I quite enjoyed Kenneth King’s Craftsy course, Jeanius, an online video class that teaches you how to make a jeans pattern using a pair of jeans you already own that fit well. He breaks the jeans into logical steps, and explains things clearly. My one complaint with the class was that the brown fabric he used in the videos made it hard to see the details on my computer.
The jeans I used in this course came from the kids section and fit much better than any juniors or womens jeans that I’ve tried on. These jeans have the distinction of being one of 3 pairs of jeans that I’ve ever bought that did not have to be significantly shortened. I got them at Kohls on sale, on sale with an extra coupon, so they were like $10. I love the way they fit, but I don’t love the bold topstitching (not the traditional jeans yellow-gold, but a mix of white and brown) or the very apparent fading on the front and back thighs. In short, I think they look like kids jeans.
I watched all the videos before starting to make my pattern, which I think helped me figure out who all the pieces he had us make actually came together. The pieces that I ended up with after copying the pattern from my favorite jeans looked completely different from both the McCall’s and Butterick patterns that I had previously looked at. No wonder I had such trouble with the McCall’s pattern.
That’s not to say that my pattern didn’t need some tweaks and alteration; it did. The yoke was too large and the back rise wasn’t high enough, so the yoke seam felt like my pants were constantly falling down even though they are not nearly as low-rise as what’s in stores. I had large folds under the seat and some pulls/wrinkles in the front that I didn’t like. The back gaped majorly; there was a several inch gap between my back and the waistband.
While the first pair I made, in a nearly black denim with black topstitching is wearable, it needs a belt to stay put, and I don’t always want to wear a belt. When I made them in a regular denim, with colored topstitching, I started to really notice the flaws mentioned above. I figure that if I’m putting all this effort into making a pair of jeans, I really want them to fit well. Not perfect, but relatively close.
I went ahead and finished the blue denim pair with the too-big yoke. Of course, between when I started, when I got frustrated with the fit, and when I finished, I lost the piece that I had cut for belt loops, so this pair is belt loop-less, and a smidge too loose in the waist. Still wearable, though, especially if I tuck a tank top/cami in, then leave my shirt untucked. I have since changed the yoke and waistband, and my next version looks like the back will fit a lot better.
The other problem I ran into was buttonholes. I did most of the sewing on these on my Singer 15-22, which is a straight stitch only machine. I tried doing a buttonhole on my computerized Babylock, but the machine ate my denim. Three times. So, I ordered a vintage Singer buttonholer on ebay to go with the 15-22. Then spent the next two weeks waiting impatiently for my package. This buttonholer easily made pretty buttonholes in several layers of denim with no problem at all.
I think I’m on a jeans making marathon now that I have my pattern worked out. I have plans for another pair with the standard yellow-gold topstitching (hemmed for flats, since the ones above are hemmed for heels), one with red topstitching and embroidered detailing on the pockets, one pair that is red denim, and maybe another pair of ‘dressier’ jeans with black denim and neutral topstitching.