Jeans! (part 3), AAARGH edition

me in the living room wearing my new jeans

From this angle, you can’t quite see the weird.

Jeans! (Part 1)
Jeans! (Part 2)

Well, this third pair of jeans did not turn out quite how I’d intended. They’re a little odd, but they’re growing on me.

The plan was to take the current colored-denim trend and make it a little more punk by adding large patches of a detail fabric. I’ve had some (probably faux) Burberry (probably faux) raw silk lying around for literally a decade, which I planned to lay over a sizeable portion of the legs. I used the top half of my jeans pattern from the last pair but adjusted the legs so they’d be longer and more fitted.

An open pant leg with a plaid patch

Flayed pant leg, ready for patch placement

Things were going along pretty well. I was starting to feel like I was finally getting the hang of the fly front. (I am endlessly indebted to this fly front tutorial by my delightful draping teacher–it’ll be at least a couple more runs before I can do a fly without it.) Then I tried the things on. I don’t know what happened, since the last pair I made fit fine. But this time around there was some major cameltoe going on. This, coupled with the pinky-peach color of the pant–let’s just say it was a little obscene.

When I unzipped the fly, I realized they were simply too small. Again, I’m not sure how this happened since I’m using the same draft, but I guess a small cutting error combined with a small overlocking error combined with small seam allowance error could add up pretty quick. (Not to say I think I made those errors. But maybe I did.) Or maybe it had to do with this being stretch denim, which I was warned is notoriously tough to work with? So, what to do? I decided it might look cute if I cut slits about midway between center front and the edge of the pockets, and insert triangular pieces of contrasting denim to create a wider waistband. Sort of the opposite of darts. Is there a term for this?

salmon-colored jeans with the fly front cut out

Anatomy of screwing up

Lesson learned #1: Even if you’re so totally sure you’re gonna get everything sewn and sealed in a jiffy, ALWAYS OVERLOCK YOUR DENIM. As soon as you start to fuss with it, it will unravel faster than a Hollywood marriage.

I tried to sew in my triangles without overlocking anything. In the process, the jeans themselves, like, crumbled beneath my hands. Then when I did try to overlock the exposed edges I wound up tearing everything up even worse. It was awkward, and a big mess, and I was losing more and more of my pants with every fumble. So, even though I was pretty proud of the fly front, I decided to cut it out and do a bib front with the contrasting denim instead.

I immediately overlocked my newly exposed edges, and set about designing the bib front. I was working with a seven-inch by nine-inch rectangle, and this is what I came up with:

A piece of dark denim with four blue buttons near one edge

Bib front, unattached.

I struggled to attach the bib to the pant without bubbling and creasing at the corners, and eventually decided that these jeans were getting so crazy I could just make them crazier, so I sliced open one of the corners and patched it with the Burberry fabric.

Before this “fix” the jeans looked awesome on their own (aside from the cameltoe and subsequent lack of front), and the bib front looked super cute, but they didn’t look quite right together. So, one more design element (Coco Chanel would so have my head): folding over the top of the dark denim to reveal the red lining looked cute and broke up the textureless void of the dark denim, so I sewed a red button on the front panel and buttoned it down. Done!

me, stading in my living room in new red jeans

Like all strange children, we love them if they’re ours.

Oh! Lesson learned, #2: the trouble I was having with the buttonholes turned out to be less about the denim as about the fact that I was still using heavy duty thread. Thin thread for buttonholes, no matter the fabric they’re on!

Do you have any stories of projects not turning out quite how you’d planned?

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2 Responses to Jeans! (part 3), AAARGH edition

  1. tsotse says:

    Great Clare! When I was young and slim, your Uncle Andy decided to make me a pair of pants. We bought very hip late 60’s vibrant patterned fabric. I lay myself down on some newspaper and he proceeded to draw the pattern around my legs etc. Result….some very tight but very cool pants that I loved. Looking forward to seeing more designs from you. Aunt Jane

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