Hey, it’s me again! I needed a little break and my creativity went awol for a while, but today I’m back and sharing my new DIY grey jeans and some thoughts about enjoying the creative process (more on that later)
But first, my new jeans… I bought my grey denim last year I think, or was it the year before?? Anyhoo, it’s from Sherwoods Fabrics. They have a pretty good range of denim and similar twills and canvases (as well as a ton of other types of fabric). I recently bought some cream canvas-type fabric for a jacket but they state 7-14 days to despatch, I have no idea why it should take so long when other fabric businesses are getting stuff sent out fast even with the pandemic going on, so if you decide to buy, bear that in mind.
DIY Grey Jeans Using My Basic Block
My starting point was the same trouser/pant pattern (my block) that I worked on for this previous post. It was pretty easy to create the look of jeans with a few adaptations, however, there are no bells and whistles like rivets and metal buttons etc.
First up, was to make some front hip pockets. I literally drew a curved pocket shape free-hand and then added a seam allowance. A piece of facing was made for this curve and also the extra hip section that goes to the side seam and aptly down behind the pocket opening. Next, I found some scraps of spotted cotton fabric to make pocket bags. Here’s a couple of photos ‘cos a picture paints a thousand words, and all that… 🙂
After doing the pockets I did the fly front zipper and used a bit more spotty fabric for the zip guard. Then I moved onto the back pockets and I even did a bit of decorative stitching on them (not a terribly exciting design, however!).
The rest went pretty smoothly, except when I tried them on I wasn’t overly pleased with a weird wrinkle on the left leg at the back thigh and realised the back outer leg seam had somehow got pushed uphill as I’d stitched so I unpicked it, eased it back down and it looked much better.
I’m quite pleased with the final result. They’re not a skinny fit, more of a straight leg so some wrinkling is unavoidable as I move and they’re comfy too, if a teensy bit long in the crotch depth….
And those musings I mentioned in my post title? Well, here’s the thing…Making jeans makes me feel irritable! I didn’t have too many problems with the making process itself, but did I enjoy it? No, not really. Which got me thinking…
Even though I wear jeans a lot, I don’t think I should be bound to the idea of a 100% memade wardrobe. I mean, there was a time when I swore off the idea of making bras but having tried it out recently, I’ve found out that I actually enjoy it, so I’ve proved myself wrong about that, but jeans? I think in all honesty, I’ll probably go back to buying RTW ones, even if I do sometimes need to do an alteration of two on them…
Life is too short to make things that we don’t enjoy doing. Would you agree? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.
And on that note, I’ll finish up and say see you soon. Take care x
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I sew *almost* everything I wear, but there are some things I am happy to leave to the professionals, for now anyway. Like bras and underpants. Jeans, I find it so frustrating to shop for them! Something is always off. If the fit is perfect, the fabric is too thin, or too light, or the pocket decorations are not my style. If those other things are good, the length is off. And so on. Back when I used to shop for clothes more, going out to buy jeans was a multi-hour ordeal. Making my own takes longer, but they can be precisely what I want. And when I get the perfect pair, I can make it again and again if I want to. I have occasional bursts of creativity in the clothing department, but more often than not, I sew and knit my own clothes because I am too finicky to buy them off the rack! (Love your blog so far, btw, just followed the link from Catherine Daze’s and have been enjoying going backwards through the posts. I can see I”ll be learning new things here!)
Hi, and thank you for the kind words on my blog! I’m glad you’ve found me.
Now, it’s funny about you mentioning that you sometimes don’t like the fabric in RTW jeans and I have the opposite problem…I always feel frustrated that I can’t find the smooth, soft and stretchy denim that my usual Next jeans are made of. So far the denim I’ve tried is stiff and although it has stretch, it’s that softness that I crave. And I’m happy to sew bras and undies now that I’ve learned and got my size sussed. I love we’re all unique and have our likes and dislikes. But who knows…maybe one day I’ll tackle jeans again 🙂
Diane thanks for this informative post + excellent clear photos. I SO FEEL YOU on the ‘I must make all the things’ mindset, and the importance of resisting it. I recently ordered several pairs of RTW pants, including what we call ‘trakkie daks’ here in Australia, during one of our bigger department store’s EOFY sale. And I felt a bit guilty!! Had to give myself a good talking to about that response: I still work full-time ( and award myself bonus points for teaching English. In the public- school system. In a low socio-economic catchment area….and without benefit of alcohol during the day!); I haven’t yet mastered pants-fitting satisfactorily and not sure I really want to commit to the time it requires; and I certainly can make a decent pair of trakkies but the process doesn’t excite me….so I save my precious sewing time for things I enjoy, such as perfecting the fit on button down shirts x
Ahhh, thank you so much, Tracey. I’m so glad you can relate to my musings. When I recently bought my 3 pairs of jeans I must admit to a slight feeling of guilt too and then managed to shake it off. I do still occasionally make myself fitted pants in fabrics other than denim but I have to rev myself up to the task and even after making them I sometimes have to tweak the fit again, even though I fine-tuned the fit of my basic pattern a while back. I find wide-leg styles much easier to fit so I’ll concentrate more on those instead.
I hope you carry on enjoying what you sew (and when you do you can have a glass of alcoholic beverage on hand too 😉 )
Kudos to you and all other sewers who make jeans. Good on you for admitting you don’t want to make them anymore. I often think I’d like to make jeans, then I look and read about all the faffing people seem to need to do to get them to fit properly. It scares me and puts me off. I’ll stick to RTW jeans, I’ve found a brand I love, the fit is perfect, so I don’t need to stress.
High Five Julie! I don’t see anything wrong with buying RTW when it works so well for us for garments that we don’t enjoy making. I think also if this last year has taught us anything, it’s that we should try to get joy from wherever we can.
Hi Diane, thanks for the post – your new jeans look like a great addition to your wardrobe!
I too have no intention of making jeans. I wear them at times but am not really a fan – they are not on my sewing radar. I do like sewing with denim however, have made a dress I really like and planning a pair of striped pants for gardening.. I try to alternate more utilitarian sewing (now pants and shorts) with more fun projects to mix it up a bit. 😊
Hey Heather, thank you so much! Love your idea of mixing up fun projects with the more basic/utilitarian pieces and not worrying about making jeans. Here’s to enjoying what we do!
Hi Diane, Great job on your grey jeans: nice work converting your slim pant block to jeans. I like your elegant back pocket stitching: while a simple design, it adds detail and is slimming/vertical.
What is your thinking on back pocket placement, up /down, I mean? How do you decide how high/low?
I feel rather like Kathleen: I want to like jeans and wear them bc they are fantastically versatile, but their cut in the crotch always feels uncomfortable and my tummy looks its worst in jeans.
I am happiest in knit or stretch woven ‘bottoms’. Perhaps if my weight decreases a good bit, jeans will be an option again. Not sure why some women love them and others feel they aren’t comfy.
Many of us would like a wholly Me-made wardrobe, but unless your reason is purely economically-driven, one should make what adds joy in life, either OR both through the process of making OR the joy of completing a successful garment!
Hi Joan, glad you like the new addition to my wardrobe.
Re-pocket placement…to be honest, I’m no expert. I took a look at my RTW jeans and tried them on for a rough idea. Then I basted my pockets on when I was doing a quick fitting session of my jeans and at first, I thought they were a bit low so I raised them a half-inch. I think I would say the pocket openings mine are positioned at the top of the fullest part of each side if that helps.
You’re right about some jeans just not being comfy to wear. I’m lucky to have found a fit and fabric I like from Next.co.uk in a cotton/poly/lycra blend and the denim is soft and feels comfy on. Although they are a bit pricey compared to what it would cost me for jeans fabric (and I never seem to be able to get just the same soft denim as is used in my RTW ones)…the angst and time spent making jeans outweigh that cost…so I believe we ought to enjoy our sewing and do what brings us joy, definitely.
Love your jeans Diane but then I’m such a fan of everything you make why would this be an exception? What’s stunning to me is making jeans from your pants block – no pattern?! I’ve moved away from wearing jeans to be honest. In 2017 I had signed up for Heather’s online jean making course and didn’t watch it once, or even buy fabric for it (Closet Core Patterns – the famous Ginger jeans) I realized the other day that is simply NEVER going to happen. I emailed the company and asked if I could trade the class for one of her others and they kindly allowed! I was thrilled. I don’t even wear RTW jeans. My go-to pants are RTW ponte that I adore. They fit me perfectly, super comfy and look great. What’s not to love? They must use my body for THEIR ponte pant block (2 brands anyway) because honestly with a high waist they fit me like a glove. I couldn’t get a better fit myself! They aren’t cheap but then ponte isn’t either – not a good quality anyway. I might be able to make them for $40 less but my time is well worth more than that and making a ponte pant that fit me like a glove doesn’t appeal much to me anyway. I’m looking at making other types of pants though like linen with full legs etc which are NOT inexpensive to buy I must say. My last pair of linen flowy pants were $250 and I can definitely beat that making my own is good linen 🙂 And I think it might be fun as well.
Thanks, Kathleen! Ah, good call to get a trade for that jean making course, especially if you really don’t wear jeans. And with those Ponte pants that you mentioned…I totally agree, why make if you can buy ones that fit you well and you would rather make something else instead anyway? I much prefer to make a wide-leg pant myself and your linen ones sound like a good idea…I say you should go for it 🙂
Hello Diane – love the fit on those jeans and the pocket details too! On the jeans-making front – I found myself apologising to someone the other day for having purchased a pair – so I get exactly where you’re coming from. I do wear jeans day in, day out – despite efforts to diversify – and given that fact I often wonder if I shouldn’t have a jeans-making session since the fit is never perfect (flat bum, wider upper hip, smaller lower hip, low crotch rise, ‘serviceable’ calves…the list goes on…) I think I might try one day, just to see if it makes that much difference to the fit. But I think the reason I haven’t, is simply to do with ‘sewing eye-candy’ 😳 My name is Alice, and I am a gadfly! Although I do love a slow-sew project too…🤔 I promise to post if I head down that rabbit hole!
Hi Alice. Yeah, a jeans making session is a good idea to bust any fit problems, but if your heart’s not in it, it’s hard to feel fully motivated, especially when all the pretty fabrics are whispering “pick me instead!” Gadflies unite! 😉
Life is definitely too short to make jeans if you don’t enjoy it! I do like those though, and they’re a great partner for the boots.
Thank you, Catherine! I may end up like James Bond..you know, never say never again, lol. Maybe when I’m in a better frame of mind or find the perfect denim, you never know. For now, though, I’ll make a few things I enjoy more.