Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The "Oh My God, I Made These, I'm So Awesome" Jeans

Time I spent talking about making jeans, considering making jeans, idly thinking about making jeans, telling people I was going to make jeans seriously really soon like maybe this weekend: approximately six months.
Time I spent actually making jeans: fifteen hours, tops (counting the trip to Joann's to pick up the denim).

Jeans: high-waisted medium-wash denim jeans with two back pockets, two hip pockets, five belt loops, back yoke, gold topstitching, contrast pocketing & waistband facing, side jeans zip and jeans button.

Why did it take me so long to get around to it?  Here's my theory.  First of all, jeans are the most formal garment I've ever attempted--not formal like you'd wear them to the opera (though I'm so smitten with these I just might), but formal like they're a highly structured and codified garment.  Without gold topstitching, flat-felled seams (or the illusion of them!), a yoke at the back waist, and squared-off back patch pockets, they're just denim trousers.  They also carry an enormous amount of cultural (and counter-cultural) weight, particularly in America--everybody's got their own idea of what "real" jeans are.  I think my brain was subconsciously cataloging and choosing between the vast and boggling array of options available to me in this, my very own custom-made pair of jeans.

The construction process was surprisingly simple.  I just took my trusty trouser pattern, which is more-or-less perfected at this point, and copied it with a few alterations--mainly just adding a yoke to the back and copying the pockets off a pair of Dear Fiancee's old jeans.  

They're so comfortable.  I don't even want to take them off to change into my pajamas.  Plus, they're among the few solid-colored bottoms I own, so I can wear them with even the craziest prints.  This is very welcome in my wardrobe as I have the Shirting Cotton Dilemma: the only apparel-weight cottons available at Joann's are decidedly "wild and crazy" (because they don't trust you to grab them off the rack otherwise), and while there are plenty of great apparel-weight cottons available online, I'm wary of buying anything without a sense of the hand and drape of the fabric.

The only change I'd make is to take the back yoke up one inch at the center seam and two inches at the side seam, so it angles upward and--let's call a spade a spade--provides the illusion of my butt not being quite as flat and low as it is.  I'd also like to flat-fell the seams for real on the next pair--I got intimidated and did a mock flat-fell, but after some research I'm thinking that the real thing wouldn't be much more difficult (and probably actually less time-consuming), and would definitely be more attractive.

Feel free to ask questions about the construction, if you're interested in making your own custom-made jeans.  I leaned heavily on this post over at Casey Brown's blog, as well as a close inspection of a pair of Dear Fiancee's old Levi's that I borrowed last year and wore until the knees blew out (these, in case you're curious).  Also, I had no idea that you could put in two hip pockets with a side closing, but it turned out to be easy as pie.  Here's what the inside looks like:

(Speaking of wild and crazy cotton prints, I've got two and a half yards of that stuff and no idea what to do with it.  It's a nice lightweight lawn but opaque enough for a dress or blouse on its own.  Suggestions?)


  1. I love these! They look great.

  2. They are amazing. Your topstitching looks great. I've been contemplating making a pair of 50s style jeans for a while but I've been too intimidated. Does the zip sit inside the pocket or to the back or front of it? I've seen pictures of ones that sit inside the pocket and I can't figure out in my head how to do it.

  3. You know, I can't see how the zip would sit inside the pocket. I just installed the pocket, basted the edge together along the seam allowance, sewed on a lap via this tutorial, and then put the zipper in as normal. I think that's the standard way to do it, and there are things I'd change for ease of use--I want to see if I can handpick the zipper through only two layers, so it doesn't close off the leftmost inch of pocket--but I love how it turned out overall.

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