Update: this sew-along is finished, and all videos are linked at the bottom of the post!
Well, we did it.
We hosted twelve months of sewing goodness!
I have enjoyed, so very much, designing these classes and livestreaming with you all.
This month, we made a pair of jeans! In my videos (four in total) I will start with a bit of fitting advice – and a bit of conversation about all the different parts of the jeans.
I’m using a pattern I drafted myself, for a friend – however, all jeans should have some version of the following pieces – design features you should become acquainted with. These are explained in my first video.
So, a good jean or trouser pocket – especially a wide or deep one – may stretch out over time. This issue is compounded even more if the pocket is cut on a curve (as so many are) and if it’s made from a stretch fabric.
So in that light, for a few years now I generally use a stay to stabilize my front pockets. This is especially important for a work garment or something that may get really rugged use. I learned this technique from Kenneth D. King, although I can’t remember precisely in what class or tutorial.
This technique uses a very cool aspect of a plain weave cotton – the ability to steam-press a curve into a strip tore on the cross-grain. I am using a light black cotton lawn, but any light plain weave will work.
This step takes place immediately after you’ve sewn the pocket bag to the shell fabric (which I’ll call denim), and before you do any trimming, grading, understitching et cetera.
So first, tear a strip that is about 2″ longer than the pocket seam you will be reinforcing. I tear at about 5/8″ wide; anything between 1/2″ and 1″ will do:
Next, take this strip to the ironing board along with your jean. Using the curve of the seam, steam press the strip by really yanking and curving and pressing. It works beautifully! You don’t need the curve to be perfect, just close to the pocket curve:
Now, pin the stay to the garment. It can be confusing at first to figure where this stay goes: but it is pinned to the wrong side of the jean fabric:
Next, flip the work and stitch from the pocket bag side, right on top of the previous seam. Don’t worry if you’re not as accurate as I am. It’s better to stitch a bit into the seam allowance, than into the body of the jean. Stitch slowly and remove pins before you get to them.
Here is the underside of the work. You can see the theory of the stay: the curved stitching line will be stitched over ONE thread in the weft direction! This makes for an incredibly stable curve. Pretty cool, no?
Now, it’s time to notch or pink that seam allowance, to allow for a smooth curve.
Flipping to the right-side of the garment, this is where you might typically understitch all layers towards the inside of the garment:
Instead though, since I will be topstitching that pocket edge from the topside, I steam-press that pocket edge carefully, rolling about 1/16″ of denim to the backside. *chef’s kiss!*
Finally – topstitch that pocket curve from the public side, with either one or two (or three!) rows:
Perfection. You’ve got a pocket that won’t blow out, sag or droop!
One of the first intermediate garments I sewed, was a flannel shirt. Listen – I live in Aberdeen, Washington and while we didn’t invent the plaid flannel per se, we sure got it on the scene. In the early 90s – when I sewed my first shirt – the typical M.O. was to find them at thrift stores. I hadn’t filled out yet – I was still a relatively petite C-cup – so I’d buy what was available: the men’s flannels.
Of course, menswear doesn’t fit most women’s bodies in a comfortable or practical way. For me, the shoulders too broad and the arms were too long. The shirt hipline was too narrow yet the waist was baggy. I think that is what my fourteen year old self must have been chasing, when she purchased a lovely raspberry and green soft cotton flannel and embarked on the adventure.
I remember my mom and I squabbled every step of the way. A menswear-styled shirt isn’t exactly a beginner project: you have the cuff plackets and the front placket and fiddly collar and collarstand and pockets! Then there’s the narrow curved hem – ugh! We argued throughout the creation but
These days I pretty much take menswear shirting to #levels. I am constantly pursuing better craftsmanship and new methods. Plaids are amazing because while they take a little extra work to match – the . For this reason, I don’t both using any flannel that isn’t pretty decent quality. And flannel can be tricky that way. It can look great on the bolt – but once you’ve prewashed, turned to rubbish! The “Mammoth” line has been very satisfactory so far and I picture myself sticking with it until I’ve chomped my way through several more of their lovely colorways!
(SUUUUPER cheap plastic buttons because they were the best color in my stash!) –
And yes, those are bias-cut cuff plackets, and a bias-cut cuff. I interface the cuff, but not the placket. While interfacing a placket can be very helpful at times, in general you want to use a very, very light interfacing. The medium/heavy weight of the flannel meant interfacing the plackets was not wise. The cuffs, collar, and collarstand interfacing made for a very rugged-feeling shirt.
The entire shirt is french-seamed and I achieved a perfect curved armscye:
Curved baby hem – another potentially frustrating seam to pull off:
Here’s my noir photo of my shirt. Being all mysterious ‘n’ shit: Finally: I modified the Bootstrap shirt in only two ways – the sleeves, and to add breast pockets. I modified the sleeves for a cuff placket, and to narrow the sleeves. I wanted to be able to wear the plackets open, but have them not flop! Two pleats at the cuff as per tradition.
Now let’s move onto the jeans!
I’ve hosted two jean sew-alongs so it hardly seems like I should keep telling y’all how I make them. I will say this denim was just wonderful to work with. It was mid-to heavyweight, which feels good for a fall/winter jean. It also had a very firm hand. And the blue/black indigo colorway is drool-worthy, especially when coupled with the traditional goldenrod thread work:
Those who’ve been with me a while will remember my Miniature Giant Japanese Baby Bunting and the wonderful fabric I used. Well today I finally got to use the last little bit of this fabric! I used it for my pocketbags and waistband facing, and because I used a crossgrain facing and pieced this facing, I really did use the last bit of this fabric economically. SO SATISFYING!
While I am not totally averse to a curved waistband, steaming the curve into the crossgrain uses less fabric (therefore less bulk), and makes for a better performance and finish – IMO:
(Also note how fly my fly is!):
Some more fly action – belt carrier made from the selvedge:
Stitcwork meeting at the center back yoke: My own little pocket graphic. I accidentally sewed the pockets on the wrong side – usually the larger curved motif is at the outseam! Brass rivets, zipper, and snap:
Day three of our stretch jean sew-along! We’ve assembled our supplies, then cut and marked our pattern. Today we get to stitching, with our front pockets. You know what’s super-cool about these pockets? They are abso-fricken-lutely gorgeous! They are made with pocket stays (you will not want to make a trouser without them, after today!), hand-set rivets, and a french-seamed finish!
Having gathered our supplies, today we are earnestly getting started on our stretch jeans sew-along! Want to join us? Email me and I’ll set you up!
Before we start, I can tell you a little about my sew-alongs. They are relatively detailed, and talk quite a bit about construction theory and tailoring values. They aren’t especially “cookie-cutter” sew-alongs and you may find the posts a bit longer than typical offerings. That said, I have had many satisfied “customers” (I don’t charge for these, or use ads or affiliate links) tell me they learned so much from these posts. Comments like this keep me motivated to be as detailed as possible!