I Made Jeans!

Making your own jeans seems to be many sewists’ ambition, although I can’t say that it was ever mine. But after losing numerous t-shirts due to holes caused by jeans’ buttons, jeans had to join my sewing queue, specifically the Mountain View jeans – no buttons! Just secret pyjamas in the shape of figure hugging jeans. I briefly toyed with the idea of drafting my own version, but I would have struggled to work out just how much negative ease to apply. And then an email arrived offering a discount on Itch to Stitch patterns and the Mountain View jeans pattern worked out at less than £7, so it was a no brainer.

So the search for jeans fabric with 20-30% stretch began; given the current lockdown, online shopping was my only option. Very few shops give the stretch percentage, and I didn’t want to spend a huge amount of money as this isn’t the kind of pattern that you can toile & I was worried about getting the size wrong/making a mistake. Eventually I found some promising fabric at Sew Essential & emailed them to ask the percentage – bingo! As you’d expect from them, the fabric is really good quality but it frays so badly & small pieces like the yokes curled up after being pressed (see right). Maybe that’s normal for stretch denim fabric? I’ve no idea to be honest. Would I choose it again? Sorry Sew Essential, I would have to say no, it just frayed too much although if that doesn’t bother you it is a lovely fabric. Edited to add: after wearing these a couple of times I just might change my mind! The denim is lovely & soft, and doesn’t crease too badly.

I watched a couple of YouTube videos on making these jeans by Karina at Lifting Pins & Needles, if you’re thinking of making the Mountain View then I highly recommend watching them, she gives some great advice. I then spent a long time dithering over whether to make any changes to the rise, as they’re drafted for someone who’s 5’6 & I’m only 5′. In the end I left the front & back rise as drafted. But I reduced the leg length by 1″ at the top lengthen/shorten line, 3/4″ at the lower lengthen/shorten line as per a reply Karina makes to a comment on one of her videos, in which she says reduce the length by only half the amount needed.

My measurements put me in a size 6. I had seen a really good suggestion from someone to make the waistband first, because if it fits you know you’ve got the right size. I measured the elastic so it was comfortable on my waist and used Karina’s method of attaching the elastic which worked really well, I only needed to stretch the front section a tiny bit to make it all fit together nicely.

And as an added bonus, it fit perfectly, which spurred me on to cut out the rest. I had taken a chance and only ordered 1.5m of fabric, which is 143cm wide, but I managed to squeeze the pieces on with a fair bit to spare, this picture just shows the main pattern pieces:

The Mountain View jeans have proper functioning pockets (I know that sounds daft, but some pull-on jeans don’t). Karina’s method of redrafting the pocket pieces worked well, she also has a video on pocket construction. I used a remnant from some fabric my sister bought me a few years ago, which matched the colour of the denim really well:

My first ever attempt at topstitching! I would much prefer to do this with a twin needle but don’t have one suitable. Definitely something I’ll buy for next time.

And eventually they really did start to look like jeans!

Frequent switching between a size 16 denim needle & a size 14 topstitching needle was really tedious. My machine simply sulked with topstitching thread in the denim needle which meant that just changing the top thread wasn’t enough. So one lesson I’ve learned for next time is that I’ll set up my old Toyota sewing machine & use that for either the general construction or the topstitching – probably the latter, as despite lengthening the stitch to 4, quite a few of the stitches are smaller than that.

I will also use my walking foot, which ought to prevent problems like hems which no longer match – this was one of the centre back leg seams which is 2cm out, the other one sewed up fine! It didn’t matter in the end as I cut off about 4cm to make them the right length.

Once the front pockets were done, the rest of the jeans came together quite quickly although I took my time as I didn’t want to make any mistakes. Again I referred to Karina for her less-bulky waistband finishing. When it came to the pockets, I reduced the size of them by 1cm all round to make them 12cm across instead of 14cm, they just looked too big. I also raised the position of them as they’re too low for me as drafted. I’m really happy with the position of them so next time I’d attach them at a much earlier stage.

I was lucky that I had a whole weekend to work on my jeans due to having to isolate before a (minor) medical procedure. Such hardship – having to isolate in my craft room & have my meals brought to me! For me these were NOT a quick sew & working full time means that they would normally have taken me several weeks to complete. But lessons learned this time means that next time – because there absolutely will be a next time – will be quicker. I’m so pleased with the finished result, I can’t claim that they’re perfect, I really need to practice sewing curved topstitching, but I don’t think anyone would really tell that they’re self-made unless they spend too much time looking at my bottom!