Can you believe it? We’re up for another sew-along in just a couple weeks! (Reminder: all my sew-alongs are cataloged here!)
Because – there really are a heck of a lot of reasons for you to make your own jeans!
Want to join us? Sign up to join (after you enter your email address, simply read on)! You will receive six emails in all. Easy-peasy:
For this super-awesome sew-along, we are going to do something scary – design our own custom jeans! The sew-along launches on August 15th, for my mom’s 67th birthday (mom jeans! wooooo! and always on trend!)
And let me tell you a little secret. When people compliment your jeans, and you say, “Thanks! I made them!” – nothing will be so fabulous.
OK, so first, you need to sign up for a Bootstrap account. This is incredibly straightforward; but I put together a little tutorial back in the Tea & Crumpet sew-along. (You can also email Bootstrap if you get lost or confused).
Next, you need your pattern – the Vado jeans pattern! The information at the link claims a “non-stretch woven” – but you actually get to build your pattern according to no stretch, low, medium, or high stretch! I know, right?
Now, don’t get too excited! Because in order to determine our measurements for the pattern, we need to first consider our build of the jeans, as well as the stretch of our fabric.The skinny jean corresponds to the jean pattern fourth from the left, below:
Notice each build of jean indicates the amount of ease to add to knee and ankle. The skinny jean requires we measure our knee and ankle, and add between 0.5 to 2 cm. I used 1 cm for my model’s jeans.
Measuring The Body
This is a case where it is a very good idea to have a partner assisting for measurements. We are going to need the following seven numbers:
The most crucial measurement here, is measurement 1. That is, where the waist of the jean needs to fall. NOT (necessarily) the wearer’s natural waist. As illustrated below:
The tape measure indicates my model’s natural waist. The twine illustrates where she wants her jeans to fall. It is best to use something like a twine, to set right on that desired waist. Measurements #1 and #7 depend on accuracy here.
And don’t forget buttocks shape! What we think our bums are shaped like, isn’t always the case. A photo can help with this! My model is a “curvy” – look at the shape from the thigh moving up to the buttock. (For best results – stand with legs straight but not locked.)
So – you have your measurement. Next – it’s key to know the fabric we want to use. The jeans are built with not only according to fit and body measurement, but with the fabric stretch in mind! (yes, I know, amazing!). I am using a 3% spandex fabric:
Once you’ve checked and double-checked your measurements, selected your stretch content, and decided on whether or not you like a seam allowance (I always get one), you can checkout with the pattern in whatever format you like – electronic, or print. I choose the 36″ print version, and send it off to a copy shop. (Near-)instant gratification, and no taping of pages! But – you do you.
Let’s talk about our supplies!
We will need:
denim (3% spandex)
a jeans zipper (longer than needed; we will shorten it)
1/4 yard interfacing
pocket bag fabric (optional)
waistband facing fabric (optional)
Jean supplies are actually quite easy to find. Every denim is a different weight, different quality, and has different amounts of mechanical and fiber-based stretch (Closet Case Files discussed this a bit in their November 2014 post on Ginger Jeans). While you can study fabric builds to your heart’s content – and that won’t hurt! – the truth is research is no substitute for experience.
Because I am committed to helping newbies succeed, let me just say the following: 1. don’t scrimp on fabric price; and 2. our larger seam allowances will help account for any stretch difficulties you encounter.
There are so many, many places to shop for denim. My hands-down favorite locale is Pacific Blue Denim. Despite what looks like a wholesale scene, they do sell to “hobbyists” (read: people buying less than 100 yards at a time). Read the first comment of this post for a general price list, then request (via phone or email) an invoice for your yardage. They’ll take your credit card information and keep it on file. Not that I’m a big ol’ denim-enabler! Even with their small-order cutting fee of $25 and shipping shipping, they are such a fabulous one-stop shopping spot for denim that they are worth it!
As to the type of denim you want, you are aiming for a 3% spandex (elastane or lycra are words for the same thing). Any more stretch than that and the jeans might bag out a little upon wear (we are used to that, if we’ve purchased RTW). Any less, then jeans won’t feel very comfortable. Don’t worry, though! We can make adjustments as we sew. I usually buy about three or four types of denim at a time because I make jeans on the regular.
Rather than use heavy or denim thread which can be tricky to handle, I use a speciality triple-stitch with the same thread I use for construction. This makes for fast and elegant jean construction! I also buy matching spools for the serge-finished seams. Please note: you don’t have to serge-finish at all. A clean finish, or a pinked finish, will look gorgeous! I’ll show you some of these finishes in my next post.
Y’all know about my Zipperstop color card by now, right? Because I am a nerd. Make sure to get a denim or heavier zipper, not a zipper with plastic teeth. You can measure your zipper area from your pattern, or you can do like I do and get a long zipper (11″) – we’ll be shortening it to a custom size.
Jean Button & Rivets
These are not entirely necessary – you can use ANY button for a jean top! You can eschew rivets, or use bar-tacks for strength. I purchase my rivets and snaps from The Frugal Outdoorsman, because they’re always great, and it’s a family business. If you have a rivet/button hookup you like, post in the comments!
We are interfacing our fly area only (we’ll be using strips of cotton for our pocket stays). The best interfacings I’ve ever used are Pam Erny’s, from Fashion Sewing Supply. In a pinch, pick up a lightweight fusible from your local fabric store.
Pocket Bag & Waistband Facing
As y’all know, I adore using a waistband facing. Whether we are doing a crossgrain waistband steam-stretched into a curve (my favorite method!) or, as in this pair of jeans, a curved waistband – a waistband facing allows for low-bulk, a soft interior finish, and a bit of haute couture glam:
You can make pocket bags from your denim if it’s light enough, but I have always used a thinner cotton. I don’t care for making garments up in quilting cottons anymore – but this is one case where that will work just fine. Also – note that Pacific Blue Denim also carries pocketing fabrics!
So like – can you believe it? We’re about to get started!
Please, please, please sign up for updates! Jeans are entirely do-able, even for a committed beginner, but if you’re new they might be a little intimidating! I want to make sure you have the best start to the sew-along. If you have any questions at all, please email me, find me on Facebook, or post here!