Jean Genie

So you remember how I deliberated, and faffed, and generally just procrastinated over making trousers for all that time? Like, literally almost a year? ?

Well, I made those Burda high waisted trousers you see above, then used that to springboard me on to the Deer and Doe Safrans. Hot on the heels of the Safrans (which will be on the blog sooooon I promise – they are actually real! They’ve been photographed and everything!) I’ve made ANOTHER pair of bottoms! I’m not sure that *any* of them have been roaring successes, fit-wise, but at least I’m no longer deer-in-headlights over the whole thing. If you’re still on the fence about making jeans and trousers, honestly just GO FOR IT. It’s really not as scary as you’re convincing yourself it is.

Anyhoo – so I MADE JEANS. Yeah baby ??

I’m sure you will have seen on the interwebs that Named Patterns have released a new pattern book – ‘Breaking The Pattern’. It’s a collection of 20 designs which increase in complexity as you work through the book – building your sewing skills (and your wardrobe) as you tackle each project.

The lovely Vicki at Minerva Crafts approached me to see if I’d be interested in sewing a pattern from the book to celebrate the launch – and I said HELL YES! Named Patterns are the wonderful ladies that brought the Kielo dress to life, and my wardrobe would be a whole lot duller without my Kielos!

The timing was just *slightly* less than perfect for me though as the promotional copies of the book shipped out while I was away in New York City, so my copy of the book was sitting at home waiting for me for over a week before I could get my mitts on it and choose my project! ? It was most definitely worth the wait though… I had trouble picking just one pattern – there was a bag, a T-shirt, the trousers (my eventual choice) and a fabulous coat… I wanted to make them all! I was sensible about the time I had though and had to reluctantly strike the coat off the list because of the time committment needed. In the end I threw myself in at the deep end and chose the trousers – there’s nothing like committing to make a pair of trousers for a book launch to light the fire up under your ass ?? There’s no wussing out or procrastinating when you’ve got a hard deadline to meet! ?

The Palo (which funnily enough, means fire according to the book) jeans are a patchwork construction, but don’t let that put you off – they really are NO more tricky than sewing regular trousers. You’ve just got a couple more extra steps to sew the leg pieces together rather than cutting them out as a whole. Think of it as quilting, but on a much larger scale – and there’s no fiddly angles to deal with.

The book is a very modern, clean-looking sewing book – definitely aimed at today’s seamstress. The title ‘Breaking The Pattern’ stems from the idea that the girls behind it want you to make the patterns your own – and there’s ample suggestions along the way of how you might go about ‘breaking’/customising the patterns. It’s a really cool idea to get people to make their clothing as individual as they are. I wish the book was spiral bound, to make it easier to lay the book flat, but that’s a small gripe.

Paper pattern sheets are included at the end of the book, but you can’t cut ’em, you gotta trace what you need as all the pieces overlap. On the flip side, seam allowances are included so you don’t have to faff about adding ’em – woohoo! ?? If there’s one thing I hate more than sticking PDF’s together, it’s adding seam allowances. Man, that kills me. Every time I get that little tracing wheel out, a part of my soul dies ☠️

The one change I would like to have made to the book is having the sizing and line chart printed on the pattern paper sheets – the individual size lines aren’t numbered, so you have to remember which style of dotted line you’re tracing (they all look the same late at night or when you’re tired – amirite?) and if you forget which one is yours you’ve gotta flick right back to the start of the book to check. Also it took me a good ten minutes to find out whether seam allowances were included or not – I’ve got some Named patterns where they are, and some where they aren’t so I didn’t want to just take it for granted. They really should have printed that on the pattern pieces too, or somewhere SUPER obvious, but instead it was included in a very wordy page towards the start of the book. I had to properly search for it. To me, that’s not information you should have to go digging for – it should be printed on the pattern pieces. Right there, in front of your face, for people like me that get impatient pretty damn quickly ?

I mean, there are twenty-one pages of writing before you even get to the patterns – I did NOT want to have to read all that just to find out if seam allowances were included, but there seemed no other option (unless I wanted to take a gamble). Thankfully, I found it on page 6, while I still had some sanity.

Once I was settled on the trousers as my choice, and the dramas of the seam allowances had been resolved, I then proceeded to deliberate for a lonnnng time over which fabric to use… I searched the available denims on Minerva crafts, but blue isn’t really my colour – especially on jeans – which is totes annoying as about 80% of denims out there are blue. FFS. I then thought about fabric dyes, to dye some denim to whatever colour I fancied but because I was already pushing a tight deadline I decided against things that made the process even more complicated.

In the end, I used Robert Kaufman Canyon denim for the jeans, because it came in the widest range of colours. Although you could use scraps and leftovers for the Palo Jeans, you’ll want to use fabrics that are all of similar weight/stretch. I couldn’t make a design like that and NOT go crazy with colour, though! I also looked at throwing a patterned fabric into the mix, but I couldn’t *quite* find the right one so played it safe with solids. Non-stretch fabrics are recommended, but I feel like I would need to size up from the recommended size to get enough room to actually be able to move in these – or use a denim that has a little bit of stretch to it. They are VERY snug.

I think I’ve finally conquered my fear of sewing trousers – yay! Butttt the hard part of sewing trousers is not the actual sewing – it’s the fitting. And the fitting of these Palo’s isn’t spectacular – but then I wasn’t expecting it to be for a first attempt. I graded between two sizes – a UK 10 at the waist and UK 12 for the hips and legs, but the thighs are REAL TIGHT. Like, I don’t actually think I can kneel down in these without busting a seam or two. I think I might need to grade to a 14 at the hips and thighs but back to a 12 for the calves. There’s also some baggy-weirdness going on at the back yoke – seems that I need to take a chunk out of that for the next pair:

When you think about it, trousers and jeans are bound to be more tricky to sew, because you’ve got about a hundred variables – calf size, thigh size, bum size/shape, hip to waist ratio, crotch length… And because the fabrics you use don’t usually have a massive amount of stretch (unless you’re making leggings), you’ve gotta put some sort of effort into matching your shape. And this means grading, for me. I will admit I’m a total noob when it comes to grading trousers – there’s so many pieces to think about, and where do you take the excess from? I decided to take the excess from the leg side seams, but perhaps I should have taken some from the back yoke instead. It’s trial and error I guess, right? Or maybe I should actually read a fitting book written by a proper grown up that knows what they are doing instead of just blagging it ??‍♀️?

The waistband of the Palos is SUPER curved – the pattern template is literally a half circle. Not even just slightly curved – it’s legitimately a bloody rainbow shape. I was very dubious about this… But it turns out that it actually works quite well. (I’m still carrying a few ‘NYC pounds’ so it’s a little snug, lol). There’s a bit of bagginess going on around the knees as well – I’m not sure if it’s just highlighted by the fact that the thighs are skin-tight, or whether it’s that bright pink fabric ? I know there’s got to be some ease to move, but I feel that mine just looks a bit wrinkly.

Now I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but the pink pockets on the back are a *smidge* lairy for me. If I had an ass to be proud of, I might think differently ? but currently I don’t really want to draw attention to my derriere (working on it though – doing weights classes in the gym at lunchtime, for the first time in my life, which are slowly killing me lol). I think reversing the colours, and doing a pink yoke / red pocket combo might have worked a little bit better. And the husbeast says that the bright pink lower front legs makes it look like I’m wearing 80’s neon leg warmers, but I’m not sure I mind that too much.

My original plan was to go with pink, orange and black colour blocking, as per these inspirational pictures:

But Aaron didn’t like it. I thought it looked ok personally, but there was a niggling doubt as to whether I could carry off a you’ve-been-Tango’d shade of tangerine, so the orange was replaced with red and we ended up with the jeans that you see here. I’d love to make another pair out of black fabrics – some black denim paired with some black-on-black brocade, and maybe a few leather panels just to punk it up a bit. Perhaps even some metal studs. I think I might have just added another project to my already-too-long list.

Next up in my trousers-sewing-adventures are the Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans, and also the Landers (but with a slightly less flared leg – I’m not sure I’m ready to go full 70s). It’s high-waisted all the way for me now. I might even make another pair of Safrans – my first pair wasn’t too bad but I had the same problem as with the Palo Jeans where I could really have done with taking a chunk out of the back yoke. I tried on a pair of rust corduroy RTW trousers in New York that were very similar to the Landers – I loved them, but they didn’t have my size so I reluctantly had to leave without them. I’m now taking that as a sign that I should just make them myself. So that’s what I’m gonna do. I might even put the Dawns and the Landers into my 2019 Make Nine, just so they don’t fall into the depths of my memory and get forgotten about.

One thing’s for sure – I’m not scared of making trousers and jeans anymore. Wooo! Need to work on my fitting game though, and once I’ve got pieces that are comfortable and fit well I will immortalise them and worship them as if they were gods. And make them in all the colours and fabrics, obvs.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be looking back at my 2018 Make Nine – because you guyyyyyys it’s almost the end of the year ? (Crazy right? I have just four working weeks left before the Christmas break – yes, I’m counting down and looking forward to getting some serious knitting time in – and that means it’s almost time to watch Love Actually for like the fifteenth year in a row yaaaaay ??)

I know that there’s a couple of the 2018 Make Nine that I never even touched – plus one that I’ve started but don’t think I’ll be getting over the line by the end of the year – but it’s ok. I was mainly using it as a way to not lose track of the patterns that I really wanted to sew – I find that throughout the year, I’m bookmarking so many new patterns on Instagram that I want to try, but inevitably end up forgetting anything that was bookmarked more than about two weeks ago (anyone else do that?!) So I need to sit down, look at everything I’ve saved onto my phone over the last year (?) and try to choose the favourites so that they don’t get forgotten about. I’m not sure what’s more daunting – that, or my recent decision to take a true inventory of my fabric stash ??

Wish me luck ??

Do you have anything that you’re scared of sewing? Or did you *used* to be scared, and now you’ve mastered it?

Next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a review of whether the things I made this year have made it into my permanent wardrobe – or not.  Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out! ??

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30 thoughts on “Jean Genie

    1. Ahh thanks Chrissy – I’m glad you enjoy the blog! ? And noooo I haven’t heard of offset warehouse – but I’m gonna go check em out now, thanks for the tip! ??


  1. Brava! Well done for facing your fears lol I like the look of those Landers…but as I just sorted about a dozen patterns-to-fabrics ready for cutting out AND need a new coat [well ‘need ‘ is a strong word isn’t t?] I should just STOP.
    Looking forward to your further adventures in the word of trousers


    1. It’s the fitting more than the actual sewing that seems to be the challenge… though I could definitely do with some fly practising. Wow you’re sorted for a while then with that lot! And it’s winter, so I’d say you do in fact NEED that coat ?


  2. A fantastic looking bottom in these patchwork trousers, nor sure I’m that keen on the dolor ways, but may grow on me in time, but they do look great on you, and your one brave lady so wear with pride .
    Stay safe xx Cindy


    1. Thank you Cindy! ? They are a pretty bold colour scheme aren’t they ? Hope all is good with you, give the animals a cuddle from me x


  3. Those behind the knee wrinkles are the bane of my existence. I get them with every pair of pants I make and I still haven’t figured out why! I think it might be because I’m big in the thigh and the calf and maybe my knees are normalish sized? No idea, but I’m glad it’s not just me. You look like a motorbike riding super hero from the 80s, I like it.


    1. AH…. now that you say it, I also have big thighs and big calves… perhaps that’s it? ??‍♀️ I’m glad it’s not just me making newbie errors ? They are kind of Moto aren’t they… now that you’ve said it, some moto stitching around the knees might not look too bad! ?


  4. Another awesome project. I kinda like the pink pockets. I made a pair of jeans which are definitely better than any ready to wear jeans I own, but they still need tweaking. I watched the Craftsy class – Pants fitting by Kathleen Cheetham, which I thought was excellent and really helped me get a good start.


    1. Thanks Angela! ? Good to hear that you’re making progress on jeans – even if they still need some tweaking at least you’re heading in the right direction! ?? Thanks for the tip on the Craftsy class, I must admit that I don’t actually use Craftsy but loads of people rave about it so I really should check it out!


  5. Thank you my cyber friend, sadly we had 6 day old puppies lab crosses dumped over night. I found them at 5am when went out to clean out night stables etc ready for day in stables horses we don’t have enough stables for all our rescued we share them out. Anyway sadly 3 had died , but the other 3 are j7st about alive with each 3 hour feeding day and night, so we’re dead on our feet and this means huge vets bills again, last month’s bill was 1,457.90 euro we will beat that this month, this takes some fund raising, sold my home to fund the charity 4 years ago, but that’s all gone now, so we live day to day, but we’ve save over 500 animals and rehomed 487 of them sadly a few died and some will stay with us, far to abused to trust anyone ever again. So your blog keep me going xx


    1. Ahh Cindy I’m so sorry to hear that. One of our dogs was from an abandoned litter, and she was the only survivor. That’s amazing that you’ve rehomed so many, I think I would want to keep them all ? You’re such an inspiration, the work you do is amazing ? x


  6. Those jeans are super cool! The pockets especially. It’s like a superhero casual Friday, love ’em. I do think you have too much width and height in your yoke…I’d mark a spot probably about half an inch/3/8ths of an inch in and down from the center top corner of the yoke pattern piece and trim the top edge and center edge at a diagonal to that spot. I’m hoping that makes sense without pictures; it might be gobbledygook though!


    1. Haha, no I think I’ve got it! I do really like this pattern so I think I’ll give it another bash. From corduroy… I reckon.
      Thanks for the tip on the yoke – I’ll do that! I’m not sure how I would have approached it so thanks for sharing your wisdom and saving me time researching how to go about it ? ?
      Watch this space for the next pair!


  7. hello and thanks for the review. i am currently sewing these jeans for my daughter, and I am stuck on the flat-felled seam bit for the croth… do I need to take a 1.5 cm allowance there and trim the one underneath to 0.5 cm? Thanks!


    1. Hi Melania! Hope the jeans are going well for you! Yep, you got it exactly right – the seam allowance will be 1.5cm, and you trim the underneath one ??


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