Here’s the deal~
I’ve finally broke thru and hit a new plateau in sewing. It just happened. I’ve been on a tear lately sewing jeans, one pair right after another. My husband has this thing he says about people who have expertise in a thing…he’ll say “That is all they do and they get really good at it.” I internalized that when I decided that blue jeans would be a thing I would get really good at. I bought quite a bit of Cone Mills denim…hang on, let me look…okay, I jumped over to EBay to see if I could see my past buys to see how many yards of that denim I own but the purchases are too old so I just have to make a guess…I bet I own 25-30 yards of the stuff…if not closer to 40…and in a vertical integration of the subject, I’ve been going back to reading sewing blogs and found out that the Cone Mills factory has sold! They’re out of business! *gasp*…so I rushed to EBay and bought another 15 yards of the stuff! *THEN* I found the White Oak website and could not help myself…bought yet another 20 yards direct from them. My goal is 100 yards of Cone Mills denim. That should set me up for life!
I set out about 2 years ago to learn how to make quality blue jeans. First, blue jeans were the *one* article of clothing that I could just forget about buying off the rack and have them fit. If I did manage to find blue jeans that mmmm, sorta, kinda fit…I’d wear them until they were literally just worn thin, if not thru, and the waistband finally came off in my hands while pulling them on. So I endeavored that blue jeans would be a major sewing thing with me. The fit, tho, disaster after disaster…until I read SallieOh’s post on the same fit issues. She wrote that she would be taking all her jeans in a whole inch due to denim fabric just giving and giving and giving. (My jeans fit great for the first 20 minutes and then would stretch and “bag” out.) I took to sewing all my jeans in the same way and voila! Fit issue solved! Maybe a tad bit tight when I first put them on, but in 20 or so minutes…a great fit! This is me…ecstatic! 🤩
With the fit issues solved, I could go on to work other areas, like the stitching on the back pocket. I’m still experimenting and haven’t come up with that one style that I like, but getting closer. I’ve hand embroidered them, I’ve machine stitched them…but as of today, it’s still a work in progress.
Not…quite…..there….just…yet….back pocket monogram..
I sew darts into the waistband, now, to better fit the curve of waist. First time was one dart in the center back, which proved to me I was on the right track, but better still, I now sew 2 darts on either side, in line with the side seam. That works much better, looks sharper, I think. I’ve also eliminated the belt loops for a couple of reasons. One, the waistband was a lot of trouble getting right and I originally left the belt loops out so it would be one less thing (x5…there are 5 belt loops) that had to be picked out when I took the waistband off for refitting. But then I noticed that not having the belt loops was less bulk around the waist and I quite liked the way that looked. Now I’m waffling back and forth about putting them back in. I will just bet when I get to cutting into the Cone Mills denim, I add them back in. For at least one pair.
Notice top pair~the waistband is straight up and down, and curls at the top from too much fabric, bottom pair curves in at the top, sits better on the waist and stays flat. That’s from the added darts. If it becomes too much of an issue, I will remove the top waistband, add darts and reattach.
I’m not happy with turning the waistband at the corner. I’m not getting a nice, even straight corner yet. The corner comes out wonky and I think the resolution to this is 2-fold:
- I’m cutting the seam down too small before I turn it and there’s nothing there to grab onto to square the corner in on itself to prevent wonkieness.
- I need to take one, small stitch on the diagonal to transition from one leg of the sharp right angle to the other.
Wonkiness. Top of band curves up and out. Inside waistband peeks out. Needs work.
The pockets were an issue that I had to work out and indeed, I’ve drafted the pockets a dozen times, but I’m finally happy with the size and shape of the pockets, however, next pair, I believe I’m going to either sew the pocket bags on the inside and bottom seams before I attach them to the jeans, or..I’m going to redraft the pocket bags as a single piece of fabric, so the front and back piece fold over on itself, eliminating the inside seam. That would just leave having to sew a seam on the bottom, the outside seam to be caught in the side seam of the jeans themselves.
In regards to the pocket bags, I’ve been using quilting cotton to construct them and the inside waistband. I saw that on a sewing blog and loved the way it looked. I’ve seen it multiple times since so it’s a thing now, I guess. I like the way it feels, too. It’s better than a doubling of the denim. It fits better. I don’t know what having to put darts into 2 layers of denim would do. I could stagger the darts, of course, so they’re not one on top of the other. I cut the inside waist band cotton on the bias so not putting a dart on the inside waistband hasn’t been an issue. I’m not sure what cutting the inside waistband in denim on the bias would do, quite frankly, but I should probably do it at least once to find out. Do it both ways…cut it on the grain, stagger the darts and then once with the inside waistband on the bias without darts. Some folks cut the waistband as one single piece and then fold it in half lengthwise. I cut 2 and sew the tops together. I get a nice crisp edge that way. When I do finally cut into the Cone Mills denim, I’d like to have all issues resolved and jeans construction down to a science. After all, that’s what the practice denim is all about, right? If I do decide to stay with using quilting cotton for the pocket bags and inside waistband, I will be going out and specifically buying beautiful, gorgeous, high end, premium quilting cotton, dedicated for just that reason. Right now, once can look at the pocketbag/waistband cotton and say “Oh, yes…the Blue Yoke shirt and that yellow Summer Bang Around dress that didn’t quite turn out…”
Topstitching…still a work in progress. I’ve got the stitch length to where I like it. But my double topstitching rows are too skinny. I’ve been using my presser foot to measure off of to keep them straight, because you just have to, but the presser foot isn’t giving me enough width. I went into my Bernina shop and ended up buying 3 new feet for the 1008 that I hope will fix this. Actually, one of the new feet is…get this..a topstitching foot. I’ll give that one a go first. Another new foot is clear so I can see thru it with marking lines. Can’t remember what the 3rd new foot is but I’m sure it sounded like a good idea when I was at the presser foot counter.
Evolution of the topstitching down the pant leg. The Red on Jean is topstitched top to bottom.
I have on order coordinated serger thread colors. Before, I used only light gray as it would blend with any and everything. But now…I want the serged inside seams to match the topstitching.
So that’s the story of the jeans, with an epilogue: The last 3 pair of jeans I made just went together. Just boom, boom, boom! and I was done. No issues, not having to stop and think about what came next or getting into a bind where I had to work something out to get it to go together. I did graduate (as bragged about in an earlier post) from the cheapest, on sale denim Joann Fabrics had to a mid-level, paying-full-price-with-a-coupon denim. Actually, very nice denim. I’ve not been repulsed by it when I pull them on. And I have enough of that denim left over to make another 4-5 pairs. So, I’ll get those put together and work on perfecting the topstitching, waistband corner and back pocket for more practice. I don’t think I’ll get to the Cone Mills this year. I’ll leave the Cone Mills to next winter. And even then, I’ll do a couple of pairs in not-Cone Mills denim to refresh my skills.
So, for my sewing in general. As mentioned, I’m back to going thru my sewing blogs. I had to quit them after the election because so many of the gals were having meltdowns and I just couldn’t. I rolled my eyes so much I sprained muscles, and could’ve gone blind. But, their blogs, they’re free to post what they want to post about. Thankfully, they’re back to posting about actual sewing. I did come across one that is still suffering from conniptions. Yeah, nope. I clicked off her and won’t be going back. That’s the negative, now for the positive~
As I started this post out with, I’ve broken through a ceiling. I’m happy with my sewing, thrilled, even. I’ve gone to a new level that has affected my psyche in seratonin highs skid row bums only dream about!! And like hard core skid row bums…I’m chasing the dragon now! I want more! I want haute couture for…(stay with me here)…*my* sewing. As in the fit, finishing off the inside seams, professional detail work..but c’mon…who wants to go to Walmart for half gallon of milk in this? I mean, even for organic milk?
I want beautiful clothes, but they have to be practical, too! I’ve been drafting my own patterns, because I know what I like and I want clothes I can live in. But I wonder if I’m missing out on some sewing skills by not buying professional patterns and sewing according to the directions. All of the great sewing blogs I follow seem to sew from patterns. Oh, I’m sure some of them are drafting their own but overwhelmingly, they’re sewing up professional industrial patterns…with changes. I like reading about those…”I made this, with these changes….” lower/raise the neckline, armscye. The neck, armscye, and sleeves…those are the most changes I see, and in that order.
I’ve been looking at patterns but keep saying to myself “I can do that just by copying the line drawings!”
So here’s where I am, I’ve got all manner of sewing books. The sewing bibles my sewing bloggers mention? I have all those books, too. So before I start buying patterns, I’m going to start consciously studying them, starting today. I mean, if I’m going to buy a pattern, only to match it up with my sloper..why not just copy the line drawings??? Plus, I have all of Kevin King’s DVDs on drafting. I can pretty much draft anything I want, I think.
One caveat. I’d like to make this coat. I already have the fabric.
I guess I can see from the line drawings that the pattern would be good to have. I’ve never made anything like this before, and since it’s an oversized coat, fit isn’t that much of an issue, apart from just right sizing for me. There will be new skills to be gained by sewing up this pattern. I bought it yesterday.
Ok, I’m out. It’s the afternoon already and I need to get going. The iron is hot, there’s denim to be cut out. My son is back from his work-cation at the Kiewit mine over the Christmas break, he’s back in school tomorrow morning. The best thing? He’s out buying groceries for dinner. I will eat very well tonight. The worst thing? I had lost a few pounds with him not around cooking. Now I will gain them all back. Unless Possum the Puppy, takes to walking in the park better than he has. He doesn’t like it too well, hates the leash and he’s skittish. But he’s young yet and little.