You know those sewing projects that you think about for a long time, and you mull them over in your head, but you just keep finding other sewing projects that “should” take priority over that one that is still in your head? For me, that was Ginger jeans. Part of the reason I found jeans to be such a scary project is because I have found plenty of ready-to-wear jeans that fit me well and that have become beloved favorites. Of course, that’s what I wanted with these. I have the most ridiculous irrational-rational fight going on in my head where, rationally, intellectually, I know that expecting my jeans to turn out perfect the first time is totally irrational (and unnecessary) …and yet I do. I want them to be perfect. Well, these jeans did not turn out perfect, but that’s ok. Because, I finally did it! I made jeans! I took old jeans, and I made them in to new jeans, and that makes me feel like a little bit of a super hero.
Way back in December, I saw that the Project Sew It prompt for March was bottoms. That seemed like the perfect amount of mental preparation time I’d need to get jeans started. Then, of course, the podcast episode of Love To Sew in which Heather Lou is interviewed aired, and #nofearjneweans month started. It was as if the stars had aligned in the sewing universe. Time to get cracking.
After looking around for the perfect material for my jeans, and having purchased the hardware kit from Shop La Mercerie sometime mid-2017, I decided not to use those for my first attempt at Ginger Jeans. I also did not make a muslin, but used my husband’s old jeans. It’s so satisfying to be able to take old clothes that are either ruined or simply no longer worn and make something new with them! Taking these jeans apart took a long time at the beginning. But then I found this magical way to get the seams out really quickly! If you get the right thread strand, you can just pull the whole seam in one go! Life lessons.
The Good, the Bad and the Mods
Sustainability aside, there were a few huge pros to working with old jeans (and, ahem, cons…. but I’ll get to those next). I didn’t have to deal with pesky belt loops – I just took the old loops and sewed them on to the new jeans. I was also able to use the old waistband and button (and zipper!), and only had to shorten it on one end and make a new button hole. Even though I do love pounding, I was happy to be able to save my hardware kit to use on the next (and hopefully better) pair of jeans I make. Lastly, I love that my new jeans don’t look too new! They look a little lived in already, which I’m happy about.
Now for the “bad”. Cutting was a true pain in the … The main reason for this was that I couldn’t get the pattern pieces to fit exactly in the space left available from the old jeans. That meant I had to kind of quilt together a few bits and pieces, such as one of the front pockets and the fly. As it turns out, these are two areas best not messed with as they do not lay as nicely as I’d like. Better luck next time.
The main modifications I made for my jeans were:
+ went up a full size for 100% cotton, non-stretch denim (but, as it turned out, this didn't work for me)
+ lowered waistband by 4cm at front
+ added zippers at the ankle
My measurements put me at a size 8 at the waist and size 10 in the hips. But because the Ginger Jeans are supposed to be made with stretch denim, and I was using 100% cotton, I cut size 10 at the waist and 12 at the hips. In the end, this was still far too large. It’s interesting how sewing causes you to look at the intimate details of your own body, and this experience has been very illuminating. For my next pair of jeans, I may drop down to a size 6 at the waist, and use smaller seam allowances, because I seem to be a bit between sizes. I also started to think that maybe what I need in the bum is a size 8, but then with a full bum adjustment. My hip area is not so much wide as it is round, so this may work better for me. Although a bit frustrating at the moment of fitting, it’s such a great revelation! I also found out that I have a round crotch. So, a round bum and a round crotch. There ya go.
I was initially worried that the jeans would be too low waisted, but it turned out I wanted them even lower. Thanks to my round bum, I kept the height of the waistband as is at the back but lowered it by 4cm in the front. Next time, I’ll lower the back by 1cm, but the 4cm at the front was just right.
I don’t think these jeans will get a ton of wear, but I did pack them as one of two pairs of pants for my two-and-a-half week holiday in the states. So at least they’ll have some wear; and they’ve given me the confidence to continue making jeans and try out some of my own jeans ideas that have been floating around in my head and sketch books.