Black Ginger Jeans

Hey, look — I made another pair of black pants. So novel! This time, I made what I think of as real pants with a real waist band that I can feel comfortable wearing outside of my house. (I do not give a shit about what other people wear in public, but I do not feel fully dressed without a non-elastic waistband.) This is my first pair of Ginger Jeans, which I had originally planned to make as part of the Outfit Along. I missed the deadline and the sweater I planned to make with these still isn’t done, but who really cares?

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

To parrot what so many other sewing bloggers have said before: I was a little anxious about taking on this project, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. The sewing was very manageable, and top-stitching is incredibly satisfying. I can see many more pairs of handmade jeans in my future. And yes, it kind of blows my mind that I was able to make a pair of jeans.

I had actually started to get a little bored with sewing because I was playing it safe and only choosing boring projects. It was nice to get that slightly obsessive “must get back to the machine!” feeling with this project, and it ended up being a bit of a breakthrough project. I’ve had lots of more complicated patterns that I’d like to try, but didn’t feel competent enough to take on. Sewing these jeans got me over that mental obstacle.

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I made the skinny leg version of the pattern, altering the high-waisted version to be a mid-rise per the instructions in this tutorial. I started with a size 18 (for reference, my current hip measurement is 46″ and my waist is 34″). I also added 1″ to the center back rise through a full seat adjustment (should have added a little less, I think) and removed 1″ of length from the legs above the knee. After my basted fitting, I ended up sewing the outseam with a 7/8″ seam allowance and slimmed the legs a bit more. I also moved the back pockets in by 1/2″ on either side, although I think I would have been better off moving them in a bit more.

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I used a black stretch denim I got from Fabric.com. It’s a cotton/poly blend with a little more poly content than I would like. The wrong side of the fabric definitely has a synthetic feel to it, but the right side has a really soft, brushed finish. The fabric has a lot of stretch, but it seems to have really nice recovery so I’m hoping these don’t bag out a lot with wear. I used quilting cotton for the pocket lining and added the pocket stay, which is a really nice feature.

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I used the denim for the waistband facing and didn’t use any interfacing at the waist. The waistband application is probably the thing I’m least satisfied with on this pair–I used my edge-stitching foot to try to ensure even top-stitching, but it just kind of dragged the fabric down and stretch it out a lot so I ended up with a rippling waistband. I was able to mostly steam it back into shape, but next time I’ll use my walking foot.

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I think the next time I make this pattern, I’ll also experiment with using the pocket lining fabric as the waistband facing since I could use a slightly more stable waistband. I’ve also seen people use elastic as a kind of interfacing at the back of the waistband to keep it from stretching out over time, which is something else I might try at some point.

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For my first pair of jeans and my first time using this pattern, I’m pretty happy with the fit I got–I’ve never had a pair of jeans that fit this well at the waist. And I feel like it will be fairly easy to keep tweaking this pattern to get an even better fit. I need to shorten the front rise next time–I think that’s why I’m getting wrinkles at the front. It’s a bit hard to see at first because of the stiffness of the interfaced fly front, but I can actually pinch out about 1″ of excess fabric from the front rise. I wouldn’t want to alter the shape of the skinny leg, but if I were making the straight leg version, I would probably also do a wide calf adjustment.

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I’m pretty sure that I also need a knock-knee adjustment. In a post on common jeans-fitting adjustments, Heather from Closet Case Files referred to the knock-knee adjustment as the cutest sounding fit adjustment. That is a sweet thought, but it does not feel very cute to me. These jeans and their knee wrinkles are bringing some latent knee insecurities to the surface. It’s weird–I make lots of different fit adjustments for many unglamorous reasons, but the idea of having knock knees kind of messes with my head.

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This picture shows the knee wrinkles in their truest form. I have now analyzed many pictures of myself in pants and found that I consistently have this cluster of wrinkles pointing at my inner knee. For the sake of comparison, I have also analyzed pictures of many other sewing bloggers in pants and found that their knees look quite different than mine. Even allowing that you may likely end up with some wrinkling at the knee in skinny jeans to allow for movement, most of the skinny jean knee wrinkles I’ve seen run horizontally and don’t come to a point like mine. I think the knock-knee thing is evident in my stance too. If I “zip my thighs together” like so many yoga instructors are fond of saying, my knees come together and I naturally end up with about 3″ of space between my feet. And if I try to force the inner soles of my feet to touch, it is physically painful because my kneecaps are essentially fighting one another for the same space. And yes, I see that this all makes very public the crazy amount of time and energy I’ve given to contemplating my knock knees.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

Anyway. I respect my knees and acknowledge that I cannot change them, so I will just start making a knock knee adjustment part of my regular pants-fitting repertoire. In the meantime, I’m happy enough with how these pants turned out to keep wearing them, and I’m already excited about making the next pair.

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11 thoughts on “Black Ginger Jeans

  1. Not only am I in awe of your jeans-making ability, but I now want to hug your knees, which I must note have carried you quite far in the world and through many adventures. I also appreciate the academic research pursuit you have combined with your thorough commitment to fit, exhibited by the line, “I have now analyzed many pictures of myself in pants and found that I consistently have this cluster of wrinkles pointing at my inner knee” and the paragraph following.

    Are you going to make a million pairs of jeans now? That is what I would do, since jeans are the best.

    • My research and analysis training definitely factors heavily into my crafting. And yes–I am going to make a million pairs of jeans now. I’m already planning to cut out my second pair by the end of the month!

  2. My knock knees also mess with my head, maybe partially because I don’t see them on a lot of people. Even when there are fat models who make me feel better about my body, it seems like their legs don’t look like mine and it emphasizes my idea that my legs are especially unusual. I’ve been more successful working through my other body issues, maybe because they’re unavoidable. I avoid dealing with my knees by default because my stomach fat makes pants uncomfortable, so I mostly wear dresses that don’t require fitting my knees. When I do think about them, I know I’m more negative about them than I would like to be about my body. Part of my issue is also that I have fibromyalgia and most of my pain is from the waist down, so I have an antagonistic relationship with the bottom half of my body in general, and that’s not helping me much. A lot of people say things like they love their bodies because of their function rather than their appearance – bodies enable us to get places, etc. But when your body doesn’t actually function that well every day, it makes it tough to see your body according to some of the body positive narratives that are out there.

    So now I’ve just gone on about *my* knees on your blog post, proving that perhaps I am more excessive than you in the time and energy I put into thinking about them! I’d really like to figure out making jeans that are comfy because sometimes I’d like to wear pants, but the Gingers I made were still super uncomfortable in the waist. So I admire anyone who’s made a pair that they love, and I think yours look great! Even though mine didn’t end up being wearable, making jeans did make me feel a bit like a superhero.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who is knee obsessed! I’m surprised by how rarely I see someone with knock knees. And now, since I have a heightened sense of knee awareness, I find myself looking at people’s knees and get a little thrill when I see another member of team knock-knee. Just noticing other people with knees like mine is making me a feel a bit better–not to the level of unbridled body love, but better.

      There is a lot of body acceptance stuff that has resonated with me and helped me deal with my body issues, but there are also times when talk about body love can feel a little . . . overly simplistic? And I think your point about fibromyalgia really highlights some of the things that can get in the way of embracing our bodies as they are.

  3. Oh man I love these jeans! I love the mid rise – I am planning another pair of gingers when I can find some denim I like and I might try that mod because mine sit a bit too high and try to creep down. I definitely had to scoop a ridiculous amount out of the front – I wonder if that’s a general bigger-bodies grading issue or if it’s just our particular curves?

    I feel you on the knees thing making you feel weird. I don’t have this specific issue but I do have a lot of things where I’m like ‘ok great because of sewing I know I have a broad back and a forward shoulder and now I feel WEIRD about that’. Or similar. I keep finding new things to feel uncomfortable about. On the plus side, sewing means I can work with those things and around them. There are some parts of my body I will never love but I can make peace with them, and that’s good too. I don’t see why I should have to love every single inch of myself. I respect every inch, and that’s important, but lots of parts of my I don’t feel one way or the other about, or I feel mildly cross about but oh well.

    Bodies. They are strange things!

    • I agree–I respect my body, but I can’t say that I’ll ever love every part. Nor does it seem reasonable given how much our bodies change over time–there’s always the possibility of new quirks popping up and bothering us.

      One of the things I appreciate about sewing is the way that it teaches me different things about my body. Some of them (like learning I have knock knees) I don’t like. But sewing has also helped me recognize things like my square shoulders, which now that I see them as distinctive, feel like a particularly strong and bold part of body, which I like. I like that sewing helps me see my body through a more objective lens so I’m less focused on comparisons to other people and that, like you said, it gives me a way to fit my clothes to address those issues I might not like as much.

      • It’s constantly astounding to me how sewing shows me how different but also how similar my body is to others. It’s one of the things I appreciate so much about following larger bloggers because we tend to have similar adjustments and it makes me feel more like ‘oh ok this is how bodies are’ rather than ‘I am a freak show’. It’s just a body. That I have to clothe. NBD.

  4. I’m a long way from sewing jeans for myself, but this post is inspiring. Plus, that link to all of the illustrated fit issues was amazing…I love the diagrams! I know I’m very bow-legged but I wasn’t aware that it was causing an identifiable pants wrinkle pattern. Now I’m curious.

    • I found that post on fit issues really helpful–I’m glad you liked it, too! I was surprised at how manageable sewing jeans turned out to be. There are so many great resources online for jeans sewing that make the individual steps fairly easy–it’s just a lot of steps!

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