If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’re probably expecting this post to be all about my new sewing machine… But you’d be mistaken, that’s still to come! (I’m having a great time with it though and can’t wait to share everything I’m learning on it!). This post is about the jeans I made at the beginning of the lockdown.
Now, I’ve made jeans before. In fact I went ‘in-deep’ over a few posts on my ‘Jean Journey’ (Links – if you’re interested?) so I won’t go into construction here. What I wanted to document was ‘my first stretch jeans’ and now that I’ve been wearing them for a few months, it seems like the perfect time.
I got the fabric on my last-minute-before-the-lock-down-interfacing-run to MacCulloch & Wallis, the same time I got the gabardine for these chinos. I wanted a really lightweight denim or chambray to make a pair of jeans that looked like jeans, but felt light, like linen shorts! And, well… *spoilers* … they’re great!
The pattern is the chinos from Men’s Clothes For All Seasons that I’d adapted into jeans (more on that here). I didn’t make any modifications for the stretch as I didn’t want them any more fitted than usual, just stretchy.
Do you remember that fleeting moment at the beginning of the lockdown when it almost felt like the beginning of summer holidays at school? Remember… just before reality set in and we all realised we had to make a million masks and totally lost our sew-jo…?! Well, that’s when I made these. In retrospect it feels like I made them in a dream; I switched my mind off to everything and focussed on the sewing. (Ignoring everything else and pleasing yourself isn’t always the best way to deal with a situation – but in this instance it helped!… short term!)
After cutting, interfacing & overlocking all the necessary pieces, I started the sewing with the belt loops. For a more defined topstitch, I used the extra spool holder on top of my machine and ran the two threads all the way through as one. A jeans needle (usually #90) has a big enough hole to take the two threads – and if you’re lucky enough to have an ‘automatic’ threader, it may even thread them both together for you – if the Gods are smiling!
In a funny way, this wasn’t a creative make for me, more of a technical one; I wanted to concentrate and focus on making them neat and tidy – when it came to back pocket decoration I drew a blank. This is actually a two-piece pocket, but I needn’t have bothered!
The stretch (quite a bit, about 40%!) didn’t make the sewing any different. The fabric behaved well and took kindly to pressing. Maybe I should have been using a stretch needle, but that didn’t occur to me until now.
Being particularly lightweight (probably more suitable for shirts or dresses) getting over the ‘bulky’ sections wasn’t a chore either – pinning was less gruelling than usual and the seams were easier to match up.
I let myself off a lot of stress by opting to NOT flat fell the seams. To be honest, I prefer a mock-felled seam; they’re less bulky, dry quicker in the laundry and are way less of a pain to get a good result.
So the stitching went calmly, I should probably tell you about the wearing!
In truth, they felt a bit strange when I first put them on. They looked like regular jeans, but they felt like pyjamas – a weird and satisfying feeling!
I wasn’t sure about them at first, but they have really proved themselves over the summer. Maybe I’ve mentioned before, but I’d much rather be cold than be hot (unless I’m on a beach in Mexico) and you can’t always get away with wearing shorts. That’s where these jeans come in.
Obviously I’ve been dog walking…
A little barre work in the park…
Not too warm for a sunny corner…
Comfortable for working in all day.
Roomy enough to swing from trees!
.. and if the weather’s really changeable, I can roll them up to my knees!
There have only been a couple of downsides to the stretch capacity of these jeans… I made a back tab from washable paper which half tore off quite quickly (ie I didn’t even get a photo of it!) but I think that was more to do with my rough-handling than the stretch percentage.
Also, a stitch popped on the top of the back pocket. Obviously a result of me jamming my fat hands into the pockets without a care for the stretch of the thread! … I didn’t re-stitch it, I just put some fray-check on the loose ends and kept my fingers crossed.
I put my regular jeans on again recently. I was expecting them to feel hot and restricting by comparison, but they felt great too, although I wouldn’t fancy ballet in the park in them! I guess I learnt that every fabric has its place: it may day its suitable for shirts, but that shouldn’t stop you making jeans from it if you want them to be a lighter weight. That’s why we sew our own clothes, right? … we can have what we want!
Until next time,
Notes to self:
- Stretch fabric doesn’t have to mean tight clothes.
- Maybe use a stretch stitch on the top of the pockets though.
- Remember; sewing is therapy, take your time when you can.