I finally made jeans! You know because it's a new year and everybody is ambitiously getting after their goals. And it's infectious. So I finally sewed the Birkins pattern I purchased nearly 2 years ago.
The Birkin Flares were bundled in the Indiesew Spring 2016 collection along with the Florence Kimono (check!), Lou Box Top (check!), Sanibel (not yet), and Rushcutter (check!). Like I said, I'm just almost exactly 2 years behind. (I have been meaning to go back and revisit the Rushcutter. I made one for a friend and it might have been my first attempt at French seams, because I remember it took what felt like an eternity to sew.)
Focus, Loni. We're here for the jeans.
Right. So I wear skinny jeans. But 2 years ago, before I could barely follow a sewing pattern, I purchased that spring collection. So while I would probably pick the Ginger jean pattern if I were to buy a pattern today, I thought I ought to at least sew the Birkins. Maybe I'd find out that jeans are too complicated to either construct or fit, maybe both! And it would be silly to spend another $14 to find that out. So my first pair of jeans were Birkins.
I had heard you might expect to make several muslins before getting the fit right, so I bought stretch denim from Raspberry Creek Fabrics in August 2017 and then again in late November. (They still have some great options, but the listings for the varieties I purchased seem to be expired.) And I had the pattern cut out for probably all of December and there they sat half under the cutting table for weeks.
My body measurements had put me in a solidly in size 30 and I had chosen to cut size 29 based on the finished measurements, the expected amount of negative ease, and the experience of a friend with the same measurements.
It took a bit more encouragment from that same sewing friend and another one to get me to actually cut the denim. The pattern explains there's 3 approaches to making a muslin, and really all you need to do is baste the fronts, backs, yokes, and pocket facings together to get reasonable idea of the fit.
And it wasn't so bad!
Just a few seams and JEANS. I mean there's no fly, pockets or waistband, but close enough right? I tried them on and they were surprisingly a very decent fit. The one potential issue I saw was a small gape at the top of the yoke. I hadn't basted on a waistband, so I was hoping that would help, but this is a common fit issue I have with ready to wear pants too. If the hips and thighs fit, the waist has a gape in the back.
So I cut out the other essentials.
Following the assembly instructions, the back comes together first. This was my first experience using a heavy top stitch thread. You need a top stitch needle (which has a large eye) to accommodate the thick thread. There's room for improvement, of course!
And then the fronts. You're looking at my first real fly!
Instead of tracing the fly template onto the fabric, I just pinned it on and followed the edge of the paper closely. After the outside line of stitching was complete, I stitched a parallel line just inside. This worked well for me.
Pulling the teeth on the zipper to shorten it is kinda fun too. I think the right pliers help. Get yourself some needle nose pliers for this job. I took 7 teeth out of each side (14 total) to clear the 5/8" seam allowance.
And then I ripped all the bar tacks out to put contrasting, red, ones in.
Test out that buttonhole! Your machine might not agree to using top stitch thread for it. Mine certainly said NO to that. My compromise was using 2 threads of regular construction thread,
I used a scrap of leather to add a tag. It was a swatch of leather from ordering a couch!
I left off the belt loops since I never wear belts.
Sadly, my fly gapes a bit when worn. But it's not enough to keep me from wearing them, though and I wore them for 2 days straight right away. I just style them with a layering tank anyway.
I'm 5'5" and I ended up taking 4" inches (2" above the knee and 2" below) off the total length because I thought they were 6" too long. Seems I was too aggressive there. I'll only take 3" off next time. To compensate for my mistake, I added a hem facing to finish this pair.
Overall, I'd say these are a sewing win. Lots of sewing firsts and plenty of experience gained. The actually sewing isn't that difficult, so don't let that intimidate you. I certainly grew to love the flared silhouette even though it's not a style I typically gravitate toward. (I'll probably pick up the Ginger jeans pattern next time I see it on sale.) And the fit issue I noticed was the same one I have with rtw. I will definitely be sewing more jeans for myself!