Jeans! (part 1)

My first pair of jeans. Pay no attention to that really terrible-looking corner on the waistband.

So last semester, I took this really lovely draping class. We had three projects: a basic dress that had to follow very specific parameters (easy peasy), another dress for which we had no direction other than to drape on the bias (scary!), and finally, custom fitted jeans! I was so stoked when I heard that. I spent the whole semester bragging to my friends about how, soon, I would know how to make my own jeans.

Finally, barely a month before the end of the term, we were ready to begin the project. We paired up and took a whole bunch of measurements on our partners, then created loose-fitting muslins based on our own measurements. The next week, we put the muslin on over tights and our partners pinned and marked the muslin into the style we wanted. Then we deconstructed the muslin and created a new pattern based on the lines our partner had drawn.

Pants have a lot of parts!

My original muslin fit pretty well. With the help of my partner and our instructor, we made some darts in the back that I removed when I made the yoke (a process described here at Burda Style) and made skinny legs (“not quite skin tight, but basically” was my request) and drew in the general size, shape and location of the pockets. The front part, where the zipper would go, was a little tight, so I made a note to add an inch to the waist and redraw the rise.

Some people made a second muslin from their new pattern, just to be sure, but like everything else in life, I wanted it now, now, now! so I jumped right into the denim. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong—-I think it had to with over-correcting the tightness on the front rise—but the jeans wound up fitting pretty weird. The waist was several inches too big, and there was a bunch of extra fabric in the front, like a kangaroo pouch or fanny pack or something. The legs were also much looser than I’d wanted them to be.

But they have ankle zippers, and that’s what matters!

Meanwhile, before we’d even started the project (while I was busy bragging to all my friends), my friend Z from book club asked if I’d be interested in trading a pair of custom-fit jeans for a hand-knit sweater. “Only if you decide you actually enjoy the process, of course,” she said. Plus, my draping teacher said that once you’ve made three pairs of jeans, they start to make a lot more sense. So when I went to the fabric store to get denim and I couldn’t decide what I wanted, I just went ahead and bought three different yardages—dark blue, blue-grey, and red. I decided my summer project was going to be to make two more pairs of (perfect!) jeans for myself, so that by the time Z gets back from her summer travels I can start making a pair for her.

Next time: my second pair of jeans!

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