Jeans! (Part 2)

So. Many. Muslins.

Click here for Jeans! (part 1)

So, once school and work were both over for the summer, I embarked on my second pair of jeans. This time, since I wasn’t under a deadline, I decided I would make as many muslins as I needed to until I was sure I had it exactly right. Over the course of the next week, I made at least six different muslins. The first pair was hilariously tight, although the pelvic portion actually fit pretty well. (srsly, people, is there a nicer-sounding word than ‘pelvic’ for the part of pants that’s not the legs? The only other word I can think of is ‘crotch,’ and I really don’t think that’s any better.) Then I struggled, through several pairs, with the dreaded gap-in-back. I might look like I’m straight up and down, but I actually have a pretty round bum, and I’m still learning that the relationship between curves in two dimensions (ie the pattern pieces) and curves in three dimensions (your body, the sewn pants) are not as straightforward as they might appear.

I kept changing things, but I didn’t feel like I was getting that much closer to my perfect pants. It often felt like the muslin from back when I was in class was better than any of the ones I’d been able to produce since then. I don’t know if that was actually true or not, but I was starting to feel like I’d hit a major plateau. I considered my torn-beyond-wearability Levi’s “Rachel” jeans, the one pair of jeans from my adult life that fits well, is comfortable, AND makes me look gooooood. Of course they don’t make them anymore. It seemed like cheating to just bust up those old, perfect jeans and make a pattern from them. I wanted to prove to myself I could do the whole thing from scratch. Then again, they fit so well, why mess with that? Pattern-makers typically start with slopers, right? (Or maybe not. Maybe they don’t even use that word. What do I know?) Either way, maybe I didn’t need to re-invent the wheel. Or the pant.

So that’s what I did. Guilty as charged. I think it was the right thing to do. I got to see what I was doing right on my own patterns, and where I was way off. One big thing I noticed is that I had been making the inseam a lot more curved than it was on the now-deconstructed Levi’s. I also discovered that I was making my back rise too curved, when I had been convinced it wasn’t curved enough.

Front view

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. I used some leftover calico for the waistband and pocket bags of the first pair and thought it turned out really cute, so I decided to do that on these, too. I decided I’d also do leave the pocket bags exposed, wondering to myself the whole time why no one else had done that before. I realize now that with that extra piece of denim, the pants are a bit less sturdy in that area, but I’ve taken them on and off a couple dozen times and everything seems okay.

Back view

Some notes to myself, to remember for next time:

1) Start out with the pants a good 2 inches longer than you think you want it to be, so as to prevent disappointment later. This pair is long enough for me, but barely, and definitely don’t have that crinkle at the ankle line that I love so dearly.

2) Better for the fly facing and zipper facing to be a little too high than a little too low—they’ll just get swallowed up by the waistband anyway.

3) Curve your waistband! Even if it take a little longer, the fit will be worlds better.

4) Draw the J-curve for the fly in disappearing ink before you attempt to sew it. Don’t trust those pins.

The general fly debacle. Also, does anyone know how to make buttonholes in denim that don’t look like the cat chewed on them? I can make a fine buttonhole in thinner fabric—should I do something differently here, or is this just the way of it?

The general fly debacle. Also, does anyone know how to make buttonholes in denim that don’t look like the cat chewed them up? I can make a decent buttonhole on thinner fabric, but it always turns out gnarly on denim. Is this just the way of things?

As I write this, my third pair had been cut and overlocked. I promised myself I would finish hemming a curtain that’s been half finished for, geez, ten months probably, and then I’m going to start on those. They’re going to be f*cking slick. That’s all I’ll say on the matter for now.

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