Morgan variations

Thank you for all your thoughtful and interesting comments on my last posts here and here about deciding not to sew everything. Marilla made a comment on my Instagram post that I loved too much not to share:

“I actually think that sewing is a journey to more conscious thinking! There is no need in the end to sew all the things, but learning the process helps you have a better understanding of the work involved and in turn makes you a more conscious consumer. I’m all for trying to make all the things, but not because I never ever want to buy things that have been made by someone else, I just hope it gives me greater respect for the resources and skills required!”

Isn’t that wonderful? It summarized what I was trying to convey in my post but didn’t quite know how to say. I have gained so much in my efforts to sew everything, including the knowledge of just how much it takes. It’s humbling.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been really enjoying sewing jeans and trousers. The ones I can make far exceed what I could buy, in fit and quality. I’ve made a couple of variations based on the Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans, since sewing them as designed. The first is a slimmer stretch jean, made in Cone Mills S-Gene from Threadbare Fabrics.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I decided to alter the Morgan pattern instead of use a proper stretch jean pattern was because of how much I loved the back yoke fit and the pocket placement.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I’m also not really a true skinny jeans person – I’m not looking for a really skintight smooth look, just some extra give when I sit down or bend my knees. I also like to interface my jeans waistbands and use front pocket stays, so a non-stretch pattern was a very decent starting point.

I fitted these jeans as I went, removing some depth from the crotch curve and pinning out the outseams to make them more leg-shaped.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I loved dressy the dark-on-dark top-stitching made Sophie’s jeans, so I gave it a try on these.

For the second version, I decided to alter the pattern into a trouser pattern. I converted the back yoke into a dart and some width taken from the side seams, converted the jeans pockets to slanted pockets, and added back welt pockets.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans converted to trousers

I used a cotton sateen with a little stretch from Emma One Sock. Sewing black basics can be terribly boring, but all the pattern changes made it fun. And they’re my dream trousers! I’m wearing them with a True Bias Ogden cami and some workday wrinkles.

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I loved them so much that I immediately cut out a second pair in stretch denim I had on hand. I’ve also begun the hunt for loud jacquard fabric with which to make a pair for holidays and other festive occasions. I’ve had a real hankering for crazy pants lately.

I’ve also still got a few extra yards of denim, both stretch and non-stretch – any suggestions for denim projects that aren’t jeans or pants?

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Canada Pants

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I’m excited to share my Morgan jeans today! Since it would be weird to call your own jeans by your first name, I call them my Canada Pants. Not only were they are designed by Canadian Heather Lou, but I also found the fabric for them on a trip to Victoria, BC.

When Heather first approached me about this pattern, I was trepidatious about fitting without the aid of stretch. (I made a pair of non-stretch flares last year and while they’re comfortable enough, I just don’t like how they look.) I decided my strategy would be sizing up and sewing in a fabric with drape like a linen. Doesn’t it sound pleasant to billow around in roomy linen jeans?

But fate had other plans and I fell under the spell of a thick 50/50 hemp cotton denim in Victoria’s Gala Fabrics. (Incidentally, when I went up to the cutting counter, the owner immediately asked me if I was from Salt Springs Island. I said no and asked why, and he said that hemp and linen are very popular with the inhabitants there. If we were going on fibers alone, I’d say I’d found my people…)

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

So with my drapey linen plans delayed (but not abandoned!), I made a very traditional pair of blue jeans. And, in spite of my hesitance, they’re easily the best jeans, nay, pants in my wardrobe. For a few years now, the only jeans pattern I’d used was what I’d adapted from a Burda pleated pants pattern. I’m still proud of what I accomplished with that pattern, but these are better. The pocket design and placement is better. The balance between front and back is better. The booty curve is better. The overall fit is better.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Let’s talk fit for a bit. I took the pattern’s suggestion to size up for thick fabric (I made a 10 waist / 12 hips instead of an 8 waist /10 hips) and made a muslin. Lo and behold, my muslin was already looking and feeling better than any other pair of pants I owned. I had a bit of excess fabric in the front thighs and under ye olde rump, as well as some smile lines in the back. After some research, I made the following fit tweaks:

  • scooped and lowered the rear curve (which removed the extra back volume)
  • scooped the front curve into more of a rectangle (which also removed volume)
  • removed excess from the back side seam starting under the widest part of my hips
  • removed excess from the back inner thighs
  • removed excess from the front inner thighs
  • moved the knee point up by 1″
  • took out 1/4″ total from the calves starting at the knee

I’m a tall person with short-person legs, so the ankle length was perfect on me.

Aside from my plan to make the jeans in linen, my other design idea was to expose the buttons on the button fly. I’m way into series of gold buttons right now. I omitted the fly shield and sewed my buttonholes directly into the jeans front.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I also really wanted keyhole buttons. I remembered Kelly from Cut Cut Sew had hand-sewed hers and how lovely it looked. One evening when my husband was out, I turned on some music and got to stitching.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Hand-sewn buttonholes are still not my forte, but these are infinitely more practical and beautiful than my machined ones! Consider me a convert.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I also changed the pocket construction in favor of pocket-stays, instructions for which are included in the Ginger sew-along.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Given how well these fit, I’m chomping at the bit to make a second pair. My love of jeans sewing has been re-ignited! I’m going to see how these wear before sewing another pair – the true test of any pair of jeans -and see if I need to adjust the fit or sizing.

Thank you for reading, and thank you, Heather, for both the compliment of a namesake pattern and for drafting that booty curve.

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

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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?

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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!

Pants progress

My last post dealt with shoulder fit, but I’d like to take a detour to Pants Land (or Trouser Town, if you’re British?)

Last year I made my first two pairs of jeans. The first one was the best-fitting pair of jeans I’d ever worn, and an undefinable and wonderful (to me) style: fitted but not tight, tapered but not skin-tight, ankle-length. They bagged out a little bit with wear, however, especially after I put them on damp.

crabandbee.com | jeans
The original fit

On the second pair, I got overzealous and took 1/4″ out of the out-seams and tightened up the waistband. They looked good but, creature of comfort that I am, I really didn’t want to put them on. They stayed a dark indigo blue while the first pair earned that oh-so-delightful fading.

Over the year, the first pair started to feel more like the tight pair. I know what you’re thinking, and I thought it, too – I was outgrowing my jeans. Then I held up the first pair to the tight pair, and they were the same size! The denim had shrunk with washings and (very occasional) dryings.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 1367
The shrunken fit

Both pairs were lovingly folded up and given to my sister, who they fit as originally intended.

After giving the jeans away and a full Marie Kondo wardrobe sort, I was left with two pairs of everyday pants – a lackluster pair of thrifted jeans and my khaki pleated trousers. Right around this time, I’d been casting about for a project after finishing my coat but nothing sounded like fun until the idea of revisiting my jeans pattern occurred to me.

I may have called that pattern “self-drafted” at the time I wrote that post, but “self-cobbled” is more accurate. Now that I’m older and wiser/have read more Helen Joseph-Armstrong, I know that converting a pleated trouser pattern into jeans was nothing short of major pattern surgery! According to HJ-A, jeans have a higher back rise and lower front rise, which I did not take into account in my first two pairs. In fact, I’d reduced the back rise for the trousers. Add my ample rump into the mix and there’s just too much booty.

For this iteration, I added a full inch to the back rise, grading to nothing all the way to center front. I also added 1/4″ of ease to the front and back outseams to guard against future denim shrinking, which can apparently happen over the course of many washings. (I did wash and dry my denim twice this time but who knows if it was enough! I used the leftovers from my other two pairs so I’m suspicious that it’s waiting to do me an ill turn.)

Anyway. I love them.

crabandbee.com | jeans

crabandbee.com | jeans

I was inspired by Heather Lou’s Ginger sewalong to use pocket stays, which are amazing because of the extra room for my hands and the cozy stability across the entire front.

crabandbee.com | jeans detail

I was bolstered up by my success, enough to do some more pattern cobbling, and made a pair of stretch-denim flares with back darts instead of a yoke. I added 4″ length and about 4″ of flare on both sides of the legs.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Flares. Flares! Why did I ever stop wearing this wonderful silhouette?

I changed the pockets to a slant instead of jeans-style pockets.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

And I got terribly lazy and left off back pockets (which are universally credited for “breaking up the expanse” of rump.) I had every intention of making some nice welt pockets, but my fabric was quite thin and I thought the visible outline of pocket bags might be equally distracting. I may still add some sort of classy patch pocket, if such a thing is possible on pants. There is some wrinkling on the back, but it may just be from sitting? I don’t know. This fabric is probably best suited to dresses and the like.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

I would love to try my new flares pattern in another thicker fabric, possibly as jeans with a yoke. As-is, they have filled a wardrobe gap for me, which is nicer work wear (with a longer top, of course). I’d add another inch of length, too.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Hope you enjoyed this detour to Trouser Town! They’ve been a nice simpler sew while I muddle over the fit and design of my sister’s wedding dress… I’m documenting the process but I can’t decide whether to post as I go or plan to summarize at the end, in case it all goes to $hit and we have to buy a dress!

And for the gentleman

There’s something about preparing for a vacation that inspires me to take on extra projects. Years ago, I would stay up all night baking bread or cookies that I just had to bring on a camping trip. Now, of course, I dream up extra sewing projects.

This time, my last-minute project was on the selfless side. Three days before leaving for Kauai, I decided Nathan could really use some nice lightweight shorts to round out his travel wardrobe. I really, really considered making a dress for myself, but good sense prevailed; between the two of us, he’s the one who could use a few more pieces in his wardrobe.

Kwik Sew 3504 | crabandbee.com

I used Kwik Sew 3504, a jeans pattern I bought after seeing Sunni’s post. I probably wouldn’t have bought it if not for her post, because the cover art looks dated in a way that would have made me wonder if the fit was, you know, “relaxed” or the rise unpleasantly high. All went well, however – the shorts looked modern and fit perfectly without a single change. NOT  A SINGLE CHANGE. Now, men’s pants are most likely less fitted than women’s, but it still seems highly unlikely that a pants pattern would fit anybody straight out of the envelope!

Kwik Sew 3504 | crabandbee.com

I guess I’m just jealous. Anyway. I really liked working with this pattern. All the pieces were included – fly extensions, fly shield, belt loops, coin pocket. One feature I also really liked was that they gave measurements instead of markings for wear to place belt loops and bar tacks. For example, the instructions say to place the front belt loops 1″ from the front pockets, and the middle belt loops half-way between the front and back belt loops. I liked this quite a bit more than using tailor’s tacks and hoping they stay put while I constructed the rest of the shorts.

Kwik Sew 3504 | crabandbee.com

I used the same olive drab linen as my Mini-ru, from Our Fabric Stash, which was sturdy enough for shorts but lighter weight than a denim. Since these shorts were really a trial run for the jeans I’d like to make Nathan some day soon, I was happy to use a not-too-precious-but-still-appropriate stash fabric.

The zipper fly insertion method similar to my favorite tutorial from Debbie Cook, so I referred to both of them because I still find her pictures really helpful.

Kwik Sew 3504 | crabandbee.com

I used my favorite method for finishing the inside of a waistband.

Kwik Sew 3504 | crabandbee.com

One of the nicest things about sewing for Nathan is how regularly he wears the things I make for him. It took me awhile to attain the certain sets of skills it takes to make respectable-looking dude clothing, but I’m feeling better equipped and my last three projects for him have all been in high rotation. Along with jeans, I’d still like to tackle making a long-sleeve buttoned shirt with the dreaded tower placket. I’ve been meaning to since I made him a birthday shirt last year.

Kwik Sew 3504 | crabandbee.com

We got back from Kauai a couple of days ago, so the shorts will be most likely tucked away until summer. I was delighted, however, to see some radish sprouts in the garden I’d hurriedly sewn before we left! (Yet another last-minute project!) Softens the blow of coming back from a tropical paradise.

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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 correct 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″  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:

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:

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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…?

Pants v4

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This is the face of a smug, smug person who has pants that fit.

As I mentioned before, I found yards of this denim at SCRAP (a very cool creative reuse store in Portland).  I couldn’t believe my luck! I’ve probably got enough left for at least two more projects.

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I started these puppies right after my olive linen pants, and I’m happy to say that the welt pockets were perfectly symmetrical. So much was going right until I attached the waistband. I eased it in to the waist too tightly, cut off the back ends and had myself a really tight-waisted pair of pants. And then I just kept on going – I sewed and understitched the waistband lining, added bias binding. Unsurprisingly, none of that made the waistband looser.

So…. I had to remove the whole waistband and start over. A tight waistband is way worse than 15 minutes of seam ripping. It was particularly unpalatable because I’d already graded and clipped all of my seams. But it worked and I breathed a huge sigh of relief (facilitated by the new waist ease).

crabandbee.com | waistband

I suppose I’m grateful for the chance to practice turning nice points and bias-bound inside waistband. The new one does look nicer than the old. And I discovered I’m a big fan of binding instead of turning the inside waistband under – it’s less bulky, looks nice and I get to use a contrasting fabric on an otherwise plain project. I cross-referenced this Coletterie tutorial with a pair of J.Crew pants.

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And maybe 10x nicer than the waistband from my first version?

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The welts are sewn down to prevent drooping. The pocket bags are also really short, as I never use them, but I think I should have extended them as their outline is faintly visible. Oh, the efforts I will take for fake pockets!

crabandbee.com | welt pockets

I took the side seams in a bit since the fabric was thicker – 1″ total out of each leg. I think the olive linen is closer to the ideal weight for this fabric, but I still like these pants immensely.

I also made this shirt from Maria of Denmark’s free Kirsten kimono tee. I might lower the neckline a bit next time but otherwise it’s a great little shirt that fits very true to size. I think of this as my Fabric Tragic outfit because I’m totally copying Sarah.

crabandbee.com | Burda 7250

I’d make another pair of the pants when the need for something dressier arises – maybe in a boring black or a in wild print or texture. Now that I’ve altered the pattern beyond recognition (curved waistband, slanted pockets, new leg shape, lowered rise, added fly shield), they’re dream pants!