… With peacock pockets and rainbow seams!

Hello. As I approach my 4-years-of-sewing anniversary I’ve been forced to reflect a bit over my journey so far. I don’t know about you but I think I’ll always feel like a beginner sewist. All the while there’s so much still to learn, how could I even consider classing myself intermediate…?! Not saying I lack confidence; it’s my gung-ho attitude that’s got me this far, I think. But even when I’m not learning something new, remembering everything I’ve learnt already (… all at the same time…) can be challenge enough.

Every sew comes with its lessons – it’s recognising them, understanding them and ultimately remembering & utilising them that helps us to grow…

… with that thought in mind…

Please let this be the last time I sew the beltloops into the top of a waistband seam and look dumbfounded when I can’t then topstitch all the way around.

Seriously… enough!

Rant out of the way – I thought I’d tell you about my new ‘sort-of’ jeans. I’ve finally got around to tracing something from the Ottobre Family magazine that was out towards the end of last year. And I decided to head straight in at the deep end.

In the past I’ve tinkered with making jeans. These were an early attempt at the Kwiksew ones which I gave to my cousin ( and have only seen him wear once!)

This early mash-up of the two thread theory pants patterns worked for a while. I was pleased with my initials stylised for the #jeanspocketdetail. However, ultimately the fit needed too much work…

*Breakthrough* in April 2017 when I had my #jeansepiphany with this pair that are still going strong…

Made by adapting my best-fitting chino pattern (from Men’s Clothes For All Seasons) this pair of indigo-4oz-denim inspired a black pair of 8oz-denim jeans with an equally (… / arguably…) cool pocket…

I’ve also got a plain black denim pair that I wear a lot to work… So I don’t really need any more denim jeans at the moment.

I’ve had this length of green cotton drill for 8 months or so now. (I don’t have a lot of space so try to not keep too many great lengths knocking about for too long) I’d planned to make a green version of a traditional blue French Workman’s Jacket, but the more I looked at this fabric, the more I hated it. It looks just like an apron I used to have (which I never really liked either!) and I was reluctant to make it into anything.

MrA convinced me to use it claiming it would look different once it was made up. I was sceptical. However, I really liked the idea of green ‘jeans’ and here was the fabric and the pattern and a day off…

There was a good omen at the start. The ottobre measurements for their size 48 are the closest to my measurements that I’ve ever seen on a pattern. It was spooky, as if this pattern was designed for me! So, to hell with a muslin, I’m diving straight in!

The instructions were pretty sparse. I read them through and checked the files on the website for the fly and decided to go my own way. In the photo above you can see the extra bit of allowance at the fly. Cut this off on the left front- I couldn’t find that instruction anywhere, but it made sense to get rid of it. Then the right front sits well behind the left front with no fear of your zip poking out – I usually just fold a smaller allowance on the right side, but having the extra bit instead meant I could reach and sew the zip more easily.

I didn’t take an awful lot of construction photos, and I’ll try to keep the step by step to a minimum, but here’s my new jeans, start to finish…

This is the order I put them together in…

1. Front pockets.

I trim the curve back with pinking shears, then the seams are contained within the topstitching.

Flip the pockets up to French seam them: 1st sew, right sides out at 5mm. Turn then 2nd sew right sides in at 1cm.

(I’ve got the right side of the fabric showing on the inside of my trousers because I rarely get to see inside my pockets!)

2. Fly.

  • Prepare the fly pieces – interfacing, overlocking and zip.
  • Sew the crotch seam.
  • Attach the left fly facing.
  • Snip the seam allowance under the facing and edgestitch left facing to end of seam.
  • Fold & press the extra allowance on the right side.
  • Position the zip on the edge and sew through all layers.
  • Close the fly, pin the left zip tape to the left facing.
  • Keep the right shield away as you do the decorative fly stitching.
  • Use bartacks to hold the facing to the shield at the bottom and at the corner of the curve.

3. Back pockets.

Here’s my trick for matching up the pockets:

  • Pin one pocket in place.
  • Lay the other pocket face down on top of the first one.
  • Carefully lay the other pattern piece face down on top so all the edges line up with the piece underneath.
  • Pin through the centre, through all layers.
  • Flip it all over, peel back the top piece and securely pin what is now the bottom piece.
  • Remove the pin-through-all-layers.

Double stitch them down so the seams are enclosed.

4a. Yokes – Seat Seam – Inseam.

Careful putting the yokes on that they’re the right way up and the right way round. I’ve sewn the seams, overlocked the edge then double stitched them down. (Once close to the seam then a foots width from that). It’s the same process for all three seams.

4b. The side seams get sewn, serged and pressed only.

5. Beltloops.

I wasn’t reading the instructions still and made these with my usual ‘2 folds in & edgestitch’ method. I later noticed the pattern suggests finishing one long edge, folding into three and stitching down. Maybe that would have them too wide…?

Position and baste the beltloops.

6. Waistband.

Now this is where I could have kicked myself: I’d forgotten the last time I tried this that it didn’t work. I’d even worked out a way to make it work but forgotten that and blindly went ahead (hence my opening comments!).

The issue is the top of the beltloops; even with a *humpjumper – folding and sewing them on top of the waistband can get a bit rickety. I like the idea of sewing them into the top of a two-piece waistband, but then it’s impossible to topstitch all the way around the waistband (as the beltloops are in the way).

There is a solution (if it really bothers you that much…!)

  • Baste the beltloops in position and see on the outer waistband.
  • Press the seams up and topstitch along the bottom of the waistband. Keep the loops out of the way.
  • Sew the loops to the jeans about 1cm down from the waistband.
  • Gently fold them up to meet the top edge of the outer waistband and baste in place.
  • Fold and press the inside seam allowance of the inner waistband. Pin right sides together with the outer band and sew the top and short edges. Clip the corners.
  • Turn and press allowing the outer waistband to show slightly at the inside top.
  • Here’s the tricky bit: stitch in the waistband seam, from the front, catching the inside folded edge as you go (‘stitch-in-the-ditch’). The fiddly bit is you have to stop and start again underneath every beltloop. (… I know… it’s a pain, but someone wanted their beltloops tucked into the top seam!)
  • To finish off the waistband stitching, carry on from that decorative line you did near the start, up the short end, along the top – carefully over the loops – and down the other short bit.

That’s what I should have done, but I forgot the decorative row of stitching on the band at the beginning and it was too late to turn back. Still, no one will notice and my belt will cover it up!

7. Buttonhole & Hems.

I had to zigzag over my buttonhole a few times as I struggled getting over the bumps in the seams with my auto-foot. Plenty of fraycheck and it’s not looking bad. The hems are double turned and topstitched.

You’d think that’s the end of it, but not so fast… there’s some hammering to do before they’re finished.

8. Button & Rivets.

I love getting the hammer out and applying a bit of hardware to a sew. So I went for it with these and riveted front, back & coin pockets.

  • I punch a small hole then apply fraycheck.
  • Once it’s dry I push the inside bit through from the inside.
  • Click the outer bit onto the outside.
  • Hammer it a few times from the back (face down on a block of wood to protect your kitchen counter!)

Now they’re finished I totally agree with MrA. They don’t look like an old polyester apron anymore. In fact, they look amazing! … I’ve been wanting to wear more green, I was worried I’d have nothing to go with green, but I’ve been making so much grey lately that goes with everything… I’ve managed to slot these ‘jeans’ right into my wardrobe.

The pattern is a good draft. Often I find the rise too high at the front or too low at the back. These are drafted with a lower front to accommodate a modern style while still giving a bit of coverage at the back when you’re tying your shoelaces! The shape of the legs is really nice too. Like my recent Burda Suit trousers, tapered but not too skinny.

The pattern suggests a fabric with a little bit of stretch. My fabric has ‘give’ but not really ‘stretch’ and they feel just fine. It’s not easy finding an uncluttered background in my flat. And I’m sure you all know how tricky it can be taking clothes-selfies… well, I did my best…!

Happy Sewing!

Notes to self;

  • Get a tripod!
  • Stop trying to fix the beltloops into the top of the waistband. It’s unimportant!
  • Get your last bit of winter sewing done, it’s time to get on with the summer wardrobe!
  • Maybe some denim shorts or dungarees will feed my need to sew jeans without having too many pairs of jeans…?
  • * humpjumper – a wedge of fabric under the sewing foot, behind your work, to help keep the foot level.