Flare bear

I was on a major flare high after making denim trousers, and was certain that a pair of flared jeans would be just the thing. So I made them out of this fantastically thick no-stretch denim I found at SCRAP and… meh. They’re fine but they’re just not the 70s jeans of my dreams. I wear them about once every two weeks.

crabandbee.com | flared jeans

I’m not really sure why they feel so underwhelming! They’re technically the best pair of jeans I’ve ever managed to sew. They fit really nicely. I just feel a bit frumpy when I wear them. Maybe it’s the thickness of the fabric? I also added a total of 1/2″ of ease to the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch* (and took them in a bit when I fit them), so it’s possible they’re more relaxed than I was intending?

crabandbee.com | flared jeans


They also don’t seem to work well with any of my shirts, most of which were sewn to partner with other jeans. Any suggestions on what to pair with these flares? Please? Help?


Let’s move on from my frumpy pants to wedding sewing, shall we?

Since finishing the wedding bra (pic at the bottom of that post), I’ve been building the dress bodice. On a lark, I tried inserting the molded sew-in cups I used on the wedding bra into the bodice directly, and they worked on their own! So, after all that, we’ll be skipping the bra. It’s a little bit sad, but it will prevent me the worry of having to secure the bodice to it. And, my sis has a completely custom super-sturdy white foundation piece to do with as she pleases.

crabandbee.com | wedding separates bodice

“Dress” is actually a misnomer now – I lobbied successfully for wedding separates instead of a dress, hoping my sis could repurpose the pieces more easily and maybe even dye the skirt. I lengthened the bodice into more of a bustier top that could be worn with skirts or even pants. Next, I’ll be draping the lace bodice overlay with the expertise of my friend Casey – who finally has his own blog!

* Edit: I completely forgot to include pattern info for the flares! They’re based off my moderate-stretch jeans block, which I used most recently here. I added width at the bottom, reducing to nothing at the knees. Like I mentioned above, I added a total of 1/2″ ease per leg at the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch. Thanks to Emma Jayne for asking!


76 thoughts on “Flare bear

  1. I like them! I bet you’ll figure out which tops you like to wear with them… maybe a sleeveless button up, or your bustier top? I think my brain is so used to skinny jeans that it can’t figure out how to visual balance flares. I like them as you are wearing them in the pics tho! 🙂

    1. Yes, I think being used to skinny jeans is part of it! The tops I’ve sewn have almost exclusively been for them. Thanks, Gillian!

  2. Oh, I think these jeans are the bomb! They fit so very well! Maybe try a top with more pattern and color? I hope you’ll fall in love with them, they are awesome!

    1. Aw, thanks Sue! I do love how they feel. I think color and pattern could help break up the plainness and width of the flares!

  3. Denim shirt!!! I love these and have a similar thrifted pair that I love to pair with MORE denim. Can’t beat it! I hope you beat that underwhelmed feeling because these look fantastic! X

    1. Ooh, excellent idea! I’ve re-donated several thrifted denim shirts recently because they just didn’t fit in the shoulders so I’d definitely have to make my own. I could see it in some of the chambray-like tencel I’ve seen around – wouldn’t that be luxurious?

  4. Woopwooop! These flares look awesome! I like them with the white tee you are wearing and otherwise a camp with thin straps or maybe tops with negative ease à la Nettie bodysuit might work as well? I’m not quite sure what I used to wear with flares back when they were en vogue but most likely that would not recommendable either way. Hahaha. Hope they grow on you (not literally!) because they really look perfect! Maybe when the fabric softens a bit with a few washes they will feel better?

    1. Good point – jeans, especially of the non-stretch variety, seem to mold to the body over time. I think part of my conundrum is not knowing how to wear them to work – I prefer to cover my shoulders and t-shirts are only grudgingly accepted. Hmmm… maybe they’ll be my weekend disco jeans (just kidding, I almost never go out!)

      1. Hmn. What about a slim fitting blouse? Or even an oversized one, but out of light, drapy fabric to skim over the body? I could imagine this one working with heels and a white silk or rayon Archer. Or maybe a (slim) woven tee like the Tessuti Georgie or a Scout with lengthened sleeves? OR a boxy woven top like Simplicity 1366 with a half tuck (if that is the correct term, I’m so not familiar with fancy tucking stuff!)?? But I totally support these flares as disco jeans as well! Hope you have appropriate platforms to go with them! 😉

  5. There is nothing worse than making something truly epic but not loving it 😦 Sorry to hear that your rad jeans are not your jam! I concur with Sew Little Time, perhaps something more fitted at the top for a 70s vibe? Also, well played on the wedding separates! Things can be more reused that way 😀

    1. I think the results are unanimous – I need a leaner top to set these flares off right! (And thanks! I love the idea of her possibly getting some occasional use out of those pieces!)

  6. These look so good though! Sometimes, with a new silhouette, it is just a matter of finding the right combination. A button-down shirt seems a bit too literal to me, and maybe a bit costumey. I would love it with a sleek turtleneck, or for something more seasonally appropriate, I think it would look fantastic with a structured sleeveless crew neck or mock neck top (could be a woven or a structured knit).

    1. Thank you, Sara! Oh my gosh, I’ve been traumatized by turtlenecks (mostly because of my shoulders!) but maybe it’s time to give them a second look. Or even a sleeveless cowl?

  7. Lady they really look ace – you’re right, the fit is spot on and I like that tee with them however styling is so personal and can be a hard thing, and I personally find for me it can just be the slightest thing that tips the balance into a frumptastic spiral. I think with the 70’s silhouette you need a bit more skin – being swamped by denim on one half of the bod needs to be balanced by a bit of skin on the other half. So maybe some tanks embellished with some Alabama chanin or your fab shibori dyeing skills? Maybe check out some 70’s patterns on etsy and see what was popular then?

    1. Haha, frumptastic spiral!! That hits the nail on the head. I don’t know why I didn’t think of cruising etsy for styling inspiration – I probably look at vintage patterns 1x/day already!

  8. I used to wear flares for a long time! I remember that I wore them with a sweater very similar to the Jasper, from Paprika Patterns. The white t-shirt you are wearing on pictures looks perfect with these jeans! Maybe tanks would create slightly different proportions with it? Try!

    1. Oh that’s interesting, a sweater with a cool neck detail could look great! I’ll definitely keep that in mind for fall. I think I just need to experiment a bit more, which is tough because I expect to choose an outfit and be fully dressed in under 5 minutes.

  9. Those flares have such a great fit! I hope you come around on these because I think they look fantastic. They look great with the white tshirt.

  10. Hello! I just discovered your blog and I’ve really enjoyed nosing through your makes. I really like your style and you’ve given me the bit of inspiration I’ve needed to get my sewing mojo back. The jeans look great! When I have a hard time figuring out how to style something I go to Pinterest. Type in flare jeans…whoa a whole lotta style inspiration there. I really like your shirt, what pattern is that?

    1. Hi Shanni, thanks for stopping by! Good luck getting back into sewing again. I’m wondering how I’ll be feeling after sewing the wedding dress – I’ll either need a break or will be chomping at the bit to sew some things for myself!

      This shirt was actually a copy of from a RTW tourist t-shirt of my husband’s! It magically looks great on us both. I lengthened it, gave it a square shoulder adjustment, scooped the neck out a bit and used wide bands instead of sleeves because I ran out of fabric. I think part of its magic is that I sewed it in two layers of linen knit, which drapes gorgeously!

  11. Well you certainly don’t LOOK frumpy – you look hot! I think how you’re wearing them here is beachy and casual and I kinda wish I had the exact same outfit to throw on today!
    And I’m sort of crying/laughing for you about that wedding dress bodice just needing sew-in cups after all your hard work on the bra. Isn’t that just the way it goes! Can’t wait for more updates!

    1. It is funny/sad that I had to sew a bra to get to a satisfactory muslin fit that allowed me to get to a place where the bodice was supportive enough on its own… but! I’m trying to look at this entire process like a big sewing class, and I wouldn’t complain if there was an Intro to Lingerie section sneaked in!

  12. Ooh that frumpy feeling, I know it well but the feeling of your jeans certainly isn’t matching up with the look of them – they look great! I can picture them with this vest (tank top to you, I think??) of my mum’s that was in our dressing up box when I was little (i.e. she must have worn it in the 70s): ribbed, tight fitting but very soft, fine picot edge, pale green with a very simple tie-dyed ring design in the middle. Maybe that’s a bit specific…

    1. Thank you, Nina! It sounds like a lovely vision you have of your mom’s tank top/vest! Mine are plain black – maybe a print or dye would be more inspiring.

  13. The fit is great on top! Very impressive. When I wear thicker jeans I always feel a little bulky too. That said, I think it might also be where the flare starts. In my (completely subjective) opinion, I think if you raised the start of the flare between 3/4″ – 1″ and added just a bit more flare to the hem opening, it would create just a bit more 70’s drama without being overwhelming. A little more height in the rise would also visually lengthen the silhouette. I can’t quite tell how tall you are, but I have a long torso and short legs for my height, and raising the waist slightly always balances out the proportions nicely. Good luck on rest of your sister’s dress!

    1. I’m the same! I’m 5’8″ but I think I have the torso of someone who’s 5’11” and the legs of someone who’s 5’5″. I like the longer rise idea especially – I’ll keep that in mind if I give these a whirl again!

  14. Those jeans are perfect for the 1970’s look. I remember we wore sweaters (I had a knitting machine and made several sweaters with ombre’ yarn) that were on the body conscious side, long sleeved or short sleeved tops. Shirts were most often tucked in. You could alsw wear a “peasant” blouse or your style choice. That was a more counter culture look. Choose small, over-all florals, my mother used to complain that bought too much floral fabric. T-shirts had not been adopted as every day wear, just for work, but this is no longer the case, so do your own thing. By the way, the jeans are perfect. Keep them.

    1. I have been dreaming of peasant blouses lately! I didn’t think of them in context with these jeans, though, so thank you! (And don’t worry, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of these just yet.)

  15. Those jeans are beautifully constructed! Great job and they look awesome on you! I just recently finished two different pairs of flare jeans/pants. Mind you, this pattern was not the first time made up (10th and 11th draft to get the perfect retro look). To really capture the 70’s flare without looking too over the top, I made really tight thighs that started to flare about 3 inches above the knee. That creates an optical illusion of really long legs! I made the pants to be worn with platforms (we’re talking 4.5 to 5 inches) with the leg opening wide enough to cover my shoes (the high heels– not wide enough to cover flats). I also made them high rise. On the jeans, I created quite a curvy yoke that dips down quite far. The second pair, I made into sailor pants to really be retro.

    You have such a lovely figure that you could totally be retro with a blousy peasant top tucked in and finished with a chunky leather belt. You would look awesome in that!

    1. So interesting! I really thought that starting the flare earlier than the knees would have made my legs look stumpier. I’m going to give that a try if I make these again, along with the higher rise.

      I love the peasant blouse idea – I’ve been dreaming of them lately anyway!

  16. I hate that frumpy feeling… sometimes I think it comes from the thickness of the fabric and also our eyes are just so used to seeing skinny stretch jeans that something a bit different feels super different

    1. I agree, I think we have unrealistic expectations of fabric now that super thin stretch jeans and jeggings are in play. I’m wondering if these will break in nicely if I just keep wearing them.

      1. Yea, I think the denim should soften and mould into shape. Speaking of jeggings… I was walking along behind a girl wearing leggings the other day with jeans details like back pockets *printed* onto the leggings!

  17. why did flares get forgotten when skinny jeans became popular?!
    I’m thinking of making some boot cut-style using the Thurlow pattern – did you use a pattern here or self-drafted?

    1. These jeans are self-drafted in the worst way possible; I based them on my jeans block, which I based off a pair of highly altered Burda 7250 pleated trousers. Not recommended! (Your comment made me realize I didn’t mention a pattern in my post at all! I’ll edit.) I think building off the Thurlows would be a much better idea. 🙂

  18. These look so amazing Morgan!!! I totally know your struggle with trying to relearn how to wear flares lol
    Generally i like to have volume in one area and fitted in the other so you might want to try a more snug fitting tshirt or tank. I am envisioning your jeans with a slightly loose curved hem tank made out of a drapey rayon…maybe in a print…it would be so pretty! And it would go along with the boho vibe!

      1. Yeah after I read all the other comments, I saw everyone said the same! Hehe
        rayon is basically my favorite fabric so it’s the first thing that came to mind! Lol
        I can’t wait to see what you make!

  19. Definitely not frumpy! I think it’s the denim’s thickness that is making you feel that way though. I have denim Thurlows in a thick-ish denim and they look good, but feel bulky. Styling is kinda hard, but I think either a close-fitting top or a slightly blouse-y tucked in top always looks good. Or maybe a not quite cropped boxy shape (thinking of that simplicity CR pattern… 1366 or so… too lazy to look it up!)? Hope you figure it out because these look amazing! Also… skipping the bra after all that work? Ah! But ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Good luck with the wedding outfit!

    1. You are the second person to mention that Simplicity pattern! I’ve been wondering if I need to check that out… Re: wedding bra, I think my sis and I determined that she’d be able to wear it with a few other things, so all is not lost!

  20. Okay, I just have to say that these are brilliant! Absolutely gorgeous jeans, and they’re actually the kind that make me think…yes, I really want to sew jeans (normally they scare the bejezus out of me!).There’s a lot of advice above me about how to wear them, so I won’t add anything to that (they all seem good ideas), but just…yeah, enjoy them, I think! You look fab!

    1. I think you should try sewing some if you’re feeling the urge! More than anything, sewing jeans is about the order of operations and there’s a lot of great info on construction on blogs these days. Even though I’d made jeans before, I referred to Heather Lou’s Ginger sewalong and picked up a few new ideas and skills.

  21. I think these jeans look great and I love them with the white t-shirt! I wonder if it is the more relaxed fit that you aren’t digging. You could always try to slim them down a bit more, or just change the legs to skinny, and try another flared pair. In my mind 70s jeans are a tiny bit more high waisted and faded – but your denim looks awesome.
    I also think a peasant blouse of some sort would go with the 70s vibe or is that too cliche? I also like the idea of a tank. Either way, they look great!

    1. I think part of the problem is that they look relaxed even though they really aren’t! So slimming down anything other than the flares isn’t an option. But, if I don’t end up taking to them, maybe I’ll take your advice and change the legs! And a peasant blouse is never too cliche for me 😉

  22. I love the jeans and don’t think they look frumpy at all. The only thing I might say is that 70s jeans tend to be high-waisted, so that might be why it wasn’t exactly what you were aiming for? But the fit is fantastic and personally I think they look great on you.

    Shirts–something that gets tucked in and has a lot of drape to form around the waist. IMO. Work that 70s vibe. 😉

    1. Thanks! I may just need to adjust my expectations of them. I’m pretty solid on this peasant blouse idea – maybe in a good white rayon or silk.

  23. Hey thanks for the shoutout! I love the flare and it would probably look great with the silk blouse I make. Let me know if you want to borrow the pattern to cut and sew one. Designer friend perks!

    1. No prob, just glad you’re blogging! Thanks for the offer, too – at this point in the wedding dress process, I can hardly imagine a project that sews up in a day!

  24. What a disappointment that you’re not happy with your jeans, because I think they look great on you. Maybe if you tried a blousy, tunic-like ’70s style top with them? But really, I think they look good even with this simple tee.

    The wedding outfit is looking amazing.

    1. Thank you so much, Gail! I’m going to try to make the jeans work. There’s a lot to like about them. And a tunic length top could look fantastic!

  25. I love this shape. Gosh I’m going through another jeans crisis. I have lots of denim in the stash but none of it is that color I have in my head! Sometimes it all boils down to the fabric and how it makes you feel… how can you know really what it’s going to do until you’re wearing it!

    1. Thanks, Amy! I’m going to go back into my closet and see if I can’t find something that looks better with them – if not, I’ll be digging into my patterns 🙂

      Denim is funny like that! I’ve dreamt of a thick but soft bright lighter medium blue denim for years but have yet to find anything like it.

  26. Morgan!! I love these jeans on you! I do understand though that this thicker denim and lack of stretch makes them feel “off”. I have a couple of pairs like that and I too feel frumpy in them. Despite feeling frumpy…you DO NOT look frumpy in them. They give you that “legs for days” look. I think they would be best paired with a shorter more fitted shirt, much like your wearing here…always half or fully tucked in so as not to overwhelm your frame and highlight you teeny waist. I can see it with a striped tee tucked in the front and a cool brown belt and wedges. Or a tee with lace details… I think a cool hat and slouchy bag would look great on you too.

    1. Thank you, Margo! I have torso for days, so the appearance of legs for days is a welcome illusion 😉 A tee with lace sounds awesome…!

  27. Those jeans look fabulous on you. I would rate them as perfect fit. I am a flared jeans addict… as others said perhaps it´s just the feel of non-stretch denim on your skin. I wear my flared jeans both with tucked in tops or loose ones e.g. http://sewingprincess.com/sewingprincess/2014/06/la-mia-boutique-blouse-05-062014/ or here http://sewingprincess.com/sewingprincess/2014/03/margot-blouse-republique-du-chiffon-cosmic-blue-atelier-brunette/

  28. I just can’t see the meh !!! – maybe they feel odd but they surely don’t look meh they look perfect – spectacular even! give them time, thick denim is like wine – needs ageing … if you still don’t want them I volunteer to take them off your hands!

    1. Thanks, Sasha! They would be huge on you, so I guess I’d better just make them work. I tossed them in the dryer this morning and they’re looking a little nicer. But I agree with the aging thing, too; jeans really come into their own over time.

  29. These look so beautiful! They look so well constructed, too! I bet you will come around on these once they soften up a bit in the wash. I know you mentioned that you don’t like to have bare shoulders, but I could totally see you in these with a tank top with slightly cut-in shoulders, like the Workroom Social Tate Top or Vogue 9109.

    1. Ok, I ran them through the washer/dryer last week and they looked significantly better! I’m not sure what magic happened, but you’re totally right. I’d love to try a couple of those tops – I’m not sure why I’m such a prude at work!

  30. You are so amazing. I don’t think I know anyone else who manages to whip up a pair of technically incredible jeans in between sewing a wedding dress. I mean, I ate a cookie for breakfast. Where do you create the time? The energy? The skill?! Any way sorry you feel frumpy because these photos are not showing it. I think they would look smoking with a tight tee, or one of those off the shoulder crop boho tops, or a sheer blouse. Go full 70s! 🙂 x

    1. Aw, shucks!

      I recently through these jeans in the washer/dryer and I felt much more positively about them. I’m just going to keep wearing them until I love them, and use them as an excuse to try some new top silhouettes – ESPECIALLY 70s-style tops.

  31. I have no idea why these jeans aren’t coming to the wardrobe party… they’re so bloody fabulous – the fit and cut and shape on you is awesome. They remind me of the jeans I used to wear in my teens.
    Like Reana says though – you ask me how I managed to sew other stuff during the wedding dress saga… your jeans are just that! (not to mention they’re for you and are infinitely more practical than a bridesmaid dress. At least my robe gets a bucket load of use…)
    I love the copper hardware.

    1. I think I’m coming around to them – I gave them a wash and dry last week and liked them twice as much!

      I think I was able to sew the jeans when I did because I was just procrastinating on the wedding dress! I ran into issues of ignorance early on – wondering how perfect the muslin needed to look in order to move forward, etc. – and (rightly or wrongly) bolstered myself up with other projects until I simply had to buckle down.

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