I’ve been stepping out on my coat project with… jeans!
I have three excuses.
One, after I finished up my denim trousers, I had a strong hankering to see if I could adapt my pattern by removing the pleats. (IT TOTALLY WORKED.) I told myself that I should act while my pants knowledge is fresh.
Two, I have two pairs of jeans, only one of which *should* be worn out of the house. I actually retired those grey stretch jeans I wore with the kimono last year, only to start wearing them again when the thrift stores didn’t yield a replacement. They look ok from afar, but every time I wear them, they get a little saggier and a little more translucent.
Three, Sallieoh. Nough said.
So I did it – I made jeans. I wanted to document my process, because it involved quite a few steps. None were terribly difficult!
The reason I stuck with my trouser pattern was fit: I’d spent months working on perfecting that pattern and I figured small changes to it would get me further than starting all over with a jeans-specific pattern. Instead, I adapted elements of the pants pattern from Built by Wendy’s Sew U book.
Here are the changes I made to convert my trousers into jeans:
- folded out the excess fabric for pleats
- converted the back darts into a yoke
- made the pocket to a curve, using a pattern piece from Sew U
- added back patch pockets (also from Sew U)
- created a new waistband pattern
Once I’d updated my pattern, I still wanted to check the fit and make sure I hadn’t made any errors. Also, I was using my thrifted stretch denim and wanted a tighter fit than my trousers. My method was pretty quick and dirty:
- cut out front leg pieces (without removing any fabric for pockets)
- cut out back leg and yoke pieces
- baste back leg and yoke pieces; press
- sew legs together
- try on pants without waistband; turn inside out and pin out any excess from inseam and outseam
- mark front and back pocket position on pants
- mark changes and pocket position on pattern
After marking my pattern, I took out my basting stitches and cut my pieces down using the updated pattern pieces. (I’m guessing an expert would tell you to use new fabric to make sure the grainline was correct and the fabric wasn’t warped from pressing.)
After fitting, I constructed the pants as suggested by Sew U: I sewed and topstitched the back (yoke, pockets, crotch) and front (slant pockets, and fly) before joining them together at the inseam. After top-stitching the inseam, I sewed the outseam.
Once I’d completed sewing the legs, I started working on the pattern for my curved waistband. I started out with a rectangular waistband, basted it onto my pants, and then darted the excess in the back. I used that piece to drafted a new curved back waistband and left the front as a rectangle.
Topstitching, fly, button, rivet
The details that really say “jeans!” to me are the topstitching, fly, the jeans button, and rivets.
I used topstitching thread and stitched 1/8″ and 3/8″ from edges and seams, with the tension cranked up. Thanks to Gail and Stephanie for answering my call for help on Instagram when my topstitching was looking ugly!
For the fly, I used a combination of Grainline’s tutorial and Sew U’s instructions, with mostly good results. Since jeans are so top-stitching heavy, the order of operations is really important. I hadn’t realized I would want top-stitching on the edge of the fly opening until I saw the jeans on myself. By then, it was too late for me to connect my top-stitching to the center-front:
I think the top-stitching is fine and will escape the notice of people who don’t spend tons of time staring at jeans for construction tips. That said, I will confess that I was so excited about these jeans that I immediately started a second pair (sorry, coat!). Whilst looking for jeans-specific fly tutorials, I came across Debbie Cook’s. There was no guesswork, no fudging. Here’s how my second pair looks, inside and out:
Thank you, Debbie!
I bought rivets and jeans buttons from Taylor Tailor and read his instructions on installing them. I made the mistake of pounding one rivet into carpet (the pointy part of the back of the rivet came through the rivet cap) but otherwise was able to install them without any problems once I moved to a hard metal surface.
These are by far the best-fitting pair of jeans I’ve owned. The style is somewhere between skinny and straight jeans and the rise is just where I want it. I may have a bit more perfecting to do with the rear/back pocket area, but nothing that will prevent me from wearing these daily.
When I first started sewing, I imagined that pants, let alone jeans, were not worth the trouble and probably nearly impossible to construct. I’m glad I overcame that idea, because this project was incredibly rewarding!
Now… how to break the news to my coat that I have another pair of jeans in the works…?