As I child, I grew up with dogs. I don’t mean I was raised by dogs – but, as a family, we always had a pet dog or two. MrA & I would love to have our own dog/s but we live in a tiny little flat in the heart of Central London… It just wouldn’t be fair… on anyone!
But that doesn’t stop me from being ‘uncle’ to a few choice pooches! And, of course, I can’t help myself from spending the entire train journey (… for example; 6hrs to Cornwall…) on the carriage floor if there’s a dog on board.
So when it came time to make a new pair of jeans, I knew immediately what I wanted to put on the back pockets… you guessed it… Mans Best Friend! I googled a few images until I found a dog that would work in outline – nothing too fiddly – I have no favourites – then sketched it out onto a paper pocket template. Once I was happy with the size and proportions, I traced the shape and cut it out. Next using a grey fabric pencil, I drew around the template onto the pocket, flipping it over for the other one. Then I just had to stitch it.
I used two spools of thread running through the needle and a stitch length of 3 mm. I started with the straight line at the bottom and took it really slowly: pivoting with the needle down at the sharp angles and taking the curves with as much precision as I could.
Then I just had to do another one to match! They’re not completely symmetrical but I think they’re close enough to get away with it. MrA helped me decide that they should be facing inwards, not outwards. Don’t ask how we made the final decision. Just don’t ask…
…Because these jeans come with a different story. A cautionary tale, if you will….
As I’ve already documented how I make my jeans pretty thoroughly, I left my phone on the side as I wouldn’t be taking any progress shots of this project. That’s quite freeing in itself… but be warned – if you change your format anything could happen. It was all going along so well… I was initially worried about the bright red topstitching but it was shaping up nicely. Front pockets went smoothly, back pockets. The fly went in neater than most, the yokes matched up and the double rows of inseam stitching looked like glorious red train tracks! As I was on such a high I barely questioned the extra inch or so I had to ease in to the outer-seams. I stitched them, finished them and pressed them so I could step back and take a good look at my jeans… almost ready… just the waistband and hems to go… except… what’s that weird shape…?
… I had sewn the back yokes on the wrong way round. Completely the wrong way round… probably upside down too, but, crap; they were wider at the waistband, tapering to the centre back (perfect for showing off ‘builders-bum’!) Dammit! … and there I was; thinking I’d almost finished.
As you can imagine, having not photographed these jeans up until this point, I was not particularly moved to photograph them now either! As, in a pretty stinking mood, I unpicked the serging and stitching on the outer leg seams. I unpicked all the stitching down to an inch or so below the yokes on the back seam and picked the yokes completely off. Then I pulled out all the loose threads, ironed my pieces and set about putting my jeans back together – properly this time!
It probably took me about two hours to get back to where (I thought) I was earlier. Thankfully my mood had lifted pretty quickly once I’d realised that the unpicking wasn’t quite as hellish as I thought it would be. And considering what a horror-site it was back there, I think I’ve come away from it all fairly unscathed.
Moving on, I could feel how lumpy everything was at the waistband; where I should put a buttonhole. And truth be told, I’d had enough horrors for one project, so I opted for a heavy duty snap instead… after finishing the waistband very slowly!
Disasters aside, I’m really pleased with how these have come out. The pattern is my adapted chino pattern from the Toshio Kaneko book Men’s Clothes For All Seasons I’ve written about them before here. And the denim is from Crescent Trading. I’ve only recently been reading up on my denims and I think this is what’s called Raw Denim: it’s not been over washed and still had a lot of dye in it. My hands were blue after making these! I read somewhere that I’m now supposed to wear them constantly and not wash them for at least a year, and I’ll get some wonderful bespoke fading and wear-lines appearing. We’ll see!
Just as I’d finally finished, MrA pipes up ‘you should put studs round his neck, like a collar…’ – yes, yes I should… I should have done that before I sewed them on! So, I dutifully set about unpicking the pockets and tried a few options…
So late one night I stitched new collars, applied some shiny studs and carefully sewed the pockets back on. It was a fair bit of extra work, but I think it was totally worth it – now, my new jeans are even newer!
They’re a nice thick denim which I hope will help to keep me warm when I’m in Vermont for Thanksgiving! It’s snowing already there, and the temperatures are low, low, low! (Well, For us Brits it’s low!) and, yes, there will be a short stopover in New York! And, yes, I’m planning a pilgrimage to Mood Fabrics! Until next time…
Notes to self:
- Check your sewing as you go. Actually stand back and look at it!
- Decide on your final design before you sew the pockets on.
- After wading around the Aqua Alta in Venice I think these should indeed have a wash!