Jean juice

ImageI’ve never really been someone who wears jeans. I think it stems from me being a bigger lady – I could never find jeans that looked nice, because I couldn’t fit pants from trendy young-people stores, so all that was available were shapeless numbers or mens pants. Sure, each winter I’d get jeans-envy from seeing everyone so comfortable in their jeans, so I’d go to the shops and buy which ever pair actually fit me. once the winter was over I’d suddenly look in the mirror and realise that I looked awful, so out they’d go.

I have had one pair of jeans that fit me well/looked good, which I bought from Forever 21 and took in at the waist so they didn’t gape (you can see me wearing them in lots of my 2013 makes). They recently died (hole in the inner thigh) and I’ve been pant-less ever since. I finally realised that I should take the plunge and try making my own jeans. The results are…. so so.

On the one hand: I made a pair of jeans! And I did it rather well! But on the other hand, I don’t like how they look at all, and they’re definitely reminiscent of all the Jeans West jeans I bought when I was a teenager.

I used the famous Jalie 2908 “stretch jeans” pattern and my own pants sloper; here’s where the issue starts. Laying the slop on top of the jalie pattern, it appeared that I needed WAY more room than the Jalie allowed. As in, despite being a size W in the waist and CC in the hips, my sloper was bigger than the FF size. I ended up cutting the sloper size and chalking in the Jalie sewing line. I made up one leg, decided it was much too small, and went with the sloper size.

Obviously I forgot about the stretch. I tried them off after I finished the fly (which took two attempts, the second one much helped by this blog post) and they were baggy. I pinched out some fabric, they were better, so I went ahead and finished the seams. Now, I think they could probably have been made exactly as Jalie had drafted them, as I think some of the fitting issues come from being a bit baggy in places.

They’ve ended up looking a bit like “Mom-jeans”, which is a bit mean considering I don’t know many mum’s who wear the kind of jeans I’m meaning, but I’m sure you all know what I mean. They’re a funny cut in the leg and a bit baggy in the crotch. The waist, at least, I’m reasonably proud of – it took me like 3 hours to draft that waistband and except for the fact that I hammered in the buttons 2cm from where they should be, it fits well!

Overall I’m happy with the construction, and that they look like jeans. There’s a lot of topstitching and Mr. Guy even complimented how straight it is. The inseams are flat felled (the regular way, I didn’t realise you’re supposed to sew wrong-sides-together so the bulk is on the outside), the outer leg seams are overlocked and double top-stitched. As mentioned, the fly took to me two attempts, and I hammered the buttons too far over so they pull at the fly.

I didn’t just want plain lines on the back pockets, so I sewed some mountains:

So I’m feeling very bleargh about these. When I look at the clothes I usually wear (skirts/dresses), these look awful in comparison, but I think jeans will always look average purely because of my body shape. Sure, these aren’t the worse jeans I’ve ever worn and they look pretygood from the side, but I still feel very frumpy in them. When I finished them yesterday I was feeling pretty crap, until I realised “these are the first pants I’ve ever made for myself”, and there’s lots of room for improvement. I can handle that although I had such hopes for these.

These will probably end up as “mucking around/working in the garden” pants, which is fine with me. Next time I’ll try using a slightly stretchier denim and make them tighter, and will try making the pockets larger so they reinforce the front (maybe that will help suck in my tummy) – I remember reading that on Tanitisis’s blog though of course I can’t find it now. I also would love to get hold of some polka-dot denim.


Pattern: Jalie 2908 and pants sloper

Fabric: Sturdy stretch denim, $35

Notions: Jeans buttons, $1; interfacing and thread, stash; top-stitching thread, from Mrs. C, jeans zip $4.80. I bought rivets but didn’t use them.

Total: $40.80

Two other things: one, check out these most bodacious shoes. They’re “Vans for the ASPCA”, a friend posted them on facebook and I spent the next couple of days tracking some down. I even bought a pair of the matching dog ones for my nephew in Canada.

Secondly, I was awarded a second Liebster award by Lazylinchen (which makes me think of lazy lichen, which makes me laugh because lichen is amazing). I’ve already done the nominating thing so I’ll quickly answer the questions. Skip if you don’t want to learn more about me.


1. What is your favourite pastime?

It’s probably not hard to guess that it’s sewing!

2. What do you love cooking/eating the most?

Pass! I just love eating.

3. What is you favourite fictional character and why?

Probably Alanna from the The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. I love all of her books and I think I owe a large part of my feminist ideals to those books. Girls that kick ass, having to prove themselves equal to males and proving that they can even be better in a mans world.

4.  What do you like most about your life?

My husband, my job, family and pets ❤

5. How do you manage your stash (if you have one)? (This is shameless digging for solutions…)

I do have a stash, although I freak out if I have too many things in it. I’m trying to only buy things with a garment in mind but that doesn’t always work. I tend to just fold the fabric and put it on a shelf so I can see it easily and stroke it for inspiration, but I also have a box of fabrics that are my “one day I’ll have the skills/pattern to make that garment”.

6. What is your favourite make?

It’s probably still my Watson Jacket, it’s just so fancy. Or, more recently, my shirtwaist dress and Mr. Guy’s Jedediah trousers..

7. Which part do you dislike most about creating?

When I end up with a product that’s worse than RTW, whether because it doesn’t fit or because I goofed on the construction.

8. Winter or Summer?

Spriiiing, mainly because of all the flowers (this is more a thing in Christchurch, “the garden city” where the council plants thousands of daffodils around the city. Wellington doesn’t have many flowers)

9. If you could choose from any animal that ever existed, what pet would you like to have?

Dragon. Either a small one like a firedrake (that’s like a very intelligent dog) or a big one that I could ride around on.

10. Why do you sew/knit/create?

I started off sewing because I couldn’t find clothes that were trendy/cool that fit me. Later, when I could, I didn’t want to pay the price for those garments. Now I love creating for the sake of it, not being at the mercy of people who decide what’s in fashion (at the moment that seems to be “everything too short”), and it’s my way of expressing myself. Plus I’ve gotten to meet so many people through sewing, it’s rad

11. What is your favourite place on Earth?

  Pass again! I think it’s cheating to just say “New Zealand” but we really do have it lucky. Favourite place that I’ve visited outside of NZ would be Mexico


30 thoughts on “Jean juice

  1. I’ve been following you for a few weeks and been really enjoying your posts and your makes, you always look very gorgeous – but I’m finally commenting because I love Alanna from the song of the lioness too, I love the story of her relationship with George. I also would love a dragon

    • I know, I love George! I was so torn though – Jon is a prince, and so handsome and nice. But in the end they were so wrong for each other, and George let her be the crotchety lady she really is. I think I’ve read those books about 10 times each and will probably read them again soon (after reading Raymond E. Feist again). I probably need some new books to read…

  2. My only pair of jeans just died–another victim of the dreaded inner thigh hole. I’m putting off shopping for yet another ill-fitting pair. I’m really impressed with your first attempt at jeans. The topstitching really is fantastic. I know you’re not happy with the fit, but if your first pair looks this good, I can only imagine how awesome your future pairs will be!

    • Thanks! And that’s exactly what I figure – hopefully I can only improve. And if I remember what my first homemade garments were like compared to now (when I started, I didn’t even think you could make proper pants at home), I should eventually end up with some nice fitting trousers

  3. You have done an amazing job. I’ve always had exactly the same problem with jeans! I know what you mean about them needing to be tighter… But honestly, I think you’ve made a fantastic pair!

  4. Congratulations on making jeans! I’ve made Jalie 2908 four times now and each pair gets better, so don’t despair! One adjustment I made that really helped eliminate some of the back thigh wrinkles was to shorten the pattern between the bottom of the bum and the knee. It looks like you may be having the same issue. Honestly, I don’t think these look bad at all!! 🙂

    • I’ve just seen your fourth pair, they look great! I’ll try shortening those wrinkles… One thing I found and I don’t know if it was my own fault when tracing, that not only was one side of the inseam loger (to ease it in around the upper thigh), but the outer seam was 1″ longer than the other. Am I supposed to ease that too?

  5. Wow, these jeans look awesomely professional! Pity that you don’t like the fit, though they look perfectly fine to me.
    Thanks for answering my questions, even though you’ve been awarded already! And just as I thought from your blogging, you sound like an awesome person be around: loves food, sewing, Spring and dragons! ❤

    • I think I just feel frumpy in them. But I guess I’ve only had one pair of jeans in my entire 25 years that have fit well, so I shouldn’t have expected to get them perfect first go. Haha what an awesome summation “loves food, sewing, spring and dragons” – that’s me!

  6. Whoa! You made jeans. JEANS! It’s a real milestone in my book, even if the fit isn’t what you would wished for. Think about the skills you just put to use and all the things you learned for next time! If the fit is off, have you thought about other jeans patterns? I’ve heard great things about the Jamie jeans pattern… but i’m not confident enough in my skills to tackle it yet.

    I gotta say, you have been on a roll lately and are blowing my socks off! It’s inspiring. I can’t wait to see what you make next.

    • I KNOW! Even if I don’t like the fit that much, I MADE JEANS! And they fit around my bum and waist, and the construction is pretty good. I’m really glad I waited until I’d made Guy’s pants before I tried these. I hadn’t really thought about trying other patterns, because I was just using it as a base for my pants sloper – I can’t see any photos of the Jamie jeans in my size and don’t even know if they go that big (unlikely). I’ll just plod along trying to fix this pattern.

      I must admit, I have… four things yet to blog. I have so much time to sew up here it’s fantastic, and we’ve just had a four day weekend

  7. Wow you made jeans that don’t look like homemade jeans!!! That is fantastic! The details on the pocket are so cute and so well done. The jeans are so well made. Too bad you don’t like the fit. Have you thought about deconstructing your Forever 21 jeans and making a pattern out of them? The Little Tailoress ( did just that a few months ago. It’s so hard to find a good pair of jeans (well that aren’t not rediculously expensive).

    • I have thought about it, and I will actually do that once I get back to Wellington – they’re currently in storage (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have thrown them out!). And then hopefully I can find some fabric with the same hand/stretch factor

  8. Congrats on the jeans! There’s something about making pants that is incredibly frustrating, but I have to say it looks like you got the fit right! No major tugging or wrinkle lines, and you can just tighten up the legs like you want in the next one. So, bravo!

  9. Congrats on completing a pair of jeans! I’ve yet to dabble in pant/shorts. Everyone needs some around the house pants so it doesn’t matter if they didn’t come out how you expected. Nice to find a blog from a fellow NZer too (:

    • Thanks! Pants are extremely scary to contemplate but they’re not actually that bad! I kind of wish I’d started a bit more simple though – I have a pair of polka-dot elastic waist pants my mother gave me (from VSSP) that I LOVE, and it would be so much easier working out the fit when I didn’t have to worry about fly’s and such nonsense.

      Where in NZ are you? Just had a look at your blog – so cool that there’s some younger bloggers out there!

      • Yes, I can imagine. I won the thurlow pattern from sewaholic so I might make them at some stage. I’ve also ahd my eye on M6756 for awhile. I’m in Auckland! Yeah I’ve found maybe 2 other sewing bloggers my age.

      • I’ve had that pattern for a while now and have been meaning to try it out – I’d love a pair of twill pants for work.

        We’re up in the Hokianga for a few more weeks and I’m trying to convince my husband that we should stop off in Auckland on our way back to Wellington so I can do some fabric shopping. Any good shops you can recommend (other than The Fabric Store, which we have in Wellington too)?

      • Ooh yes, most definitely!
        Smart Dress Fabrics in Mt Albert is absolutely amazing, it has great prices and has a huge range.
        The Fabric Warehouse in Mt Eden – a bit crazy but great selection.
        The Fabric Shop (factory outlet) in Otara, it’s a bit of a treasure trove. And any of the geoffs/ikes emporiums usually have some good deals like merino @ $10/m.

  10. I don’t know how I’m so behind on this, but…OH MY HEAVENS, YOU MADE JEANS! Soph, they look awesome. Congratulations! That is such a feat to pull off and yours look fabulous! I still haven’t even sewn a pair of shorts, so I’m in utter awe. You are such a sewing wizard!

  11. Yay Sophie – you made jeans! I think you should celebrate that for sure. When I look back to my first pair, they weren’t the best but I was so taken by the fact that I had actually made jeans and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but getting the fit right is still challenging me. Different fabric definitely makes a difference.

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