Wait, sewing jeans?

Hello everyone! I’m back from our trip and once I have photos all organized, I’ll be regaling you with a few tales of waterfalls and remote Midwestern lands and such. πŸ™‚ But in the meantime, I thought I’d share what’s on my sewing table! You already know my current knitting project, which saw a lot of progress while we were gone.

I’m going to sew the Ginger jeans pattern! Me a year or two ago would never have believed I’d say I was going to sew a pair of jeans, but there you have it, I am. When the pattern from Closet Case Files came out last fall, I was intrigued… from a distance. I had this vague concept that some people do sew jeans, but until I started seeing more crop up, it truly felt like the final frontier of sewing. And it still does. Sure, I’ve sewn two jackets, but… jeans? Really?

Now I love jeans. LOVE them. Some women who love vintage styles don’t, but I sure do. You know my style is casual, and denim fits right in. When I started dressing more vintage many years ago, that was the biggest hurdle for me, hunting down jeans that fit how I wanted to dress! I could never find vintage ones that weren’t stupid expensive or actually fit well. Plus, I wear them often enough, vintage wasn’t going to be a good long-term option. Finding Freddies of Pinewoods literally changed everything (and I know I’m not alone in this!), and I’ve happily gone through several of their styles and pairs over the years. Now, there are more retro brands making a variety of vintage-inspired jeans with various fits, so it’s not as difficult of a hunt, thankfully!

But still, there’s been a little niggling voice in the back of my head since seeing the Ginger jeans pattern last fall. View B on the left below is the higher waisted, skinny style:

Ginger jeans skinny pattern, copyright Closet Case Files Source: Ginger jeans pattern, copyright Closet Case Files

It doesn’t necessarily read as vintage per-se, but looking through my eyes, the potential for them fitting into a retro wardrobe was definitely there.

For that View B, the waist doesn’t hit at the natural waist, so “high” is a relative term compared to most modern fits, obviously. I kept looking at them with squinty eyes and wondering, “Hmmm… could I make a couple of small tweaks and get a retro looking skinny jean?” Because since late last summer when I realized I actually really like wearing slim-fitting pants, I’ve done it. A lot. A lot a lot. Ankle length, high-waisted slim pants with a bit of a late 50s/early 60s look have become a regular wardrobe staple for me. It took me awhile to realize it, but the 40s wide legs that I loved just aren’t flattering on my small 5’2″ frame, which explains why I always thought they were so cute on others but felt dumpy in them myself. So the proportions of a slimmer fitting leg has been a big win for me.

Which brings me back to the Ginger jeans. I’ve just gotten a great pair of Lady K Loves jeans with a much slimmer leg that I adore and have confirmed I really do like this style, but I want an even slimmer leg, because apparently my proportions include toothpick calves (you can see them on me on Instagram). And for warmer weather in particular, I wouldn’t mind a slightly lower rise, just a hair under my natural waist. Since I’m short-waisted, I’m also curious if this may give me a bit more of the appearance of torso length, so long as it’s still high enough to read as ‘vintage’ in my mind.

None of this is new to me, I’m just sharing with you now! I actually bought the cone mill denim kit when Heather had that on pre-sale in late winter, so I’ve had a lot of time to mentally prepare. In the meantime, I’ve picked up a few cheaper denims to work through to sort out any fitting issues, since I won’t be doing a true muslin. So I’ll use the cheaper denims as full-on test runs before using the really good stuff. And I’m about to dive in!

preparing for Ginger jeans

I’m starting by only making a couple of minor changes at the get-go: I’m adding 1″ to the higher waisted style, which should (if I measured correctly) put them about 1″ below my now-beloved Butterick B5895 trousers. I didn’t want to go any higher without seeing the fit and rise on my body. I’m drastically shortening the leg length (5 1/2″!) so that it hits at my ankle, so it doesn’t have that slightly scrunched ankle you see on many modern skinny jeans. Both are in an effort to get them to read more vintage and less modern on me.

I’m making a couple of minor fitting tweaks learned from my endless fitting with the Butterick trousers (I have others I might do but really want to see how they fit first… I’m already slightly regretting one of the tweaks, so I may change back in version 2.0). Then I’ll dutifully baste it all together like Heather recommends. I suspect I’ll need to take the waistband and yoke in like many have for a swayback and small waist, but didn’t want to do that pre-emptively, especially since I raised the rise so that’ll change where the waistband actually sits on me. I’m slightly concerned in the end that I’ve cut a size too small for my hips and rear end, but the denim I’m using is pretty stretchy, so hopefully it’ll forgive that a bit if it turns out to be the case.

preparing for Ginger jeans (Yesssss, galaxy print for the pocket bags!!)

If I can get this fit okay in a few versions without murdering anyone or any sewing machines along the way, I hope to have a great pattern for a pair of vintage-inspired skinny jeans! Definitely more “inspired” than actually “vintage”, of course, at least for the decades I enjoy the most fashion-wise. Kind of more of a modern pin-up retro style, I guess you could say. But something that will totally fit into my wardrobe well!

All this chatter is to distract me away from the things that truly scare the hell out of me about sewing jeans. I mean, sewing jeans, that should say it! All that precise contrast topstitching, thick seam intersections (though yes, I already know and use the “hump jumper” trick to get over thick seams), bar tacks and belt loops, fly front, installing the rivets and jeans button, fitting…

preparing for Ginger jeans

Fingers crossed! πŸ˜‰

Filed: Sewing

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Golly, 27 Comments!

  • You got this! I made a pair with a higher rise and cropped ankle too, to get a more vintage feel, and love them! I haven’t been brave enough to cut my cone mills denim yet but I think I *might* be ready this weekend. I was terrified to make jeans but feel so accomplished now that I have. Heather’s tutorial made it all so much easier, and entirely less scary. Can’t wait to see how yours come out! πŸ™‚

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  • I can’t wait to see how yours turn out! I’ve been really intrigued by this pattern, but haven’t taken the plunge yet myself. Like you, I think I’d definitely have to add an inch or so to the rise to get the full on ’70s sort of height I like.

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    • Yeah, it might end up needing more, but with pants it’s so hard to know exactly what the rise is, since the crotches aren’t shaped the same! I didn’t want to overshoot it too much, but figure worst case, just means I raise it more next time!

      Reply

  • I also have this pattern and the denim and most of the supplies, but I’ve put it off. I love the look of it, but I dread the inevitable multiple fittings I’m probably going to have to do. I recently had an epically failed pants project, so I’m trying to work up the gumption to try them again!

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    • Sorry about your pants fail! I know how much of a struggle it can be. I’m trying to think of the rewards once I get a good fit, it’ll be worth so it. You can do it! πŸ™‚

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  • You can totally do this! I had some serious doubts too, but I recently finished my first pair of Gingers, on a mediocre sewing machine, at that, and have been loving them. I made my own mods (not vintage) but I can’t wait to see yours. You do such great work!

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    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ One of the reasons I waited so long after getting the kit is that I wanted to wait until I had my new sewing machine. My mediocre machine served me very well for a long time, but it was just completely craptastic when it came to top stitching anything but the simplest of things! Even though my new machine doesn’t guarantee I’ll do it worth a damn anyway (although my small samples so far are promising), I know it’s bound to be better.

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  • I love your plans to vintage up the Ginger jeans Tasha, can’t wait to see how they turn out! Much as it hurts me to do so, I’ve come to the same conclusion about wide legged 40’s style trousers on me – I just look too stumpy! And we’re the same height by the way! x

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  • I can’t wait to see them on you! I know what you mean about the wider let styles, I was worried spa out that, which is even why I held of most of the Freddie’s for so long. I tried to buy the slimmer legs whenever I succumbed! I might even chance them if you get success. I loved jeans but now I hate camel toe and them sliding down and all th other fitting issues you don’t think about when you don’t sew. If you can stomach the price, find get the edge stitching foot for the Bernina. It’s so so awesome. To be honest, all Bernina feet are pricey but they are all so so well made. They’re definitely worth the cost.

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    • I know, it’s amazing how much you don’t pay attention to fit if you don’t sew. Sometimes I wish I didn’t! lol

      Mine actually came with that foot! My first few tries the tension was really wonky with the topstitching thread, but I’m going to give it another go.

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    • Actually I guess mine is technically the blind stitch foot, although it looks almost the same!

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      • Yes it does look the same but it’s not quite! Though some people say they can use it well enough to do the same thing!

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  • Can you share the Hump Jumper trick?? I’d love to learn that but I’m scared to death to Google that πŸ™‚

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    • Ha ha, if you look it up you’ll actually find a little tool for the purpose (no pun intended). πŸ˜€ Basically, when going over a thick seam intersection, the foot will much prefer to be at the same level going over it, so the stitching doesn’t get all weird. As you approach the inline, you can shove a rolled up piece of paper or fabric or really anything, to go over the hump. There’s a specialty tool for it but I’ve always used a folded up business card! πŸ˜‰

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  • Ooh, can’t wait to see how these turn out! I also just stared a pair of Gingers with very similar modifications. I’m just working on the muslin at the moment! I feel the same way about jeans – as much as I love vintage styles, I wear my jeans really often so it makes sense to try sewing a pair.

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  • Though perhaps not 100% hardcore, straight up vintage, I get a mid-50s to early 60s Brigitte Bardot vibe off of these jeans instantly and have no doubt that you’ll do a fabulous job at styling them to look all the more the mid-century part.

    I can’t wait to hear more about your exciting travels!

    β™₯ Jessica

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  • You can do it, girl! I’m very excited to see how they turn out! I’ve been wanting to sew a pair of jeans for at least 3 years and have been putting it off for so long. Store bought jeans are always super expensive and mine always get holes in them between the legs (haha, TMI? πŸ˜€ ). I think you’ve just inspired me to finally get going and start with the project πŸ˜€

    Mariann from DreamyRaccoonSale

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  • Best of luck! You’ll nail them. Your determination will save the day πŸ˜‰
    Me, I am terrified of jeans. So far, I’ve only gone the swing trouser route, but I dream one day to have mustered the sewing superpower to make jeans.

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  • I shudder at the thought of making jeans again. I made a few pair in fashion school, such a chore to me and nearly put me off sewing for a while. Nearly. But I do value some techniques I learned from it. Sometimes we must go out of our comfort zone, mustn’t we!

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  • Oh man, how exciting! I love jeans too but seldom wear them anymore because I can never find a pair that is flattering on me. The prospect of getting a pattern perfected where you can make as many as you want? GLORIOUS!!!

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  • Claire Gittins June 4, 2015 at 2:22pm

    I’m really looking forward to seeing your results. Made to fit jeans….how fabulous! Good luck!

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  • I firmly believe that anyone who can sew a Cascade Duffel Coat as beautifully as you did will have no murder-worthy issues with jeans! πŸ˜‰ You’ve done a great job with pants fitting, and your top-stitching is great as well… I mean what else is there really when you think about it? YOU SO GOT THIS!

    I can’t wait to see the glorious reveal πŸ™‚

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  • I looked at this pattern just the other day, but I’m just not there yet. I’m still tweaking pants but I would someday love to make a pair of jeans that look like jeans. Can’t wait to see yours!!

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  • You’ll be grand, I’m sure they’ll be gorgeous! What, may I ask though, is the hump jumper technique?! First it made me laugh but now it’s got me curious!

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  • Can I just say that I love this blog, your projects, and your talent? What a happy accident to have found by Gum and By Golly πŸ™‚

    Reply

  • […] I discussed before, I wanted a pair of skinny jeans that had a bit of a vintage vibe to them, it being me we’re […]

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