Tag Archives: Jalie 2908

Jeans for the Cool Kid

The Happy Teenager

The Happy Teenager

Tyo’s been making out like a bandit this year. I mean, really—Syo got some yoga pants she doesn’t like and a quick stretch-knit birthday suit, and Tyo has racked in a pikachu onesie, an Avengers grad dress, and now this. I realize in terms of project numbers they’re similar (and both low… but my sewing time is at an insane premium these days, peeps), but if you look at hours committed… Tyo is way ahead. Obviously I have some parental imbalance to redress. (In my defense, Syo has benefited from at least a couple of other things that never made it on the blog, but still nothing that required more than a couple of hours to knock out on the serger.)

But anyway, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and Tyo was so very, very squeaky about this project. She was starting high school (which, in our neck of the woods, starts in Gr. 9, or roundabouts age 14), and very nervous, and determined that she had to make the most badass first impression ever. Her father was committed to drive her to school for the first day on the motorcycle. She campaigned for (although she didn’t get) freshly-blue hair.  (I like the blue hair just fine—it’s the pain in the ass of getting it applied, followed by the days of blue-getting-everywhere (blue towels. Blue bedsheets. Blue bathroom. Blue clothing.) that drive me nuts.)

But she did get a pair of jeans.

I haven’t made Tyo a pair of jeans in, um, a long time. There were these shorts, over two years ago. The last pair of Jalie jeans was 2011. This was around the time Tyo became a reluctant (but eventually fervent) convert to the Cult of the Skinny Jeans, at which point the lifespan of a pair of jeans on a growing child became numbered in months, rather than seasons or years. Handmade disposable pants? Even with a little sister and littler cousins for hand-me-downs, this was Not Happening—I declared a jeans-for-kids moratorium. Actually, I declared a moratorium on any jeans that cost more than $10… thrift store scores only, it was.

But, lately, that pesky growing thing that children do has slowed down for Tyo, and this was a big occasion, and she had a very specific idea she was very excited about. And, well, she’s been stealing all my shorts for months. So I had her go try on my most recent pair of jeans for myself. And, while she’d probably rather be shot than seen on the internet in floral jeans, the fit was pretty much spot on except for length.

It’s a very weird feeling any time someone else puts on your carefully crafted, custom-fitted handmade clothes and they FIT—it’s even weirder, IMO, when it’s your daughter. At least I’m still taller than her, unless she gets a grade-9 growth spurt, anyway.

So the good news was, I didn’t need to trace another copy of my pattern—just take a few inches out of the length. And Tyo wanted her vision completed badly enough she was even willing to help cut the fabric.

The cutter.

The cutter. (In my floral jeans, although you can’t actually assess the fit in this picture)

Which is not a thing that happens, ever. So yeah.

As for the Vision behind the Pants? Well, we don’t have Hot Topic in Canada (at least, not in my backwater corner of things), but Tyo has a dear friend whose parents are, um, a little more well-heeled than we (mind you that does describe a fairly large chunk of the Canadian population) and tend to take their children on cross-border shopping trips of fairly epic proportions (Fellow Canadians should note we are not part of the 80% of Canada’s population that lives within a two-hour drive of the US border. Such trips require hours of driving and hotel stays). And said dear friend had a pair of Hot Topic jeans that were one colour on one side, and another colour on the other side. So we scoured the stash for the best black denim, and then went through all the purples (how on earth did I end up with four different lenghs of purple denim? I may have a Problem.) to find one which best matched, which turned out to be this totally-intense primary (OK, secondary) purple. That I couldn’t photograph in true colour to save my life, but anyway. It’s a very bright, clear purple.

One good thing about cutting jeans this way—you pretty much have to cut in a single layer, which is a good idea anyway if you want jeans that hang straight, but I am lazy and always talk myself into cutting folded. Sometimes I get away with it, sometimes I get really annoying twisty seams.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say about the actual construction, except that I did modify things for a stitched-on fly extension, which I think I prefer to the cut-on one all my other jeans have had to date (storebought jeans always have one that is stitched on—I think the seam gives needed reinforcement to the fly edge, especially in stretchy jeans). It’s obviously not a make-or-break detail, and I’m still not terribly comfortable with how you do a fly this way, since it’s a bit different and I did end up having to do some unpicking… but it’s a thing to work on, anyway.

Back Pockets

Back Pockets

Tyo specified that the main construction should keep colour to its appropriate side—probably a good thing. Left to myself I would probably have colourblocked everything, and it would have ended up looking really busy. As it is, I couldn’t resist swapping the back pockets and the belt-loops, and I’m not sure if it adds to the overall look or takes away. Minimalism might have been a better idea. Oh, well. I do like the doubled belt-loops at the sides as well as the back.

Two buttons

Two buttons

I finally remembered, after regretting it my last couple of projects, that my currently-favourite-waistband pattern piece is a bit wide, and the jeans buttons I can get a hold of here are a bit small, so a single button results in a rather insecure attachment that lets the waistband roll over in weird ways. Two buttons, however, is perfect. (I also made Tyo try them on while I marked the button location, so I don’t THINK I need to move them over, which I still have to do with my flower jeans, because the position that looks like it’s lined up  nicely when the jeans are laying flat is actually too “loose” when the jeans are on a body and the waistband is under tension—leading to chronically-low-flying flies.

One final detail, which you probably noticed in the earlier pictures, was inspired by some jeans a character in one of our favourite family TV shows, Lost Girl, wears. I can’t find any good shots, but I screen-capped this one:

 

Kenzi's laced-up jeans

Kenzi’s laced-up jeans

 

The Kenzi character wears at least a couple pairs in this style, with the sneaky inner-thigh lacing, which I knew Tyo loves as much as I do. And, Fabricland recently started carrying some fairly sturdy grommet-tape (where was this stuff two years ago when I was looking for it for the steampunk Hallowe’en costumes?!?)

Lacing!

Lacing!

So I added some. It was ridiculously simple to do, although its obviously a bit of a different look than the inspiration. Still, a fun, unique detail, and definitely one no one else has.

We took a bout a bazillion photos of Tyo in the jeans, but it was the end of the day and we were rushed so there was a lot of blur and not a lot that did the jeans justice.

I’ll still subject you to them anyway.

Back view, with pockets and blur.

Back view, with pockets and blur.

I should note one more thing: these are not true “skinnies.” They were made according to my personal favourite leg-style, which I would call a stovepipe—tapered and form-fitting to the knee, absolutely straight below it, which creates jeans that are snug through the calf but not actually skinny in the ankle. I asked Tyo if she wanted them skinnified, but she said she likes this shape, and it doesn’t seem to have decreased the cool factor (although it has its drawbacks when we get to stuffing-pants-into-winter-boots weather).

Great pose, plenty of blur.

Great pose, plenty of blur.

'Tude.

‘Tude.

I did try them on, but lucky for Tyo, they’re just a little bit too short. 😛

Obviously this first-day-of-school project is a bit out of date at this point >_<—I’m currently working on a Hallowe’en costume for the Stylish sister-in-law, and hating it mostly because it’s not for MEEEEEE, and dying to work more on ridiculous historical clothing projects that I have no actual need for. Not that I have a need for much clothing, at the moment, other than perhaps warm fuzzy things to get me through the impending winter. Hopefully I’ll manage to blog some of that in a more reasonable time-span… hah.

In the meantime, I’ll just be happy that my kid still thinks the things I make are “cool”.

At least sometimes. 😉

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Attack of the blue roses

Blue. Rose. Pique.

There are few prints that make me as weak in the knees as blue florals. I talk myself out of buying them all the time. (I should perhaps note that most of the ones I haven’t talked myself out of buying, I also haven’t sewn up yet. I think this is the first blue floral that has made it onto the blog.) I’ve also been loving the wild print jeans that have been on trend. Actually, maybe that trend is past now? Oh, well.

So, since I actually had an entire weekend free last week (enough time to tackle a serious project), well, I finally succumbed to this blue rose stretch pique that has been taunting me at my local Fabricland for a couple of months now.

I’ve never used (heard of) pique before, but the waffly texture is neat and the weight and stretch seemed about right for jeans, although the stretch was on the low side of what I like. Being rather paranoid of white jeans (I have to be very careful underwear wise with this pair, for example), I wanted to line, or rather underline, them. Fortunately for me, there was also stretch cotton poplin available at Fabricland (not always the case)—so away I went.

So, it’s been a while since I sewed jeans. And there’s been a reason for that. Namely, that the Jalie 2908 pattern I traced off years ago now, and have used for every single pair of jeans I have made for me ever (OK, except one.), was getting pretty tattered. It had also always had some issues—notches that didn’t line up, alteration after alteration, some of them to fix previous alteration mistakes (all of which were my fault, I hasten to add, not Jalie’s). And, in a coup de grace, I had cut it intentionally small, for fabrics with c. 25% stretch. This fabric was in the 10% stretch range, tops—so I figured it was high time to trace off a new version that would work for low-stretch fabrics. And this time, I wanted it to be durable.

Freshly-traced pattern

So, I shelled out four whole bucks for a couple of metres of “Trace-A-Pattern,” which is basically a wide, non-fusible non-woven medium-ish weight interfacing. I did have to re-create my personal alterations, which I did rather differently this time, although the goal was the same; the first time I did a lot of switching between sizes at different lines; this time, I traced “my” size and just altered that. I made six changes:

  1. lower front rise only, c. 1″ (this “simple” change actually involved changing five pattern-pieces, making it the most annoying one to actually do.)
  2. raise rear rise, c. 1 cm
  3. shave off 5mm at front crotch
  4. curve in yoke by c. 3 cm.
  5. add 5″ of length, distributed both above and below the knee
  6. instead of the flares, make the legs go straight below the knee.

I also use a curved waistband, self-drafted with no particular method, but I didn’t actually redo that piece.

Underlining

I cut pretty much everything (except the waistband… we’ll get back to that) out of both the pique and the poplin, slapped the two together and treated them as one. Which made for a nice, beefy fabric, and the poplin is a lot smoother against the skin than the pique would have been. So I call that a win. (Oh, I was also completely Instagram-happy while sewing these so the construction process is remarkably well-documented. Well, sorta.)

Rear view

Rear view

So, pockets. In my previous pattern, I used a really tiny, child-sized pocket, in the theory that small pockets make your butt look bigger. (Yes, this is a goal in my world.) But, I thought a bit bigger wouldn’t hurt. I still cut a couple of sizes smaller than my “official” size. I didn’t try to print-match their position on the butt, but I did cut them out singly, trying to get one nice, big flower sorta-semi-centred on the pocket. Since I was lining everything, I figured I’d take the opportunity to to try making my pockets lined patches, so I didn’t have to fuss with folding the edges under evenly or making a template.

Lined patch pockets

Lined patch pockets

Seems very simple in theory, right? Stitch wrong sides together, leave a little gap, turn. Except, I knew I didn’t want the lining to show on the outside. So, trim the lining a little smaller, plus a good bit shorter so the 1.5 cm seam allowance at the top of of the pocket will be folded over. And, then you go to sew it and you have to ease the pique to the lining and oh, crap, those didn’t line up and what was my seam allowance again? And, let’s just say it was a nerve-wracking ten minutes until I got them turned right-side-in and realized they were, pretty well, still symmetrical and the same size. Whew. So in the end I’m actually really happy with how they turned out.

Turned pockets

Turned pockets

pockets

Back detail

Back detail

I had a lot of fun topstitching these on my Pfaff. I usually use my Featherweight, but it’s been living at my sister-in-law’s since last fall sometime, which is tragic but really useful on the rare occasions we do manage to get together to sew over there. (I don’t invite people to come sew at my house, the setup is kinda ridiculous. There’s machines in the computer room, one in the living room, cutting must be done on the kitchen floor, and the ironing board generally lives in the basement, although I did bring it up to the kitchen for this project, once I had the cutting-out done.) Anyway—I use a minimum of three machines when I’m making jeans, one for construction, one for topstitching, and the serger for finishing.

Topstitching

Topstitching the waistband

Normally I follow Peter’s advice and use a straight-stitch foot for topstitching. But, the Pfaff has this really cool edge-stitching blade that just slips in onto the presser foot, and its regular zig-zag presser foot has a really great shape:

Pfaff presser foot

It all comes down to the shape of the toes: the inner sides go straight front and back, which means you can follow a line of stitching right up them, as I’m doing in the photo above. My biggest problem in topstitching is usually “falling off” the edge of the seam, usually due to small variations in how tightly I’m holding the fabric. Using the stitch-in-the-ditch attachment, with the needle set off-centre, made it really easy to stay “on track” during that first edge-stitching pass. Of course, the fabric was lovely to handle, too, but then most denims are.

Front detail

I went for quite a wide spread between the lines, rather than my usual 1/4.” I really like it, although I did occasionally “fall off” the seam allowance, since this pattern only has 1 cm seam allowances. I did three lines of topstitching on the top of the pockets (because it looked cool) and on the belt-loops; I’d like to say I did it on the belt loops to echo the design detail on the pockets, but actually my edge-stitching wasn’t catching the edge of the folded-under fabric, leaving me with floppy serged edges on the underside of the belt loops. I really like the three lines, though. I may do that always.

Fit?

Fit?

Fitting is the eternal question, especially since in jeans you can’t try on until you’re pretty far along in the process, and I was re-vamping my pattern. And with stretch jeans so much comes down to the individual fabric and construction. I was pretty worried about whether this pique would have enough stretch. On the other hand, on the waistband of the last jeans I made, I intentionally made the waistband non-stretchy, but I didn’t stretch the pants beneath when putting the waistband on, so the waistband is kinda uncomfortably tight. (though it stays up without a belt, which is nice.) This time, I think I went too far the other way—I didn’t do any stabilizing to the waistband, though I did cut it with a back seam, so that the front portion would be on the cross-grain. This = maximum stretch. As a result the jeans are very comfy, but will need a belt to stay up. Which means I’ll have to find a belt that works with them—all of mine are pretty scruffy-looking. I may end up moving the button over some more, too—as it is the stretchiness allows the the fly to gape a bit.

There’s no gaping at the back, but I feel like I could still add a bit more height; it still seems like there’s just a little bit of a dip at the middle back.

Mini-flares

Mini-flares

As I said, I traced my pattern with legs straight below the knee, but what I actually wanted (which I tweaked in the cut fabric) was a bit of a skinny taper with a mini-flare at the bottom. Also slouchy ankle wrinkles. I always envy other people’s slouchy ankle wrinkles, but when I’m making skinnies for myself I keep cutting them off to the “proper” height, = no slouchy ankle wrinkles.) It took some serious self-control not to do that here, too, especially as when I first tried them on the legs were too wide and the mini-flare didn’t really show at all. Once I got it taken in along the outseam, from just above knee to the ankle, though, life got much better. And I *think* I quite enjoy the slouchy-ankle-slipping-over-my-shoes look, although I’ll get back to you after they’ve been worn out and about more.

Happy.

Happy.

All in all, I’m going to call these a success, although they were bloody hard to photograph for everything but the fine details. The trick is going to be wearing them—I think I like them with a white top, but I don’t have that many options. I’m not loving it with the navy stripes in the photo above, although the colours are ok.

Styling?

Styling?

Still, they were a fun experiment.

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This is going to be way too much fun.

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June 7, 2014 · 11:00 pm

Jeans at last.

Jeans!

Jeans!

I’ve needed new jeans for a while. Like, a really long while. The last pair was these skinnies, a year and a half ago. Which, I’ll add, wound up twisting annoyingly in the one leg, so I don’t wear them much. I think I definitely need to embrace the single-layer cutting for jeans. /sigh.

Jeans

Jeans

There’s not much to say about these. It’s the same pattern as ever, the same techniques, even the same frickin’ pockets. I’ll repeat the detail shots from the last post just for the sake of completeness. I did spend some time tweaking my contour waistband pattern, which began life as the waistband from the Burdastyle Ellen pants (which are no longer free, WTF?) but has since gone through several iterations. This version is wide, curved in the back and straight(er) in the front, and doesn’t gape over my butt even a little bit. More importantly, it didn’t gape over Stylish’s butt, which I am really frickin’ proud of, but I guess that’s another post (assuming I can pin her down for blog photos. These non-bloggers, /sigh.)

 

Front details

Front details

I used this polkadot (?)chambray for the pocket lining and inside waistband. It’s nice, but a bit lighter than I’d like for this purpose, I think, even interfaced. The waistband is fairly wide, and it ended up being a bit floppy, even with my adding a CB seam so the front could be on the grain. Also, I should’ve added two buttons for the width, not just the one. Hopefully we’ll get around to the rivets sooner rather than later.

Back details

Back details

I did not put a whole lot of work or thought into the pocket design. Just something simple I could copy fairly easily. I was busy overseeing Stylish’s pair.

Back view

Back view

Oh, yeah, and I’ve recently discovered the one up-side of having a child large enough to steal your clothes. You can steal hers back.

Side view

Side view

And, while I normally wouldn’t show this much tummy these days (never mind on the internet), Osiris’s reaction to this ensemble was, shall we say, sufficiently positive that I’m gonna put it out there anyway.

Ma butt

Ma butt

 

Hmph. Done.

Hmph. Done.

Of course, just as I finished these, summer’s last gasp really set in and we’ve had nothing but hot, sunny days completely unsuited to jeans. Ah, well. Winter’s just around the corner and I’ll have plenty of chance to wear them soon enough…

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Pantsclub

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Our little sweatshop

I worked it out the other day and realized it’s been like a year and a half since I made myself a pair of jeans. Say what? I know! Crazy! And, the best of the remaining pairs (or at least, the newest) recently developed a run, or whatever you’d like to call it, in the butt just beside the CB seam—you know, when denim wears so the threads one way are gone but the threads the other way are still there. Anyway, I darned it up on my Grandma’s Rocketeer, which is about all I can really do on it since neither cams, accessories, nor bobbins have appeared.* but the fact remains that it’s well past time for a new pair or two.

So I cornered my Stylish sister-in-law and we picked a date for a sewing day—after months of not being able to—and when I asked her if there was anything she wanted to make For Her (as opposed to the kids or husband), her first thought was capri-length jeans. Perfect!

Not really a beginner project, you say? Pah, I say! We shall charge ahead! Especially since I just scored some lovely denim at 70% off… What could go wrong?

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The topstitcher

Don’t answer that.

Anyway, we set up our little sweatshop in Stylish’s basement. I brought over the elderly serger (which has decided it won’t cut at the moment. Yes, I’m sure the blades are dull as all get up, but the damn thing was slicing everything just fine right up until two weeks ago. WTF?) and my featherweight, for the topstitching. The three-machine, two-sewists setup worked quite well, as I could usually manage to be working on a different machine.

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Yoke alterations

So, over the weekend we spent all our spare time tracing, cutting, and sewing a couple of pairs of jeans. The pattern, of course, is Jalie 2908. I really need to re-trace and revamp my version of the pattern, and come up with a less stretch-intensive version, but for this one I resorted to just chalking in a bit more ease (and length) where I needed it. Again.

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Rear rise alteration

For Stylish, I had her trace off her hip size, and then added the usual suite of alterations I do for Tyo in Jalie patterns—adding to the rear rise with a wedge at CB and curving in the rear yoke. I’ve been working on my contour waistband pattern, too, and I think I may have perfected it—or at least, it appears to work for both my butt AND Stylish’s, which is a friggin’ miracle if you ask me.

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The waistband in question

(Note—all images are of my jeans. Why? Because while I was standing around taking pictures, Stylish was actually working on hers. 😉

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Front waistband. Looking pretty good when not on me.

Confession—between when I first banged off this post and publishing, we managed to pretty much finish. My pair is OK, although I made the waistband non-stretch which means it’s really tight. I like the non-stretch waistband but I need to make some pattern modifications (i.e., more ease) in the upper hip if I’m going to use one. Stylish’s pair is pretty good IMO, in her opinion not so good—one of the legs twists a bit and the fly does a curious list to one side. I’m not sure what’s up with either, frankly, since we both did the exact same thing. I just wish I could get her to appreciate the miracle that is the fact that it doesn’t gape at the back and is only mildly wrinkly under her butt. Also, I don’t think she is adequately awed by the fact that that fly (which she sewed entirely on her own, albeit with me going “ok, sew this part now. Now sew this.” is her FIRST ZIPPER. FIRST ZIPPER EVER, peeps.

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The whole shebang (with chihuahua)

Actual photos to follow at some point, but for now, have a floor pic with a chihuahua, MPB style. My Crafty sister-in-law came over one evening, too, and finished a blouse she had started way back in the winter—so I will have to make her dress up and get photos done of that, too. In my copious spare time…

*not strictly true. There is actually a cam in the machine, for making, based on its markings, a diamond pattern zigzag. I have managed to get it to produce great straight stitches, narrow zigzag stitches, and a variety of “decorative” variations that don’t look like much. I will definitely be consulting the manual linked to by my helpful readers! Intuitive, this machine ain’t. I’ve come to the conclusion that I like my sewing machines the way I like my computer programs—while I appreciate a good manual, I’d much rather just sit down and bash at it and see what I can figure out. For that matter, I think that’s my approach to a good chunk of life…

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The joys of experience…

More little jeans

The thing about making something over and over again—especially in rapid succession—is that you should, really, be getting better at it each time, right?

Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

After finishing the littlest jeans ever last weekend, I figured I had a good couple of weeks to poke around at the next pair, for my older niece Fyon, and still have them in the post in time for Fyon’s birthday at the end of the month.

Did I mention that I suck at mailing stuff? This is why I make patterns that can be shared via download, rather than hosting giveaways, when the guilt at how much I get from the online sewing vs. how much I contribute gets too bad.

ANYWAY, when I realized that my MIL and her husband would be in town for a couple of days this week, it suddenly became imperative to get Fyon’s pair done so I could send both presents back with her. And while it’s easy enough (at this point, for me) to whip up a pair of jeans over the course of a weekend, it’s another thing entirely to cram it into a couple of evenings. Nonetheless, I dove in, and they are done and currently winging their way back to Saskatchewan.

Fyon’s pair was a straight size 4—unlike her little sister, she’s tall for her age and well-proportioned (i.e. slightly chunky). She’ll be five in a few weeks, but the measurements I took of her last summer suggested that the size 4 (H) would be just fine, even allowing for four months of growth. Here’s hoping. In case you haven’t been following along, the pattern is Jalie 2908, which is far and away my most-used pattern of all time. Cost per make is in the pennies, at this point.

Rear view

Given the time-frame, I dropped all hope of originality and opted for the same detailing in slightly different fabric. This is probably just as well—despite their size differences, my nieces are only 18 months apart in age, and much jealousy often arises if they don’t get more-or-less exactly the same gifts. I decided to make my piping a little narrower this time, in the effort to get a more “piped” look—I think I was successful, although the wider look of the first pair is a bit more whimsical and cute. This pair is positively sedate. I also plum forgot (as I usually do) to add a teensy change pocket, and I’m surprised at how much more boring this makes the front view. Subtle, but true. I also forgot to do any embroidery on the front. Oopsie. Tyo suggested stars, rather than hearts this time, which I went with happily on the back pockets, as they’re super-easy to stitch.

Labels---best laid plans.

Aside from glitches like that, I had some good ideas that didn’t quite pan out, and some technical difficulties. I remembered to attach a label with my kids’-brand name, Bookemon & Ebichu (as I found the sheet of iron-on transfers again, finally! 😉 ), and this time figured I’d do it BEFORE the waistband was attached, saving me from doing it after, by hand, like I did last time. It seemed like a great idea, no? Except that when I topstitched along the waistband, the stitching went over the label. Not awful, but not really the look I was going for. (I do like how the swan-stitch turned out! It’s one of the cams that came with the White, and while each individual bird isn’t particularly lovely, the overall effect is a cute detail, I think.

On to the technical difficulties. I’ve mentioned before that the new Pfaff, lovely as it is, has some tension issues. Something is gummed up in the the tension disks, to the point where a) the tension doesn’t release when the presser foot is raised, and b) when the tension is high (as it needs to be for stitching with thick topstitching thread) it seems to feed a bit unevenly or something—two or three stitches will be fine and then one will pull a loop of the top thread to the back. Again, not catastrophic, but not perfect. The topstitching thread I used on the pair of jeans for Waif was a different brand and not quite as thick, and it worked well, but the Guterman topstitching thread was definitely more challenging. And it got even worse for zig-zagging (which you generally use a lower tension for). You can see how attractive the insides of my bar-tacks are. /sigh. So while the overall jeans are fine, and cute, the construction has some lumps and bumps that I wish it didn’t. I did a better job on the fly this time, I think, anyway.

At least it’s out of the way.

Interior waistband

There’s the usual buttonhole elastic in the waistband, and again I used a snap. It seems, in the random way of snaps, to be a little sturdier than the one that I put in on the Waif’s pair. Which probably has everything to do with how things get bent in the hammering, but I haven’t managed to really improve on that with the tools I have available.

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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.)

Pocketses

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.

However.

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.

Oops.

Erm.

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.

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