It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jalie vs. Jilly (Jeans, that is)

Last year I made my first pair of jeans from the hugely popular Jalie pattern.  I was very happy with my results (some tweaking was involved), but I definitely wanted to give the Style Arc Jilly Jeans a go, because their pants, in general, fit me very well.   And they're JILLY jeans, I mean...hello?

First off, I need to get the Operator Issues out of the way.  (the Operator would be me, of course...)  There were a lot of them.  I referred a lot to my set of posts about the Jalie Jeans - this is one of the wonderful benefits of blogging!  Having your own experiences documented in words and pictures that you understand is priceless.  :)    I just didn't heed my instructions quite well enough at the beginning, which was one of my downfalls :(

Mistake #1:  I tested thread and needle on the fabric, but one quick seam over 6 layers of fabric to determine what needle and topstitching thread would work did NOT mean that same needle and thread was going to be optimum for most of the stitching that needed to be done.   In fact, there are precious few spots where I'm actually going over 6 layers of fabric.    :::rolleyes:::.
Mistake #2:  I made a quick muslin using the denim I had made the Jalies from, and it took me way too long to realize that the new denim I was using behaved WAY differently - thinner fabric, more stretch, not nearly as stable.   So I was using topstitching thread that was too thick, a needle that was too large, and using a relatively unstable fabric, not treating it as carefully as I should have.   All of this resulted in atrocious (really!) topstitching (wavy, too small a stitch length...not attractive.   Not at all attractive.)

I did, however, carry on anyway and finish the jeans, and. I'm happy that I did.  In the end, I do have comfortable jeans that fit fairly well right after a good hot wash & dry, but sadly, they stretch fairly quickly into a bit of a baggy mess.  Comfy, but baggy.  :(  And  I won't be showing off any of that topstitching with any sense of pride.....

Lessons learned:
  1. When researching and practicing topstitching, seam stitching, needles and thread, try ALL of the different thicknesses and grain directions you'll be using to determine what's needed for what. 
  2.  Remember that not all denims are created equal.   Practice.  Test.  It's worth taking that extra bit of time until you know what you're working with!
  3. Bright gold topstitching on very dark (almost black) denim may not be the best choice.
  4. You don't HAVE to start now and use the threads you have on hand....sometimes shopping and waiting for the right ingredients is worth the wait.

General Notes on the Jilly instructions:   Not for beginners, and probably not a good idea for someone who has never made jeans before.  Unless you want to follow instructions from a completely different source.   Style Arc pattern instructions are designed for people who do not need to be told construction details, and although you can email and ask questions, and you will get fabulous response and help, I would strongly advise you to not try this pattern as your first attempt at jeans!

Style Arc notches:  If you see a notch, mark it!  You'll probably need it.   Notches do not necessarily match up with other notches; in many cases a notch marks the spot that will match a seam - this is great because you don't need to make any marks that might disappear by the time you need it!

I'm not going to write a lot of construction details here, since I did that in my Jalie posts, and the front pocket details, posted here.   For the most part, after I read through the Jilly instructions, I just set them aside and followed the details in my Jalie Jeans posts.

Jalie vs. Jilly

One of the first notable differences is the leg width - Jilly is much wider in the rear leg, with a narrower front leg.  My Jalie pattern is cut in between their high and low rise - the Jilly jean is closer to my preferred rise as is (although I did cut about 1/2" off the front piece, angled from the side seam to 1/2" at CF).   Both jeans have a very similar circumference at the bottom hem; Jalie angles in at the knee, then back out again, Jilly is straighter all the way.

In the next pic you can see the differences better at the top.  Note that I chose to use Jalie's cut-on fly extension - Jilly has a sewn on fly.   Jilly has a lot more room in the butt area; I actually ended up angling this in, removing nearly 1" at the top.   BOTH patterns required gaposis darts in the back yoke and waist seam.

Jilly has an option for a curved waistband or a straight one - a VERY nice touch!  I drafted a curved band for the Jalie, and added darts (at the pattern level) in the Jilly curved band - this ended up creating a waistband with a pretty deep curve in the back.

Another difference is that Jilly's back yoke is taller.   What I did NOT like about this is that the pockets ended up being placed lower (I also shifted the placement of the pockets to be more angled, which made them lower still....this was another big Operator Error Issue, because they are now WAY too low on my butt!)

The front pocket has a deeper curve on the Jilly - it's comfortable for getting the hands in the pocket; some may prefer the shallower curve.

One more major difference is in the zipper.  Jilly has the zipper placed in the center of the front, rather than being off set like most jeans are.  I completely ignored the Jilly zipper instructions and followed those from my Jalie post.

On to some pictures.  The unfortunate disclaimer here is that I've been wearing the Jillys for two days, so the sags and bags in this stretchy fabric (only 2% lycra, but 9.4 oz. weight...just much flimsier than the Jalie fabric I used.   FWIW, I got the Jalie denim at JoAnn's, and I bought a pile of different weight denims from when they had it on a big sale last year.  I'm now not so happy that I bought as much as I did, but hopefully the heavier weights that I got will please me more.  To get a fair representation of the fit differences, I really should have taken the photos right after a wash & dry, but the truth is that this is what the jeans are going to look like most of the time :(

Jilly on the left, Jalie on the right.  The rise is very similar (remember that I re-drafted the Jalie to be in between their low & high rise, and cut down the front of the Jilly by a bit).   That gathering at the knee of the Jilly doesn't go away no matter what size heel I have on, so I think it's a combo of the flimsier fabric and the straight leg.  The Jalie goes in at the knee.  (The Jalie denim is pretty dark; hope you can see the details OK.)

You can see here how much further forward the side seam is on the Jilly.   This I like!  You can also see how much lower the back pocket site on the Jilly.   This I don't like :(

Just to show how much ease this stretchy fabric has..... :(

Another side view - on this you can see that the inside seam ends up being further forward on the Jalie.  The crotch point on the Jalie is further forward.  Overall, I much prefer the leg seam placement on the Jilly.

I don't remember offhand (and I'm too lazy to go look it up) whether or not the Jalie called for the 2 belt loops at CB.   Jilly calls for only one; I prefer 2, but when I got to that stage I didn't feel like cutting a new piece just to have the extra loop.   Even though the sagging of this fabric means that I need to wear a belt more often!    Also, I didn't sew down the bottom of the belt loops on the Jilly Jeans; I did on the Jalie.   Looking at the pics this is something I WILL do while the thread is still in the machine - hate that loopy look!   I think you can't quite tell in this pic how bad the pockets look on the Jillys - they really are placed too low and end up in a little fold at the bottom. SO not a good look!  I mentioned above that I adjusted the pocket placement, and really should have left it alone - where they have it would have been better.

Bottom Line:   I would like to make another pair of jeans while the info is still fresh in my head, and I would redraft something in between these two patterns.   I think they both have a lot of good aspects - I like the leg seams on the Jilly, although I might narrow them at the knee more like the Jalie.  I also prefer the narrower back yoke of the Jalie.  Both jeans have a comfortable fit on my body (after some tweaking, although the Jilly took way less tweaking!).   Both needed a gaposis fix.  The curved band on the Jilly is very nice.  I like the pockets on the Jilly, although I might try the method of extending the pocket into the fly next time - sounds like a great way of adding support to an aging belly!  ;-)

My biggest lesson here?   All denims are not created equal, and my personal preference is for something a little beefier, with a little more stability.    Oh, and in my quest for sewing a better topstitch, start with the appropriate needle and thread right off the bat!

Next up is a super fun piece of frosting!   I know I said I was going to focus on more practical items, and I am....really, I am....but this particular flavor of frosting just ambled on to my sewing table and it was love at first sight!   Sneak Peek:

And you?   Are you focused on a nutritious main course or frosting right now?  Happy Sewing all!


glorm said...

Not a jeans wearer here, but I am impressed with all the work you put into the blog so we can see the comparisons. Both pairs look good, and after you make a combo of the two, you will have a perfect pair.

Jilly Be said...

Thanks Gloria - I hope so!

Dixie said...

What a lot of work, and what a lot you learned! I agree with your assessment of the Jilly, that it has some good features that the Jalie does not. A hybrid is definitely in order. After you play with some frosting!
I'm working on cake right now - a shirt. Then I need to get into making bags. Lots of them.:)

MareeAlison said...

Fantastic information on these two jeans patterns - thank you. I really like the Jalie jeans on you better, for what it's worth.

Maja said...

Please look on the pictures with back wiev. Middle line is not in place on both jeans, especially on lighter one. This means, in my oppinion that you have completely moved the lines and that the left side wes drafted more narrow. Anyway, light pair is much better.


kbenco said...

Both pairs of jeans look good. This is an excellent comparison post, really useful. Thanks for all the work showing the difference between the patterns both on you and in the tracings. I enjoyed reading it. I hope you get your perfect pattern from all this research and experimentation.

gwensews said...

It takes a lot of fiddling, I think, to get a pant of any kind that we are totally pleased with. We sewists are perfectionists. You are on your way with two wearable jeans!

Glenda said...

Great post, Jilly. I am really impressed by both pairs of jeans. I find the lighter pair to be a bit more flattering; I like the higher waist and lack of puddling at the knees. Thanks for all of the information and photos.

Cynthia said...

Terrific post. I ordered the Jalie pattern based on your earlier posts, and I'm glad I did - I think they look nicer on you than the Jilly's . . . just my two cents. I REALLY appreciate your analysis of both - I've never made any pants before and I've been pretty intimidated - now I feel like I can tackle it and maybe finally have jeans that fit right without spending hundreds of dollars. thank you thank you thank you!

Jilly Be said...

Your post made my blogging day - thank YOU! :D

Mrs. Smith said...

A beginner here, who has yet to sew jeans...but the Jalie pair looks MUCH more flattering overall on you than the Jilly. We know it's important so I'm just gonna say it -- your butt looks GOOD in the Jalie jeans. The narrower yoke, the darts (and the pocket placement) is much better. I get the inseam placement issue - I do like that better on the Jilly. And since you said you cut between the low and high rise on the Jalie, I think you should just cut the low rise.

I think you should be sure to enter the Pattern Review jeans contest coming up later this year. Your work is fab!

Adrienne said...

I like both of your jeans if I saw you in public I would have thought they were a very good brand of jeans that fit you well. I appreciate the amount of detail you have included in your posts. I have never made a pair of jeans yet. I did however think about taking on this challenge and bought a pattern Vogue 1204. I also recently had the chance to take a class at the national sewing guild convention on altering jeans to 'personalize' them. As a result of taking this workshop I was able to make a sloper from the vogue pattern and learn about to solve one of my fit challenges. I also leaned how to alter the front pocket to allow more room for my hands as I a person who actually likes my jeans pockets to be functional.
Jennifer Stern from is worth taking a look at her website. She has a fitting workbook that I find very user friendly.
She recommended the same rivet company you used as well as gave a nod to the blog you mentioned as well. I guess great minds think alike.