Tag Archives: Jalie 2908

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. Then 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



Jeans are done.

They’re fine.

The Back

Buttonhole FAIL.

There was the requisite “OMFG how the HECK are these ever going to fit?” moment. There was the usual buttonhole drama (Featherweight and vintage buttonholer were not up to the task, although they might have done better had I remembered to put the presser foot down). There was the “crap, I think I cut these belt-loops too short” moment, followed by the “Wow, those belt-loops are way too big” moment.

Side view

There’s always a bit of drama involved in attaching the waistband on stretch denim jeans. OK, there’s always a bit of drama when I do it, anyway. This is because the jeans denim stretches, the heavily-interfaced waistband doesn’t, and how the HECK is this supposed to work? (Incidentally, if you look at low-rise RTW stretch jeans, often the main jeans denim is stretched to fit the waistband. This looks funny and square on the hanger, but just fine once they’re on the body). One of these days I’ll finish killing one of my precious pairs of Buffalo Jeans and autopsy the waistband to find out what, if anything, they put in there, because it sure works better than anything I’ve tried so far.

Waistband, opened up to show interfacing, before being attached.

Sometimes I sew waistband and jeans together flat. Sometimes I stretch the jeans denim just a little bit. I did that today, and it worked out. Sewing them together flat works better if you haven’t interfaced the waistband as much as I did  this time (but then you end up with a flabby waistband). Observations of my favourite RTW pairs suggest that when the regular denim stretches 50%, the waistband stretches only about 10%. Possibly dark and necromantic powers are involved.

Waistband with bound edge, before being attached

I used the bind-the-inside-waistband method this time. It’s simple and much less futzy than slip-stitching down the inside or, worst, trying to topstitch it in place from the outside.

Pocket and back belt-loop

Although I loved using the Featherweight for my topstitching, I’m thinking with thread like this (which my Janome didn’t object to… probably helps that she’s freshly serviced, though) I should use a stretch stitch from the Janome for the pocket embroidery. I keep hearing threads go “snap” back there, plus I think it would make a smoother silhouette if the stitches were stretchier.

The finished front: button, bar-tack, belt loops, and rivets.

I think I actually managed to put the button in the right place so the fly doesn’t try to gape open. I actually saw a gizmo a little while back being sold (I think in a gas-station) that would extend your jeans waistband—basically a loop that buttons to your buttonhole—and, having been pondering flies that lie smooth and zippers staying up, stared at it in amazement. It would never work. The fly would have to stay open.

Well, I know some people do this when they’re pregnant (hair elastics work well, I’m told… I was not that ingenious and just wore overalls). This requires a long top to cover it, though. The gizmo made no mention of the long top. Maybe it was assumed.

Now, the four-million-dollar question: should I try my hand at distressing them? I’m getting a little bored of plain dark-wash, but on the other hand am I brave enough to take bleach and sandpaper and pumice to my brand new jeans?

In other news…

I got a birthday present! Heather of Sewing on Pins made up my birthday pattern as a top! Yay, happy dance. (And she didn’t hate it, even though she thought she would! Yay!) (Incidentally, while I naturally want you all to go make up a version RIGHT NOW, when it’s not your style/season/you have something better to do you don’t actually have to.)

Anyway, have a hedgehog! And a great week. 🙂

Superfluous hedgehog.


Filed under Sewing

Jalie 2908 version 67 80 342 897 893 (and other projects)

Does there reach a point where you’ve made up the same pattern so many times it’s not worth reblogging? I hope not.

Just another set of Jalie Jeans

Anyway, on the weekend between tromping up and down the creek, I managed to cut out my next set of jeans. I would’ve started stitching them up, too, but I discovered unexpectedly that I was out of topstitching thread. How is this possible? Probably I’ve just mislaid it somewhere. So I had to wait until I could pop by a sewing store. Fortunately (or not) Sewing World, the peddler of fabric scissors crack, is right by the train station on my way home from work. They sell a LOT of thread. Much of it aimed at embroidery machines, but anyway. I was able to pick up a couple of spools—my usual Gutterman jeans thread, and some cotton topstitching-type-thread in a somewhat darker gold. I really like the colour, but I’m a bit hesitant about the cotton thread’s strength. I’ve had issues of thread-failure on my self-stitched jeans before, not in the topstitching thread, but in the regular threads. But all the previous topstitching threads I’ve used have been polyester. Hmm. Probably I’ll try it anyway, but now if it craps out after six months I’ll be able to tell myself “I told you so.”

For all the good that will do.

Tyo's Nightgown

The kids have also picked out their next projects. Tyo wants a nightgown to replace some of the ones she’s outgrown the last little while. The plan is to use Kwik Sew 2893, a raglan-sleeved tee (and another thrift-store find), and extend it to nightgown length. Maybe add some shaping to the bottom, like on view C there. This is some fabric she picked out for making her teddy bear (did I ever blog her teddybear? We stuffed it with rice so you can throw it in the microwave and use it as a heating pad). Let’s just say that I have no qualms about letting her do whatever she wants with it, as long as it gets it out of my stash. 😉

Syo just wants  a quick sundress of the shirr-the-top-of-the-rectangle variety, out of the leftover fabric from my niece’s Mini-me (or is that Minnie-me?) dress. I think there’s enough. Of course, sundress season is largely if not completely past, but when has that ever stopped me? (Plus she’d probably wear it, happily, over T-shirt and jeans, to school all winter).

I keep talking (whining) about all the time we’re spending at the creek. I shouldn’t complain, it beats sitting around the house in front of the TV, which is what the rest of the family does the majority of the time (I, on the other hand, am far more virtuous and sit in front of the sewing machine, or the computer.) And it’s a good excuse not to get any housework done, at all. But it really cuts into the sewing time. Anyway, I suspect last weekend was the last of the creek-walking—the water gets VERY COLD VERY QUICKLY this close to the mountains, so I thought I’d share some pictures. Just because I can.

The Creek

Building with Rocks

Yay! Rocks!

Yay, fish!

You may now return to your regularly scheduled sewing blogs. I’ll get to that soon, I promise.


Filed under Sewing

One year of jeans

Unsewing 😦

Since the picture above  constitutes the grand total of my (un)sewing the last couple of days, I thought I’d talk about jeans.

First me-made jeans for me, ever.

I just checked back and realized it’s been over a year since I made my first pair of jeans for myself! Wow. Where did that time go?  Geez, I was so darned proud of that first pair. Funny considering I really hate wearing them now, although more because of the fabric, which I never did like, than anything else.

Anyway, inspired by Carolyn’s autopsy of her recently-deceased black jeans, I thought I’d muse self-indulgently a bit over one of my favourite things to stitch up.

Depending on how you count it, I’ve now made seven or eight pairs of jeans for myself. Nine if you count the Lekala sailor shorts. These fall into two categories, stretch and non-stretch. Since I made my first pair of non-stretch jeans not that long ago, I can’t really comment on quality, so today I’ll just be talking about my stretch jeans, all of which are based on the infamous Jalie 2908 pattern. You can find all the Jalie jeans posts here, or all the jeans posts ever here.

I picked this pattern because it was highly recommended on PatternReview.com for something approaching the kind of jeans I like to wear, which are low-rise, tight-fitting stretch denim. The Jalie pattern is mid-rise, close fitting, stretch flares. From my reading, I was pretty sure that I would be making several stylistic modifications, and probably a couple of fit ones as well. For style, I would be lowering the rise and reducing the leg-flare to a straight-below-the-knee style (something I’d found in a single RTW pair back in 2004 or so and been looking for ever since that one beloved pair went to the great closet in the sky), and probably going down a size as, based on the models in the photo, I thought the jeans as pictured were a little loose for stretch denim (your mileage may vary.) For fit, I expected to dart the yoke and add, oh, 5″ of length to the leg or so.

Procedure for putting dart in yoke pattern piece. A small amount of additional width can be trimmed at the centre back (step 4) if necessary; alternatively, two darts could be used to spread the amount removed over a more gentle curve.

At the time I was a bit perplexed by why the Jalie jeans were drafted with such a flat butt. It seemed like pretty much everyone needed to modify the yoke, and the lady behind Jalie even has a tutorial out there on how to do the fix, both during construction and on the pattern for your next pair. Then I watched (well, over the phone) my mom try to make flat-seat adjustments on some pants she made back in the winter.

Best pair ever.

WAY harder than just taking a little dart out of the yoke. So. Yoke-dart for the win.


Jeans are actually not terribly difficult to make. Denim, even stretch denim, is a lovely fabric to work with, sturdy and well behaved. Where you run into trouble is:

  1. bulk
  2. topstitching.
  3. fly
So, let’s start with 1.


Denim is thick. Good denim is thicker. In a few places, like where the yokes meed the centre-back seam, you’ll be stitching through up to eight layers (more if you’re doing proper felled seams). If you’re lucky enough to have a chew-through-nails-clunk-over-everything vintage or industrial machine, you’re probably good to go. If, like me (up until a week ago) you don’t, you will probably need to resort to a few tricks.
  1. Clapper/point presser and hammer

    The clapper. This is one of those unfinished blocks of smooth wood, often topped with a point presser. You iron your seam, get it good and steams up, and then press and hold this on top until it cools down. It’s amazing how much more this flattens out fabric than ironing alone—I know I was always pressing the iron on longer than I should and then scorching my fingers trying to push things down after taking the iron off. Trust me, the clapper is better.

  2. A hammer. Yes, you heard me. Technically this is best done with a rubber mallet, as a metal hammer has a tendency to break some of the fibres around the edges. A sharp-edged rock-hammer even more. Although probably most of you don’t have rock-hammers lying around, so you won’t run into this problem. Anyway, hammering a bulky seam also flattens it, even more dramatically than the clapepr, just be careful you don’t put holes in your fabric. Especially if it’s a thin denim. [Rock-hammer pic]
  3. Handwheel. Most of the thick spots in jeans are going over seams, and don’t last very long. A lot of places where the machine motor jams up and just won’t go through all the layers, you can carefully handwheel a stitch or two to get it started, or even get you past the trouple spot completely.

Jalie 2908 made skinny


Presumably my topstitching woes are over now that I have the Featherweight, but topstitching on my modern Janome was certainly an adventure. There are several options I’ve used at different times. Generally the advice is to use regular thread in the bobbin, regardless of what you’re doing with the top thread. Topstitching generally looks better with a slightly longer stitch; I usually use 3mm for mine. Backstitching on topstitching can look messy, and many people recommend pulling the ends to the inside and knotting afterwards. I’ve experimented with both ways and came to the conclusion that the messy backstitch is, for me, more secure, usually not noticeable, and certainly not any more unsightly than some of my other topstitch booboos. Your mileage may vary.
    1. Two threads through the needle. If you can rig your machine to hold two spools, then hold the threads together and thread the machine as usual. This gives the top side of the stitch more oomph, plus you can use any regular thread, which gives you an extra-wide colour range to choose from.
    2. Triple stitch. Sometimes called (at least by me) a “stretch straight stitch”, this is where your machine takes two stitches forward, then one stitch back all the way along. The symbol on my Janome looks like this: ||| Basically, it ends up stitching each stitch twice, looking (ideally) just like #1. The down-side is that sometimes the forward and back stitches don’t line up perfectly, and if you don’t turn corners (say, on the pockets) just after the 1st forward stitch, it will take a stitch back after and make your corner look messy. The up-sides are: like #1 you have every colour imaginable to choose from; the top and the bottom look the same; and for stretch denim, this stitch has a bit of stretch to it.
    3. Heavy duty thread (including Coats & Clark Heavy Duty, buttonhole thread, and Guterman Jeans or upholstery thread). This heavier thread has a more striking appearance than regular-stitched regular thread, and looks more like “regular” jeans topstitching. You will probably need to turn up the tension a bit (do some tests) but my Janome handles this kind of thread quite well.
    4. Topstitching thread.

      Thread setup for dealing with mega topstitching thread: wrap around the little round bobbin-winding doohickey before threading as usual. Actual Guterman Topstitching thread not shown.

      By this I’m referring to the Guterman Tops-titching thread, which is the thickest of the threads I’ve found. It’s also a bit “fluffier” than, the heavy-duty threads above. But it comes in a wide range of colours and looks really striking. My Janome has major problems with this thread, which basically come down to the tension. The highest tension setting on my machine is too low. Possibly I could adjust the bobbin tension to compensate, but when stitching jeans on a single machine you’re re-threading just about every other seam. I wouldn’t want to add constant bobbin-adjusting to that procedure. Eventually, I came up with a sneaky tension fix where I wrap the thread once around the bobbin-feeder, which has its own little tension disk, before threading as normal. This increased the tension significantly, to the point where I could actually keep the regular tension pretty close to its normal setting. The other problem I have with this thread is it often gets snarled in the bobbin in the first couple of stitches. I found it was possible to keep this from happening by holding on (firmly!) to the tail of the thread when starting the seam.

Topstitching feet: 1) 1/4" edge-stitcher; 2) rolled-hem foot; 3) blind-hem foot

Topstitching foot. There are a lot of different sewing-machine feet that will work for topstitching, but your standard zig-zag foot is not the

Straight stitch foot (on Featherweight) and adjustable zipper foot. Both have open toes and can work well for topstitching.

best. Basically you want something with an open toe, so you can see precisely where the needle is on your fabric, and edges you can line up to get a consistent width. I don’t recommend trying to twin-needle denim, although I did hem some jeans this way early on—you’re liable to break at least one needle, at which point it gets very expensive very fast. My favourite topstitching foot is an actual edge-stitching foot with a handy keel (mine cost five or six bucks), but an ordinary straight-stitch foot like the kind that my Featherweight has also works really well. A blind-hemming foot works well in theory, but my particular foot the movable keel has a tendency to wander along its screw over long seams, which is less than useful, and it’s hard to re-set it to a precise width. My rolled-hem foot actually worked surprisingly well—just ignore the little scroll part and it’s got sides the right width and some handy grooves in the bottom. This was my favourite until I got the edge-stitch foot.


I don’t have a HUGE number of tips on stitching up the fly.
  1. Find the tutorial that works for you. I have good luck with Debbie Cook’s; if you’re a video person (I’m not), Sandra Betzina’s video on the Threads website also comes highly recommended.
  2. Keep a RTW pair on hand for reference. This makes it much easier to keep track of which side to topstitch and stuff like that.
  3. Interface the fly, either with something fusible or with fabric from a front pocket extension. It will be a much happier fly later on if it’s a little more substantial.
  4. TRUST THE FLY. This is one I’ve only recently come around to. After you’ve got your fly constructed and your waistband on, it’s very tempting to try and tweak your fit that last little bit by moving the button one way or the other. Don’t. The button needs to sit so its shank is just at the end of your buttonhole. If you try to mess with this, you will end up with a gaping fly.
My own jeans have ranged from barely wearable to being far and away my favourite pair. I wish I could say there was a consistent improvement in this, or that I’d made the absolute perfect jeans even ones. I haven’t.  But I have had a lot of fun, and gotten some very wearable jeans for a lot less than I would pay at the store. There’s a lot of things RTW jeans have that I can’t imitate—fabrics I can’t find, embroidery I can’t do. My next step will be hunting down some really quality buttons and rivets, as the ones I can get locally are slightly sub-par, or at least, not quite right for jeans. I haven’t even tried my hand at distressing any of my me-made jeans, although I won’t totally rule it out in the future. But there’s plenty of other neat touches I can add, and thinking of what little detail will make that next pair special is one of my favourite things about making jeans. If you can pick up a pair at Walmart and are good to go, then making your own jeans probably won’t be your thing. But if, like me, you’re picky, hard to fit, or get stressed out trying to find that perfect style, making your own can be both fun and money-saving. I’m one of those people who regularly spends over $100 on new jeans, and I can’t reliably find any at the thrift store that are long enough and haven’t been worn to ribbons. Even paying full-price for quality denim, I can cut that price in half, and be just as happy—or happier—with the final product.
Damn. Now I want to make some more jeans.



Filed under Sewing

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: 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 (pattythesnugbug.com 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


Filed under Sewing

To Do, To Don’t, and What do I know?

The latest jeans

So after my great Skinny Cargoes affair, Claire of Sew Incidentally asked if I would consider putting together a do’s and don’ts post for jeans. Since I’m such a master at them, and all that.


So, aside from the fact that she must be confusing me with some other blogger, I thought I’d give it a shot. Especially as I decided to crank out one last pair of denim to get me through Me-Made March.

Now, it didn’t take me long after deciding to “take my sewing to the next level” last spring, to decide that I wanted to tackle jeans. Yeah, I’d successfully managed to make my first blouse, what horrors could denim possibly hold?

This was spurred on by a number of factors. The biggest one was probably stumbling on the Jeans sewalong thread and summary thread on Pattern Review. I read literally every post of that 85-page thread. The idea of making my own jeans really appealed to me. First of all, I live in my jeans. Second of all, I’m picky about my jeans and how they fit. Third of all, I have pretty darn long legs. All of those factors combined means that I have spent a LOT of money over the years on jeans. Buffalo. Guess. Rarely under $100 for a pair. You get the idea. And always with that terror—will the fit I like go out of style? Will they be long enough? Even if they seem to fit when I try them on, will I wear them for a day and realize that they’re too short and too loose? Will I tear through the “artfully worn” knee within the first half-hour of putting them on (that pair was Guess, I returned them)? Speaking of which, when is that pre-tattered look going to go out of style? It was in style when I was in high-school (mid nineties). It was in style five years ago when the hubby and I went to NYC (and shopped at Gap. I know, we should be shot.) And it was EVERYWHERE last time I was tying to buy commercial jeans, which was one year ago. I haven’t really looked since, maybe it’s gone away?

Despite the wonky stitching on the pockets (I suck at free-motion embroidery), these are probably still my favourite self-made jeans.

Now, I have a very clear list of things I’m looking for in my jeans. As far as I’m concerned, stretch-denim is the greatest invention of the 20th century (ok, after the birth-control pill). I like them low-rise, with a very fitted leg. I’m flexible on the degree of flare, although for preference I’ll go with what I tend to call a “stovepipe” leg, which is fitted in the thigh but absolutely straight below the knee; I’ve only ever once found this style in RTW.

If your list is different (as it doubtless is—few people are as fond of I am of the low rise, for perfectly good reason), some of my methods won’t apply, especially if you’re not looking for snug-fitted stretch-denim. (What, not everyone wants their jeans to look like they were sprayed on?!?) But I do hope you’ll be able to glean some nuggets from the dross, or at least be encouraged to tackle your own.

Incidentally, based on the PR thread, I used the Jalie 2908 pattern, with an assortment of modifications to make it suit my taste that are mostly detailed here. I like this pattern, but then I’ve only ever sewn two pants patterns, the Jalie one and the Burdastyle Ellen pant. Both were pretty painless, doubtless due to my minimal curvatures in this area. So I wouldn’t consider my endorsement to be the be-all-end-all in this area.

Anyway, without further ado,


  1. pay attention to the % stretch, not the % lycra; expect to resize slightly depending on the individual stretch of your fabric.
  2. buy enough fabric for two pairs of jeans—the first one can be a hopefully-wearable muslin, and you’ll know what to expect from the remaining fabric stretch-wise.
  3. wash and dry your fabric on hot at least once; then let it sit or hang (“relax”) for at least a day or two, as the heat can bunch up the lycra fibres, creating fabric that will stretch too much after wearing.
  4. My foot for topstitching. Not necessarily the best, just the best from my limited selection.

  5. do figure out which sewing-machine foot works best for topstitching. A lot of people prefer a straight-stitch foot as the sides are narrower and you can see right up to the needle. I don’t have one, but I find my rolled hem foot (of all things) works the best. An edgestitch or possibly even blind-hem foot are also good options.
  6. play around with your topstitching options. There’s jeans

    I wrap my topstitching thread around the bobbin-winding doohicky to increase the tension (AKA cheat)

    thread, topstitching thread (really heavy), upholstry thread, or even regular thread in a stretch straight stitch (triple stitch) if your machine does it. You will probably need to raise your top tension if you’re topstitching with a heavy thread, and may even need to cheat.
  7. be prepared to baby your machine over the thick parts (at least if you, like me, have a wussy modern machine. Sometimes I need to just turn the hand-wheel for several stitches. Or hammer the crap out of the seams (preferably with a rubber mallet. I use a regular hammer or even my rock hammer and if I’m not careful the edges will cut the fabric)
  8. construct the front first, then the back. Have another pair of jeans around for reference. Attach the pockets after sewing the two sides of the back together, and centre them relative to the topstitching, rather than the true CB.
  9. If you’re doing anything other than the simplest of pocket-embroidery, you will want to stabilize the pockets, either with wash-away or tear-away stabilizer or even interfacing. I recommend the removable stabilizer, though; permanent interfacing interferes with the pocket’s ability to stretch and causes butt-flattening. (Ask me how I know 😉 ). Use a cardboard template to press your pockets’ seam-allowance under. Speaking of pockets, I use a size-K pocket on my size-Q pants. My derriere is compact, and I don’t like the bottom of the pockets to go below my actual bottom. YMMV.
  10. Look up your favourite fly-insertion method EVERY SINGLE TIME. My

    What passes for a successful fly around here.

    favourite is Debbie Cook’s; a lot of other people recommend Sandra Betzina’s video. (I have a hard time following video instructions, for some reason.) Also take a long, hard look at some RTW flies while you’re doing it. It will help. Oh, and interface the fly, too. (The fly isn’t actually hard. It’s just really easy to do the wrong way around, which is mildly annoying. The topstitching is a bit tricky, too, but you can manage.)

  11. once you have your jeans stitched up the side, before applying the waistband, do put them on and wear them around the house a bit (preferably for a few hours). This will give you an impression of how much the denim will relax with wear. You may also want to do a trial wash (serge the top edge first) at this stage, as washing and drying are another wild-card for stretch fit.


  1. be afraid. You can totally do this. Denim is heavy, but lovely to sew.
  2. use a pattern or fabric you don’t like. Remember that *perfect* pair of jeans you’ve been mourning since the day went to that great warehouse in the sky? Those are the ones you’re trying to re-create. You won’t, of course, but with any luck you’ll make it into the right ballpark.
  3. cut your waistband on the bias. I use a contour waistband on mine, stabilized with a light-weight interfacing. If I had to go with a straight waistband, I’d cut it on the lengthwise grain, to reduce stretch. My RTW jeans often have about 50% stretch in the fabric, but only about 10% stretch in the waistband (how do they do it?)
  4. sew over the bottom of the zipper when you’re topstitching your fly. Instant recipe for broken needles flying into eyes.
  5. add or remove length at the hem. Unless your jeans are drafted perfectly straight, there’s shaping between hip and knee, and knee and ankle; you need to measure your length to the knee and add (or remove) both above and below to keep the proportions right.
  6. add a wedge to the side back rather than the centre back because you weren’t paying attention. (yes, I did this once.)
  7. if you’re making skinnies, don’t narrow the leg so much you can’t get your foot through (unless you’re adding zippers!)
  8. freak out about wrinkles below your butt. These are not trousers that are supposed to fall straight down from the widest point. There will be wrinkles.
  9. try to finesse the slightly-too-tight waistband fit by putting your button too far over. You’ll just end up with a gapy fly.
  10. feel self-conscious about your wonky-topstitching, or those almost-invisible darts in the yoke. No one is looking. Seriously, they aren’t.

I extend my pocket-linings all the way to the front fly. This interfaces the fly while stabilizing (i.e. slimming) the front, and is super-easy to draft.

I have to admit I feel a bit bad about these lists. They’re tailored so specifically to my “jeans ideal”, which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t have much to say about fitting—other than curving the back yoke and taking in the outseams a little bit, and of course the inevitable length adjustment, I haven’t done any (stretch-denim is fairly forgiving). Certainly no messing around with crotch-curves as the intrepid Patty does on a regular basis these days. While I’ve made a crapload of adjustments to the pattern, the majority have been for style or personal preference (pocket linings that reach all the way to the fly to interface it, contour waistband, smaller pockets, etc.)

Coming up with the top 10 was hard (as you can see since so many of them are actually two or three suggestions!). There’s lots of other little points that I could’ve thrown in there.  I didn’t even mention the buttonhole, which has been my waterloo. Mostly, I resort to doing them by hand—not too bad since there’s only one—but on this most recent pair I eased up on the waistband interfacing and was able to work it by machine. My machine can’t do a nice keyhole shape, sadly, but no one else is going to notice anyway.

New skinnies---rear

And I still haven’t really showed you photos of the new pair! So I’ll be quick: this is my first “truly skinny” pair of jeans (the other ones all have stovepipe legs). I made them to replace this pair of RTW jeans that are beginning to bite the dust, and are verboten this month anyway. As you can see (You might have to click through to the full-size photo), I included the same cute little top-stitched dart on the lower leg as in Syo’s pair.

As I doodled out my pocket detail, I

A subtly naughty pocket

realized I’d created an homage to Mary-Nanna’s white knicker jeans (and Steph’s tribute… and of course this alleged Japanese fashion trend which I’m happy to learn is indeed a hoax. I thought it was a bit fishy when I first saw the pictures a few years back, but you never can tell with the Japanese. 😉 ) Mine is a bit subtle, but those of you in the know… well, now you know! ;). If I ever find some white stretch denim, I promise I’ll do full out undies-pockets. The nice thing about making my own skinnies is I can keep the calf-width where I like it and just narrow below; so many skinnies are made for those toothpick-legged adolescents with no calves.

New skinnies, front view

Beyond that there’s not too much to say about them. I used much the same procedure to narrow the bottoms as I did with the skinny cargoes (except I only had two seams to work with, not four). I kept the full length this time, to get that “legwarmer” bunchy look around the ankle that I crave so badly (yes, I like my pants and my sleeves to look extra long. It’s such a rarity for me). Since there’s no zippers in this pair, I had better hope they don’t shrink at all in the wash or I may not get my feet through them next time ;).

So, this is officially my first pair of truly skinny (self-made) jeans… and I hear that apparently the bootleg cut is coming back. If it ever actually left. /sigh. I’m so non-trendy. Oh, wait. That’s a good thing.

I still think I like the stovepipe leg the best, though…

Oh, and this would be my first outfit for Me-Made March. Not terribly innovative, I know, but it’s far too cold out right now for the frillies and the pretties. Hopefully that will change over the course of the month…


Filed under Sewing

Skinny cargoes: a tale of obsession

We won’t go into the state of my house or how neglected my children are, all right? I promise I’ll stop. Ok, slow down. Real soon. Really, really, soon.

But in the meantime, while I was only planning to show you this:

A good start on the skinny cargoes

it turns out that I couldn’t tear myself away, and now I can show you this:

Skinny cargoes

Yup, they are finished. Pretty much. I’m still debating opening up the inseam again and adding topstitching all around the big cargo pockets. And there’s some issues with the topstitching around the top of the zippers having to do with me picking a crappy construction order and not noticing I grabbed separating, not regular, zippers.

Very, very skinny cargoes

Anyway, process, right?

As you may recall these pants were inspired by both Yoshimi and Amber’s recent takes on the skinny cargo. Amber, in particular, went into great detail on the construction of her knock-offs, and mine are essentially knock-offs of her knock offs.

I started, natch, with my particular version of the Jalie 2908 stretch jean pattern. Now, I feel a bit bad pimping this pattern (not that it’s a bad pattern, or doesn’t deserve pimping) because my version is distinctly altered. In particular, I went down a size, lowered the rise, darted the yoke, narrowed the leg to straight below the knee, and replaced the straight waistband with a contour one originally cribbed off the Ellen pants. Also added five inches or so of length, but that sorta goes without saying. So if you see my jeans and decide to order the pattern, well, you’ll have a bit of work ahead of you.

Anyway, I have previously produced at least four versions (for me) from this pattern, all of which are staples of my wardrobe (except for the capris, which I can’t wear right now due to weather, and the red-topstitched ones, which were out of commission after I pulled the pull of the zipper a month or so ago. I hate mending, but finally got to it earlier this week.)

Now, turning this jeans pattern into a skinny-cargo pattern required a bit of work. First

Skinny cargoes: rear view

off, as I traced out a version of my Jalie pattern, I had to figure out how to replace the yoke with a regular back with darts. I sorta winged this, and thanks to the mercy of stretch denim it seems to have worked. I also had to figure out how to reconstruct the front pocket area, but that was pretty straightforward. Then it was a matter of deciding where I wanted my seams to run (much referring to Amber’s post on the matter), hacking up this version of the pattern, labelling where I needed to add seam-allowances (not to mention up, down, inseam, and outseam), and re-tracing all my pieces with their proper seam allowances. Whew! I took the opportunity to incorporate my rear darts into the back seam, as well as adding a bit more butt-shaping, although I can’t really tell if that was successful as it is covered by the back pockets. I removed one cm off each side of each seam at the ankle, for a total of 8cm around the whole ankle, which made it pretty narrow, although I suspect I could still get my foot through without the zippers. The zippers make them VERY easy to put on and take off, though.

I can’t decide if having the pattern in so many itty bitty pieces saves fabric or not. Jeans are pretty economical at the best of times, so with the added fabric required for seam-allowances, maybe not.  Plus there’s those big pockets eating up fabric.

Because there were so many pieces and in particular the lower leg pieces are almost identical, I opted to cut and assemble the entire front and then the entire back. This is fine, except that I should’ve incorporated the side zipper in the lower leg into the original construction of the front instead of ripping out topstitching to fit it in later. But, we live and learn. Seeing as it’s only been a few days since I last installed a fly front zipper, I didn’t even need to look up the tutorial on it! It helps when you’re wearing jeans while sewing… I find I look down a lot to reference which side the stitching should be on ;). I opted to make the fly angular to echo the slanted hip pockets. Nothing to do with it being easier than a curve. Nothing at all.

Side-seam zipper

Once I had the front and backs assembled and topstitched, I had to do a bit of thinking. I couldn’t find a good reference on how to insert exposed zippers into a seam (though I didn’t look terribly hard). I decided for simplicity’s sake I wanted the zipper to fall in the front part of the pants, not straddling the seam evenly. Then I discovered that the cute little zippers with the nice little bauble at the end I picked up last weekend were, in fact, separating zippers.

I toyed with the idea of going back and getting different zippers, but I really like that bauble. I do wish these zippers came in silver (to go with my topstitching thread), but the selection at Fabricland is a bit limited. /sigh. Maybe I should’ve topstitched along the edges of the zippers, too? I think I was having topstitching fatigue by this point.

Because of the cargo pockets, I figured I needed to construct the outseam before the inseam. This is not as good for fitting as the reverse, but I was reasonably confident these would fit, due to the TNT pattern, so I went for it. The pockets were rather terrifying, I will say, especially getting them positioned and topstitched. Which is part of why I chickened out on most of the topstitching on the thigh pockets. We’ll see how much that irritates me in the days to come.

I almost always hit a point right before I’m able to try on a garment where I’m

You know black cargoes need biker boots and chain mail.

absolutely convinced it’s failed. It’ll be too big, too small, or just wonky looking. These were no exception—it was with immense relief that I wriggled into them the first time, discovered that the narrowed legs did indeed fit and that I could, in fact, zip up the zipper. Phew! This anxiety repeats again once I’ve attached the waistband. I tried a lighter waistband interfacing this time around, which was nice if only because it means I could make the buttonhole on the machine. On the upside, this iteration of the waistband is a nice width (some of my previous version were a little narrow) and doesn’t gape at the back. Yay!

Styling these is… interesting. My first effort, with the white cowl-neck top and the heels, is fine but a little, ah, mainstream? Doesn’t really feel like me. Nothing some biker boots and a little goth gear won’t fix. Ah, yes. Much better.


And I mustn’t forget to credit my delightful photographer:

Me and my photographer

In exciting men’s sewing news, my hubby has consented to having the shirt muslin finished for a comfy wear-around-the-house shirt, now that I’ve enlarged the collar. Which means I might actually get photos of it at some point… though probably not for a few weeks as he leaves tomorrow.


Filed under Sewing

The jeans of many sizes

Possibly subtitled “the best laid plans…”

Instructions: "Look cute."

In a fit of obsession yesterday afternoon, Syo and I decided to tackle her jeans. The project was simple; all the materials were on hand: one traced version of Jalie 2908, size K (aka 7); one metre of dark blue stretch denim; gold jeans topstitching thread, and a little metal zipper.

The pattern is the same size I traced out for Tyo’s jeans last spring, which she had outgrown by August. Syo is now wearing these jeans, quite comfortably, so I was feeling pretty confident about the fit. They would probably be a bit long, but otherwise shouldn’t be problematic.

Syo required only one, simple alteration. Tyo’s jeans had been flares, the pattern’s basic shape. Syo’s must be skinny. Yes, my seven-year-old is much more on-trend than my ten-year-old. Which probably says everything you need to know about their respective personalities. So I measured what seemed like a reasonable distance out from the midline of each ankle, drew a line that angled out to the knee, and we folded the pattern in along that line. Just in case Syo wants a pair of flares in the future (not likely, but this is how I roll). Oh, yeah, I double-checked my reduced width with the circumference of her pointed foot, to make sure she could still get her feet through. All seemed good, so we set to cutting it out.

Syo really wants to be able to sew. And cut out fabric. Unfortunately, the fabric shears

The back

are still too big for her little hands. This didn’t stop her from doing her best with the embroidery scissors on the pocket lining, and she actually did an excellent job, but man, it took forever.

Pocket closeup, with fancy stitching.

After much discussion, we settled on stars for the back pockets. The first pair I made Tyo has stars on the back pockets (stars are nice and easy to embroider on stretchy denim when you don’t have an embroidery machine and are too lazy to stabilize your fabric).

This is the first pair of jeans I’ve made since I got my serger back in order, so it was my first chance to remember to serge seams after sewing, but before  topstitching. I mostly managed this. (Note: this pattern only has 1 cm seam-allowances, so you need to serge without cutting anything off or your second row of topstitching may not catch the seam-allowance.)

I like the Guterman jeans thread; it’s not as heavy as their topstitching thread, so

Side view

doesn’t require dirty tricks to get the upper tension high enough on my machine. Still, I can tell that my newish Janome doesn’t quite have the balls of the Grand Old Dame when it comes to stuff like this. The Dame would eat projects like this for breakfast—the Janome I have to baby along here and there. And this is with really thin denim.

I only hit one hitch in the construction, when I realized I’d cut the size Q back yoke (my size) rather than the size K. I think the size K yoke piece may have evaporated… oops. Another reason why I love tracing my patterns. However, I was pretty sure the outer width of the yoke was pretty close, so I just trimmed the wide, inner portion to fit. If there is any actual difference in the size, it’s well within my usual cutting-inexactitude; the side pieces went together just fine.

Calf detail

Oh, yes, and I added in a detail on the back lower legs ripped off from some RTW skinny jeans owned by one of Tyo’s trendier friends: basically a long, thin topstitched dart with a stud at the top of it, forming a very small amount of shaping below the calf. I keep meaning to do this on jeans for myself, but forgetting as it has to be done quite early in the process. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, though, though I suspect my studs are not perfectly aligned.

With the aid of Debbie Cook’s tutorial, I once again achieved near-perfect fly insertion. I actually had double-sided wonder-tape to use to stick the zipper down this time, and it was very nice indeed, although using pins instead really isn’t that terrible either. I did manage to put it in backwards (so girl-version, as opposed to boy/jeans version), but in my defense this is because I was matching the topstitching direction of the crotch to the one I’d already done on the rear of the pants, and I find it pretty much impossible to think that far ahead. The moral of this story is that I should probably construct the jeans front and fly before the back.

My straight-stitch topstitching is getting so good!

Fly... almost perfect.

My around-pocket and around-fly stitching… not so much. Perhaps I am sloppy because they’re for the kid… I’d like to think I wouldn’t wear such shoddy work.

I can’t promise anything, though. I’m pretty lazy about un-picking.

I sewed up the outer sideseams, and Syo came to try them on…

and they were HUGE.

Now, I don’t want to repeat my mistake with Tyo and make pants she’ll outgrow in three months. But these are supposed to be skinny jeans, not tapered-but-baggy jeans. I took in the side-seams by a cm on each side (so 2cm off each leg).

Better, but not perfect. Take another cm off. Hrrm. Well, maybe that’ll do. Keep in mind this is the same pattern as the other pair she’s wearing that are actually getting a wee bit tight. The only thing I can think of is that the first pair shrunk, which isn’t impossible, but I have a pair of my own out of the exact same “denim” that I’m still wearing just fine, and I promise you I definitely haven’t shrunk.

CB belt loops. Can you spot the booboo?

Putting waistbands on kids jeans is so much more relaxing than putting the waistband on a pair for me. For one thing, I use the pattern’s straight waistband piece, instead of my own contour band (coopted from the Ellen pants, if you must know). I also didn’t bother with interfacing. The only thing to remember was to put in buttons and buttonholes for the attaching of the buttonhole elastic. I did have one problem with the sizing, as my waistband wound up being too short to centre the CB seam on the back and cover the fly-extension. Maybe I’m doing something wrong with the fly extension, although what I end up with seems to be the same as what I see on my storebought jeans, so I don’t know what. Rather than fuss around, I gave in and put the CB seam of the waistband about an inch off of the true CB seam. It’s a problem, but it’s mostly covered by the belt-loops anyway.

Her coolest pose.

Finally, all that was left was to hem them to an appropriate length. This is always dicey with children, and skinny jeans are even worse than flares in this department. In the end I opted for a length that would be floor-brushing in socks if they weren’t being pulled up by the front of her feet, and just folded the excess 2″ of fabric under, topstitching three times to make sure it’s well in place (this mimics the three rows of topstitching on the top of the pockets, so it’s a design feature, right?). In theory this means that when she hits her next growth spurt and grows three inches by summer, I can let out the excess length. In practice, we know this’ll never happen, but hey, allow me my fantasies, all right?

Also, Syo was very helpful in the hammering of rivets, and only hit my thumb once. And Steph, the awl from your sharp and pointy giveaway kit is divine. How on earth did I live without it?

So that’s one more project down on the “madly off” list. Which leaves, mainly, shirts for my hubby and those skinny cargoes! If I can get the neck alteration figured out for the hubby’s shirt before he abandons me, I can putter away at that until he gets back. And I think I’ll take a stab at the drafting for the cargoes this weekend, if I can find paper I like for it. I’d rather use craft paper than tissue paper for stuff like this.


Filed under Sewing

Winter sucks

Or, The trouble with photographing black jeans indoors.

Jalie Jeans, v. 4

Most of the following pictures are lightened. Severely lightened. The jeans in reality are a dusty black , although the ones I made last summer, of the same material, have faded, not unexpectedly, to a dark grey.

First up, I have apparently gotten fat. Well, rather, when I first went to try them on (before attaching the waistband), I could get

Jalie jeans, v. 4: front

them on but couldn’t get the fly closed. Keeping in mind that I have made this pattern in this size three previous times, including once in this *exact* fabric. WTF? I went and narrowed the seam allowances just at the hips—letting it out about .5 cm (they are only 1cm seam allowances, after all) for an added 2cm around the hips. Phew, now I can close the fly. Also keeping in mind that the first pair in this fabric mysteriously grew about 2cm around after I washed them the first time and I had to take them in. So I’m kinda hoping these ones do that and then I can at least restore the seam allowances to where they should be. But jeez.

Pockets and belt-loops

Otherwise, there’s not too much to say. I was quite happy with the wash-away stabilizer on the pockets. My topstitching is not nearly as porn-worthy as Peter’s. The fly topstitching sucks. The nice thing about using the same thread top and bottom is that you can do the pocket embroidery from the wrong side, and so draw your design right on the pockets. I free-handed this particular one, and had a bit too much fun with the smocking stitch, which is the only decorative stitch my machine does that I actually like.

I decided to go a bit wild with the belt-loops. They’re

Belt-loop closeup

extra wide, with extra fancy stitching. Hopefully this will mean they’re extra sturdy, too, especially the three at the back (I’m really liking a triple-loop at the back, although maybe not as much for these wide ones. Oh, well).

The leg length is okay but I could probably still lengthen it a little. If these were flares, they’d be driving me nuts with their shortness, and I’d still kinda like that “slouchy around the ankle” look. Something to think about for next time. Or maybe next time I should do real skinnies… I could even stretch myself and attempt an exposed zip in the lower leg. Wouldn’t that be fun?

In other news, we re-watched the Teen Wolf movies last night (gotta share the eighties with the next generation, after all) and I was struck by how tight all the girls’ jeans are. About as tight as mine, really… without the benefit of lycra content. It makes me wince just looking at them. Although if I’d been a teen in the eighties, I’m sure I’d have been wearing them that tight. And wondering how to get rid of the big flapping wings and the hips. And why the waistbands were so flipping tight.

… anyway. One more pair of pants for the rotation, check :).

Now, do I have the energy to put gussets in Tyo’s coat…


Filed under Sewing

Back to the Future, Jalie Style

Despite my inclination to plunge headlong into another coat—my long-neglected Lady Grey, say (I bought hair canvas! I bought hair canvas!)—I need to do some practical sewing. My favourite pair of Jalie jeans has developed some issues (mostly due to my own shoddy construction decisions… the sort of thing, it appears, I have to learn for myself, because no amount of good advice seems to get through my thick skull), rendering them currently unwearable, though a bit of mending should get them back in the rotation. Am I the only one who’d rather  make a whole new pair of pants than sew a belt-loop back on? Well, that and the pockets (which I made out of cotton from an old duvet I’d retired because of all the holes it was developing… stupid, stupid) are full of holes, which is causing stress in the pocket topstitching, which has broken some of the topstitching threads… so yeah, they are in some trouble. Not to the point of being unwearable (at least once I get the belt loop sewn back on… this is why you attach them with zigzag bars, not just straight stitch). For those of you who weren’t around back in the summer when I began my Great Jeans Odyssey, my pattern of choice is the infamous Jalie 2908, altered based on becca a’s instructions into a low-rise, straight-legged jean and tweaked for maximal skinniness.

Embryonic jeans

Anyway, yesterday I laid out my remaining length of black stretch denim. Apparently I had enough left for two pairs of pants, instead of just the one I’d thought. 3 pairs of pants from 4m of fabric, not bad. If, y’know, I needed three pairs of black jeans… but anyway. I cut merrily away, even remembering to undo my disastrous alteration of last summer.

Pocket closeup

I made some construction breakthroughs. I “fused” washaway stabilizer to the wrong sides of the pockets so they wouldn’t stretch out when I did the embroidery on them. I’m really happy about this… not only does it keep the pocket stable, when you fold the sides under and press them, it melts just enough to really grip the edges in place, so they don’t pop up! And unlike the interfacing I’ve used before, they’ll wash away so that when I finally wear my pants the pockets can stretch with the rest of them! And it didn’t even stick to the iron, which was my main fear.

I remembered to sew the yoke pieces on in the back before the centre seam. I did my topstitching in a regular red thread, using my triple-stitch (the straight stretch stitch) like I did in Tyo’s jeans. It looks great! So much more relaxing than wrestling with the topstitching thread, and I can use the same thread for constructing the seams, plus it slows the machine right down, which is good for topstitching (my Janome does not like to go slow, normally)

And then… I realized… I had sewn the yoke pieces on the wrong sides. The narrow ends were in the CB, the wide ends at the sides.

I had to pick out… two rows of stretch topstitching, the regular stitching, AND my triple-zig-zag seam finish. Yes, I was being all fancy and finishing my seams for once!

This kinda set me back.

then, having recovered from that, I went merrily on my way starting the fly construction…

And forgot that I need to attach the front pockets, first, since I’ve drafted pocket extensions that run into the fly. This makes for a nice, smooth finish on the front of the jeans and helps stabilize the fly… but only works if I actually remember to do it *before* I sew up the CF. So now I’m on the fence whether to rip that (probably only the basting where the fly opening will be, and a single bit of topstitching, need to come out) or just cut off the pocket extensions. Grrr.

This is why we follow instructions, /sigh.

Tyo’s coat continues to elude photography, mostly because with the grey weather we’ve been having, by the time she gets home from school the light’s already going. Hopefully we can get some good ones on the weekend. The sleeves are a real problem, though. With a sweater underneath, she can’t even bend her arms enough to button the thing closed. I’m going to have to open it up and pull out a layer or two in there. *headdesk*

On the up-side, it was -20 this morning and my coat performed adequately, at least for walking the kids to the bus stop. I was getting a mite cold by the time I got home, but nothing that long-johns and a proper hat (I just had my sweater hood up, silly me) wouldn’t’ve fixed. So I think it will be adequate, at least. The next test, of course, will have to be wind chill.

I still want a winter coat that’s both stylish and -50C-worthy. I have a feeling it’s going to take a) a less fitted style, b) a lot of research into materials, and c)more money. Not that this one was cheap, by the way.

In other news, I splurged and took my long-ailing serger in to get serviced (finally… it’s been about two years). The guy at the sewing-machine place confirmed my thought that the problem is the timing, and hopefully nothing else is wrong with it. It still runs fine… the loops just don’t form.

So in a couple of weeks I may have a serger again! Yay!


Filed under Sewing