Eleonore Jeans, or, What the Hell Was I Thinking?

I hate these pants. I hate them so much that I wasn’t even going to blog this project, but in the interest of showing the good, the bad, and the ugly, I decided to take some pictures of them. (Although I didn’t put that much energy into getting pictures. These are wrinkled from being balled up in the closet because I could not be bothered to iron them.)


Anyway. These are the Jalie Eleonore jeans, which are pull-on jeans with a fake fly front and elastic waist. This particular pattern has been well-received and well-reviewed by a lot of bloggers and Pattern Review members. The Style Arc Misty jeans, which is a very similar pattern, has been likewise celebrated, and I’ve seen a few people modify the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans pattern to make them pull-on jeans. That’s all to say that many people enjoy wearing and look very good in pull-on jeans. As it turns out, I do not.


My rational mind knew that I would not like wearing pull-on jeans. I had originally planned to make the Style Arc Misty pattern, but my serious doubts about whether I would like them meant that I kept putting the pattern off until, eventually, the size range that I had didn’t fit me anymore. At that point, I should have just washed my hands of the idea. But I kept seeing more positive reviews of pull-on jean patterns and they seemed like a really nice way to ease myself into making jeans. So I went ahead and ordered the Jalie Eleonore pattern, since I liked its wider size range and the fact that the elastic for the waistband is enclosed.


The pattern itself is okay—they are easy to construct and the instructions are very clear. The front pockets are fake, which I found more annoying than I anticipated, but this would be relatively easy to alter if I wanted to make another pair in the future. I do feel like there was something a bit off about the sizing. My fabric, which is a gray stretch denim from Girl Charlee, has the 20% stretch specified by the pattern. My current hip measurement is ~1.5″ smaller than the measurement listed for the size I chose, and these pants still feel and look uncomfortably tight. Based on other reviews I’ve read, I wonder if this is more of an issue in the larger sizes? (I made the size DD.)


I ended up hemming these a smidge too short, and I think I need a full calf adjustment. Again, if I liked these pants at all, these would be relatively easy things to fix or modify. But I don’t. Instead, I feel kind of like I’m wearing toddler jeans. (In fact, I’m happy that this pattern goes all the way down to a girl’s size 2 because I would make this pattern for a child in a heartbeat. They address so many of the objections little kids tend to have to wearing jeans.)


The thing is that I really love wearing jeans. I wear jeans or pants that basically fit and look a lot like jeans every day. I don’t find them uncomfortable. I like a traditional waistband with belt loops. I love a good fly front. I always want to have 5 fully functional pockets.  So these pants just aren’t doing it for me. Even if they are physically comfortable, I feel psychologically uncomfortable wearing them—like I’m wearing fake pants. I just can’t do it.


The upside to this project is that I got a chance to practice the part of jeans-making that I find most intimidating: top-stitching. I found out that my machine has no objection to top-stitching thread, and I practiced even top-stitching using several different machine feet. I discovered that top-stitching jeans is really satisfying and not that hard to do evenly so long as you are careful. So now that I’m confident enough to take on all the top-stitching that goes into jeans, I feel ready to just devote my time to fitting an actual jeans pattern. I’m planning to start working on the Ginger Jeans pattern sometime this summer. Until then, I lucked out and found two surprisingly nice pairs of jeans at Target, which means that this pair of pants can go straight to Goodwill. Buh bye.



10 thoughts on “Eleonore Jeans, or, What the Hell Was I Thinking?

    • Thanks, Amanda. I kind of hate writing about projects that don’t turn out, but I always appreciate when other people do, so I try to share my fails. Plus, even a bad project is a learning experience!

  1. Oh my goodness. This post made me literally laugh out loud several times, all alone here in my office. I just love you so much.
    I recently found one perfect pair of black pants at Goodwill. And a second pair of mostly ok black pants as well. The second pair is Puma brand, which means they have a rather large (2”?) puma on them. Immediately I thought, does this make me look like a toddler? Or a coach? I am neither. But good pants are hard to find!

    • Good pants are hard to find. And they are apparently hard to make. I feel like I’m constantly in a pants crisis–I never seem to have enough good pairs. At the end of this semester, I was down to a single pair of teaching-appropriate pants. It’s a good thing that I have the summer to restock.

  2. I think this pattern was originally made for the designer’s daughter and then sized up for adult women, so I think you’re right about the kids’ jeans! I always intend to write reviews for things that didn’t work out, but I never actually have because it just seems too boring to me. I really enjoy and get a lot out of reading such posts from others, though, so I should really find the time to blog some of my outtakes. I’ve been eyeing these for a while because I really like the idea of pull-on jeans. I hardly ever wear jeans because they cut into my stomach while also managing to have a huge gap in the back, so they make me really uncomfortable and frustrated. Your review makes me a bit more wary, though, and I think I might just try modifying my Gingers pattern rather than spending money on a whole new pattern.

    • The waistband on these jeans is definitely comfortable–they stay in place and don’t cut in or gap at all. So I think it’s definitely worth trying pull-on jeans if you think they will address the fit issues you usually have. Honestly, I think the best pair of pull on jeans I’ve seen are Suzy Bee’s modified versions of the Ginger pattern, so modifying Ginger might be your best bet to get a comfortable pair of jeans that doesn’t skimp on details.

  3. What a shame they didn’t work out for you, given that it looks like you did a great job with the sewing.

    I made the Vogue 1411 pants, which have an elastic waist. I wanted to try them because I was scared of making real jeans & wanted to ease into pants-fitting, & I thought the seamlines were really interesting. I made a “wearable muslin” in stretch denim before making my real pair in fancy black-on-black floral ponte de roma. I find myself wearing the denim ones almost exclusively, even though the fit is a little bit off. The fact that they are denim makes me feel more like I’m wearing real pants. The ponte version just feels kind of embarrassing. & then I tackled real jeans. I need to address some fit issues on my Ginger pattern, for sure, but the sewing isn’t too hard. Just a bit tedious because you have to finish everything & sew it & topstitch it & there are a lot of pieces.

    Anyway, long story short: I feel you on the elastic waist pants issue.

    • Yeah, I feel like I’m half-naked and totally conspicuous if I leave the house in yoga pants or sweats (which makes no sense because I think other people look perfectly fine wearing these things in public). So I should have known that the elastic waistband was going to be a no-go for me. Even though these didn’t work out, I’m still glad I took the project on because it was enough to convince me that it’s worth just taking on jeans. Attaching those back pockets convinced me that my skills are strong enough to give it a go.

  4. I agree, I think Jalie drafts for a snug fit. I’m starting to think I’ll just automatically go up a size. (I’m plus size also.) The top stitching looks great, BTW. Definitely time to go for regular jeans. Good luck!

  5. P.S. Thanks for writing about about a project that you didn’t like. Although I’m sewing more items that are wearable now, there was a time where every project felt like a failure and it was painful to see bloggers churning out post after post of things they loved. A dose of reality is great.

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