Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jeans that fit!

One of the greatest pleasures I can get from my sewing is creating a garment for my daughter, especially one she has despaired of ever finding to fit. Erin's posture is nearly impeccable, she stands tall as my mother always commanded us, shoulders back, head level.
Tucking her tummy in and fanny under, however, has never been possible for her, and years as a competitive gymnast executing that fabulous dismount and judges' salute have given her a distinct swayback. As a result, she hasn't been able to find a line of jeans that consistently fit well in the waist - just can't get the right hug in the back.

After my first try making my own jeans in November, which I'd call about 90% successful, I wanted to treat Erin to a pair also. When she arrived home for 3 weeks over Christmas, I had my chance. I took measurements one evening last weekend, then searched for my flexible curve to use to copy her crotch curve. Now, I'm usually pretty organized, and have my tools and materials in very logical places. But I had to relocate the studio twice within 6 months about 2 years ago, after serious flooding here in the Northeast damaged the floor and lower walls of my basement room. After all was said and done, FEMA came through with a grant and we were able to remodel and I moved back in - but some of my stuff was packed so quickly and haphazardly that I'm still searching. The flexible curve wound up in the small bedroom I'd used for a temporary sewing space - I knew I'd seen it there about 6 months ago. After searching and giving up for the night, I happened to ask my DH if he'd seen it by any chance - he now uses that room as his study. His answer? "I know where MY flexible curve is!" He then produced his old briefcase (college graduation gift from me!) and opened it to show us all his drafting supplies. He was right, his curve was in there, in its package. But he got a little sheepish when I pointed out my bright blue one tucked under a strap.  Makes me wonder how many other tools he's commandeered from my arsenal?

The point about the flexible curve is that I wished I'd used it for my own jeans pattern before I cut. I've got this little shelf of fabric just below the bottom of the fly, and I'm quite certain I need to bring the front crotch curve inward there - reducing the body space allowed. My ASDP colleague and friend Joyce Simons Murphy has written fantastic articles for Threads about this counterintuitive concept - the instinct is to take in a seam where you see excess fabric, but with a crotch curve it's almost always the opposite: you need extra fabric to be able to bring the seam in closer to the body. Holding that flexible curve up against the body, marking the center point and waist points, then laying it down on paper, you can trace an exact duplicate of the shape needed.

Flexible curve laid on paper. Center point marked.

Voila! The right curve is created.

Using the same jeans pattern I used for myself, I traced off Erin's size and adjusted where necessary. I basted all the main pieces together, without assembling the front pockets or inserting the zipper, to check the fit. Before she left on Friday to return to St. Louis, I was able to make the adjustments and have try the jeans on again for a recheck. Take a look at the results -
Still a bit of folding there below the fly. I haven't decided whether I need to do more fine-tuning at the curve, or let it go.

But look at the way this is going to fit! I added curve to the yoke with darts in the pattern, and popped the center back seam out at the top to match Erin's curve. 
I'll be taking these apart to work on the details - fly front, pockets, topstitching on lower edge of back yoke and front waistband. Erin decided on a bootcut shape for the legs - basted in on her right leg, above - and I gave her a choice of topstitching thread.
She chose the dark gold. The taupe-gray at left is what I used on my jeans.
Because I've already checked the fit, I'll be able to topstitch the inseams as well - which I didn't get to do on my own pair. It's not something you can easily do once both leg seams have been sewn, and I really didn't want to rip mine apart to do it. 
I almost don't want to show you this - that topstitching along the center back seam really needs to be redone...
One thing still under consideration is the decorative stitching for the back pockets. Mine were left plain, but I'm thinking of experimenting with something that will reflect my company logo, a curving J with a calligraphic look, maybe, or just some looping double stitching. The seminar I took with Jen Stern at the ASDP/ASE conference in September gave me the opportunity to play a little with bar-tacking on this mini-jeans sample, and her recommendation was to come up with a signature bar-tack as well as pocket design.
So cute! We made the pocket bags out of printed cotton, too.
So there you have it, Erin's jeans under way. I'll be trying to get these completed to send to her before too long - I'll just have to follow through with my plan to do 10 minutes of sewing for me (& family!) for each hour of client sewing I do. Think that'll last? Thanks for reading - I'd love to hear from you, so comment and follow me!


  1. Great job, Janee.

    My first thought on the extra tuck below the zipper sounds like you need to tuck out that amount on the pattern. I know it would pull the curve inward, but jeans are compressive anyway. Or could it be a pulling from the fabric covering the upper thigh?

    Just a thought. I know they'll be so much better than anything she could buy!

  2. The upper thigh makes sense, Mary - I've got some extra fabric on the front inseam, I may let that out a bit. But that would lengthen the curve, right? And she said the crotch felt perfect the way it is.