A Closetful of Jeans

Over the past few months, I’d noticed that despite having many pair of jeans, I was drawn to the same 2 or 3 pairs of jeans everyday, and I had been running into problems figuring out what to wear when all three pairs were in the wash. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that all three pairs were jeans that I’d made, and that I had no intention of wearing the closet-full of store bought jeans for anything other than yard work or puttering around the house. Partially inspired by the great timing of Pattern Review’s One Pattern, Many Looks contest, I decided to donate all of the old jeans that I hadn’t been wearing and replace them with better-fitting, me-made jeans.

The One Pattern, Many Looks contest challenges you to use one pattern to make 2 or more different garments without making any substantive changes to the pattern itself. The goal is to use different fabrics, trims, embellishments, etc. to create a variety of different looks without needing to go through the fitting and alterations process for each item. For the contest, in the case of self-drafted patterns such as my jeans, the first pair made counts as the base pattern, which determines what you can and cannot change in subsequent versions. In preparation for me jeans-making spree, I tweaked my base jeans pattern a bit, adjusting the grainlines, rise, and pocket curve. Because my pattern is for stretch denim, and each stretch denim stretches differently, I had been basting each pair together, tweaking for fit, making note of the correct seam allowances and where needed deviating from the norm, and then carefully un-stitching everything before sewing them up for real. With the first pair that I made for the contest, I changed my construction order, making it easier to adjust the fit with less seam-ripping.

I used my tnt jeans pattern, which I made a few years ago using Kenneth King’s Craftsy class, and tweak for fit every few months. I ended up making 5 pairs of jeans during the month that this contest ran.

This pair is a medium-weight stretch denim from FabricMart Fabrics. If I remember correctly, it was Marc Jacobs fabric. The back of the fabric is primarily white, and I thought about doing some sort of color blocking to play up the reversibility of the denim, but decided to stick with the more classic, solid color and subtle tone-on-tone topstitching. Since they were pretty basic once sewn, I decided to add a bit of embroidery to the back pockets, and a second decorative button and loop (non-functioning, purely decorative) to the front to give them a bit more personality without making them too casual.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the classic bright gold on dark denim look on jeans, so for my take on “classic, dark wash jeans”, I went with a goldish-brown for my topstitching and the embroidery on the back pockets. The ‘contrast’ stitching became a bit less contrast and more subtle after the first run through the wash, and I’m hoping it doesn’t lose any more brightness in the future. Other than that, they are pretty much your standard jeans, without the coin pocket (which I’ve never seen the point of and rarely put on any of my jeans). The denim is a medium-weight stretch denim that I got more than a year ago from FabricMart Fabrics.

Since my attempt at a dark wash jean with contrast stitching sort of flopped, I decided to go with a definite contrast for this pair, in an effort to make a more casual pair of jeans. I ‘auditioned’ a variety of colors on a scrap of fabric before settling on two lines of stitching for most topstitched seams: a thick white thread closest to the seam and two strands of blue variegated threads for the second row. I used the bolder of the two variegated threads for the embroidery on the back pockets. With the exception of the back pockets, the fabric/thread combination isn’t quite as ‘in your face’ as I had expected, and I like the finished product a lot more than I expected.

Made with Black Bebe Diagonal Twill-Weave Knit from FabricMart, this is my take on the jeggings/yoga pant craze that seems to be sweeping the nation. After basting most of the pants together to see how much I had to adjust due to using a knit rather than a woven (turns out, not at all with this fabric), I realized that these actually slightly resembled slacks rather than jeans. So, following that thought, I left off the back patch pockets, changed the front pockets to slash pockets rather than the classic jeans pocket curve, and eliminated some of the classic jeans topstitching. The stretch of this fabric also allowed me to eliminate the traditional zippered/button fly for a faux fly and make pull-on, elastic waist pants. For the elastic waistband, I used my regular contour waistband pattern piece, and added a narrow strip of elastic to the top seam. Since it was elastic waist, I also left off the belt loops for a smoother fit.

Inspired by these buttons, I decided to make something a little more fun than a standard black jean with black stitching, and went with a medium-weight charcoal black denim, light grey-blue contrast stitching with a hint of shine (embroidery thread). To further show off the buttons, I added buttoned flaps to the back pockets. Well, really faux flaps, as I like the look of flapped/buttoned pockets, but in reality like my pockets to be easily accessible and get frustrated when I have to unbutton a pocket to slip my phone in. I sewed the flaps first, then serged the top edge of the flap into the facing of the pocket so that I would maintain the look of a separate flap, but would have an open pocket. The button goes through both the flap and the patch pocket but not through the back of the jeans.

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Chocolate Corduroy Jeans

As soon as I started thinking about sewing for Autumn/Fall (way back in July), I started thinking about chocolate brown corduroy jeans. Three months later, they’re finally done. I used my TNT (tried and true) jeans pattern, but since this fabric doesn’t have as much stretch as the denims I’d used in my past few pairs, I added an extra 1/4 inch to the outseam on the front pieces. Turns out I only needed it through the hip, as I ended up taking about the same amount back out after putting the waistband on, but I’m glad I had added it.
 Corduroy Jeans - With Needle and Thread
The only other change I made was to the waistband. I ‘borrowed’ the waistband from Jalie 2561, which I plan to test in the next few weeks. Since I don’t know how the pattern will fit, I basted the waistband pieces together, then took out equal amounts from each seam until it was the right length for my jeans. I really like the way this waistband fits – it doesn’t feel like it will stretch as much as the waistbands in some of my other jeans have.
Now, I just need the weather to cool down enough for me to wear them without looking silly. Actually, on second thought, I think I’d rather have the weather stay nice and wait to wear my jeans.

My New Go-Tos – Jeans and a Top

As soon as I finished my white jeans (blogged here) in July, I realized that neutral jeans other than the typical light and dark blue denim were sorely missing from my closet. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to add more options to my wardrobe, starting with tan jeans. Much to my surprise, it was very difficult to find tan/beige stretch denim. I even contemplated buying a pair of RTW jeans in a large size and cutting them up to make mine. I ended up finding one shade of tan stretch denim at fabric.com a few weeks ago. It isn’t quite as dark a tan as I’d hoped for, and the finished jeans look a bit more spring/summer-y than autumn-y, but I’m glad they’re done and in my closet now. I must have just been looking in the wrong season, because now that I’m done, I’m seeing tan stretch denim frequently.

This is my TNT (tried and true) jeans pattern, with a contoured waistband that I borrowed from a random pattern in my stash – though I don’t remember which it was now. I think with the next pair, I’ll probably use the 3 piece, stitched waistband from Jalie 2561. Even though that puts seams in that aren’t in most jeans waistbands, it seems to give a snugger fit and to stay put without a belt. It’s rare that I wear a tucked-in shirt with jeans, and when I do, I wear a belt anyway, so no one will see the extra seams, or so I hope.

As I was making the back pockets, I had a not-so-fleeting worry that especially in my petite size, these jeans may wind up looking like school uniform pants, particularly if I ever wear them with some sort of collared shirt. So, I decided to add a bit of embroidery/ decorative stitching to the back pockets. Though with the thread I used, you can barely see it, I used one of the decorative stitches on my Babylock machine combined with a few rows of straight stitching. Regardless of whether or not anyone else notices it, I like knowing that it’s there. And just may use this same design detail on another pair when I make something with contrasting topstitching.

Also shown here is my now-several-months-old-and-never-blogged favorite short sleeve top, based on the Hot Patterns Fringe Festival Scarf Top. I omitted both center front and center back seams, as well as the scarf. To hem, I just folded up the knit fabric and ran the sleeves, hem, and neck edges through my coverstitch machine. I think I need a bit of work coverstitching in corners/vs, but that’s just an excuse to make more tops.

These are the first two items in my Autumn 6Pac collection based on the 2013 6-Piece Autumn Collection (6PAC) Sew-Along (August-October) thread on Stitcher’s Guild dedicated to 6-piece collections of basic wardrobe items, complete with seasonal guidelines. Items 3 and 4 are almost done, so stay tuned for more on them shortly.

Summer 2013 6PAC – Completed

I finally got pictures of my 6PAC. I’d been using my brother’s tripod, but he loaned it to a friend…so I enlisted him as a photographer instead. Which, of course, means that I was a bit rushed and didn’t style/accessorize at all.

I ended up with a nearly entirely different 6pac than I set out to create. I really wanted a white drapey cardigan, but tried 3 patterns that did nothing for me. Then, I decided that I really would never wear a navy jacket, so I nixed that one. Also ended up with three different tops than were in my original plan. But…I really like what I ended up with and have been wearing every piece a lot.

I ended up with:

1. White jeans – my own self-drafted pattern

2. Blue jeans with embroidered back pockets and grey topstitching – my own self-drafted pattern

3. Green-grey jacket – Simplicity 1919

4. Striped sleeved tank – Simplicity 1613

5. Blue-green wavy knit top – Hot Patterns Fringe Festival Scarf Top (without the scarf)

6. White drapey top with faux shrug – Simplicity 2364

Some comments on the patterns:

Simplicity 1919 runs a bit big. The first one I made was a size 12 in a knit fabric. When making knit tops, I usually use size 10. In a woven like the green jacket above, I went up to a 14, which fits great. I love the subtle peplum and princess seams in this pattern. I would love to make this jacket again, but wonder if it is too unique – and if the peplum detail will make it go out of style faster. Regardless, I am very happy with this jacket.

This is the third time that I’ve made Simplicity 2364. You can see my first attempt here, from several months ago. Between the two versions, I went down from a 12 to a 10, and the pattern fits much better. I really like the combination of the shrug and draped neckline. This pattern comes together very easily – and I love that the neckline is finished during the sewing process – so there is no extra hemming to be done at the end.

I initially bought Simplicity 1613 for the twisted neckline t-shirt, which was included in my original 6pac plan. However, once I made up the shirt, I didn’t like the busy neckline. I think there was just too much going on in too small an area on me. Since I had the pattern, I decided to try the other view included. I didn’t make a muslin – just cut into my ‘real’ fabric and hoped it worked – and it did. I used a striped stretch lace, intending to wear this top over a tank top. I don’t know that this is really my style, and it will likely get the least amount of wear of anything in this 6pac. But, the pattern was very easy to sew, and if I do find myself wearing the shirt a lot, would not hesitate to make it again in another color.

Hot Patterns Fringe Festival Scarf Top is a free pattern that can be found on Fabric.com. I’ve made this top several times, and love all of them. In this version (and most that I’ve made), I eliminated both the center front and center back seams, left off the scarf detail, and shortened the top by several inches. I really like the fit of this pattern, and it has become my go-to cut-on sleeve pattern.

The Jeans – I love having a tnt jeans pattern. It’s great fun to make a pattern that I know will fit right, where I can focus on the details and creative design rather than on fit. Note to self when making white jeans in the future: use a thin, white fabric for the pocket bags and test before sewing to make sure they don’t show through too much. After sewing much of the white jeans together, I realized that the pocket bags showed through majorly. I ended up cutting off the pocket bags at the end of the facing. About all that will fit in the pockets now is some change or a stick of gum, but I don’t use my pockets much anyway.