop open, but I suppose time will tell.

As I did on the Cream Spice Capris, I added piping to the edge of the belt-loops, just to look pretty.

And as that’s probably way more than ANYONE wants to read about a pair of jeans for a preschooler, I’ll sign off.

*Lest you accuse me of cruelty to my sister-in-law, I’ll point out that I am making it for my younger niece, so she won’t have to try to keep it unstained through two whole children. Also, she dresses them in white pants all the time, so really she’s asking for it. But then she’s a lot more together on the whole “homemaking” thing than I am…

**I can make up words if I want to.



Filed under Sewing

50 responses to “The littlest jeans… EVER.

  1. Oh, so tiny adorable! Hearts on kids’ jeans are totally appropriate.

  2. Beangirl

    if “embiggen” is a word, so is “smallen”. Actually, I like “smallen” better.

    you have to be over the age of 35 or like Simpson’s reruns to understand this comment. probably.

    Annnnyway, super cute tiny jeans. (I’m with Tyo… I wish they made jeans with buttonhole elastic for grown ups. Then I maybe wouldn’t have to get all crazy with the belts just to keep my pants up. Maybe.)

  3. Ahhh, so sweet!
    Now I want you to make a project that incorporates the use of EVERY machine you own ;)…..

  4. I love these and Waif (and her mum) will too. The hearts work really well, I think, and I didn’t notice the back pocketses as am noticing all the colour in the waistband, piping, hearts etc. Good job as always. Emily

    PS my fave new word is pocketses, though smallen is up there too! :o)

    • Yes, I picture Gollum saying it every time I read it… “What have they got in their pocketses, my precious?”

      Here’s to distracting everyone with detailing! 🙂

  5. Shams

    Those are adorable!

  6. Wow, I really love those jeans. The piping really makes it pop. I will have to try to remember to add these when I make jeans for my daughter. Now that I have seen it on your niece’s jeans, I remember my daughter had piped jeans when she was a baby (worn once, impractical present for a newborn).

    • I feel like I should start keeping notes on cute details in kids jeans—they have so many of them (much more than adult jeans) and can be so fun.

      Baby jeans, not so practical. Even these are pushing it, frankly, but as Auntie I get to be a bit whimsical. The denim’s fairly thin, so hopefully they’re still comfy.

  7. I’d be right there sewing tiny, thin jeans with you if the nerdlet would wear anything but dresses. At four she is 26 pounds and I normally take four inches or more off the waist of anything. My mother actually brought her to meet Darth Baby in the hospital in the newborn dress that I set out for the baby to come home in. Instead of a dress it was a top, and she had leggings on with it. I can actually fit my two oldest into newborn diapers (Darth Baby wears a size 2). I love the jeans and the hearts. I like to think I’m experienced as a sewer, but I have serious gaps and jeans are one of the things that I have never sewn.

    • I was hesitant about sewing jeans for my nieces for the same reason—I know they both prefer dresses. But in our climate, dresses in winter are iffy at best, and my SIL packs most of them away for the winter so they aren’t an option.

      Weird scrawny kids ;). We have the beefy, cabbage-patch kid kind in my family (and my older niece was the same way), so I’m not at all used to the long, thin variety.

      Jeans are a fair bit of work for the result, but for me they’re worth it—your mileage may vary. They’re certainly not any more difficult than, say, a coat, and with kids the fit is not such a worry.

  8. I can relate to Stylish’s Waif-child issues. My son is 5….I haven’t weighed him lately, but I’m pretty sure he’s just barely 35 lbs. Amazing considering he was 8 lbs the day he was born. 🙄 And like your niece, he’s also pretty tall. He needs size 7 length and size 3T waist. 😦 Unfortunately, I’m not motivated to sew up a bunch of jeans for him anymore. Especially not when he’s been growing like crazy. Needless to say, I LOVE that buttonhole elastic stuff. 😉

    Anyway, all that rambling to say that your sister is going to be ecstatic about those jeans–not only because they are incredibly cute!–but also because they’ll probably fit better than anything else she can find. Plan to make several more of these….. 😉

    • Like I said to quitereasonable, mine went the other way—6lbs at birth to round little porkers within a few months. Although I’m pretty sure Syo was only about 35 lbs in kindergarten… she didn’t hit 40 lbs until just before gr. 2. She’s short enough that she was always well-proportioned, though. 😉

      It’s definitely easier to motivate myself to sew for Tyo, knowing that when she outgrows it it can go on to Syo, and then Fyon, and then Waif…

  9. I have a friend with a similar problem, her daughter is 8.5 and weighs 42 pounds. I think I came out of the womb bigger than this kid. Thus far I have resisted all efforts to manipulate me to sew for her, but if I do I will have an excuse to buy Jalie 2908. Hmm, may have to think about that. If I do though, there will be no change pocket, she will have to live with the trauma.

    • Thus far I have resisted the urge to sew for any children who aren’t close family. Although I do feel guilty about not making *something* for the two babies that have been born to labmates of mine in the last year and a half.

      Jalie 2908 doesn’t come with a change pocket, so normally I don’t think to include one, but I was cogitating a little more intensely over this pair than I sometimes am. Really, it’s a lot less work to add than, say, the piping. 😉

  10. These are wonderful! I love all the details you put into this smallest pair of jeans… the piping, embroidery, and the tiniest change pocket EVER! You are surely the one and only jeans goddess of the online sewing world. 🙂

    • Hmm, Tanit-Isis, Goddess of jeans and surplus sewing machines. An obscure deity of the “Blogging Sewist” Pantheon. 😉

    • I second that! You really do have a way with jeans. And with kiddie clothing. Setting in one toddler size sleeve was enough to make me say never again! lol

      • You know, I don’t think I’ve actually done that yet. 😉 The odd teeny T-shirt, but you can set those sleeves in flat, not any harder than a grown-up shirt. The smallest sleeves I’ve set in would be the shirt I made Tyo last summer, and Lekala patterns don’t have much sleeve-cap ease so it wasn’t too hard at all…

  11. LinB

    Good Lord. My daughter hit 30 pounds by 6 months! Danger of smallening pockets is that they may end up too small to get a hand or finger into. These jeans look cute enough to frame and hang on the wall.

    • Well, they could’ve been smallened a cm like the rest of the jeans… I don’t think three-year-olds keep that much in their jeans pockets anyway (or at least, I suspect their mother would prefer if she didn’t have to dig stuff out every wash.)

      Thanks! 🙂

  12. That piping and those embroidered hearts are too adorable! Maybe she could keep magic beans in the tiny change pocket?

    I love made up words! I really thought bunnyhug was one…

  13. You are so nice to make jeans for a kid that isn’t even yours! I am hesitant to make jeans for my own kids because I know they will grow out of them. When I put the time into making them for myself I know I will wear them for a long time!

    • This is true! (And why it’s a Christmas present!)

      We’ve got (at least theoretically) a pretty good hand-me-down chain going from Tyo to Syo to Fyon (Waif’s older sister, who’s turning five) to Waif.

      That being said, with the crappy, thin stretch-denim I have available locally, the jeans don’t seem to last much more than a year of hard wear. So the hand-me-down chain may be truncated…

  14. Waif and Lila have the same fit issues… That scrawny little monkey is a size 1 or 2 in the waist, and a 4 in length. (The kids in my family are like that) Lucky for me she likes dresses and they work in our climate…

    The little girl was lying next to me on the bed while I was reading your post. She gave these jeans a great big thumbs up, especially the hearts. She asked me to put hearts like that on her next pockets. So there we are, Madam herself wants a pair like this. 🙂 They look great.

    • Good to hear they get approval from the age-set! 😉 I was a little worried about the flare… neither of my kids will wear flares anymore, so I’m not quite sure what the preschool set is wearing these days.

  15. Lucy

    You know, every time you make a pair of jeans it makes me want to make some too! Yes, even the pre-schoolers’ ones. I will do it someday.

    In the meantime, all these weight measurements in pounds are making my head spin – although that could be more an indication of my unfamiliarity with little people’s weights rather than a misunderstanding of pounds, shillings and ounces per se.

    • Do it! Especially if you have length issues… (kids’ pants are actually a great way to practice the techniques without fit being much of an issue. Although I don’t know if you have children in your life worth sewing for. 😉 )

      hmm, are you a kg person or a “stone” person? As a would-be scientist and a Canadian I intellectually prefer metric measurements, but in daily life use a completely random melange of metric and imperial systems. I’ve been trying to metrificate my sewing, but my brain still firmly does body weights in lbs. At least I can finally do indoor temperatures in C… we had a F thermostat in the house where I grew up, so I did indoor temperatures in F and outdoor in C for the longest time…

      • Funny how that mix of metric and imperial happens, eh? I use pounds for me, kilos for the price of food (although usually pounds when thinking of the size of a turkey), meters for fabric but inches for my body measurements, and celcius (unless it’s rediculously hot, then 100+ F sounds better).

      • Lucy

        kg or stone for body weights, either, although if it’s a weight I’m unfamiliar with (ie. not mine) then stone are probably easier. Celsius for temperature, miles on the road, metres* for fabric, inches for body measurements, centimetres for day-to-day measurements. Grams or ounces for cooking depending on the recipe, although I avoid American recipes which use cups. Litres for petrol…

        *Yes, spelt “metres” :p

  16. How adorable! I think the flat piping is one of the coolest features I’ve seen in a pair of jeans. I’d be interested in trying something like this in an adult size. And the embroidered hearts are perfect.

  17. Fantastic jeans. I was a dress-girl (even if that meant shoving it in snow pants for the walk to school) but the pockets and piping would have made those my go-to pants when dresses weren’t an option.

    • Yeah, Syo did that a lot (still does in some ways as she insists on wearing tank-tops most of the winter. I let it go as long as she has a sweater to wear over.)

      My sister-in-law is so far circumventing it by forcibly removing all but the fancy christmas dresses for the duration of the winter ;).

  18. Those are adorable! I haven’t considered making jeans for kids (ok, I considered it for Oldest but just as quickly rejected it because he’s going through the puberty growth spurt). I’m only now ready to attempt them again for myself…*deep breath*

    Personally, I would have been delighted to get a homemade pair of jeans that fit my kids. The details make it look more ready-to-wear and in my experience, kids like that kind of thing.

  19. Those are totally cute, especially the freehand hearts! I’m sure more nieces wish for aunts like you, custom-making them cute clothes. 🙂

  20. OMG these are so freaking cute! I LOVE the flat piping and that’s totally a detail that I would have loved as a child too. And the cute little hearts! Well done, you.

  21. wow those are SOOOO CUTE!!!!!! i ❤ them!!!

  22. Anna Dorthea

    Cutest jeans ever!!! OMG! ❤ … and for the making-up-words-part, it's normal, as in everyday-normal, in my family. Both me, my mom, my fiance and his kids do it. I guess it's a bit contagious. If one starts, the rest of the household follows 😉

  23. Love these little jeans–makes me want to pipe MY pants too!

  24. Mary

    I think it might have ‘notes from a mad housewife’ who had a picture up of some jeans she’d made for her son. She had made the best rear pocket ever, TRUCKS!!!
    And these ideas are what keep me looking at blogs.

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