Friday, December 5, 2014

Ginger Jeans - Finished!

On Sunday I finished the last steps of my Ginger Jeans... belt loops, button, and hemming. And today is casual Friday, so I'm wearing them to work!

Ta-da! I made jeans and I'm wearing them to work!

They are super comfy. This denim is really soft, but still a decent medium weight like normal jeans. It has 3% lycra, which makes fitting more forgiving. Hopefully they won't stretch out too much by the end of the day. But I never wear my jeans more than twice without washing, because my regular jeans tend to stretch out a little. I usually buy jeans from banana republic or gap and my favorites are the trouser-style jeans. I only own one pair of skinny jeans because they usually don't fit me well. My calves are on the larger side, and when jeans fit in the calves they are always much too large in the waist. So making my own jeans is an awesome solution! 

I never thought I would make jeans and I'm so excited about how well these turned out. This is an excellent pattern and the photos in the sewalong really helped me visualize how to do the trickier parts like the front fly zip and attaching the waistband. And after I worked those out, they really weren't as difficult as I thought! If you've sewn a dress, you can sew jeans. These are actually also the first pants I've sewn. Never made pants before, just skirts, dresses, and tops.

Tucked in part of my shirt so you could see the waistband, I do not wear my shirts like that! haha

I picked the size based on my hip measurement at the widest part, and my natural waistline (narrowest part of the waist, not where the waist of the jeans will actually sit). Both of those numbers fell exactly on one pattern size so I didn't need to grade between sizes. A few people have mentioned sizing down, so i might do that if your denim is super stretchy and/or if you like a very tight fit. I don't generally wear very tight jeans, so these were just the right amount of tightness for me. Now if these stretch out too much, I might consider going down a size, but that's yet to be seen. Also these are View A, the lower rise stovepipe version. Since my calves are fairly large, these feel like skinny jeans to me. I could taper the ankles in more, but I like the way these fit the way they are. I am considering raising the waist a little bit next time. These aren't super low rise, but I think my other jeans are slightly higher. 

pulling my shirt up so you can see the back

I love how you can move the pockets to flatter you best. I left them the same size and nearly the same position as in the patten. I did move one of the pockets over slightly so that they would appear more centered. I basted the jeans before doing any major sewing or topstitching, and the only change I decided to make was to take a small wedge out of the back of the waistband piece, which is on the fold, so it results in two small wedges taken out, and this creates more of a curve to the waistband, and solves any back waistband gaping that you might have if you have a swayback or  a little extra in the booty department. I used my denim for both sides of the waistband. Next time I will do the pocket stays option that Heather mentioned in the sewalong. And I may interline my back yoke pieces with the same cotton that i use for the pockets, just to give the back yoke more stability. I used some really cute red with white polka dots for the pockets of these.

I ended up using red thread for the button hole because my machine wasn't liking the topstitching thread when making a button hole. I didn't have any matching gold regular thread, so I opted for red to match the pockets and it's not really noticeable since I usually wear shirts that are longer than the waistband. Oh I did have a little mishap with the coin pocket. I lined it up based on the dot on the pattern and the curve of the pieces, but I think it got a little stretched out the first time and I think I also tried to align the side edge of the coin pocket parallel to the hip side of the pocket piece, but actually it's more important to make the t0p of the coin pocket parallel to the top of the pocket piece, so that your coin pocket will lay parallel to the waistband. This is because your hip side seam angles outward, so if you make your coin pocket parallel to that then it will be at a slight angle as well. If that makes sense? Probably more info than you needed...

I did some testing to figure out what would work best with my machine and the feet that I have for topstitching. I posted a reference guide on my instagram with the settings I worked out (find me at "soisewedthis") so that i can remember and maybe it will help someone else. I used a 3.5 length stitch, but for the tight curve of topstitching around the fly, I switched to 2.5 for the curved part and then back to 3.5 for the straight part. I just went really really slow. Patience is a virtue when topstitching. And make sure you have a full bobbin! (Regular thread in the bobbin, not topstitching) The first belt loop gave me problems, and I thought I'd have to hand sew them on, which would've taken forever. Just do a test one first with scraps, and then start with the back ones, by the time I got to the front belt loops, I had the bartacking down to a science with my machine. And my humpjumper was a huge help, but you can use a piece or cardboard or something similar to lift up the back of your foot. i also used the hand crank on the side when stopping and starting topstitching or bartacks or over any large seams - this helped with accuracy. If you have any questions about all this, please comment or message me and I can explain further! And the sewalong also goes into more depth.

I have denim for 2 more pairs already, a black and a grey. But I would definitely spend more on top quality denim now that I know how well these worked out. I really wasn't very confident at first and thought they might be a big ol' fail. I thought sewing jeans was way beyond my sewing skill set. I was wrong! And I'm so happy I was wrong! I may never buy jeans from a store again! Yay for sewing jeans! Thank you to Heather for the great pattern and thank you to all the other bloggers who sewed them up before me and gave me the push and inspiration to try it myself. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment from this project and it really amped up my sewing mo-jo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cranberry Knit Dress

First off, I finished my ginger jeans! I'm very excited to have tackled that project. I posted quite a few pics on instagram (find me at "soisewedthis" and you can view lots of other great ginger jeans by looking under #gingerjeans) but I'm hoping to get a few slightly better pictures taken before writing up a blog post.

The sewing project I finished prior to my gingers is this cranberry lady skater-ish dress. I decided it's "cranberry" because I wore it to Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe the color is a little more cran-grape... Either way it was stretchy and not restrictive as far as eating large amounts of food, which is why I picked to wear it.

This is the softest bamboo knit fabric and it washes amazingly well. Yay for a fabric splurge that pays off. On the other side, it was so drapey that I decided it wanted to be a gathered skirt rather than the original A-line of the lady skater pattern. This time rather than just doing a big gathered rectangle, I slashed and spread the A-line skirt pattern piece out to make it wider so that I could gather it. I think the gathered A-line makes a prettier shape than a gathered rectangle, so I will stick with this method for the future.

I had been having issues with the sleeves and armscye of the lady skater pattern. On my first (blue) lady skater I had to hack them down after I had the dress nearly finished. On my second (leopard) I went down several sizes in the sleeves, but also ended up making it too tight in the bust. So this time I hit the books and the internet and tried to learn more about fitting sleeves and sleeve drafting. I decided to redraft the bodice and sleeve pieces, making changes based on what I had read and also drawing from the shapes of a store bought knit top that fits well. Ok in the end I basically just ended up tracing it, he he. And it worked wonderfully. Tracing garments that already fit for the win!

I also made the waistline go straight across this time, as I had seen someone else do to theirs. (Thanks!) And the neckline on this one was a happy accident. I was going to do the binding method that Megan Nielsen wrote a nice tutorial for awhile back, but my band was too wide and then I wasn't getting an even line of stitching. So I started hand stitching it down invisibly, but that was driving me nuts. My hand stitching is never even and it wasn't at all invisible! so I cut the band off. but I left the serged part around the neckline and noticed that that created enough stability that I could turn it under and topstitch it down. it looks really nice and clean, but it's not at all what I had planned on doing. This time improvising worked out.