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The first Jalie jeans

23 February 2011, 13:46

The ladies at the Walthamstow meetup got a sneak peek of my new jeans on Saturday, but now everyone can have a look at my (mentally counts…) sixth pair of jeans!

I wanted to try out the Jalie 2908 jeans pattern in cheap fabric before I broke out my good stuff, so I made these using some cheap stretch denim from Goldhawk Road, bought for £3/m. It’s papery and stiff and smells kinda like petrochemicals when you iron it, but it was taking up room in my stash and was good enough to try out the pattern (and good enough for wearing round the boat, too!).

I made the regular rise version (as opposed to the low-rise) and I knew these were bootcut, but wow, this has a VERY flared leg! But the fashion mags can’t stop going on about how flares are big for SS11, so I suppose I’m ahead of the pack with these. I think the rise here is good and comfortable, and the crotch curve, bottom, and thigh fit my “white girl pancake butt” really well. The leg length on these was almost perfect for me, too – I only needed to add 1-2 cm past their hem line (I usually have to add more for Burda trousers, and nothing at all for Knip’s).

I’ve sewn with Jalie before, but it was nice to see that the instructions are as fabulous here as they were for other patterns. I just print off the pdf rather than refer to the (really awkwardly placed) instructions on the pattern sheets. The only construction order I really didn’t like was that they have you sew on the back pockets before sewing the centre back seam, which means your pockets may be slightly off. RTW jeans always have the back pockets centered to the CB topstitching, not the CB seam, so I found it much easier to sew and topstitch the CB seam and then attach the back pockets.

Now for the bad.

I HATE the waistband on these – hate it. I’m completely redoing it on my next pair. The waistband pattern is a long rectangle, cut on the bias, with a centre back seam. This is un-interfaced and folded over to form a self-facing.

This causes a multitude of ugly problems. First of all, the flimsy waistband means it started crumpling and folding over within 5min of the first wear, and no amount of belt will help that. But the bigger problem is that the buttonhole stretches out of shape immediately due to the lack of interfacing, and means it doesn’t keep the stress off of the zipper. The result? The zipper falls down constantly. Think about a pair of trousers that have no button or hook at the waistband – there’s nothing to keep the zipper closed at the top so it just falls open. That’s essentially what’s happening here, because the waistband is stretching so much that the button is essentially worthless.

Are you ready for the ugly waistband horror show?? If not, avert your eyes and scroll down quickly!

(Oh yeah, I’ll be wearing these with long shirts overtop!)

Not long ago, I would’ve thought there was something wrong with me – that I’d fitted them badly, or I’d sewn them wrong, or something. But with the eyes of experience, I can see that this is a problem with the pattern, NOT me, and how I want to fix it.

On the next pair I’ll be carefully selecting a curved waistband off another trouser pattern, interfacing it well, and cutting a separate, curved facing. I’ll also be extending the (nonstretch) pocket lining piece into the fly construction like my favourite Burda trouser pattern (it helps to keep my gut in a bit, ugh). I’m pretty confident that these two changes will make this my go-to fabulous jeans pattern! Confident enough to cut into my good Mood denim for the next pair, anyway…

As I said last week, I love love love my vintage Singer hand-crank machine for the topstitching! It went through 8 layers of denim like it was nothing at all! I often end up with weird bobbin thread stitching when I’m topstitching through denim, but with this machine it was just as pretty on the underside as it was on top! LOVE!

As per usual, I used some fun quilting cotton (a wedding gift from from Sharon!) on the pocket linings and fly underlap!

Tips for sewing jeans

In the comments last week, Megan asked for tips on sewing her first pair of jeans, so I thought I’d share my own personal jeans-sewing tips for anyone looking to take the plunge!

Jeans aren’t any harder than normal trousers, they just take a bit longer to sew because of all the topstitching!

Things I’d recommend:

  1. Start with either a Burda or this Jalie Jeans pattern, as their crotch curves tend to work for most bodies (way more than any of the Big 4, and that’s not just me being biased!) and that is by far the hardest area to fit properly. Everything else can be easily fixed if you’ve got the crotch right.

  2. Stretch denim is MUCH more forgiving to fit than 100% cotton denim (so buy a pattern that specifically calls for stretch denim!)

  3. When topstitching, use Gutermann upholstery thread in the needle (NOT Gutermann “topstitching” thread, which is too thick for most machines!), and regular thread in the bobbin, and you’ll more than likely need to turn the top tension down to get a nice stitch

  4. If you’ve got a second sewing machine (even if you have to borrow one for a weekend), it makes it SO much quicker to have one threaded in navy and the other threaded for topstitching. Otherwise you are literally changing the threads on a solitary machine every 30 seconds (no exaggeration!).

  5. If you’ve got really heavy denim, you’ll need a denim needle (you’ll know if you need one because you’ll be breaking needles when going over thick layers)

It might also be worth having a look at the Cupcake Goddess’s Trouser sewalong for fit issues as she did some really good posts on fixing common problems! But as always, if you’re unsure of how the pattern will fit you or have expensive/nice fabric, then be sure to make a muslin in cheap fabric with a similar weight and stretch first!

Edit: To answer the comments asking about the top, it’s a RTW top from ASOS.com that I liked so much I bought in two colours. But it’d be very simple to draft your own from a basic, long-sleeved tee!

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  1. They look great! And you are spot on with your thoughts about the waistband – for any jeans, not just this pattern.

    Debbie Cook    Feb 23, 02:11 PM    #
  2. These look nice, too bad about the letdown on Jalie’s part with the waistband. Thanks for the tips on sewing jeans also.

    — JustGail    Feb 23, 02:17 PM    #
  3. These look fabulous on you. Other people have not been happy with the bias straight band either. I have this pattern and I wasn’t sure what jeans I wanted to try and I think that this will be it. I have not had good luck fitting jeans in the past. Hopefully I’ll have success with this. Except for the wb the fit on these is really excellent.

    Nancy k    Feb 23, 02:27 PM    #
  4. What top are you wearing because it is definitely cool.

    Nancy k    Feb 23, 02:29 PM    #
  5. For some reason my comment disappeared after I tried to add a second comment.
    First, the jeans fit exceedingly well and look very rtw. Until you get to the ill conceived waistband. Bias, I don’t think so! With the proper waistband these will be perfect.
    Secondly, if you made the top, what pattern is it because it’s fabulous.

    Nancy k    Feb 23, 02:34 PM    #
  6. Making jeans seems difficult, but tempting. Most of us never find jeans that fit quite right, there in lies the temptation. Sewing through all that fabric, there in lies the difficulty! They look really good aside from the waistband. I am impressed that you know how to fix it.

    Karin    Feb 23, 02:34 PM    #
  7. I think they fit fabulously. Well done! And btw, your top looks great, too!

    senaSews    Feb 23, 02:37 PM    #
  8. FAbulous work as always Melissa . They look fab , what a shame about the waistband issues though . At least you had the experience to know what the problems are.

    lisa    Feb 23, 02:55 PM    #
  9. Those look great, really flattering. That is annoying about the waist though. Thanks for the tips on sewing jeans, I plan on starting some in a couple of weeks and that will help a lot.

    Karen    Feb 23, 03:54 PM    #
  10. Thanks for the very helpful tips! I haven’t had the courage to make jeans yet, but am collecting information for when my courage surfaces. I’ve noticed a lot of pattern companies make their patterns simple for beginners, but then the results are less than stellar. Then these beginners get discouraged and never stick with it. So shortsighted!

    Elizabeth    Feb 23, 04:12 PM    #
  11. That is indeed a WTF Waistband pattern! Yikes. I also prefer a curved, wider waistband, and I can’t imagine not using interfacing. Good call on doing a test pair in a cheaper fabric. In spite of the waistband, they do look great! Your topstitching rocks.

    — M Kate    Feb 23, 04:37 PM    #
  12. Great looking jeans! I think those flares look really nice.
    Pity about the waistband. I’ve read about this pattern on other blogs and it seems everyone changes that… And I would never think of drafting/planning one like that myself.

    I was also interested to read about your experiences with topstitching on a vintage Singer. I have a vintage hand-crank Pfaff on display in the living room… I may just try it out (although it has a very different kind of bobbin, like a tiny spool… I’m not so sure about that).

    lauriana    Feb 23, 04:39 PM    #
  13. First, the jeans look awesome. Good fit and a nice subtle flare. Good tips as well. Your shot location is fantastic. Love the water in the background.

    Dei    Feb 23, 06:16 PM    #
  14. They look awesome! Your topstitching looks amazing. I’m seriously tempted to get an old hand crank machine now. :)

    Betty    Feb 23, 06:43 PM    #
  15. Those look great! As for the waistband, well, you know what to do next time!

    Gwen    Feb 23, 06:48 PM    #
  16. Fabulous topstitching Melissa. Too bad about the waistband. Chalk it up to experience (and hope you dont have repeating faults like me!)

    Kim Hood    Feb 23, 08:36 PM    #
  17. Great job! And your jeans look even better in real-life (I especially like the top stitching on the pockets – those lines are so neat, I’m most jealous of your hand-crank machine)… :)

    Claire (aka Seemane)    Feb 23, 08:38 PM    #
  18. Wow, these look fabulous! I’ve read so much about that pattern. I think I’ll have to try it out when I make my first pair of jeans. Your top stitching is perfect.

    lizajane    Feb 23, 10:07 PM    #
  19. I’m glad to see your well-executed version! Good tip on the pockets!
    And, oof, my fly front looks exactly like that with the little piece of fabric folding out right at the zipper pull. I was guessing it was because of too little interfacing or maybe I misaligned the entire center front. But, you’re right, a curved waistband is definitely in order.

    Joy    Feb 23, 10:24 PM    #
  20. The jeans are fabulous-very RTW.
    Along with your waistband alterations it might worth investing in a proper jeans zip. It has a small prong on the underside of the puller tab which locks the zip when the tab is in the down position at the top of the zip.

    arnysews    Feb 23, 10:51 PM    #
  21. Aside from the waistband, the jeans look amazing. (I am not just saying that due to the pockets…)

    — Sharon    Feb 24, 01:00 AM    #
  22. These are stunning jeans, except for the Jalie problem waistband. How annoying. I will be trying out my old Singer for topstitching. Yours looks fabulous.

    kbenco    Feb 24, 01:46 AM    #
  23. thanks for all the info and great tips on this pattern. I have this sitting on my desk – keep wanting to try it, but kind of unmotivated due to the criticisms I have read. But I will start off by ditching the waistband and then it sounds like they will hold together much better. Your jeans look great – and I envy your long legs!

    Beth (Sunnygal Studio)    Feb 24, 03:50 AM    #
  24. They look fabulous (if you avert your eyes from the waistband lol) Thanks for all the tips for sewing jeans – I am thinking of having another go after my not so successful Otto ones.

    I also have to ask – did you make the top – it is a lovely style :)

    Liz    Feb 24, 04:48 AM    #
  25. Lots of people have complained about that waistband, but otherwise they look great!

    The Slapdash Sewist    Feb 24, 04:16 PM    #
  26. I had a pair of pants that I added a waist closure for slacks* near the top of the fly. My zipper didn’t seem to stay up because it had too much pressure at that point of the zipper. It was one extra step when dressing but it was worth not having to get rid of the pants. *I don’t know it’s name-it has the same function as a hook and eye but it’s wide and flat.

    — JenL    Feb 24, 07:54 PM    #
  27. Waistband aside, those jeans are fantastic! I’m in awe. I almost feel brave enough to have a go!

    Amy    Feb 26, 06:17 PM    #
  28. While I definitely agree that waistband stinks, the one party is correct in recommending a true “jeans zipper”. RTW jeans have brass zippers with a prong on the zipper pull which locks it into position and helps prevent it from unzipping when the pull is pushed down onto the zipper. Improving the waistband and adding a RTW type of zipper should make these jeans really great!

    — Melanie    Mar 11, 04:10 PM    #
  29. Hi, your jeans look fabulous. I have made pants before by drafting my own pattern. I was thinking of making my own jeans pattern. Do you think I could succeed by adapting this one http://bombardone.com/sewingprincess/2011/06/annie-trousers-in-rome-4-reasons-why-i-love-the-eternal-city/

    sewing princess    Sep 1, 09:23 PM    #

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