Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ginger Jeans! Cone Mills Stretch Denim with Purple Topstitching

I made a pair of jeans, whoo-hoo! This is, of course, the Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case Files. 

Yes, those are my tango shoes. These would be good jeans for dancing in, don't you think?
So much has been said about these that I'm a little daunted by all those bloggers who have come before, but I can't really leave these unblogged!

After sitting on my Ginger Jeans kit for 6 months, I jumped right into making these jeans this spring. The impetus was the fact that the two pairs of RTW jeans that I wear constantly are starting to look a little rough around the edges, and not in a good way. And the thought of engaging in jeans buying... ugh, what a dreadful thought! And expensive, to say the least.

I considered making muslins or using cheap denim, but so many people have had success with this pattern that I figured that it was highly likely that I would be able to make a wearable pair of jeans on my first try, and it seemed worthwhile to put my effort into making a decent pair of jeans, even if they weren't perfect. I also thought that making a muslin, in this case, would be counter productive for a number of reasons. One is that I've never worked with Cone Mills S-Gene denim-- it is a lot sturdier and less stretchy than I'm used to. I also feel that jeans really need to be worn in before you can truly assess fit... which is probably not true if you are experienced at pants fitting, but I'm not, and I thought I would need to FEEL the fit in order to truly understand the adjustments I would need to make. I need to answer the question: what adjustments are truly necessary after the denim breaks in and moulds to my body?

I wasn't completely reckless. I did spend a lot of time comparing the pattern to my favorite RTW jeans (NYDJ). I have to say, the shape of the Ginger Jeans pattern, especially the crotch curve, is remarkably similar. Based on my RTW jeans, I chose to make a size 10 and grade to a 12 at the waist. I also took my time making these and basted all of the pieces together twice during the making to check fit. I ended up taking out the seams 1/4 inch in both the inseam and the side seam. Other than that, I made no changes.

Sewing all of the jeans details was totally fun! My machine handled denim pretty well. I used my leveling foot for most tough spots. In some places I just moved slowly, turning the handwheel. The Ginger Jeans sewalong was invaluable, almost all of Heather's suggestions were spot on.

For some reason, the denim needles included in my Ginger Jeans kit didn't work very well in my machine, so I ended up using my usual Organ needles in the heaviest size I had (18). Top stitching worked like a charm on my machine, and I used an edge joining foot as a guide for some of the top stitching, as suggested in Cashmerette's tutorial.

I chose to use purple top stitching thread-- it was just a random color I had ordered in my last big thread order, and I thought it would be a nice personal touch. I had a selection of jeans notions to choose from since I've been collecting, and went with a sort of antique bronze finish in the hardware. The jeans button was from the Ginger Jeans kit and the rivets were from Tailor Taylor.

I designed the pocket after looking at lots of existing pockets. Personally, I think the rounded lines echo the rounded lines of the exterior of the pocket, helping to create the illusion of a nice rounded bum!

The buttonhole is a free-hand machine buttonhole. I used this fantastic tutorial by Angela Kane, and it was not nearly as difficult as it sounds. The automatic buttonhole just wasn't going to happen on my machine, especially not with my pretty purple topstitching thread. Having looked at a lot of jeans buttonholes in researching jeans detailing, I think this looks pretty authentic.

I chose to do the pocket stay with quilting cotton and backed the waist band with the same woven, no stretch cotton, no interfacing. This was a quilting cotton I picked up on sale at Joannes several years ago... you'll probably see me wearing the dress I made with it this summer. It does actually have a bit of give across the grain, but no true stretch.

Overall, I'm more than pleased! I've been wearing them continuously since I finished them. I was worried at first that they were too tight, but I think they are wearing in nicely. It has definitely been my experience with denim that jeans that are comfortable when new turn out hopelessly baggy when they are well worn in, so I was definitely going for a nice firm fit.

Pictures of fit after wearing for several days.

They are, however, not perfect. I think I might belatedly make a muslin at this stage, trying out a few fit ideas I have. The circumference of the waistband is actually pretty perfect, but I think that my post-baby belly is pulling the jeans forward. I also suspect this since I usually have to do a sway-back adjustment, and there is no back gap in these jeans. So, I might try doing a full belly adjustment and a sway back adjustment... basically, shifting the extra room to the front of the jeans, where I apparently need it!

The other adjustment I think I will try is a small full-buttocks adjustment. I can't really see any need when I look at the pictures, other than the fact that it is nice and tight across the bum. However, I feel like my buttocks could us a little more room... especially when sitting and squatting. I'm dangerously close to a plumber's crack when moving around in these, and adding a bit more room in the back is all I can think of to do to help this along. This might mess with the fit in a bad way though... hence the though of trying this on a muslin first.

I might try adding just a bit of room in the upper thigh... but I'm not sure about that. In some pictures, they look rather tight there but in others the fit looks perfect. I wouldn't want to introduce bagginess in that area so I'm on the fence about that one.

In any case, I really need to push forward with jeans-making, since I want to wear these every day! What will I do on washing day? ;)


  1. Great job! These look great.
    What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment you must be having. Sewing a pair of jeans is something I've always wanted to do.
    Very inspiring. Your example here just might be the shove I need to get started.
    Good luck on the contest.

    1. It's funny how satisfying it is to sew jeans! Sort of addictive too... ;)

  2. I love thes, especially your choice for top stitching. How fun! My favorite RTW brand of jeans is NYDJ too.

  3. Thanks! I wish I could find stretch denim like my NYDJ Janice Leggings. The Cone Mills S-gene denim has great recovery, but it isn't as stretchy. I've found other denims that are stretchy, but I have doubts on how well they will recover after a day of wear. And nothing has that smooth finish. But I'm hoping that with a little practice, I'll perfect my pattern so that the fit makes the extra stretch unnecessary.