That’s right. I actually SEWED my own JEANS. I made the Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns and I’m gonna tell everyone I know. But let’s go back to the beginning, shall we? I’ve been wanting to sew a pair of jeans for awhile, but I had planned on doing it next year. Mostly because I was scared, but also partially because I have a lot on my plate, both sewing-related and otherwise. I knew I wanted to make the Ginger Jeans, because everyone has raved about them and I am a fan of Closet Case Patterns in general. Really I was just hemming and hawing about it and didn’t know where to start.
Enter my amazing sewing friends, Rachel of Little Fish and Tiahna of Ammon Lane. They hosted a fantastic Ginger Jeans party on Instagram and invited everyone to join them in sewing up the Ginger Jeans pattern during the month of October. It was just the push I needed. I decided to rearrange my project queue and just go ahead and sew them jeans. I’m really glad I did. It’s WAY more fun to sew things along the way with others, especially because you can ask questions, exchange opinions, and support each other through the process. The community of sewing friends I have met through Instagram is seriously invaluable to me. I love them all and they are incredibly encouraging and supportive.
Here I am with Rachel (she’s the tall one with legs for days. I’m the short one with legs for five seconds.) She lives near me and we met up to grab some photos of our booties in our new jeans. It’s not awkward, it’s all for the sake of sewing.
We both used this amazing Cone Mills denim for our jeans. From all my research I learned that Cone Mills is the real deal when it comes to denim. Sourcing denim is one of the hardest parts about making jeans, honestly. I got mine from Threadbare Fabrics; they as well as Heather from Closet Case Files were awesome and offered coupon codes for all the #gingerjeansparty sewers.
And here is why sewing your own clothes is awesome. Tall or short, you can make the pattern work for your body. Which brings me to my next point, which is to tell you that the absolute hardest part about making jeans is getting the fit right in the beginning. The actual sewing of the jeans themselves is NOT EVEN HARD AT ALL. I promise. It’s not scary and it’s not difficult. It’s just a matter of taking things one step at a time.
But fitting is a little bit tricky. If you’ve never made pants before (I hadn’t), you may not know (I didn’t) that the first step is to cut out the size you think you need based on the pattern measurements, baste together the legs, yoke, and waistband with a long, temporary stitch, and try them on for fit.
My first try I sewed the size 10, and right away I could see they were miles too long and I didn’t have a very good fit in the crotch or the back of the thighs. Closet Case has a Ginger Jeans Sewalong that addresses how to tackle fit issues like these and more. I adjusted the front crotch curve and took four whole inches (yeah, super short legs) out of the length and tried again.
The second basting was not perfect, and I was pretty discouraged. (I told you, fitting is the hardest part.) I still had lots of excess fabric in places and I was tired of spending so much time on fit. I decided to try a couple more things, sizing down to an 8 being one of them, and just to go ahead with them without doing a third basting. Heather from Closet Case has a really great philosophy about fit. It’s nice if you can get a perfect fit, but the goal in fitting handmade clothing should really be about improvement rather than perfection. I figured they’d turn out fitting at least as well as my store-bought jeans, so I embraced that idea and started sewing.
The actual sewing of the Ginger Jeans was FUN. They have these incredible pocket stays, the fly instructions were so easy to understand, and I felt like a legit sewing BOSS each step I completed. I will say, I would not have been able to make these on my old sewing machine. My new Bernina is the real deal. It has a really awesome top-stitching stitch that made all this top stitching a breeze. It was also able to get through all the layers of this heavier denim. (P.S. Use a denim needle!) Also, ripping out heavy duty top stitching is no laughing matter, so make sure things are as they should be before you top stitch!
It only took me a couple days after I started sewing to complete my jeans. I hit a snag when I ran out of top-stitching thread, and I had a little bit of unpicking I had to do here and there, but nothing terrible. At first I was really disappointed though because I thought they were going to be too tight. They were really snug when I first tried them on. But they’ve relaxed a bit, and hopefully as I stop eating all the Halloween candy, they’ll fit a bit better.
I am really thrilled with these jeans. It was absolutely empowering to make something I never in my wildest sewing dreams thought was possible. They’re not perfect, but they’re mine, and I’m incredibly proud of them.
Here are some things I’d do differently next time (and there will definitely be a next time!). I debated a long time about buying the original Ginger Jeans pattern, which includes high rise and low rise options, or the midrise pattern, which is what I ultimately chose. I thought that it would be super high and I also never plan on making a low rise pair (because low rise pants are a fool’s game. What were we thinking in the early 2000s?!). Most of my ready-to-wear jeans are midrise, and I like that fit really well. But I wish I had gone with the high rise.
I think I must have a longer rise than most people, and I have a long torso (and the shortest legs, man. Why couldn’t I have had the opposite?!), because the midrise Ginger Jeans do not hit me as high as I thought they would. I think the high rise would be just perfect. Luckily the midrise pattern has instructions for changing the rise, so I will try that next time.
For my waistband, I chose not to use interfacing and to line it with a cotton which I also used for my pockets. There are several options for the lining of your waistband, and I think next time I will line it with denim instead of the lining fabric. Mine is just a bit wrinkly and not as stable as I’d like.
I also want to use a slightly lighter weight denim. This one is pretty hefty, which I love, but I think a 10 ounce or so would be just perfect. I am DYING to get my hands on a light wash denim. So far I can’t find quality stretch denim that is a medium or light blue wash anywhere, which is the only thing keeping me from making a second pair of Ginger Jeans right away. If you see any, point me in their direction!
Ultimately, I am so happy I decided to be brave and tackle this project. Completing these really made me feel like there’s nothing I can’t sew. Huge thanks to Rachel and Tiahna and also Threadbare Fabrics and Closet Case Files. I love my Ginger Jeans, not just because they’re a high quality pair of jeans, but because of what I learned and what I gained from sewing them. To anyone who may read this post, the one thing I hope you take away is this: be brave! Push yourself to try something scary and new. It doesn’t have to turn out perfectly, and you don’t have to know exactly what you’re doing when you start. You’ll learn so much along the way and you’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.
Happy sewing, loves!