Great job on your front pockets! today? We are talking the button fly! This might be the trickiest part of the jean: but it’s pretty easy when you break it down point-by-point. My button fly method is also beautiful – go ahead and peek inside designer jeans and compare. I dare ya!
OK, we are getting down to it for real this post. At this juncture, we should have all our jeans cut (except for belt carriers, waistband, and waistband facing – we’ll get to those!), our pieces marked, and our decisions about topstitching and needles all down pat. We covered all this material in our first and second posts.
Time to start on the front of the jeans with something nice and easy: the front pockets. We will be putting an optional stencil in the jean pocket, and will need to give the paint a moment to dry – so plan accordingly. We are also trying our hand at hammering rivets!
And in case you haven’t already figured this out:
I HOPE YOU ARE READY FOR ONE BILLION PHOTOS OF JEAN CONSTRUCTION, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE GETTING
yellow Japanese selvedge denim with a monster-tentacle back pocket detail and articulated knees!
Brass findings: rivets and buttons. Four-button button-fly. Crossgrain and steam-shaped waistband (i.e. the most comfortable, long-lasting, and great-looking jean waistband you’ll ever wear!).
The interior of my button fly. You won’t find a better-looking button fly. I would invite you to look at the interior of your own designer jeans, but it might make you sad.
My favorite bit: while designing these jeans I’d been watching kaiju films, so I had this sort of seaweed-tentacle motif banging around in my brain. By the way, denim pocket topstitching is really soothing.
Uber-closeup of the back yoke at side seam, finished with triple-stitch. The waistband is finished by “stitching in the ditch” with an invisible-stitch result, as we see here.
OK, maybe THIS is my favorite bit? Articulated knees as formed by small darts in the inseam and outseam of the front leg. If you haven’t worn jeans with this detail, you will be amazed how much more comfortable they are!
And the selvedge outseam – Japanese selvedge denim, and people pay about $200 to $800 for a pair of jeans made with this detail.
I have come to realize that sewing is as much about design as it is technical savvy. One can master technical sewing skills far faster than develop a design sense and acumen. If you’re reading here, know that for most of us, it takes time, patience, blood, sweat, and tears to develop a design voice. Don’t let the amount of work, time, and yes – failures (or misfires) deter you from stepping on the path. It is a very special feeling to be able to create something – in my case, one-of-a-kind custom garments – that no one else has made, and that stands the test of time.
I’ve made no bones about loving Kenneth D. King’s style and teaching works – and, as pertains to this sew-a-long, his jean cloning Craftsy course (but you don’t have to take my word for it!). In fact, the course was so good, that my very first pair turned out flawless! The class is not only fun, but it showcases cloning techniques that are non-destructive to the original garment – and that can be used for almost any garment, not just jeans.
So here’s the good news, sew-a-long buddies. If you’re interested in this great cloning class to make jeans from your own favorite pair, Craftsy has agreed to partner with my students and offer a partial refund on tuition. The class is valued at $44.99 and is often on sale. But dem jeans students can take the class for $14.99! You can’t beat that!
If you want the refund, email me at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org and I’ll give you instructions to get going!
1. You can make better-fitting, better-looking, and longer-lasting jeans than you can buy. Yes, custom jeans for yourself. And yes, they look better than what you can buy retail. And after your first pair, you’ll realize it’s easier than you thought!
2. What’s your poison? Trendy raw denim, or selvedge denim? Looking to bring high-waisted acid wash into your life? Trying to emulate that awesome pair of white jeans you had in middle school? Want a pair of “boyfriend fit” in just the right dusky grey – or waxed deep indigo? Want to line your cuffs with your favorite old band t-shirt? Or stencil an awesome motif on the backside?
Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.
I can help you plan your jeans out, so you get exactly what you want. Send me an email – and be prepared to put aside some time and energy.
Now, if this sounds overwhelming or intimidating, start smaller: make a pair using a standard pattern. You will get used to construction methods, before trying your own custom-fit – and you can gift your first pair to a friend!
4. Once you start shopping for good denim you will be hooked. I ain’t gonna lie. It’s like a drug. Denim, even good denim, is affordable, it feels great, it lasts a long time, it is beautiful to look at and dare I say, fondle! – and the scraps make beautiful quilts (or potholders, or teddy bears, or, or…).
5. I don’t like to compare prices – because custom-fit, ethically-made, perfect jeans with tailor-level detail simply aren’t available on the market at all – but this is one case where a simple high-end home project is cheaper than high-end jeans. A lot cheaper. Even buying ethically- and organically-produced fabrics, you come out ahead.
6. My sew-a-long: you aren’t going to find better close-up photography and a more in-depth tutorial than mine (ask my previous students). My background in technical writing and knowledge of clothing construction means you will be rolling your eyes at the level I geek out on these! (all the while appreciating the meticulous detail!). And my photographs are important for jeans – the beauty is in the topstitching and technical detail, really.
7. Your jeans can be made for your body, as-is. Tired of jeans that don’t fit right, or too-long cuffs, or jeans too tight at the thigh? Yeah. And those high-end brands? Definitely not made in a diverse size range. Need I say more?
8. Once you’re finished, you’ll have a pattern made to perfection. It’s worth the time to create this template. Because forever after, all you need is a few yards of denim in your house, you can make up jeans whenever you’re feeling lonely. The jeans will be your friend. They won’t let you down.
9. You have a mentor the whole way. (That’s me!). I figure if Jalie Patterns (I’m not worthy!) thinks my sew-a-long is good enough for their professional site, you’ll probably be pretty pleased with my help too. You can ask questions via Skype, text (if we’re down like that), comments here, and email.
10. ASSES. Your ass looks great in jeans. Seriously. It’s true. A pair of well-fitting jeans, is a friend to asses everywhere. Look, someone had to say it!
So LET’S DO THIS!
If you’re a novice stitcher, you may be thinking There’s no way I can pull this off!
But – you can.
You’re gonna need to invest a little bit of money – and a lot of time. And you will feel like a million bucks when you are through!
Here is what you will need for this sew-a-long. Please read carefully. Some items may need to be ordered online; for instance, Kenneth D. King’s class on cloning jeansrequires a small tuition, requires supplies, and takes time to complete.
Feel free to post any questions to the comments – or email me:
I strongly suggest you take the time to prepare and do one of the following:
purchase any pattern and use this straight-size pattern, without alterations, as your first-run template – to get used to sewing jeans.
any kind of raw, selvedge, or cotton denim works. We are making non-stretch button-fly selvedge jeans for this course (I buy from Pacific Blue Denim). If you want to work with stretch denim, make sure your pattern is drafted and adjusted properly for this. Be sure to buy adequate yardage; I always buy enough for two pair of jeans.
contrast fabric, 1/2 yard
100% cotton or linen woven works best. We will be making the pocket bag, belt facing, and button-fly detail with this fabric. Consider something that looks good on both sides, for best pocket effect.
rivets and snaps &/or buttons (optional)
you will need four buttons and ten rivets; buy a few extra to be sure. I buy mine from castbullet.com.
stitch witchery or thin fusible web
this will help us get a perfect waistband
sewing machine(s) – can handle buttonholes and perform a zig-zag stitch
thread: high-quality cotton-wrapped polyester, in both construction color and topstitching color
The pattern: if you think about it, a Letterman jacket is a simple garment (certainly simpler than the last jacket I made). What makes it iconic and beautiful are the fabrics used, the details (the distinctive ribbing and collar or center back zip hood), and the patches. Almost any raglan jacket could be easily changed to a letterman jacket. That said, it is wonderful to have a simply-drafted pattern and it was easy for me to modify it for a facing and lining. This particular pattern comes in size 4T to size 16 (please please please let a client request a wee 4T) – a generous size range.
I made a size 8 in girth and a size 12 in length for my lean green bean boy! I also hand-knit cuffs, hem band, and neckband:
My welt pockets are perfect! Exactly no one is surprised. That said, some fabrics are far more lovely to work welt pockets in – and melton wool is definitely in that category:
Finished with a wonderful gold slipper satin and antique brass snaps:
And one of my favorite bits: a custom chenille patch:
All in all, a successful venture with a very simple, trusty pattern.
You can learn more about the Bundle Up pattern package below – or visit all the blogs that are showcasing the different patterns. Y’all know I tend to draft my own stuff, but these patterns are pretty fabulous and most of them have a great size range. Enjoy!
So what’s up? Me? Nothing. Just hanging out with this super-handsome dude.
The shirts aren’t his; he’s just the model here, being professionally good-looking.
Both these shirts were conceptualized by a client, and ordered and paid for about three weeks ago. The client was very specific about what he wanted: sleeveless with pseudo-distressed detail at hem, sleeve, and pocket, a contrasting inner yoke, and one shirt with traditional placket (the blue) – the other with a polo-style placket (the red).
I selected the fabrics – a Kaufman double-cloth for the blue, and a mid-to-heavy flannel for the red – and sent them for approval before ordering. For the inner yoke I selected very fine pima shirtings – they feel fabulous and I can’t wait to use them for my own children’s shirts. Below: the inner yoke (cut on bias) against the twill side of the double-cloth:
Some of the pseudo-distressed detail on the pocket front.
The inner workings of the blue shirt. I love the elements of color and the sturdiness of the garment. It will wear well, and long. At far right you see the bias-bound armscye edges. A technique I’m planning on using again:
At the top of the placket: a hidden 3/16″ snap for a formal-look when employed:
And now, the red flannel. My first-ever polo placket and it went very well (I used the Timmel “rugby neckline” article, which I’ve preserved with permission of the original author). Notice the plaid matching – the collar is symmetrical, and the placket is placed on a perfectly-centered front piece. Actually plaid matching is so very interesting to me because* there are many ways to match plaids and often some plaid-matching involves sacrificing other plaid-matching!
Inner yoke on the red shirt:
Some fray-detail on the front pockets. This detail will fray more upon washing. Wooden buttons – and of course, I included a spare:
Absolutely no serge-finished details – so the inside of the shirt looks as good as the outside. Below: the french-seam side seam:
And finally- the prototype for some business cards (I get asked often enough) as well as a new site design!
I’m right smack-dab in the middle of tailoring work for clients. After cleaning up my last project, I gave myself permission to spend about an hour on this li’l fella:
I simply traced one of Nels’ undershirts – which took about five minutes – and then cut a front and back from a tissue-fabric recently acquired from Britex fabrics. This wonderful 100% cotton knit is so, so beautiful – semi-sheer, lightweight, and rather fussy if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fortuately, I do.
The back, in true undershirt-style, features more of a racerback/cutaway design than the front:
A closeup – super-closeup – so you can see the very light and almost slubby texture of the knit:
Summer sheer fabrics are wonderful. You get a great look and coverage, but it feels like you’re wearing nothing at all – especially given the kinds of seam-finishes a bespoke tailor is capable of.
Nels makes up little booklets of “how to” on how his day goes. Here’s his latest iteration – published with his permission, which is pretty cool. As you can see from the cover above, at first he wouldn’t even let me look in the book, let alone publish it here. He didn’t want photographs of the inside but he let me list the contents here:
1. Pray for this day [includes best-ever stick figure depiction of “prayer”]
2. Exercise! [another great stick figure]
3. Brush your hair & teeth [no more stick figures, guess he got tired ofd drawing them]
4. Wash your face
6. Eat breakfast
7. Do 5 chores
8. Listen to music
9. Play outside
10. Watch cool movies
11. Put retainer on
In other news: yes, I made Nels’ “bowling-style” shirt in this photo I just took of him, before he left for a friends’ date. I don’t think I ever took pictures of it when I put it together (and when I searched on my blog, I found this piece from five years ago – #LOLsob!). It has the name “nels” monogrammed on the front left using free-motion machine-stitching. The shirt is constructed in Kaffe Fasset shot cotton, features coconut buttons from Fashion Sewing Supply, and has been washed, dried, and worn many many times since I made it: