Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I make things I don't need

I don't know why I don't just change the name of this blog. Any number of titles would be more appropriate than Featherty Sews.
  • I Make Things I Don't Need
  • Sewing With Attention Deficit Disorder {I'm not sure I actually have that, but it feels like it when I step into the sewing room.}
  • I Should be Cleaning {or substitute Cooking, Working, Exercising, Reading...}
  • How to Make a Wadder
Case in point - I made jeans. Because I need more jeans like I need more pajama bottoms, that's what I decided to make the other day.

And did I follow a commercial pattern with easy to read instructions, you ask?

No. I decided to take a pair of pull-on skinny jeans I bought off the Home Shopping Network last year, cut them up, make changes to the fit and details, and sew a pair myself with no instructions. Because I have no time and a million other things I should be doing.

I believe this is a sickness.

Anyway, here's the story.  For my real job, I cover a vast territory - Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Last week I spent a few days in Oklahoma and found myself in the Joann's in Tulsa before I was due to be back at the airport. They had a lovely little piece of animal print stretch denim on the remnant table that somehow reminded me of these jeans made by Elke of Pulsinchen. I love foreign bloggers, even if I don't understand a word they're writing and Google Translate is only moderately helpful. My only wish is that they would share more info on where they buy their shoes. They all have fabulous boots.

Anyway, I got the denim for $8, stuffed it into my carry-on and flew home to hug my kids. After I washed it, a lot of the animal print was worn off - total bummer, but sometimes I think you can still see the hide?

A few days later, I pulled out the cut-up pieces of those skinny jeans I've had for a while now. The price was great ($20!) but the pockets were so small they made my butt look enormous. Plus, they were way too short, but that's something at my height I'm used to. And then while the fit was OK for the price, the crotch seam hung a little too low for my comfort and the calves were very tight.

The piece of denim was only 1 5/8 yards, which was a little short to make a pair of jeans, but I managed to make it work. The waistband is pieced together in sections, although with the elastic on the inside I can't feel it. I considered removing the denim waistband and replacing it with a knit yoga-style waistband but those remind me of maternity jeans so I opted to leave it alone for now.

You can see the pieced seams in this picture, and a little bit of the hide print, too.
I wanted them to be pull-on, with a faux-fly front but no actual zipper. Most of the tops I wear are long enough to cover the tops of my jeans (or longer) so I am not worried about my make-do waistband showing at all.

If my belly is showing, I have bigger problems.

Wow, look at all those lines! I am thinking of taking the inseam out a little to make them less tight, we'll see if that fixes the lines. To be fair, my RTW jeans do the same thing.
I used a pair of my own Hudson jeans to copy the pocket design and size, and made sure the placement wasn't too high. When pockets are high on me it makes my butt look like it's sagging way down. I found the jeans buttons at Joann's for another $2 and they were surprisingly easy to install. I only wish I could find rivets for the pocket corners.

I like the finished product, but I do wish the animal hide showed up more. Also, in hindsight I think I would have gone with a simpler pocket since the pattern of the denim is the focal point.

The fit changes I made, in no particular order -
  • I cut the pieces with 1" seam allowances to make adjustments to the legs as needed. In the end, I sewed  1" SA up by the waist and tapered down to 5/8" at the knee break. 
  • After the knee break my ready-to-wear jeans all tend to be a tad tight, so I kept the 5/8" SA on the outside seam but eased out to 1/2" SA on the inside seam. I also measured to be sure my knee break was in the correct spot, which I've had trouble with before.
  • For the crotch curve, I raised the crotch stitching line higher in the SA from about midway down the pockets through to the front where the "zipper" would be. This creates a bit more "curviness" to the bum area and less of a flat-butt effect.
  • The waistband is simply turned down and top-stitched, then elastic zig-zagged onto the inside to hold them up. They're already plenty tight, but it's for added security. I left off the belt loops on this version.
No belt loops, but so far they haven't fallen down.
At the very end, I pulled a classic Heather move and cut off a bit too much of the excess length before hemming. Yes, that's right friends, one of the reasons I decided to slash up my original pair was they were too short. And I carelessly cut these pants that I labored over for hours too short.  BIG SIGH.

Oh, well, live and learn. I already have a new piece of stretch velveteen ready to go for a different pair that will hopefully not get slashed to bits by my own hands.  Wish me luck.
Sweater - Evereve cashmere cardigan
Boots - Lucky Brand I found at TJMaxx a few weeks ago


  1. Those look fantastic. I am particularly impressed by the pockets---they look professional and the placement is perfect!

    1. Thanks, I got out a pair of my RTW jeans and marked the exact size and placement so they would be the same. I still think these look homemade, but it's probably more to do with the fabric not having enough heft to it than anything else?

  2. Hi Heather,
    what a great pair of first jeans! I know this problem with the creases that you also have, but I don´t have a solution yet, so I am curious how your endeavours will end. Great job so far!
    Elke from Berlin

  3. These look so awesome! I am super impressed, even if you didn't actually need jeans. I just saw your blog was active again, by the way—I've been too pregnant to actually read my feed reader and was so happy to see your new posts!

    1. Hi Mikhaela! Congratulations on the new baby, that's so exciting! The best thing I ever did was my two boys. I hope you're enjoying these weeks! Great to see you, I've been mostly lurking reading blog posts but hopefully will come out in the open more. The sewing blogosphere has changed a LOT since I left!