Mukava Jeans for Jude (Ottobre 1/2018 #16)

I made tiny jeans! Even though I’ve already made myself a pair of jeans with all the traditional details, it still feels like a sewing victory to whip up a little pair streamlined pull-on toddler jeans. These little jeans are actually one of my favorite sewing projects from the fall. They came together quickly, offered the sweet satisfaction of top-stitching, and turned out even cuter than I had imagined.

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As part of my effort to make sure that Jude has enough pants to get him through the cold season, I wanted to make him some jeans to balance out his collection of sweatpants. In general, I want his clothes to be as comfortable as possible and to not restrict his movement in any way. But a pair of jeans seems to come in handy for situations like picture day and can still be comfortable in stretch denim and an easy fit.

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I decided to use the Mukava Jeans pattern from Ottobre 1/2018, which is the same issue that had the Hippa Sweatpants pattern I blogged earlier. (Out of curiosity, I like to translate the Finnish pattern names. Google Translate tells me that “mukava” means “nice.”) The pattern has a faux fly and elasticated waistband, but otherwise have traditional jeans details like functional front and back pockets, top-stitching, and belt loops, although I decided not to attach them.

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Working with toddler models: the struggle is real.

I sewed these up in a dark stretch denim I already had in my stash. I bought three yards of this fabric from Girl Charlee a few years ago, but never got around to actually making myself jeans with it because it is quite stretchy and I didn’t think it would have enough recovery for my needs. I typically wear my jeans for about a  week before washing them, so I don’t want to bother sewing up a pair of jeans that are just going to completely bag out after the first wear. Jude’s clothes, however, need to be washed after basically every wear and I figured that the extra stretch in the fabric would just mean that the resulting jeans would be all the more comfortable.

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Although I hadn’t actually made myself jeans with this fabric, I had bought top-stitching thread to use with it. And I was able to use some leftover scraps of quilting cotton from the weighted blanket I made my nephew for the pocket facings, so everything for this project came directly from my stash. And these little jeans only took .75 yards of fabric, which means that I have plenty left over to make him more when he outgrows this pair.

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I sewed up the size 80, which is the smallest size for this particular pattern and the size that most closely matches Jude’s current height. If you’re not familiar with Ottobre Kids sizing, the instructions suggest choosing a size based on a child’s height and then altering the width of the pattern if necessary. So far, I haven’t found it necessary to make any fit adjustments for Jude’s size. I do think that this particular pattern has a roomier fit than the Tiny Fan Pants and the Hippa Sweatpants, which are also both a size 80. Jude is able to wear the jeans cuffed right now and they have a relaxed straight fit, but he has enough room in the waist and hips and enough length in the legs to be able to wear these through his next growth spurt, I think. And that is not a complaint—these weren’t super time-intensive to sew, but I’d still prefer that he be able to wear them for a good bit, especially since he will probably wear these more rarely than his comfier sweatpants.

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As is generally the case for me, I thought the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. They do suggest that you just sew all the seams with top-stitching thread so you don’t have to keep switching the thread on your machine, but I thought that was kind of ridiculous so I ignored it. Switching thread doesn’t take long and seems less onerous than the frustrations that would inevitably arise with trying to sew everything with top-stitching thread. I also ignored the instructions for the waistband, which recommended the same method used in the Hippa Sweatpants that didn’t work out for me at all.

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Instead of basting parts of the elastic to the waistband and stretching it as I top-stitched the waistband in place, I did the following:

  • I partially sewed the end of the waistband together, starting at one end and sewing to roughly the halfway point.
  • I pressed the waist band in half, and also pressed the seam allowances for the open part of the waistband seam to the side.
  • I serged the waistband to the top of the jeans, positioning it so that the open part of the waistband would ultimately be on the inside of the jeans once the waist seam was pressed in place.
  • I finished the waist seam and top-stitched below the seam, catching the seam allowance in the process.
  • Then I cut my elastic to size and threaded it through the elastic casing. I stitched the ends of the elastic together and then whip stitched the opening in the waistband closed.

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It kills me every time Jude wears his jeans. They are so cute! And they have definitely given me the itch to make myself another pair. I just have to make some time and find some higher quality denim. But if that doesn’t happen before he outgrows these, I will happily whip up a second pair of Mukavas.

Outfit Along 2016: Mireille and Ginger

Despite my terrible track record for actually finishing knit- or sew-alongs, I decided to participate in this year’s Outfit Along, which is co-hosted by Andi at Untangling Knots and Lauren at Lladybird. The idea behind the Outfit Along is that you make two garments–one knit and one sewn–that can be worn together as an outfit.  It’s a fun, and kind of rare, place where the online knitting and sewing worlds come together.

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I’ve followed the OAL for the past two summers and have really enjoyed seeing the combos that people come up with, but I hadn’t ever really planned to participate myself. Like I said, I’m terrible at seeing things like this through so I’ve kind of given up on them. Also, the OALtends to lean towards a particular aesthetic that, while lovely on other people, is not really my thing.But when this year’s OAL was announced, I immediately had an idea pop into my head, and I just decided to go for it.

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My plan is knit the Mireille pullover from The Shetland Trader and sew a pair of Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. For the sweater, I’m using Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Charcoal. For the jeans, I have some black stretch denim that I think will work really nicely for a pair of skinny jeans.

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In my last blog post, I talked about how a lifelong emphasis on practicality and lack of interest in style has led to me having an aggressively boring wardrobe. As soon as I envisioned both of these patterns together, my inner censor started hounding me: It’s not seasonal. Why would I make an oversized pullover when all advice suggests I will look best in something fitted? I’ll always be too hot in an alpaca-blend pullover. I’m not competent enough to sew jeans. I’ve only owned one pair of skinny jeans before–shouldn’t I pick a “safer” style if I’m going to go to the trouble of making jeans? This is just going to be a waste of good fabric. That censor voice (which is discernibly different from the quieter moments of intuition that tell me when something in a project isn’t working out quite right) is fucked up, so I’m ignoring it and forging ahead with the original plan. Basically, I’m using the OAL as a way to push myself to pay closer attention to my impulses and my intuition, like I talked about in my previous post.

Anyway. I haven’t done anything on the jeans, beyond buying the pattern. I also bought the Sewing Your Own Jeans e-book that Closet Case Files put out–I’ve read through most of it at this point, and it seems really helpful. The OAL goes through the end of July, so I’m hoping to gather my jeans-making supplies, get the pattern assembled, and maybe get a muslin started by the end of June, which will give me plenty of time to actually finish my jeans in July.

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Mireille, on the other hand, is off to a very strong start. The OAL started on June 1st, and I cast on for my sweater at about 12:05 a.m. In about a week’s worth of knitting time, I’ve made it entirely through the yoke and am now into the body of the sweater. The construction of this sweater is interesting and entirely new to me. Mireille has a drop shoulder. But unlike the the uber-boxy drop shoulder of the 1980s, this sweater is knit from the top-down, working from the shoulder seam and using short rows to create a carefully shaped, sloped shoulder that looks more modern. It’s meant to be loose-fitting, but the body still has some shaping and the sleeves are slim fitting, so I think it’s going to look really good once it’s done.

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I’m making the 48.5″ size, which puts me right around the lower end of the recommended 5-10″ of ease. I’ve swapped out the cables written in the pattern for a more traditional rope cable and I’m altering the waist shaping a bit to give me a bit more room at the hips, but otherwise the knitting should be pretty straightforward. I’m just keeping keeping my fingers crossed that the Ultra Alpaca doesn’t grow more than expected during blocking. I’m watching my row gauge carefully, but alpaca is always a bit of a gamble. I’m going to try to finish this sweater sooner rather than later so I have time to go back and shorten the sleeves or the body if necessary before the end of July.

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

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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.