Jeans Making – Part 1

Part 1 – Getting Ready

Two years ago, I decided I wanted to jump on the jeans-making band wagon.  I bought the Closet Case Morgan boyfriend jeans pattern and was ready to go.  Six months later I had done nothing so when our chapter offered a jeans technique workshop, I was excited to attend.  It was a great workshop and I learned a lot and then ……. well, then life. 

Here I am, another 18 months later and I am driving a stake in the ground, drawing a line in the sand, making a bodacious proclamation… Oh my goodness, that’s too much!  Basically, I’ve decided it is time to check an item off my bucket list and finally make that pair of jeans.  And if I commit that I will share my journey with you, you can hold me accountable.  Maybe you even want to join me in making jeans!  I really hope you will.  But at the very least, you can cheer me on.

So here goes.

Since I had the pattern already, my first step was to choose my denim.  Before the end of 2019, I would have driven straight over to Fabrique to look for it, but we all know that sad story.  I have not been much of an online fabric purchaser but decided to give it a try and see how things went.  The Morgan pattern is designed for non-stretch denim.  As I looked online, I found various denim weights ranging from 12 oz to 4.5 oz.  In reading the descriptions, it seemed like the heavy weight would be a tough choice for my first attempt and the 4.5 oz sounded far too lightweight for jeans.  I decided to order 2 fabrics, an ivory 6 oz and a blue 8 oz from Fabric.com.  

Both fabrics were described as good for pants and/or jeans on the website. However, had I reviewed the notes from the Jacque Goldsmith workshop I attended during the 2018 ASG Conference BEFORE I placed my order, I might have purchased differently.  Here are a few of her notes related to denim fabric weights:

  • Heavy weight – 14 oz.
  • Light weight – 10 – 12 oz
  • Shirt weight – 8 oz⠀

Denim is notorious for shrinking so I bought an extra ¾ yard to allow for that.  In a recent ASG blog article on jeans-making I read that it was wise to prewash and dry denim 2 times to try to get all the shrinkage out before cutting.

Jeans have their own special supply requirements. I would need:

  • Jeans button
  • Metal zipper
  • Topstitching and regular thread
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Denim Needle
  • Hammer and awl
  • Rivets
  • And maybe even a patch of leather for a waistband patch

Thankfully I had bought a kit from Closet Case back when I bought the pattern, so I was all set on everything except the top-stitching thread.  And I have several leather remnants so if I decide to add that waistband patch, I am sure I can find something that will work.

While I was waiting for my fabric to arrive, I spent some time reading through the pattern instructions.  Closet Case does a fantastic job with their instructions and has good sew-along information available for free online as well as a jeans class you can purchase if you want more detailed information. 

As I read through the instructions, I decided I did not want to use the button fly front in the Morgan pattern.  I prefer a zipper fly.  I found a blog written by someone who had converted the Morgan to a zipper fly, but I didn’t have the pattern they used for the conversion.  I have an Itch to Stitch pattern with a zipper fly, so I decided to “frankenpattern” the fly shield from that into my jeans and am hoping for the best.

Before I cut out the pattern pieces, I compared the crotch curve to my Tried-n-True (TNT) pants pattern.  I also compared it to the crotch curve of a favorite pair of ready-to-wear (RTW) jeans.  Based on that comparison and some other measurements, I decided to just go for it with the pattern crotch shape as is in a size 16.  The waist seems a bit larger but the pattern instructions recommend increasing a size if you are between sizes and warns that the waist is intentionally larger since the jeans are designed to sit below the true waist line.  The unexpected place I also increased a size is in my calf.  Based on the finished measurements listed in the pattern and my calf measurement, I was concerned they would be a bit too tight.  I can always take them in if I didn’t actually need to make that adjustment.  This is my FIRST pair of jeans, so it will not be my BEST pair of jeans. I will be learning the size and construction details as I go!

Once my fabric arrived I could tell I would have preferred a little heavier denim.  I think the 6 oz denim will sew up easily, but it just feels a little lighter than I think I will prefer for my jeans.  And since it is the ivory color, I am really hoping it will not end up with a bit too much show through for my liking.  I decided to do my first run using the 8 oz, even though the Goldsmith guidelines identifies it as shirt weight.  But it is what I have now so I will just see how it goes. I got the 2 prewashings complete and I was ready to get started cutting the jeans out.

In addition to the main fabric, I needed to select a lining fabric to use for the waistband and pockets.  I wanted just a smidge of whimsy, so I shopped my stash for ½ yard and found some quilting cotton that fit the bill.

Heather Lou of Closet Case says this about the cutting process:

“Denim has a tendency to twist due to the nature of twill grain.  You can cut your pieces on the fold, but to get a perfectly on grain cut with no leg twist, it’s best to cut your leg pieces on a single layer of fabric, alternating the back and front pieces next to each other.  Smaller pieces can be cut on a double layer.”

I decided to check in with Plano member, Debby Bowles, to ask for cutting advice since she is our resident jeans-making expert.  She told me she is just very careful in laying the fabric on grain and cuts a double layer.  I decided to take her advice and cut it out Debby’s way since I am a little bit of a lazy sewist.  I referred to the information in a previous blog on our website for more info about the grain in denim/twill fabric. 

That’s enough for week 1 of the grand jeans-making adventure.  Don’t let me off the hook!  If I’m not back here next week with another report, you need to call me out!  Thanks for joining my journey. 

Update on 1/29/20 – Thank you Sandie G for sharing this additional resource: Jeans Tips: Patterns and Denim

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19 thoughts on “Jeans Making – Part 1”

  1. Exciting! I, too, have the Morgan Jeans still in factory folds. I will be watching your progress with interest!

    1. If I can do it, anyone can! Part 2 will include the painful process of my journey towards fit, but it is a challenge I am really glad I have embarked on!

  2. Hi Sheryl,
    I have just ordered the same jeans pattern and fly kit. Have been wanting to make my own jeans for ages.
    Is the Plano chapter goiing to have another workshop on jeans making??
    Can you share where you bought your fabric?

    Look forward to future posts.

    Suzanne

    1. Hi Suzanne! Excited to hear you are planning to take the jeans dive also! There are links to the place I ordered my fabric in the blog article. Just click on the highlighted fabrics and it will take you right to their website. However, as I mentioned in my article, those were actually too light weight for my liking. The fabric I am going with in the long run is the 10 oz denim I found at Hobby Lobby. Good luck! I can’t wait to hear how your journey goes!

    2. Oh and about the workshop, there isn’t one planned at this time, but maybe it will come around again. We can hope!

  3. Hi Sheryl,
    Thank you for sharing!!! I made a pair of jeans back in my 20’s and I am no way the same size/shape!!!🤣. I have denim in my stash… non-stretch, and I’m still undecided as to what to follow in from my Chanel jacket when completed. I may decide to have a go… fitting will indeed be a challenge🥴. Go girl! I really look forward to watching your progress and cheering you on!

    1. Thanks Christine! You aren’t kidding about the fitting being a challenge. Stay tuned for more on that in Part 2!

  4. Thanks for leading us on this jeans journey. Jeans have always been intimidating to me, and I look forward to learning so much along the way.

    1. Jeans making has always held a mystique and been one of those “holy grail” of sewing to me. I am determined I will complete a pair and have already learned a lot on the way. My articles will be more about my learning experience than a treasure trove of expertise but hopefully it will be an encouragement to many who, like me, have wanted to give it a try but been intimidated. Stay tuned! More to come!

  5. Hi Sheryl,
    I’m challenging myself as well. I made a pair 2 years ago and am not happy with the fit or the light fabric. I have the pattern cut up going to get the pattern copied onto pattern ease and then cut into my test fabric. I’m using OOP pattern Vogue 1034. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

    1. Cindy, I can not tell you enough how much you encouraged me with your help at Sewcial Sew last Saturday! I am excited you plan to make a pair too! Can’t wait to follow your progress too!

  6. Can’t wait to see the finished product. I have considered getting the Closet Case jeans but haven’t yet! If I am on your same track, I could get the pattern and then have a couple of years to make them! Ha!

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