Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

I made something—something big—for my spouse!

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

Jeans! I sewed Mel jeans!

This is the Morgan boyfriend jeans by Closet Case Files. I finally got up the gumption / nerve / desire / whatever you’d like to call it to sew Mel some jeans. And since I’d never actually sewn for Mel before, this was a big place to start. But hey, sometimes I like a good challenge!

I looked at men’s jeans patterns first… all like, 2 or 3 of them that I could find. (I feel for people who sew menswear!) I determined that Morgan was styled basically the same way, but because it was actually a woman’s pattern, it was probably meant for curvier bodies. And so that’s where we started.

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

I used 12.5 oz rigid Cone Mill denim from Threadbare Fabrics (which is really dark and thus hard to photograph!). Good grief was this fabric a beast, and damn near stiff as a board when it arrived! I wasn’t going for raw so I pre-washed it twice and dried it, and then had to press the everloving daylights out of it. I mean like full steam, with spray bottle of extra water, go over twice, soul sucking kind of pressing. And it still has a somewhat wrinkled texture. I’m worried I may have to press the jeans when they get washed. Grrrrr.

It wasn’t too much more difficult to sew with using a denim needle, but the stuff was so rigid that the fabric literally cut my finger while sewing on the waistband and maneuvering it all. No kidding!

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

Because this wasn’t stretch denim, and I was sewing for someone else, I did a muslin first. Based on measuring Mel’s favorite jeans, I cut a 16. But I also raised the rise/crotch depth 1″, since we were going for more of a vintage look, and Mel has a long torso (I have a longer inseam, and I’m shorter!). The fit was pretty good except the side seam from the upper thigh to the waistband was wonky, so I added more room in a few spots to make up for that.

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

It’s a totally different frame of mind, sewing for another person, and you have to think about where their needs may differ from yours. Mel is relatively hard on clothing, so in key places, I added a bit of extra stitching for strength. I used a French seam for the pocket bags, then secured them with a line of topstitching (a tip I picked up from examining Mel’s RTW jeans). I also secured the pocket facing to the pocket bags on the curved side with two lines of stitching. With pockets that get used a lot (and Mel’s do), I figured you just can’t be too careful!

The inside is an Alexander Henry quilting cotton that Mel picked out, and totally makes these jeans extra special, inside and out!

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

Because the denim was so rigid, I opted to use the same fabric to face the waistband, instead of denim. Less traditional, but more custom! Especially with a red zipper, red serger thread, and red bar tacks on the pockets (which hadn’t been added yet in the photo below).

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

But you can see the bar tacks here. They’re a fun touch, and installing rivets gets me twitchy anyway (especially when I was only averaging 50% luck with samples). I’ve done this now a few times and really like it.

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

Seriously, topstitching on jeans is sooo satisfying!

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

To turn a boyfriend jean pattern into basically a men’s jean pattern for a curvy body, I made the following style adjustments:

  • Widened the belt loops just a smidge, about 1/8″.
  • Widened the waistband 1/8″.
  • Lengthened the front pocket bags significantly (about 1 1/2″) to accommodate a big ol’ iPhone Plus. (I think men’s front pocket bags tend to be deeper than women’s, so I mimicked Mel’s RTW jeans and then we modified the muslin to fit the phone. The things you can do when you sew! 😉 )
  • Used back pockets 2 sizes larger than the pattern size, to fit a wallet easily without it peeping out of the top unsafely. (Mel wears a chain wallet anyway, but still.)
  • Because I wanted a nice line of stitching at the edge of the cuff, I sewed them opposite, with the topstitching thread showing on the turned up cuff, and the bobbin thread on the right side (that you’ll never see).

And for Mel, I made the following fitting adjustments after doing a muslin:

  • Removed 3/8″ of height at the center back of the yoke for a small swayback adjustment. Typically Mel’s jeans pool terribly there (sorry hon, I know you never noticed but they do! And these do less so 😉 ).
  • Added nearly 1/2″ to front upper leg at side seam, as seam was pulling forwards there. Added 3/8″ at inseam for large thighs, but cut back to 1/8″ after realizing it made the crotch too long.
  • Added 1/8″ at back upper hip, as side seam was pulling backwards at that point.
  • Cut 2″ off the length of the leg. This was long enough for Mel to cuff, which was the goal.
  • Scooped out back and front crotch curves slightly.
  • Not a “fit” adjustment, but decided to use a zipper instead of the button fly (which I did on the muslin) as I was concerned if there would be enough room over the abdomen, and I didn’t want them pulling open at all.

If I ever sew Mel another pair of jeans, I think I might lower the rise a bit. The higher rise is great, but Mel doesn’t have a big difference between waist and hip unlike me, so jeans tend to sag down over the course of the day, and a longer rise means further to sag. The jury is still out on that though, until I see how these wear over time. But we’ve had a couple of “pull your pants up!” moments already.

While this isn’t selvage denim (the pattern can supposedly be used with selvage denim, but the upper sizes are too curved in the hip to do so without tweaking the pattern to make the side seam straight, and I’m not really sure how to go about that effectively), to mimic a couple of RTW jeans, I pressed the seam allowances open on the side seams. Mel really likes the look, and the pop of the red serger thread (we decided on the color together before getting started).

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

It’s really weird sewing something for someone that you have to look at wearing the item all the time. Maybe if it was something easier to fit than pants it wouldn’t be. But it’s hard to turn your sewing mind “off” and not see all the little things you might like to change. When I’m wearing something I made, I don’t do that, but looking at someone else in something I made… a little trickier! Fortunately, Mel has worn these a few times by now and they’re starting to blend into the background just as “jeans” without me seeing all the little things that bug me or I might change.

And really, it’s hard to complain, because this face says it all!

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

And Mel has told me more than once, “These are the best jeans I’ve ever owned!” Sooo I’d call them a success! 🙂

Rockabilly Morgan jeans for Mel

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Golly, 48 Comments!

  • Mel looks great in these! I love all the carefully thought out details – just perfect!

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  • This post made me smile. 😀 Mel does look great in these jeans – I think you did a superb job.

    Red serger thread was a stroke of genius!

    I just muslin-ed up (first) shirt for Felix last night – I don’t even know where to start for fitting a guy! Its an odd feeling; like I’m learning how to fit all over again, right back at square one.

    So jeans??!!! Mind blown! 😀

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    • Thanks, Liz! A shirt for Mel is next on the list and I’m just as nervous about fitting that! Sewing for another body is WEIRD, you are right, it really is an odd feeling compared to what we’re used to for ourselves! lol

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      • I wouldn’t be too worried about shirts. It’s the same as sewing anything else. I wouldn’t call my husband “curvy” but more rectangular than most men’s patterns are drafted to and I’ve managed to make him two different shirts, one has an RTW fit, and the other has more of a bespoke fit. They both work and they both look like normal shirts. I’d take a look at Seamwork’s back issues, they recently (this summer) ran an article about sewing for gender-fluid individuals that might be helpful when sewing for Mel. Good luck, I can’t wait to see your FO

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  • “soul sucking kind of pressing”

    I sew with heavy denim, and this is the absolute best description of after-wash ironing ever!

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  • How wonderful! I might make a pair of jeans for my husband now. But I’m kind of scared. By the way, I hired your wedding photographer (Kimmy) for my daughter’s wedding, and the photographs are magnificent.

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    • Thanks, Kathy! And so wonderful to hear you hired Kimmy, she was fantastic!! We got to see her at our friends’ wedding a few years ago too (they hired her as well), which was really neat. 🙂

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  • These are so amazing!
    Seriously, the only thing I’ve sewn for my partner are some handkerchiefs. Oh, and a shirt, but it didn’t really fit so I ended up keeping it for myself :p
    But jeans????? Wow! I love reading when you write about jeans too, your descriptions of the denim always sound so cool, tough and professional 🙂

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    • Thanks so much! They definitely are one of those things that when you take the time to go through all the steps (which seem like a loooot but aren’t bad at all when you’re doing them!), they result in something professional enough it can even surprise you, and you just made them. It’s a very sewing positive sewing experience! 🙂

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  • I think Mel’s face and comment say it all really… what better compliment could you ask for?! Nicely done Tasha!

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  • They look good. I love it.

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  • Those are great, and I love Mel’s face being so thrilled with them. Great explanation and detail on your part too–really helpful. Thanks and best wishes–

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  • The jeans looks great on their own, and Mel looks great in the jeans! Sewing for other people is a special kind of scary – I’m always much fussier about making everything just right. I can deal with making mistakes and taking shortcuts on stuff I make for myself, but not on clothes for other people.

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  • Honestly, I love these jeans for so many reasons, but especially because they’re made for someone else. I sew for my children all the time, but I think it’s time I make those silk knickers for my friend, just to show how much I love her. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  • raquel from JC September 20, 2016 at 4:07pm

    Well, what a treat for Mel! When I began sewing eons ago my husband ask me for underwear and I said: hell no! Well, 25 years later I made him a pair of Comox trunks! I also made him (and my dad) dressing shirts, but I’m not as brave (or skilled) as you with jeans.

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    • Thank you! Jeans do take a bit of bravery but taken in little small chunks they are nowhere near as bad as they seem, and then the end result is really impressive even to yourself! 🙂

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  • Love the jeans and the fit. I haven’t sew for another adult (some kids clothes, some knitted gift sweaters) but I’m thinking of making some retro short sleeved shirts like the Penguin brand. My spouse loves them in the summer but they’re expensive so we try to find them at the Nordstrom Rack. A few are getting pretty worn out after regular rotation for a few summers so if I could make one or two a year we’d be set.

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  • jessica Dunlap September 20, 2016 at 8:02pm

    They came out excellent, and you both have such great style!

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  • Hat doffingly awesome work! I just adore the classic tattoo art fabric that you used on the inside. Stellar touch!

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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  • Those look so amazing! I have had my eye on the Closet Case Files Ginger pattern, but I can’t get brave enough to dive in. These look SO polished and professional and awesome. Impressive enough if you had sewn them for yourself- but you sewed them for your spouse (I haven’t been brave enough to do that yet either!).

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    • Thanks! Honestly, just dive right in! It’s way scarier than it seems like! Ginger was the first jeans pattern I tried and there’s lots of details, so it breaks it down and suddenly a few steps in you sit back and are like “Whoa, I’m really for real sewing jeans”. 🙂

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  • Those Jeans look fantastic and it is great to see photo’s of Mel! I love your blog and am not a sewer myself, but have just bought a machine. We will see how it goes!

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  • Aw, that’s so fantastically sweet—-I love the look on her face. That’s true love. Great job—she looks fantastic in them!

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  • Fabulous!!! Great details, jeans de luxe!

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  • They look awesome! Mel looks so proud and happy! I have not sewn for someone else yet and this post is inspiring me to give it a shot- but likely with something a little simpler than jeans!

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  • They look amazing!!!!! I love the cuffs on the bottom and the pocket fabric! It really is hard sewing for others, though, eh? I thought it took me long to fit things for myself but geeze louise, fitting for others is almost more challenging because a) you are not used to making those adjustments and b) you are extra nervous that the person might not like the finished product! I always worry that the receiver will not like the garment but not want to say it to my face lol.

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  • Wow, these looks so nice! i really like the red serger thread on the cuff, I had capri jeans with a similar detail when I was younger and was so gutted when i grew out of them!
    Also, I agree with everyone else who says Mel’s smile says it all 🙂
    And thank you for spelling out your steps on making the fit more “masculine”. I have a very curvy friend who has trouble finding clothing that have a classic menswear fit but can accomodate a more “feminine” body and we have been talking about me making things for her but I was a bit stumped about where to start as it’s very different to what i would do for myself 🙂

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  • Brave of you to sew jeans, for someone else! They look great, but I know you will tweak them a bit next time. For the stiffness problem, Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns has an unusual tip for softening denim. She recommends pre-washing the denim with a can of Coca Cola (no substitutes) . Repeat if the fabric is not soft enough. Peggy does this every time she sews with denim. I would suggest trying this with the completed jeans.

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  • This is the best Morgan variation I have seen! I like how “manly” they are! The original pattern is too faminine for my taste but your variation is spot on.

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  • Denim near the sewing machine always makes me just a little scared somehow (and maybe that’s justified after reading your description of how hard it was to handle). I’m hardly brave enough to mend jeans of my own, let alone fit and sew a whole entire pair for someone else. I’m in awe!

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  • I am SUPER impressed! I hate sewing for others, so this is really fantastic that you were able to sew these for Mel!

    Kristina | eyreeffect.com

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  • […] are my third pair of Ginger jeans. I sewed them immediately after sewing Mel’s Morgan jeans and my Safran jeans, and by the end of all that I was totally jean-ed out. I’d been saving […]

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  • My partner just looked over my shoulder and said, “Where are those jeans from? I’d like a pair!” They quickly followed with a sigh and “that’s one of your sewing blogs, huh?” Lol

    I’ve never done jeans before, but Aiden looked so excited (then disappointed) that I may have to order this pattern and some denim.

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    • Happy to inspire / sorry to inspire for your future jeans making, LOL! One thing I’ve learned is jeans are time-consuming but not as hard as they look. 🙂

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  • The jeans turned out awesome! And really, the two of you are so stinkin’ cute! I may have shed a tear or two because it’s so sweet to sew how much TLC you put into a pair of jeans- something most folks would take for granted, methinks- and how pleased-as-punch Mel seems to be wearing them BECAUSE you made them. Hearts and smiley emojis for days!

    P.S. I’m thisclose to finishing the Gertie B6019 Shaheen-style sarong dress- you’re right, it’s a beast! I’ll send you some photos when I finish 🙂

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