Cheating

I’ve been stepping out on my coat project with… jeans!

crabandbee.com | 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.

crabandbee.com | jeans

So I did it – I made jeans. I wanted to document my process, because it involved quite a few steps. None were terribly difficult!

Pattern changes
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.

crabandbee.com | jeans

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

Fitting
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 correctΒ and the fabric wasn’t warped from pressing.)

Construction
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″ Β 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’sΒ 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:

crabandbee.com | jeans

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:

IMG_4285

IMG_4286

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.

In summary

crabandbee.com | jeans

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…?

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79 thoughts on “Cheating

  1. Your jeans look fantastic! I almost finished a pair last summer before I realized they didn’t fit. But after seeing how great yours look, I think I need to give jeans another try!

  2. i am so excited to see these, they look amazing! great fit! just 10 minutes ago i finished hammering in rivets for my husband’s pants, and today i bought denim for my upcoming jeans. can’t wait to make them!

  3. I can’t get over how RTW these look – the topstitching is amazing, and the fit is great. Now I’m thinking about making these mods to my Colette Clover pattern for jeans… hmm…

    1. Thanks, Mika! Your Clovers look awesome – I remember being blown away by them during Me Made May awhile back – and I’ll bet they’d look great as jeans!

  4. Wow! Seriously wow! I put buying jeans that fit in the same category as finding swimwear that fit (that is, I hate shopping for them) so totally love that you can get the fit just right. They look so very RTW. Amazing job!

    1. Thank you, Rebecca! I also really dislike shopping for jeans (and swimsuits, gah) and hadn’t ever found the right fit for my body, so I’m pretty excited that these fit!

  5. Morgan they look FANTASTIC! I’m so impressed. I really like the fit too. The rise is perfect. I’m totally inspired now. I downloaded the Jamie Jeans pattern, but did not feel like taping and tracing anytime soon. Now I’m ready for it.

    I’m glad you figured out the topstitching! It’s actually really common in manufacturing (especially leather and heavy work) to use two different sized threads. You just compensate with tension adjustments. The second pair looks flawless!

    1. I love the Jamie Jeans pattern – after seeing Kelly’s version, I almost went that route. They’re so stylish! And thanks again for your help with the topstitching – I was afraid to crank up the tension as high as I needed to!

  6. They look great – and fantastic to be able to make proper jeans that fit!

    Debbie Cook’s is the fly tutorial that looks best to me lately too (unfortunately I only re-discovered the tute after a moss mini, grr). Jeans #2 look like they’re going to be perfect πŸ™‚

    1. That tutorial was a revelation! I think some of the other tutorials might be using similar techniques but Debbie’s explanation made everything click for me.

  7. These look so great. All your hard work paid off. Don’t tell the coat but I totally think the jeans are worth the time away from it πŸ™‚

  8. You go girl, look at your glorious topstitching! I’m terrified of making jeans, but I’m very inspired by yours – wonderful, wonderful!

  9. Wow! you have nailed it! Fit and all. Not at all surprised you’ve cut out another pair. I’m going to be controversial and say sew whatever the hell you want (and your jeans will probably be worn more anyway)!

    1. Very true – I feel a bit silly saying this, but I’ve been excited to get dressed in the morning because I know I can wear my jeans. I don’t have to think too hard! They’ll get worn year-round, too.

  10. These look super, you must be thrilled with them 😊 Also loving your gold boots!!!
    (Oh and I totally retire and then take back into commission clothes that are long past it!)

    1. Thanks, Lou! The boots were an early Christmas present from my sister when we were thrift-shopping. Lucky me! Glad I’m not the only one resurrecting gross clothes πŸ™‚

  11. Wow, these are just fantastic! Who needs a coat when you can make the holy grail of sewing? πŸ˜‰ I just bought the Named Jamie jeans pattern, and once I get through my summer sewing I’m looking forward to tackling it – I’ll definitely be referring back to this post when I do πŸ™‚

    1. I really like the Jamie jeans design! I think a few other bloggers plan on making them up soon so you may have some really good inspiration coming your way. One thing I forgot to mention in my post was that I used a stretch stitch (it looks like a lightening bolt) since I was using stretch denim. Good luck!

  12. Yay jeans! They look super great, the fit is perfect. I’ve just finished my first pair too and want to make more, more, more. I never imagined I would ever make jeans and coats when I started sewing either!

  13. Awesome jeans Morgan! I’d break it to your coat easily that there’s another pair in the works. You wouldn’t want to break any hearts πŸ™‚

  14. Holy smokes!! These look so freaking awesome!! Killer fit. And it looks like your second pair is going to be even better! I love making jeans – I find them so satisfying to both make and wear. And you’re totally right, my jeans are full of little topstitching quirks and no one EVER notices! Yay!! Full speed ahead on the jeans making!!

    1. Thanks for all the inspiration, Sallie! I think you’re the first blogger I knew of who made jeans, and it made it seem slightly more possible. I might get a bit addicted to making jeans myself…

  15. These jeans may look even better than your last pair of pants! I haven’t made jeans for myself since high school, when I had very few curves to work with πŸ˜‰ definitely a great idea to go with the pants pattern you used before. It paid off big time.

    1. You made jeans in high school?? That’s so cool.

      Re: curves, I think the yoke, crotch curve and waistband are the tools for making them look good.

    1. Oh my gosh – your jeans refashion is badass!

      As a broad-shouldered broad, I’ve never found a blazer that looked good and that I could move my arms in. So, I haven’t tried making one! My instinct would be to take it apart, lining and all, and play around with basting some new seam lines. Good luck!

      1. Thank you so much for the compliment, it means a lot coming from you πŸ˜€

        I think I’m gonna have to do that, because there is just to much of excess fabric… Should I update you when it’s done?

  16. AWE to the SOME! These are so great!!! As a jeans lover, I can tell you will be wearing these a lot! They are so RTW in appearance, but fit amazingly too! WINNING! I don’t think your coat will mind πŸ˜‰

  17. Seriously, superstar! I have not even figured out how to make trousers, let alone jeans. Yours look awesome and I’m so happy that you now have a pair of TNT trousers pattern, AND jeans pattern. Way to go, Morgan… and those gold boots!!!

    1. I tell ya… it sure took awhile to get those trousers dialed in. And I abandoned them for months, multiple times! Now that you’ve taken your fit class, I’ll bet you’d have a much easier time working on trouser fit if you wanted to start back up again.

  18. Wooo Hoooo! Good job adapting that pants pattern. After all why reinvent the wheel if you’ve got a pair that fits. You’re making me want to start the paint fitting cycle of hate again. πŸ˜‰

    1. I think I’m almost superstitiously fearful of trying out another pants pattern after the 9 (!) months I spent perfecting some variation of this one. I know you’ve got mad patternmaking skills – have you tried making your own pattern? Or is that just a different cycle of hate? I have a romantic vision that making a pants pattern from my own measurements, if I’d had the know-how, would have been slightly better.

  19. Those look awesome! I’m so impressed that you did all that pattern manipulation to remove darts, make a yoke etc without losing your fit. Way to go!!!! Now you can make more more more!

    1. I used Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s book as a reference, especially when I was changing the darts to a yoke. It was helpful to have on hand! In addition to my second pair, I’m considering a pair in black and one in some kind of experimental textile.

  20. Wow! These look amazing! I’m really impressed! They are just the style that I like to wear jeans– a little skinnier than straight. Love love love them on you! The topstitching looks fantastic, especially around the back pockets. Killer job!

  21. As always, you look gorgeous, and your jeans look fabulous! I have a question about where you thrift your old projects. I’m interested in selling some of my old projects, but I’m not sure where to take them. I live in Belltown. Any recommendations?

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve had luck at the Ballard Buffalo Exchange and the Cap Hill Crossroads. I haven’t gone to the u-district Crossroads as much but they might be worth a try.

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