Jeans Making – Grand Finale

Welcome back to this Grand Jeans-Making Adventure! ICYMI, you can read about my search for the right fabric and supplies in Part 1 and my painful journey through jeans fit in Part 2. In part 3, my grand finale, I will share my experience of ….

Making a Wearable Pair of Jeans.

Up to now, I had been basting things together quickly. Now it was time to slow things down and dive into the details.

Day One – Pockets, Zipper and Jeans Front

Day one was about pocket detail and starting the installation of the fly zipper. Most of that time was about the pockets. While none of it was difficult, it did require some adjustment.

Do you recall I had to add to the side seams? Well, I remembered that meant I had to add to the side seam of the pocket facing but I forgot I also had to add to the actual front pocket. This pocket is created by attaching one side to the top edge, turning it to the back, then folding it in half, back to the side seam. To make it fit the new seam lines, I had to add the extra to BOTH sides of the pocket. Now that might not sound like a mental puzzle to you, but it was a real mental puzzle to me. After some fiddling and generous cutting (and subsequent trimming) I finally got the piece cut and installed.

It took so much more time than I anticipated to choose what I wanted on my back pocket. I wasn’t looking for much excitement back there, I only wanted a little bit of tone-on-tone design. I pulled out my tracing paper and my set of curved rulers, and drew out the pocket shape I had to work with. It took several tries before I had something simple enough but interesting enough to suit me. Regular weight thread was totally invisible, which is what I wanted for the top stitching on the seams, but not for the back pocket. I switched to top stitching weight thread in a slight shade darker, which helped but, as you can see, it is still very subdued. I decided I was ready to move on but in the future I would like to find a combination that shows a little bit more.

By the end of the day I had invested about 4 hours into sewing. I had a good start on the fly zipper installation. I was not looking forward to shortening that metal zipper and expected to have some challenges but that was enough for one day.

Day Two – More Zipper and Jeans Back

Day two seemed to move along much faster since all of the pocket detail was done. The scariest part of the day was shortening the metal zipper, a task I had never done before. I was incredibly grateful for the excellent instructions in the Itch to Stitch Angelia pattern I was using to convert the button fly to a zipper. And I was also very grateful for my husband’s tool bag that included the wire cutters and needle-nosed pliers I used to accomplish it.

I learned that if I used the wire cutters to cut through the metal on the outside (side next to purple line) they came off pretty easily. The most challenging one to remove was the zipper stop since I had to preserve it to reattach at the new top of the zipper.

My pattern instructions suggested basting the back pockets on until the legs are sewn to be sure the position is flattering. I positioned them using a combination of the pattern markings along with my notes from the Jacque Goldsmith workshop. She says this about how retail jeans pockets are placed:

Industry standard for back pocket placement on jeans is 1/2″ below the yoke at the center back seam and 1″ below the yoke on the outer seam.

Since my notes had no mention of how far from the center back seam the pocket should be placed, I measured the pattern placement, which was 1 3/4″ and I added an extra 1/4″ just because it felt right.

Before I closed up shop for the day I had made it through all of the seam top stitching for the back and sewn up the in-seam. Not bad for 2 1/2 hours of work!

Day 3 – Rework and Waistband

Day 3 was a day of 2 steps backwards and 3 steps forward. As I said at the end of Part 2, I had decided to forge ahead with the fit I had reached and “come what may”. I finished top stitching the in-seam and moved to the side seams. I decided to pin the outer seams and check for pocket placement first. I wanted to be able to lay the back pant out flat to easily get to the pocket stitching. When I did that, I realized several things.

  • The pockets were too low and too big.
  • The jeans were too loose in the waist.
  • The center back was not fitting against my back.

And my response to this was ….

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!
At least I found the problems and made a little bit of progress!

I really thought I was past all of this, but since I wasn’t, most of the day was spent in addressing those problems, which also meant most of my day was spent in rework. Thankfully, the only sewn, serged, and top stitched seam I had to take out was the top 8″ at center back. By day’s end, my 3 hours of sewing had resulted in completing the rework, attaching the smaller back pockets and pinning on the waistband.

Day 4 – More Waistband, Button , Belt Loops and Rivets

After a day of rework on day 3, I was ready to feel like I was making progress! I completed the waistband easily and moved on to the finishing touches.

I was worried that putting in the buttonhole would be a real challenge but it went is like a charm. After looking at a pair of my RTW jeans, I decided to place a keyhole style button hole 3/8″ from the fly front edge. I did a test on scrap that simulated the same layers of fabric. I didn’t realize before the test that I would have to start the buttonhole stitch an additional 1/8″ from the edge to end up with the right distance. My machine starts that type of button hole at the bottom of the circle so I needed the extra space if I wanted it to line up correctly. With that info I was able to put the button hole in right the first time. I added some Fray Block and cut the hole open and voila! Buttonhole complete!

The awl was used to puncture the hole, The silver “nail” went through the hole from the back and inserted in the button on top side. The block of wood gave me a solid surface underneath while I hammered them together.

Next excitement was installing the metal button. The instructions in the pattern were very helpful in making this also an easy task. I’ve included some notes about the process in the picture caption.

Then came the belt loops. I just knew I would fight with my machine to stitch through so many layers of fabric on those thick folded edges, but once again I was pleasantly surprised!

I wasn’t sure if I had enough brain left to do anything else at this point. I’d put in about 3 hours of sewing. I decided to try a test rivet, which went really smoothly so I moved on to put one into my jeans. It ended up OK, but didn’t go in as easily as the test rivet so I decided it was safer to call it a day and finish tomorrow with fresh eyes and brain.

Sharing is caring: I have loved how many of you have reached out and sent me things you thought might help me in my grand jeans adventure. Plano ASG members Ginny Stein and Debby Bowles both passed this along to me so now I am passing it along to you! Buttons, Rivets and Hardware

Day 5 – More Rivets, Hem and DONE!

I was on the final home stretch on Day 5 and in less than an hour I had inserted the remaining rivets.

Rivet Tips: 1) If the back post extends more than 1 MM above the fabric, shorten with wire cutters. 2) Taping a metal washer on the wood gave me a stronger foundation to hammer the rivets together.

With a little help, once again, from Plano ASG member, Mary Jo, my hem was marked and I stitched it in without a hitch.

I finally had a finished pair of jeans!!

I have several pattern adjustments to make as a result of my findings along the way as well as things I see in this completed pair. Even so, I couldn’t be more proud of myself for how much I have learned. I will wear this not-completely-perfect pair of jeans with great joy and pride of accomplishment.

I also couldn’t be more grateful for my ASG sewing community who cheered me on and helped me in various ways throughout the entire jeans making adventure.

Thank you for joining me on my grand jeans making adventure. I hope I have entertained you or inspired you or maybe even a little bit of both.

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