Tag Archives: Ginger Jeans

Cold mess jeans

I’d call these jeans a hot mess, but they took way too long for that.

Sometime last year, amidst a tentative return to sewing when the twins started napping a little more reliably, I started work on a second pair of Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans. I need jeans pretty badly; while I did get back into my last few pairs after having the twins, they were on their last legs already. I’ve been a bit, ah, ambivalent about jeans for a few years now, mainly because the body I have to put in them has changed over the last ten years, as has the prevailing fashion, and I’m not sure how I feel about either fact.

But anyway, another pair of Ginger Jeans felt fairly safe stylistically. My last pair (which just need a new button, except the twins have managed to lose all of my jeans buttons somehow?) weren’t perfect but I was pretty comfortable with a few tweaks they’d be… as good as they could be. My pocket placement is a lot better this time, although they’re still too far out from the CB seam, at least they aren’t too low.

The fabric I picked is a Robert Kaufman extra-stretchy denim from Periwinkle Quilting, which is VERY, very stretchy. The fabric I used last time was also very stretchy, so it seemed like a good choice especially given my measurements have changed and there was no way in hell I was reprinting my pattern.

Anyway, I got them cut out, and then promptly ran into issues with the topstitching. This denim is so stretchy that not only was I worried about topstitching breaking (not so much the topstitching thread itself but the regular thread on the underside), but in my last version one of the issues was the yoke seam and pocket tops making dents in my backside because they didn’t stretch as much as the rest. Not the prettiest look. So after a bunch of testing on several machines, I settled on a triple straight stitch on my Elna machine. This gives a great heavy look, and it’s very stretchy, as long as everything works perfectly—but it’s also easy to mess up. Oh, and at this point I’d already done the front pocket and fly assembly (which are all stabilized by the pocket bags etc.) with a regular straight stitch topstitching. So now the back topstitching wouldn’t match the front, but I figured that was better than tight lines and broken stitches.

Anyway, I started plugging away at construction last summer, arguably the heyday of my post-twin sewing (I wasn’t back at work yet and I was getting to do at least a few minutes of sewing almost every day at nap time)… and then halfway through topstitching the inseam I ran out of topstitching thread. (Because the triple straight stitch is a huge thread hog)

In the old days this would’ve been a negligible issue. In a covid-lockdown world where I no longer work at a fabric store and have twin babies I don’t like to take shopping, it took weeks to get to a store and pick up some more, only to misremember the colour number and get the OTHER shade of gold topstitching thread. And then months to get back again to correct that. It was October by the time I had the right thread (which still isn’t perfectly right because of dye lots, but it’ll do), and I was back at work and very short on time. I did manage to sew up the side-seams and get them fitted sometime around Christmas, but there were other projects that took priority and then the whole jeans vanished, somewhere in the drifts of chaos as the twins disassembled ever increasing portions of our basement.

Anyway, when the Sewcialists’ final theme month was announced as All Butts Welcome, it seemed like the perfect prod to get me to finish the jeans. And they did turn up, after a few weeks of incremental tidying (in an area I swear I’d searched several times before). So I plunged back in. Except.

After the long hiatus, a lot of the details were fuzzy to me. I forgot that I was topstitching on the Elna. I grabbed the wrong colour topstitching thread. Triple straight stitch is almost impossible to pick out, people, especially when sewn on my Janome, which for some reason will only stitch that particular stitch at the default 2.2mm length—which is why I was using the Elna, not that I remembered that until after I had topstitched the waistband. Can I call it a design feature?

An extra line of not-very-straight topstitching is a legit design detail, right?

Then I realized that I had forgotten I ran out of topstitching thread partway through topstitching the inseam. So one inseam had only one line of topstitching, while the other side had two. I wasn’t prepared to roll with this, so I got the Elna set up. The stitch was perfect on my test, but for whatever reason, as I painstakingly stitched up the inside of the already-sewn leg tube, the backward-forward motion of the triple stitch was off, and because you can’t see much of what you’re stitching, I couldn’t see how bad it was until I got it done. It’s pretty bad. But it’s just half an inseam, right? It went on to topstitch the hems perfectly. The back and forward of this stitch can be affected by you pulling on the fabric, which is hard not to do when stitching up the inside of a tube, but I swear I was very conscious and careful of this. Anyway. I’m not currently willing to try it again.

Can you spot the wonky line of topstitching? I mean, of course you can but it’s less obvious in this photo than I thought it would be, actually.

As a final insult, I ran out of the gold regular thread I use for bar-tacks halfway through doing the belt loops. (Doing bar tacks in topstitching thread on home sewing machines is asking for it, I have learned painfully over the years.) Fortunately a scrounge through the thread drawer turned up some old thread from my Grandma’s stash in the right colour. Mostly I try not to use the old thread for construction as I don’t trust it’s strength, but for bar tacks on belt loops that won’t likely be used, it should be ok.

No, wait, maybe the final insult was discovering that the twins have managed to lose all my little jars of jeans buttons (I have quite a few, but they’ve been systematically emptying the drawers of my sewing desk for months and I have no idea where I put most of the contents. I miss my storage space.) Or maybe it was the half-ass attempt at a keyhole button hole that my Janome managed to put out, but I have low expectations for jeans buttonholes so I wasn’t too traumatized at that point. Although looking at the pictures, I realized I made the buttonhole too far from the end of the waistband, which allows the end to flip up and stick out a bit. I’m thinking a hook and eye or two might be called for, since I’m not moving button or button hole at this point.

At any rate, it was a pretty sweet triumph to finally put them on, and then be able to take some quick pictures right away.

I’m still not really sold on high-rise jeans on my body—I don’t have a teeny waist and I feel like they just make me look rectangular. My squishier mid-section has made my old low-rise stand-by less appealing, and mid-rise falls right in the middle of my “squishiness”, which is either uncomfortable and just squishes extra width up to my waist, or if it’s loose enough not to squish, just rolls down to the hip dip at my low-rise level. On the other hand, I’m not the sort to tuck a shirt into jeans, and I’m not likely to wear a crop-top like this out of the house. So maybe it really doesn’t matter anyway. Anyway, I’ve worn them and I will continue wearing them, and they feel pretty good on although a little too stretchy. But I may give in and buy my next pair of jeans, because I really don’t have the brain power for this kind of project right now.

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Gingerly, jeans

I massively enjoyed following the #nofearjeansmonth and #nofearnewjeans hashtags that Closet Case Patterns coined for February. I like to think of myself as one of the “first generation of internet jeans sexists”, having made my first pair as part of a Pattern Review hosted sewalong in the spring of 2010. Jeans were a staple of my wardrobe at the time, and being able to make my own revolutionized my mindset. Also, they were fun to sew. I even wrote posts full of helpful tips.

But in the last eight years, something changed. Partly, as I transitioned from grad school to the workforce, I got to indulge my love for stunt dressing more. This has always been a recurrent theme in my life, but it went particularly well with working at a fabric store, and even my eventual “grown up job” was a good venue for overdressing. I just wasn’t wearing jeans, except in my downtime, and there isn’t much downtime when you’re working two jobs.

But something else was going on in the background, too. Those jeans I had loved just weren’t working for me any more. Partly I gained a little weight, but even the ones that fit weren’t making me feel sexy any more. As I crept further and further past the thirty mark, as my skin elasticity changed… what I wanted in my jeans was changing.

Some of it is undoubtedly the cultural zeitgeist. Low-rise jeans, always controversial, had had their day. But I’ve never been a slavish follower of fashion and I’m not quick to change when something works for me. But my low-rise jeans were no longer working.

Enter the high-rise Ginger jeans. I’m not convinced these are working for me, either, but I’m branching out, testing. Seeking.

Compared to the changes I made to my Jalie 2908 pattern to get it to the style I wanted, the Ginger Jeans are a much better starting point. Actually the other view (low rise, straight leg) is why I originally bought the pattern when it first came out—it nailed exactly what I had modded my Jalie 2908 into. Of course, it was much easier just carrying on with my modded version than tackling a new pattern, so I didn’t. Until I was finally ready to try something different.

For this high-rise, skinny version, I made minimal changes. I added a wee bit of height to the back (possibly unnecessary), and angled the rear seam a bit more. I also had to take in the side seams, a LOT, but this is a very, very stretchy denim.

I did my pocket placement more or less as the pattern directed (I think) and I’m not super happy with it. They should be slightly higher and much closer together. (The closer-together part has a lot to do with the extra-stretchy denim, though)

This denim was a mystery fabric, so while I like the weight and stretchiness, I don’t trust it. But I think it cost me $4.00/m, which made it perfect for a wearable muslin.

To make sure the waistband didn’t gape, I actually eased the back yoke onto a smaller portion of the waistband. This worked pretty well. I also interfaced only the front half of the waistband—I’ve gone back and forth on this over the years, as it’s kind of a trade off between comfort and stability. I’m pretty happy with the half-and-half, at least at this early stage.

I topstitched on my new-to-me Elna, but I chose to use two extra-strong threads in the needle, and it was kind of a nightmare. Lots of snarling and refusing to penetrate, not to mention skipping stitched at corners and things like that. Eventually I gave up and dropped to one thread, and just topstitched twice all around the waistband and hems. The effect is better than I would’ve gotten with the two threads. So, next time, we won’t do that. I’ve also been experimenting with using Coats’ newish Eloflex thread in the bobbin—it’s stretchy, so hopefully less likely to snap in high-stretch areas than regular thread in the bobbin. I’m hoping, anyway. We shall see.

The Ginger pattern suggest you add a bit of interfacing at the top of the pockets to keep them firm. I gave it a try, but at least in this super-stretchy denim I’m not a fan—the less stretchy pocket rim makes a dent across your butt. (Though having worn them a few times since the photos were taken, I think they’ve stretched out a bit.)

So does the yoke seam. This is partly because the denim is so stretchy, while the seam is stable, and I think the position of the yoke line (the yoke is pretty tall on this pattern) emphasizes it. According to @wzrdreams on Instagram, who is a pattern smarty-pants, cutting the yoke on the cross-grain can help with this and I am totally going to try that next time. Though this particular denim has lengthwise stretch too, so it might not have helped so much. Anyway, wearable muslin.

The only real fit change I would make next time is scooping out the front crotch curve a bit—it’s a tiny bit camel-toey on me.

They’ve relaxed a bit after a day of wearing and I think that’s helped the fit, which is good. And they’re already letting me experiment with some wardrobe pieces I haven’t been getting much use of lately—mainly shorter tops—so that’s exciting. And the weird charcoal colour goes with some other things in the wardrobe which gives me some new colour combos to play with. So, I think good? I think?

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