Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hand sewn jeans finished - Jeans making mission complete!

Before I begin I would urge any sewist to have a go at making your own jeans. It will not only make you feel fabulous, but also invincible! Here they are...

From start to finish I have completely hand sewn these jeans. This was not my original intention, I just wanted to be able to make my own jeans rather than constantly ending up with mediocre fitting RTW jeans. Once I recieved this denim though, my urge to honour the handwork of the fabric body overtook me. It is a handloom denim form Merchant and Mills and it is so beautiful to handle. I am a massive denim lover (RTW and handmade). There is something about the texture and the different shades of blue that really excite me. Old denim can be glorious and give away details about how it was worn by fading and stress. This denim is yarn dyed, so the variation in colour of the blue thread creates alot of depth to the surface texture. I am not usually so particular about the denim I buy and have always bought from Fabricland not really realising that there was stuff of this quality out there. Durgh! This actually looks like denim that actual jeans are made from. It is warm and thick, but soft and light....does that make sense? Anyway enough of my love affair with this fabric, back to the jeans.

I've always found well fitting RTW jeans hard to find, as I have these annoying larger than average thighs that are disproportionate to the rest of me. My Dad has the same problem and when flares were popular in the seventies he could never buy Levi's ones because his thighs were too big. However he was also a rugby player at the time, so kind of has more of an excuse than me!

The best I have found were a Juicy couture pair that I got nearly new from a charity shop in 2001. I still have them now and they still look great on. Not bad for a fiver!

Below is some jeansperation. I love a turn up me!

Here is a picture of me from 2004 (before I had a digital camera). I am wearing some Miss Sixty jeans (the most expensive jeans I have ever bought) and I really loved the big turn up on them, but they were cut really low on the hip and I was forever trying to prevent my bum from being exposed. Shame really as these were a lovely colour blue!

Now, some of the jeanspiration pics I have selected are pretty cool and the cut is very different from what I have ended up with, but I chose not to alter the pattern that I used (Burda 7863). I wanted a more fitted look, as I have some 'boyfriend' styles already and I'm not sure they do too much for me these days. Another factor is that since having children I cannot contemplate wearing anything lower than my natural waist line. I fell like my tummy might just colapse if it's not all held in and that all the bending down I do leaves too much scope for unsightly exposures. Too much detail??? So, here's my 'mum' version of my perfect jeans.

 I would never wear these with a top higher than the bottom of my bum, so you will never see them on me like this in real life. Thank god, because the pockets are far too small for these jeans and do nothing for the vastness that is my behind. I think I may change these tonight if I have enough denim left as they are slightly ridiculous!

Below is some turn up love...

And here are some close ups of those feminine curves! ;-)

Funnily enough the waistband isn't shaped, but it sits very close to my body. I shall probably wear a belt anyway, but don't feel that I need to.

I took a billion photos during construction, so get ready!

inside back pocket
front pocket bag, including denim print lining...
Below are some of the stages of sewing the inside leg lap and fell seam

Pictures taken once one of the legs was completed to give me an idea of the fit.

I utilised the red edge for some of my belt loops by folding the fabric in 3 lengthways so that the finished red edge sat on the top and enclosed any raw edges. A nice detail I think. I cross stitched these on, which seems fairly secure.

 The inside leg seam is enclosed on the right side of the jeans in the lap and fell, so that the wrong side is all the same light blue along the seam. The outside leg seam is a standard seam treatment so the right side of the fabric shows on the inside of the jeans. All raw edges are blanket stitched.

Some of the buttonhole construction detail - I marked the buttonhole with a backstitch for strength, cut with scissors and then went round with buttonhole stitch/blanket stitch. Some of the thread sinks into the fuzzy denim, so it not the most neat looking buttonhole, but it is strong and functional, so I'm not going to fret!

I sewed the button on with a smaller button on the reverse side to support the fabric and stop the button eventually ripping through the wasitband.

Some 'completed' shots

Those pockets!!! They have to go!
Love the front and that button
Thise pockets again! They don't need to be on me to look out of proportion.

There is no instruction for a flap to cover the back of the zip, but I will be going back to this later on and fix one on, as this has already caught on my pants a few times. Annoying!

So, there they jeans! What a project!!! But what was the point of doing it this way? Well, as well as this construction method suiting the fabric, it has left me feeling very nostalgic. If you are bored already then stop reading, because I'm about to digress massivly.

Going back to basics in this way just goes to show what can be achieved with the most basic of equipment. This is what has brought on the nostalgia. I grew up in a small town in Devon and it feels like I have always been making do and mending. I made my first garment at the age of 11 or 12 and it was a waiscoat which I made from some scraps of fabric and my brothers old PJ's (this was the early 90's so waistcoats were in). I made my pattern by tracing it off one of my mums and she let me use her sewing machine to construct it. Not long after this her sewing machine broke and was never replaced, but this did not remove my urge to make my stuff. I would and have always tried to replicate a sewing machine with my handstitching, so making these jeans is kind of like going back to my old ways. The stitching's far from perfect, but what do I care. The garment as a whole looks ok and I'm not going to spend hours perfecting every stitch when I have so many more to do! Going back to my childhood, the year that my parents bought me my sewing machine was the year I got the best present EVER. I was studying for my A levels at the time and immediately made myself a whole load of ill fitting clothes to wear to school (which I most definitely did). I have no evidence of this, but I do have a photo of an outfit I wore to my friends wedding when I was 18. Please see exhibit A below. I had no money and got the fabric for £2 from a junk shop in town.

Here I am with my bro looking very 90's
Here is my advice. You do not need to have a whizzy, expensive sewing machine. Now, if you have saved the money and want to treat yourself then that's great! I certainly wouldn't say no to an upgrade if it was offered on a plate, but it is not essential. If you can find the most basic sewing machine available, then that is the equivalent to what I have. It is a basic toyota (metal base, not plastic. Now this is important!) and would have been the cheapest model at the time, but it has been with me for almost 20 years (oh my god, that long?). It's a bit like having a fancy car as opposed to a run around. Alot of people would dream of the fancy shmancy car, but realistically would be ok with the run around. With sewing machines it is important that you have a sturdy base and that it can sew straight and zig zag stitch, but that's it I think.

Anyways, hope you like my jeans, I do!