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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jalie Jeans for Dummies #1 - Prep & Back Pockets

The Jalie Jeans 2908 pattern has been reviewed - one would think to death - 88 times over at pattern review (and counting!)  So what am I gonna do?  Add another, of course!

I spent more time reading & researching how to make a pair of jeans that fit than I suspect I will have spent sewing them up by the time I'm done!  This was really out of necessity, because at some point I realized that I've never (at least in memory...which is sketchy at times) made a pair of fitted pants before, let alone a pair of jeans!

My main sources of material were the Sewalong threads at Pattern Review - PR #1,  PR#2, all of the posts at Peter's Blog MPB Jeans Sewalong, and all of the links those threads led me to (pertinent places added later).  These are excellent sources of info; I'm merely consolidating everything I found helpful, &  detailing my experiences here.

Because this is my first journey with fitted pants, I'm posting  from a novice's point of view.  I won't address lots of fitting issues & other highly individual aspects, but I will try to be as detailed as possible about what I found that's working for me.  Although I missed joining all the prior sew-alongs, the good news is that I get to benefit from everyone else's experiences - thanks, everyone else!  :D )

On to the basics - First up, Supplies:

Fabric (Denim - in this case, stretch denim)  Normally, I'm quite a pacifist, but in this case, I say ABUSE this puppy ahead of time!  Wash (hot!) and dry (hot!) at least twice, preferably 3 times.   Serging the ends to prevent fraying (not to mention those nasty threads that  tie everything in knots in the washer & drier) is very helpful.  A tip from Ann of Gorgeous Things:  Once the fabric has been washed, let it sit & settle (preferably spread out on your cutting surface) for 24 hours - this supposedly helps it keep its shape.
Thread - much was written about this, because folks had problems with choosing & using a topstitching thread that worked for them.  I used Gutterman's topstitching thread up top, with all-purpose thread in the bobbin, but a lot of people found G's TS thread too thick & unruly - Gutterman's Upholstery Thread got some good reviews, as did YLI topstitching thread.   I'm doing my topstitching on my 201, and so far she's handling the Gutterman TS just fine :)   Bottom line here:  test test test!  You'll also need a sturdy thread for seam stitching, & serger thread if you'll be using your serger (recommended for this pattern - the seams are serged, ironed to one side, then topstitched with 2 rows)
Needles - The consensus here is to use 110/16 or 18  Larger needles are necessary for the heavier fabric and thread.
Rivets - I got mine from Junior, again, a consensus showed his to be very good (I'm not at the rivet stage yet...we'll see how I do!)  And of course, the hammer, block of wood, & other goodies necessary to <strike>get your aggressions out</strike> - I'll detail this when I get there....
Interfacing - lots of options here, just use your favorite!  I love Pam Erny's selection; I used her lightweight woven.
Lining/Facing Fabric - For pockets, fly facings, & waistband.  You can use your denim for some of these, or a fun & feel good cotton, for that less bulky, custom look and feel.
Zipper - Lots of choices here too.  You don't need a "Jeans Zipper".   In fact, I made a couple of test zips using some old ones from stash, and I liked the looks of a gold one I used so much that I might actually rip it out & use it in my jeans!
Oh yeah, of course - your Pattern!

Optional stuff:

  • An old pair (or 3) of jeans that fit you, &/or that you can study the construction of.   (trust me, this is VERY helpful!)  
  • Also, more than one machine!   So that you don't have to constantly be switching threads.
  • Oak tag or an old file folder for making templates
  • Tacky Glue
  • Steam a Seam or Wonder Tape (for the zipper)
A Cutting Note:  Don't be fooled by the tallish models on the pattern envelope - these jeans actually don't have a lot of length, and given the shrinkability of denim, double check the leg length!   I'm not quite 5'4",  and I needed the full length as given.

OK, on to the fun stuff!  I finally sat down to read through the pattern instructions, and much to my surprise, step 1 is topstitching the back pocket!   Back to the research....what design to use?   But first, remember my comment about testing your thread?  Different threads, different machines, a bunch of playing around:
I actually started off using a Featherweight, but after awhile I realized it wasn't going to handle the really thick bits, so I switched the TS job over to Penelope, my beloved 201 :).

I tried the Jalie design, but ended up drawing my own.   I transferred the design to my pockets using a tracing wheel & paper; some people used a template & chalk to mark their designs.




OK, less than perfect, but I'm good with it for this pair :)  (the tracing of the Jalie pattern is still visible on the right pocket)

Next step - I recommend making your pressing much easier by making a pocket template,  the size of the finished pocket, so that you can just fold over your edges & press them w/o the bother of measuring.

Topstitch your pocket tops, & then, thanks to hints from rocketboy/Brian Sews, I brought out my tacky glue, & I'm a convert!  Glue the folded edges of your pocket, place them on their home base, and sew without pins!  (which can really distort a heavier fabric like denim)

I was still using the Featherweight here, but those corners (4 layers of fabric) convinced me that she wasn't going to have enough oomph by the time I was dealing with 6 or 8 layers of this fabric!

Amazing!  No seams stitched together yet, but it feels like the jeans are beginning to take shape!

I'm actually a bit out of synch here, because although I dove right into topstitching the pockets, there were some fitting issues that I dealt with before cutting out the rest of the pieces, mainly involving the rise on these pants.   Next up will be how I worked that out, and sewing the front pockets :)


shams said...

LOVE your pocket design!! I keep meaning to make another pair of these. Maybe you'll inspire me. :)

Jillybejoyful said...

Thank you shams :) I'm all over anything swirly, curvy, spirally or wave-y, so any embroidery type stuff you see from me will likely have some curves (just like us, eh?) ;^D