A few years ago, I declared publicly (on my sewing channel) that life was too short to be making jeans when I could just easily purchase them. Gasp… how I regret those words. Oh well, there we’re coming from the context I was in and mainly related to technical aspects.
Firstly, my sewing machine was not great. It was a bit better than a toy machine and sewing regular wovens was regularly a struggle. I’d sewn things made out of denim with it… mainly refashions and needed to hand crank entire seams. So, yeah, the prospect of sewing and entire project in denim sounded very bleak. Jeans? Mmm, no thanks.
Secondly, finding the right denim was a struggle. I could occasionally find small pieces of quality denim, but I was never happy with the raw navy color or the fact that I had to pre-treat it so much to get the nice soft feel. Purchasing jeans that had buttery soft denim felt much more appealing.
Thirdly, when I made that statement, I didn’t have access to Jean patterns, so I would’ve needed to deconstruct a pair to get a pattern (clone)… why would I do that to a pair of well fitting jeans in the first place.
With all that said, circumstances change and we moved countries all the way to Brazil. Our banking situation became normal again (our new bank happily issued us credit cards, even though we are foreigners), I was able to upgrade to a better quality sewing machine and purchase online PDF patterns. I was also fortunate to find a second back up sewing machine that is equally great. Also, our new home had an extra room that became my first ever sewing room…. in other words, I had no excuse anymore.
I’d love to point out that there was nothing about jeans that specifically made me nervous back then. On the contrary, I’d sewn regular trousers with all the features jeans have, just not in denim. I’d even modified regular pants patterns to have a back yoke, the front pockets and fly fronts. So, really actually making jeans was not difficult in itself.
The first pair I made were the Mountain View jeans from Itch to Stitch. These are a great option to start with. They have the look of jeans without the fuss. The front has functional pockets and a faux fly front, the back has the yoke and patch pockets. The waistband is curved and allows you to pull-on your jeans. There’s really no way to lose here. The experience was great and I was hooked. You can see a video on my channel all about these jeans below. I have tones is sewing construction footage available there and those steps are basic when you are making any jeans pattern.
After the Mountain View jeans, I was hooked and have gone on to make over a dozen full-on Jeans. Some for myself (See videos: here, here and here) and even for the men in my life: husband (video here) , son (video here) , dad (video here) and brother (video here).
The Eddystone Jeans
- Designed for bottom weight woven fabrics with zero to minimal stretch of 10% like denim, twill and corduroy.
- Include Girlfriend fit: Fitted waist and hips and a tapered leg with some ease.
- Includes Demi Boot cut fit: Same as the Girlfriend fit at the waist and hips but flares out slightly from the knee.
- Classic high rise, 5 pockets, back yoke, fly front zipper, ankle length
- Curved waistband with optional belt loops.
- The pocket stays cover the whole front providing comfortable support to the abdomen.
- Size 00-20US catering up to a waist of 40.5″ and hips of 48″.
- The positive ease at waist and hips is minimal. They are comfortably fitted.
14 top Jean prep sewing secrets
From all this fun, I have some tips that will guide you in the prep required before you actually pull out your nice fabric. There is no rush, and these tips will take you a step closer to awesome jeans. All these tips are based on my experience while making my Eddystone Jeans, but apply equally to any jean pattern you are tempted to try.
Your body measurements are paramount to fitting success and it’s not just about the waist and the hips. You need to know where on your body you determine your waist to be and measure the front and back rise separately. The Eddystone jeans have a detailed sizing chart that includes the finished front and back rise. Comparing your body to the chart will give you an idea if you need to adjust the lengths on the pattern. The front and back pattern pieces have shorten and lengthen lines available in order to facilitate these adjustments. Take your time, look at the numbers.
Important to note is that in fitted jeans, the wearing ease on the front and back rise should be Zero. So your back and front rise measurements should be the same on the pattern you will adjust.
In order to measure the lengths of the pattern, the stitching lines need to be marked at the determined seam allowance. In this case, it’s 1/2″ and I measured and drew it on the pattern pieces. This step can not be skipped. There is no other way to measure accurately. Measuring the edge of the pattern is not the correct way to measure.
The total length of the front and back rise includes more pattern pieces and not just the front and back leg.
For the front, you need to pin the waistband on the stitching lines as if it were sewn. Measure from the top of the waistband stitching line (not counting the 1/2″ seam allowance on the top) along the stitching line of the front crotch to the inseam.
On the back leg, you need to pin on the yoke and the waistband to complete the total length of the back rise. Draw your stitching lines on all these pieces to measure accurately along the back crotch towards the inseam.
If you measure yourself and compare to the pattern, you can do basic rise (shorten & lengthen) adjustments if needed before making the muslin. The amount needed will probably be different in the front and the back. You don’t need to make a muslin to adjust this first as a first attempt. These initial adjustments can also be assessed with the muslin on.
Making a muslin should be about assessing the fit of the pattern and making adjustments to improve the fit for your body. Attempting to make the pattern straight out of the printer as a “wearable muslin” based solely on the waist and hip measurements can be:
- Time consuming: Making jeans with all the whistles, pockets, fly front, top stitching…. does not take a short little while.
- Not cost effective: good fabric, metal zipper, notions are not so affordable to waste on a pair of jeans that might not fit the way you want them to
- Frustrating: if the pair was lovingly made with high expectations, time and resources poured in… and the fit it not right for your body, you might not feel like attempting jeans again
Continuing from the tip above, making a simple (ugly) non wearable muslin with lighter colored fabric is most useful for assessing fit, drawing new stitching lines and adjustments onto it. Try to avoid dark, printed fabrics that will be difficult to mark and seam rip.
I mentioned that attempting a wearable muslin may lead to frustration. This simple ugly one won’t. You’ll happily scribe on it and it will be a learning experience. The stitch length can be longer, so that seam ripping is easier. Time and resources spent on this will be few, so win 🙂
NOTE: I am ok with making short muslins, but if you have needed to o adjustments for knock knees, prominent calves before… a full length muslin is best.
These jeans are designed for zero stretch to minimum stretch bottom weight woven fabrics like t& corduroy. I chose to make my muslin with a tan color heavy twill. My final fabric will be a denim with less than 10% stretch that actually has only the slightest “give”. The feel and look and weight of the twill muslin will be very close to the denim I have chosen.
When you sew the exact pattern with a heavier fabric than your muslin, you might end up with tighter, smaller jeans due to the extra thickness of the fabric. It’s important to attempt to mimic the weight of both fabrics for better results.
This simple muslin does not need the front pockets. You can place the pocket bag behind the front leg pattern to complete the hip area.
The simple muslin does not need you to sew the fly front zipper. The goal of the muslin is to assess fit and a simple centered zipper insertion will accomplish this. I folded away the fly facing to leave 1/2″ seam allowance on the center front for the centered zipper. The muslin can be tried on and zipped up simply and that process will take a minute.
Having the waistband on will not only assess the fit of the waist and if that is comfortable for you, but also the final total lengths of the front and back rise. An incomplete muslin without a waistband will not give you the final fit and it will be harder for you to hold them up to assess the fit. Please don’t skip this. My waistband is from scraps but it does the job.
Drag lines on the front and/or back will give you hints of possible fitting adjustments you might need. Make them one at a time and try on….and successively until you see results you prefer.
My initial rise adjustment was spot on at the front, but I needed more at the back. I also needed to extend the front and back crotch extensions. I did those adjustments by 1/4″ increments. The following diagrams show my fit changes and progression. How embarrassing! but oh well… all in the name of sewing science.
When you are happy, transfer those changes to the pattern as soon as possible before you forget them. My unconventional approach was to seam rip one back leg (where most changes happened) and compare it to my paper after I’d transferred the changes… just to confirm.
Sewing the back patch pockets onto the back leg as one of the initial steps of making the jeans simplifies the process a great deal. Top stitching will be accessible. The pattern has a suggested placement there, but what if you need a different placement for your body? Putting a pocket on your muslin and playing around with the placement will give you pockets are the right position for you. In my case, I preferred my pockets to be 3/4″ higher (red line) than the suggested line (blue). Leaving sewing on the real pockets to the end when you can try on the real jeans will make top stitching them so much harder.
The nice fabric can wait. After the fit is what you like, with your non wearable muslin, the time has come to make the nice pair with your pretty fabric and all your extra notions. This time, you will feel more confident that the effort an time you will invest will result in nice fitting jeans.
All the above tips might seen you will spend days and hours on this fun process. Believe me, you will invest some time, but every second, minute and hour will be totally worth it. There is no rush. I doubt we are making rushed jeans we need to wear tonight!
Pattern Video review
To see my impressions on the pattern, the jeans up close with all its features and details and also to see all the tips given above in a video format, click below to my video review on my sewing channel.
Have a look at some photos 🙂 The green top is the Kauai top from Itch to Stitch I made last year with printed silk (See video about this feminine pattern HERE) I love how the green and blue denim looks together, although denim goes with everything else too!
I am extremely happy with these jeans and I feel the fit of these is the best I have achieved for myself so far. I highly recommend this pattern. The construction methods are superb and explained clearly with amazing diagrams. Now that I have this pattern that fits how I love, I can make a load more!
DISCLAIMER: I was provided the pattern without cost, as a pattern tester, in exchange for sewing a muslin, providing feedback on instructions and fit. I Purchased my own fabric.
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Categories: Pattern Reviews