Category Archives: Jeans

Mom jeans 2

Here’s the second pair of jeans made from my self-drafted pattern! In a classic blue denim this time, an indigo selvedge number from my go-to denim source, Ditto Fabrics.

I made a few little tweaks from my pink pair, mainly to get the centre back fitting better. I angled the back yoke seam even more to account for excess fabric in the small of my back, and also transferred a sliver at the top of the back leg onto the bottom of the yoke, as the yoke was looking a bit shallow. I’ve still got a fold there, so next time I’ll take even more out.

In further recycling efforts from my Monki base pair, this time I reused the zip! I used some scraps of rather loosely-woven ikat cotton for the pocket bags. I should have used something more stable, I hope they don’t shred quickly.

To keep things interesting I tried a different technique for the waistband, where the inner waistband is sewn to the inside of the pants first. Then you flip over the outer waistband, tuck in the seam allowance then topstitch and seal the outside in one pass. It’s a little bit like the tutorial that Heather recently posted on her blog. The benefit is there’s no need to invisibly secure the inner waistband like the regular technique, since you sew that first and then secure the outer waistband from the outside.

However I found that while the inside does indeed look super neat and tidy, it was harder to achieve a good looking result on the outside, particularly at the centre fronts where it felt bulkier than usual and was difficult to keep all the fraying edges tucked away, even with a liberal use of Aqua Glue. I had to re-sew a few bits where my stitching went awry, and was glad I wasn’t using contrasting topstitch thread!

My daily wardrobe has been desperate for jeans like these, since all my RTW pairs of this style are currently a little too tight (cold weather comfort eating and no exercise, I see you) and I don’t own a plain indigo pair. This pair has the benefit of being way more comfortable than my Monki RTW ones even when they did fit, since the denim is super soft and quite lightweight (and I think it has some elastane in, unusually for a selvedge), and the fit being obviously more tailored to me. They’ve had plenty of wear already! I just wish I’d done slightly contrasting topstitching for a bit of visual interest. I’m now on the hunt for a true solid black to continue building up my jeans rota.

Pink jeans

Phew, this slow sewing business means long blog posts are also the order of the day! Here are my new pink pants which I self-drafted and poured a lot of love and detail into, so there’s plenty to write about…

The style of these trousers is based on a pair of very much loved ready-to-wear mom jeans from Monki. ‘Mom’ style refers to the somewhat 80s aesthetic combo of high waist, loose fit through the hips, tapering to a ankle-length slim calf – a shape I think works pretty well on my pear shape but is difficult to find a good fit in the shops. My Monki jeans were made out of a rigid denim and I was forced to admit that they’d become just a shade too tight to be really comfortable. I haven’t seen a single commercial sewing pattern for this style so made the decision to sacrifice my jeans by cutting them apart to draft my own pattern.

The rubbing-off process was pretty straightforward: I seam-ripped the waistband and crotch apart then carefully cut close to the main seamlines to open up the legs. Then I pressed everything flat and traced all the pieces onto dot and cross paper.

I slashed and spread a little to add in extra width where needed to make them actually fit again, trued up all the adjacent seams then finally added grainlines, notches and seam allowances. Some pieces like the pockets were easier to draft off the tracing rather than the original jeans. It was all pretty intuitive, though you could check out this Craftsy class if you wanted to learn how to do it properly!

Drafting bring all the curious cats to the yard…

Having made loads of pants I could retrofit the construction method easily using standard techniques. I did a lot of baste-and-try as I went to make sure my drafting was working out okay. Generally I did a pretty good job on the fit but annoyingly I made a mistake adding width into the back yoke as it turned out huge and gape-y in the small of my back. I did my best to fix it but it’s left a few irritating puckers along the yoke seam. Additionally when I use this pattern again I’ll take some height out of the centre back as it’s wrinkling a bit horizontally too. But eh, linen wrinkles anyway so it doesn’t show up too much.

I used a heavyweight blush pink linen from The Fabric Store, which they kindly sent to me. I think this is the first linen I’ve got from TFS, which is silly since along with merino knits I think it is what the store is most well-known for. They have many different weights and get beautiful trend-forward colours dyed just for them (the dreamy Caper shade has been a big hit in blogland, and I have my eye on it too…). In fact I have barely sewn with linen at all generally. I think I’ve always been put off by the wrinkles and that it’s always felt both a little rough yet delicate and loosely woven to me.

I’m glad to find that so far, my fears were unfounded. It was great to sew with, a little lighter weight than the usual denim I use so helped to assuage any bulky seams. My only concern is that it’s rather loosely woven and frayed quite a lot as I was working, so I really hope it holds up to plenty of wear. All the major seams are overlocked and faux-flat-felled, and I think the flax fibre is stronger than it seems so my worrying may be unfounded.

There are lots of details that I poured extra time into, which I had a lot of fun planning and sewing. Despite being made of non-denim I wanted them to definitely read jeans rather than chinos, so added all the usual detailing: double topstitching across the seams, fly topstitching, and nice metal hardware. I love the sturdy pink and brass zip and the fun jeans button and rivets, all from eBay.

I didn’t want the waistband to bag out over time so I stabilised the entire top edge inside with some twill tape, and also added some loosely-stretched elastic into the back waistband only. (Interestingly the waistband – as copied from my source jeans – is straight, which never usually works on me but this one is very narrow and sits very high on the waist, so it doesn’t gape.)

Something I’ve wanted to try for a while: I added a little underlap with a concealed button to the inside waistband. This helps keeps the waistband horizontally aligned and gives it a little extra stability. Super happy with how it turned out and it’s definitely my best-sewn fly front overall. (Yeah the buttonholes look messy: I put some paper behind the fabric as it’s a really difficult area to feed under the buttonhole foot otherwise, and I haven’t picked it all out yet.)

I think this is my favourite bit: I picked off the original back waistband label, machine-embroidered stars over it with my daisy foot and sewed it back on. I like the reconstructed nod to the source garment and it also helps give these that proper jeans-y look. I got the daisy foot for Christmas last year and it’s the first time I’ve used it, it’s great!

Pink jeans might not seem like a capsule wardrobe essential, but this colour is pretty much a neutral to me these days. In fact I thought I’d have to wait until spring to start wearing them but they pair really well with sweaters (RTW and Toaster above) and I don’t really feel the cold too much anyway so I can start wearing them right away!

These jeans feel amazing to wear, amongst the most comfortable and well-fitting I’ve made/worn, and they were an absolute joy to sew, from drafting to hammering in rivets. Overall they took about three weeks of leisurely sew-time which I think is a good benchmark to aim for in my slow sewing going forward. I can’t wait until spring really kicks in when I’m sure they’ll get worn to death with tees and sandals. I’m definitely going to use the pattern again to make a classic indigo pair next – I have some selvedge denim on the way already.

Have you self-drafted or rubbed off favourite clothing? I think it’s quite addictive!

Wear-in your handmade jeans in five minutes

I’ve got a bit of a confession. I’ve got quite the stock of handmade jeans now – Gingers, Safrans, more Gingers – but they don’t tend to get worn as often as my trusty RTW pairs. The reason was always they they felt too crispy-new, too uniformly-coloured, with none of that lovely age (or slightly less lovely artificial ageing/distressing) of my favourite vintage or store-bought pairs.

So why did nobody tell me how fast and easy it was to get a lovely soft, faded, subtly-patina’ed finish on brand new handmade jeans, with nothing but a bit of sandpaper and five minutes of elbow grease? I’ve just turned three pairs of handmade jeans from meh to dreamy in a weekend.

Here’s how I did it. I got some fairly heavy-grade sandpaper out of our DIY cupboard and wrapped it around my hand. A sanding block would probably do the trick, too. I put the jeans on and simply started buffing away at the areas I wanted to fade and distress. I started around the front pockets, fly and waistband, then took long strokes down the inseam and outer seams. Then I crouched down (this is where you start to feel pretty silly) and rubbed the paper down my front thigh, down to the knees and calf. Finally I took it over the back waistband, back pockets and centre back seam.

The trick is to start with a little pressure and build it up. Hold the fabric fairly taut where you want a smooth fade and let it wrinkle and bunch a bit where you want whiskers to form. You also may want to put some paper or plastic sheeting down before you start as you’ll get indigo ‘rubbings’ falling off.

Finally, you can take the jeans off, check over for any bits that don’t feel uniform and scrub away a little more. I hung the jeans over the edge of my ironing board or over a tailor’s ham for this bit.

Here’s the same thing on my Cone Mills denim Gingers. This effect might not be for everyone, but I know I’m going to get a lot more wear out of these jeans now they feel soft and worn-in.

Safran jeans

Deer and Doe Safran 2

Allo! I’ve been on the jeansmaking train again – it’s never too long between denim sessions chez Katie. This time it was external forces guiding me, because Deer and Doe sent over a pre-release of their new Safran jeans and pants sewing pattern to road-test and review. I’ve tried a lot of skinny jeans patterns by this point – Burdas, Style Arcs, Closet Case Files – so how do Safran stack up?

Deer and Doe Safran 4

The main difference is that the Safrans are lower on traditional jeans-style details and instead tread the line towards more classic skinny trousers. Depending on fabric type you could make quite smart minimal cigarette pants in, say, a black sateen, or go ahead with denim and add plenty of topstitching for more of a jeans look. I went down the middle, using a crisp mid-blue denim but without much extra detailing.


The pattern comes with two views – A has belt loops, back pockets, a full length leg and instructions for topstitch detailing; B leaves off those details and has a just-above-ankle length. I used mostly view A with the length of view B, however I left the hems raw and staggered them slightly so the back is a bit longer. It’s a look I’ve seen in RTW that I like a lot – and hey, no hemming – bonus!

Deer and Doe Safran 11

A few things of note while I sewed up the pattern:

Deer and Doe Safran 1

Fabric: You’ll definitely want to heed the fabric recommendations and look for something with 20%+ stretch, because there’s plenty of negative ease factored into the hip measurement. I made a toile in lower stretch denim and while I could just about zip them up, I couldn’t move very far! My final denim is medium weight with about 20% stretch, from Woolcrest Textiles.

Deer and Doe Safran 3

Sizing: I’m a 38/40 in D&D dresses and cut 40 at the waist, 42 at the hip and 38 in the lower leg. The seam allowances are a generous 5/8″ so you have some fitting wiggle room; I always baste jeans up and try them on before before final sewing as each different denim means the fit will vary a little. I could also probably take a look at a few adjustments around the crotch and knees to fix some of those wrinkles. But I really like them proportionally – the rise length is great and there’s a nice curvy waistband that stays put on the low natural waist and doesn’t gape, despite there being no back yoke or darts.

Deer and Doe Safran 9

Pockets: The welted slash pockets are a nice detail that are interesting/challenging to sew and actually functionally easier to use than traditional curved jeans pockets. I’d recommend using a pocket lining fabric either with a similar stretch factor to your main fabric, or cutting your pocket lining pieces on the bias so they have some natural give. Using nonstretch cotton for lining can sometimes lead to weird distortion and drag marks, especially if you’re generous of hip like me.

Deer and Doe Safran 10

Fly: The included fly instructions are different to those I’ve seen before. I tried to follow them on my toile and didn’t like the result much – the zip was only just covered by the overlap – so I deferred back to my favourite Sandra Betzina method. Overall the instructions are clear and detailed but not too hand-holdy, which works for me.

Deer and Doe Safran 5

There’s lots more details and other tester versions of the Safran pattern on the Deer & Doe blog and they’re planning a series of tutorials and tips. From my point of view, if you like the adaptability of the style go to from jeans to pants, it’s a really nice versatile pattern. Just be sure to get streeeetchy fabric!

Frayed Cone Mills Gingers

Ginger jeans

I dug out the Ginger jeans pattern again because I’ve had some lush denim kicking around my stash for ages and really fancied trying a few tweaks out based on some RTW window-shopping inspiration. With the high waist and cropped frayed hems it’s about as close to the ‘mom jean’ trend as I’ll allow myself to go – and another tick off my to-sew list board.

Ginger jeans

These are view B of Ginger, the high waisted skinny leg ones, the only difference being about 4″ chopped off the length and about 3/8″ more ease at each side seam for a non-skintight look. I cut the legs with the pattern pieces butted up to the cut edge of the denim: after being through the prewash it had a good amount of artful natural fray. I cut the top of the back pockets on a raw edge too.

Ginger jeans

Ginger jeans

For a change I did three lines of topstitching along the yoke and inseam using regular thread in pale grey and my machine’s triple stitch function to make it stand out nicely. I like how it looks on the seams but it didn’t work so well for the fly topstitching: the back-and-forth action made it go a bit wobbly around the curve. I ripped out my first go (it’s not a fun stitch to rip) and it’s still not looking super great. Funny how those things get less important once you actually start wearing your new pants though, eh?

Ginger jeans

Ginger jeans

Ginger jeans

The denim is the famous Cone Mills stuff, which Katie of Handmade Threads / Threadbare Fabrics kindly gave to me when I met up with her in LA last October. I’m not sure which weight and colourway it is, but it’s quite lightweight with plenty of stretch in a dark charcoaly-indigo shade. It’s *insanely* comfortable: when I tried the jeans on partway through construction I didn’t even want to take them back off. I really hope they keep their shape as promised!

Ginger jeans

Pretty guts using scraps of ikat-printed rayon for the pockets and to bind the inner waistband and fly shield.

Ginger jeans

I admit I do still have a RTW jean habit, mainly due to not being able to find the right sort of denim to sew my own. But after several demoralising try-ons of styles like this in the shops I was so happy to dig into this lovely denim and make myself a pair that fits just right and is 100% unique. And if anyone knows a great stockist for true solid stretch denims in indigo or black please do let me know…

Double denim

Well, my slow fashion coat-making fun has stalled because Republique du Chiffon are getting into the spirit with suitably slow shipping and my Bernadette paper pattern hasn’t shown up yet. While I wait to get started, I’ve been bashing out a much-needed couple of pairs of jeans. It would’ve been inconceivable a while ago that making jeans could be a mind-switch-off type of project, but I’ve made so many now and have my TNT patterns all set so it really is quite relaxing. Plus they’re just great for doing a little bit here and there as there are clear processes and break points during the making.

Ginger jeans

These are another pair of Gingers; the high waist View B variation. My first pair of blue Gingers were sort of a wearable toile and not quite right – a few fitting quirks and the denim was not stretchy enough, so they’ve been donated. My lovely black pair however are a wardrobe staple and I knew I wanted a replacement blue pair soonish.

Ginger jeans

I got this super stretchy solid blue denim from B&J Fabrics in New York which did the trick nicely. I also made a small fitting tweak, tracing the crotch curve from View A onto View B, which seems to have helpd with the whiskering I got in my first pair.

Ginger jeans

Otherwise a dead simple sew. I made life easier by using regular navy thread to topstitch and just serging the raw seams. The pockets and fly shield binding are made from leftover rayon from the top I’m wearing (a beautiful new-release pattern that I’ll write more about soon!): ah, that warm sewist feeling when your shirt matches your jeans guts, amirite.

Burda jeans

Burda jeans

This second pair is another repeat pattern, a second pair of Burda 6978s. I wear my first pair to death – they have held up really well, haven’t bagged or lost colour and are just so comfortable – so I really wanted a slight variation to get more wardrobe mileage. However it turned out that the loose fit looked a bit weird in a stretch denim as opposed to the rigid one of my first pair, so I just kept taking them in until they ended up a bit more skinny than boyfriend fit in the end. I actually love how they look though, so it’s all good. I cut the hems just on the ankle bone as I find this length works better both with all my shoes and I’m constantly cuffing all my other jeans.

Burda jeans

I bought this cotton-spandex denim online from Guthrie Ghani (it’s now sold out) – I was pretty excited when I found it because the subtle ‘feather bubble’ print is exactly the same as a pair of my favourite old RTW Gap jeans which are now completely worn out and too small. It feels nice quality with plenty of stretch recovery, however despite prewashing, it bled indigo all over my hands as I worked with it so I need to chuck the finished jeans into a wash with salt to try and fix the dye.


Old and new! :D And oh god, just realised I placed one the belt loops wrong from looking at this photo. Where’s my unpicker…