Tag Archives: jeans

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! ūüėČ ), 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.


Filed under Sewing

The littlest jeans… EVER.

teensy tiny jeans

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

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


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

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

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

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

Embroidered hearts

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

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

To change things up,

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

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

Waistband inside with buttonhole elastic.

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

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

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


Pocket colliding with side-seam. Oopsie.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


Filed under Sewing

Do Over

Mom, you can't expect me to pose with my sister!

Although I love the idea of the Sew Weekly challenges—how fun, to be sewing something on the same theme as people all around the world!—I hardly ever actually do them, partly because I already have too much on my own list of projects, and partly because it usually takes me a lot longer than a week to go from theme/inspiration to an actual project idea, never mind a finished project. But every once in a (long) while the weekly theme coincides with something I’m already working on, and that was the case this week: Do Over.

Now, since I do over a LOT of patterns, this is not such a bit coincidence. But I’m still going to count it, because the project I finished this week, Tyo’s new jeans, is a do over on SO many levels.

Tyo's Ruched Jeans

1) Jalie 2908. Part of the do over is to revisit a pattern you’ve used before. This is easily my most-revisited pattern of all time, not least because it comes in sizes for both me and my kids.

2) I am re-visiting the skinny, ruched-leg detail I used on Syo’s most recent jeans

3) I am ALSO revisiting the cutout/underlay detailing from Tyo’s first, too-quickly-outgrown, pair of Jalie jeans.

… which basically means that there was nothing new or innovative about this project at all, which I think was probably NOT the idea of the theme, but oh, well. I’m still claiming it.

Some final thoughts: I added height to the rear crotch for Tyo’s booty. At the moment it’s a bit baggy there, so this wasn’t really necessary. On the other hand, she still has a fair bit of room to grow into these, so I’ll get back to you on that in another six months or so. Remember how I had pieced the waistband? I wound up only needing a small portion of extra and it works fine, but I’m a little puzzled that I needed any at all, since if anything my yoke tucks should have made the waistband too long for the jeans. Tyo’s jeans aren’t as strongly ruched at the ankle, mostly because I was trying to squeeze them out of a small amount of denim, so I could only extend the leg a small amount.

All right, I GUESS I can pose with my sister...


Filed under Sewing

Make me one too!

Tyo's jeans, Version II

Or, a further failure of selfishness.

The first pair of jeans I made, a year and a half or so ago, were from Jalie 2908, and were for Tyo. They turned out great (better, in hindsight, than the pair I made myself next), and fit Tyo like a dream.

For approximately a week before it got hot and they were abandoned for the summer, and by the end of her usual summer growth spurt they were thoroughly outgrown. I grumbled, re-measured, traced out her new size, and went on making any number of jeans for myself. In the intervening year and a bit, Syo got two pairs of jeans made just for her, and inherited Tyo’s original pair. So, really, Tyo had a fair bit of leverage going on when I finished Syo’s ruched jeans last week, and she instantly demanded her own pair.

In my defense, I already had these cut when the coat pattern from Zoe arrived. So really I had to finish my currently-underway project. I really did. And given that my sewing is currently of the one-seam-a-day variety, I’m doing pretty well to have these as far along as they are.

As per Tyo’s specifications, I combined the ruching from Syo’s recent pair with the same cut-out-over-plaid detailing of Tyo’s original pair (which was inspired by a RTW pair belonging to Syo… yeesh this gets confusing). And they’re skinny-ish. The plaid is the leftovers from Tyo’s purple shirt, which I also need to re-make in an appropriate size.

I re-measured Tyo and went up a size from the one I’d traced out for her last fall. She’s still closer to the smaller size, but I am not making another pair to be handed down instantly. So they’re not as snug as the RTW skinnies in Tyo’s wardrobe. The length isn’t quite as ample as I’d expected it to be, however,¬†which may be a problem in the “growing into” department.



I interfaced the plaid flannel with Armoweft to give it a bit of extra support without having to add a whole ‘nother layer of denim behind it (as I did in the first jeans). I think it’s a good compromise. ¬†The yoke has a layer of flannel sandwiched between two layers of denim (even the Featherweight wasn’t happy stitching that), and once the waistband is in place I’ll snip around the top layer of denim. Once it’s washed a few times it’ll have a great fun frayed look. I suspect some distressing will be in order as well.

Pieced Waistband

As I was trying to squeeze the pair out of a denim remnant (I tend to buy 2 m lengths to make a pair for myself, so this is what’s left of that after I made my own jeans) I cut the waistband on the lengthwise grain (no stretch) and in two halves; again due to fabric shortage, I opted to face it in the flannel. Unfortunately, a quick fitting around Tyo’s hips on the weekend suggested that it was going to be a bit short, so I pieced a further bit on each end. ¬†On the top left corner you can see the buttonhole where the buttonhole elastic will emerge from. At least this time I remembered to bind the edge of the waistband before attaching it. Much easier this way. ¬†I feel like this is going to be a much more substantial waistband than the one on Syo’s pair… we’ll just have to see.

Darting yoke pattern piece. Only with two darts.

I made a couple of fit adjustments, although it’s not entirely clear how successful they were (I’ll get back to you once the waistband’s on). I curved in the yoke by a couple of cm (standard on Jalie 2908 unless you have a really flat butt, I think), and I increased the rear crotch length (height? depth?) by adding a wedge 1 cm wide at the CB seam, tapering to nothing at the side-seam. In theory, this gives Tyo a bit more (much needed) booty coverage.

It’s been nearly a week since my last post. I hate posting so infrequently, but that’s the state of things right now, and not likely to improve until later next year. I’m going to try to keep the blog limping along as long as I can, but at some point in the next few months the thesis s$&t will really hit the time-crunch fan, all semblance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle will go out the window, and I will be reduced to a twitching, zombie-like being stumbling around the house mumbling “cladistics is the answer and the problem!” and “intersubjectivity as a substitute for objectivity is flawed!”.

But in the mean-time, there are jeans.

And, hopefully soon, a coat.


Filed under Sewing

La Mode Syo

The cool kid.

Syo would like you to know that she’s far, far, too cool to be posing in her new jeans for her mom.

They are a little big. Not really satisfyingly skinny.

Syo’s mother would like you to know that Syo is going to have to deal, I am so totally done with making clothes that are outgrown a month later.

Now that that’s out of the way, a few final details:

Rear view. Oh, that's the shrug I made here

The pockets look good. I like my feature pocket.


The waistband is flabby as I didn’t bother to interface (and it’s cut on the cross, i.e. stretchy). However, there are now studs. I bought plain “Bachelor buttons” rather than jeans buttons this time, because I didn’t really feel like spending $8 for 8 buttons when I could buy four bachelor buttons for less than two. The bachelor buttons may be slightly wimpier than the (already flimsy) Dritz jeans buttons, but not too much. Someday when the perfect conjunction of money and motivation coincides, I will order some proper ones off the internets. Until then, my children will suffer. Syo wanted a snap anyway, but didn’t mention this until after the buttonhole was cut.

Fuzzy pockets

She really likes the fuzzy pocket-lining fabric. I’m thinking I should make a future pair lined in something similar… extra warm and extra cozy all in one.


That gathered look has been achieved.

Got pug?

There are, however, few things cuter than a pug. Even a stuffed pug.

Also, I got the most awesome package in the mail today.

New pattern!

Yes, it’s that awesome 70s coat pattern Zoe made up last year and then recently decided to give away. I feel totally honoured and squee-tastic that she picked me (not to mention a little apprehensive. What if I stuff it up?). I am so excited. I’ve never made a Vogue pattern before. Bet you can’t guess which view I want to make. ūüėČ

So I guess I know what my next project is. Aside from the pair of ruched jeans I’ve already cut out for Tyo, anyway.



Filed under Sewing

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

Topstitching Fail

Hmm. Not the most flattering photos of my backside ever.

So, back in September, I made a pair of jeans. This is practically old hat around here. And they’re pretty decent, if I do say so myself, although I did gibble up the studs a bit. They do look better when the ass isn’t stretched out from being worn all day, but anyway.


As I mentioned in the making-of post, I ran into a hitch with the topstitching—I was out of jeans thread—and instead of making ¬†a trip to Fabricland just for thread (always a dangerous proposition) I popped by the little sewing-machine store on my way home from work. Being directed more at the quilting and embroidery crowd, they don’t carry my usual Gutermann topstitching thread, but they did have a wide selection of a slightly-heavier cotton topstitching thread, and I really liked this slightly orangey colour (above, left). Which I thoughtfully photographed with the writing upside down… oops. Now, it’s not as heavy as regular Gutermann topstitching thread, but about the same weight as their jeans thread (above, right). The main problem was that it is 100% cotton.

Cotton thread is lovely in many ways. It takes dye like the fabric. It’s soft. It might be better for the planet, although I’ll leave weighing pesticides and irrigation vs. plastic products up to you. But one thing it isn’t, is as strong as polyester thread.

And these are stretch jeans, ladies and gents. That thread is under stress. If you didn’t notice the issue in the top photo, here’s a closeup:

Topstitching thread fail

I should’ve done a triple-stitch topstitch. This would’ve given me the stretch I needed plus a somewhat heavier look. Gotta love hindsight.¬†If (when) I do another pair with this thread—it’s a 500m spool, there’s loads left—I’ll remember that.

On the other hand, the jeans are weathering (distressing) nicely. I scrubbed some Vim (a cleaning product including bleach and a mild abrasive, with about the consistency of shampoo) across the front of the thighs and it’s given a very slight, but nicely distressed look now that a couple of washes have gone by. I didn’t leave it on very long before washing, and I didn’t want it anywhere near the topstitching so I avoided distressing any seams, but I think it’s a technique I can play with more. And the cream-weight is easier to manipulate around the fabric than liquid bleach would be.

Hmm, all that jeans-talk has me wanting to make jeans now. I’m in a serious can’t-settle-on-a-project funk. Which is kinda fine because I don’t have any time to be sewing anyway, but still sucks. What little time I could have is being frittered away in indecision. Blerg. I want to make a jacket, or a blazer, or a coat, or a pretty dress, or a skirt, or a warm nightie, or a… or a… or, or, or…


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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. ūüôā

Superfluous hedgehog.


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Fly Fronts

Fly Front

As I’m working on one, I thought I’d muse a bit on fly fronts.

I am not an expert, mind you. Not by a million miles, and this is not a tutorial. So long as I follow a tutorial closely, I don’t find them horrifically traumatic to put in, but how well they turn out, that varies dramatically.

First off (once again) I’ll link to my two favourite tutorials. I mostly use Debbie Cook’s because I have a hard time following video tutorials. But for those of you who like to see it in action, ¬†Sandra Betzina has a gread video on the Threads website. It’s pretty much the same technique both times, except Debbie uses double-sided tape to hold the zipper down instead of pins.

Anyway, here are some thoughts. Insightfulness, organization, and usefulness are not guaranteed.

Cut-on vs. stitched on fly facing

This is the part of the fly that folds back to the inside to make that nice little flap that hides the ziper.¬†The flies I’ve used in patterns all have a cut-on fly-facing. The ones in my ready-to-wear jeans all have a stitched-on fly facing. I don’t know if this reflects cutting economy (not sure how, but who knows) or if the added reinforcement of the seam is really so important that RTW feels the need to include it. It does reinforce the edge of the fly-front. I think you’d have to do the construction slightly differently, though, as I don’t think you’d baste the front seam all the way to the top before installing the zipper. On the other hand, you’d only need to add the fly facing to the overlap side, which would make it (possibly) less confusing about which side is which.

Pockets, including extensions into the fly.


I have varied a lot on the amount of interfacing I put into my flies (and how I put it in) and come to the conclusion that, at least in my opinion, more is better. Maybe if I can find some really nice beefy stretch denim it won’t matter so much, but most of the stuff I can get my hands on is fairly thin and wimpy.

Layers of interfacing: fusible and pocket-lining.

I generally interface my flies two ways: iron-on interfacing in the fly-facing area, and with fabric from the pocket extensions. Often in the same pairs of pants. I’ve tried omitting one or the other, but so far I’ve usually been happiest when I included both.

The iron-on interfacing is pretty obvious: it’s a piece cut to the same shape as the fly facing extension, plus a little bit, and fused in place. I generally do it on both sides, although I could probably do it just on the overlap side. I’ve used a variety of interfacings (woven fusible, knit fusible, Armoweft), but been happiest with a sturdy, medium-weight woven fusible; it looks like muslin with a fusible side, if you ask me. Once this is fused on, continue construction as normal.

When I was first researching making jeans, I came across the concept of pocket-extensions. Basically you re-draw you pocketing pieces so that they extend all the way to the front fly-extension. They provide sew-in interfacing to the fly and a non-stretch tummy support if that’s your thing. (My jeans run below my tummy, so I don’t really benefit from that aspect. I do like the interfacing-aspect, though.)

Extra-long zipper

A lot of people recommend using a somewhat longer zipper so you can stitch on the fly without worrying about stitching around the pull. I like this because I hate stitching around the pull (I am not a zipper queen), but also because the shortest jeans zippers I can find are about 8 cm long and as you can see from the top photo, in the rise I use the zipper opening is about 6 cm long, tops.

Yes, this is about the same as in my RTW jeans.

When applying the waistband, you use needle-nose pliers to take the teeth off where you’re stitching, and trim the zipper tape to fit. You do lose the little top-stops this way. This isn’t a problem except that if you ¬†remove too many teeth and have a gap between the last tooth and your waistband, it is possible to pull the zipper-pull right off the top. This was the fate of these jeans. (It didn’t help that I had positioned the button wrong so they didn’t zip up easily.)

Folding back the fly shield

Fly Shield

This is a weird and mysterious rectangle of fabric you stitch to the under-lapping side of the fly, behind the zipper. It keeps zipper from catching undies/flesh/whatever, and gives the under-lapping part of the waistband something to attach to. I never even realized it wasn’t an integral part of my usual jeans until I was making a pair and actually took a good look at the fly construction. Who knew? Anyway, I always find this piece a bit suprising—oh, yeah, I almost forgot that! Now how do I put it on straight again?

Fortunately, no one will see it. The only external evidence of it is the little zig-zag bar tacks that adorn the bottom part of the fly curve in most jeans. They keep the bottom of the fly shield more-or-less in place and reinforce the bottom of the zipper.


Topstitching and Pockets

I just gave in and made a cardboard template to trace around for my fly-topstitching shape. The Jalie pattern comes with a piece, but I can never find it and usually end up free-handing the shape. Which can end up a little wonky.

Bar-Tacks on a jeans fly (and on the belt-loops, for that matter) (you can see this is one of the less-interfaced flies)

I’ve been doing the topstitching in my Featherweight, which means I can keep the Janome threaded for regular seams (which speeds things up considerably), but it does mean that it’s a little harder to do bar-tacks (those short bars of zig-zags that reinforce the pockets and help hold the fly shield in place under the fly. I guess I’ll do them at the end when I put the belt-loops on.

I am a little worried about this cotton topstitching thread’s longevity. I broke ¬†it about fifty times while topstitching these back pockets (more shapes courtesy of my itty-bitty French Curve set). To make the design a little heavier, I stitched over it three times. I’m totally going for a bit of a free-hand, sketchy kind of look with the stitching. Totally. Not because I suck at free-motion embroidery or anything. (It’s a little better on the Featherweight, which is much happier to go slow than my Janome, but I still suck. One of these days I need to get one of those little round darning/embroidery feet to see if that helps.)

OK, I know this mostly has nothing to do with the fly front. Oops.

I need to start sketching out pocket ideas when I’m NOT in mid-construction. There are a bazillion and one cool things you can do with jeans pockets, and I never can think of any when I’m in the middle of making a pair and realize: oh, yeah, I need something cool and unique for the pockets. I managed with my cream capris, but that’s about it. Also, I need to start photographing my kids’ jeans pockets. They have some nifty, nifty pockets.

I like my pockets smallish on the theory that they make my butt look bigger by comparison. I also like them highlydecorated; according to the fashion magazines I don’t read, this is also better for those of us who are under-endowed in the derriere department. They could probably be a bit bigger than this, though, and still look fine. Thoughts for the future.

Can I just have my jeans now? I feel like it’s taking forever. I could’ve finished them yesterday, perhaps, except that we were out (are you bored of hearing this yet?) at the creek. Today is supposed to be cold and rainy, so there may be sewing hope, but I also have a house to clean.

Tyo, Fishing Queen


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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. ūüėČ

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