Late to the party take two: Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Ginger Jeans – we’ve made them, we’ve blogged them, we’ve read the reviews. Now that I’ve finally caught up to the rest of the sewing world, I can reflect on what I like and don’t like so much about jeansmaking.

A woman stands in front of a garden fence. She wears dark blue, slim jeans and a button up shirt.

Likes

Construction

Topstitching, pants construction, even fly front zips – I love the technical challenges of jeans-making. Even better, my machine looooves denim (almost as much as it hates fine fabric!). When sewing bartacks, it chewed through 9 layers of denim without complaint.

The front waist of hand made blue jeans.
A bit creased from wearing but you get the picture.
Pockets

Who doesn’t love pockets? My back pocket design is ripped straight off the Jean Pocket Project directory – I traced the lines and overlaid them onto the Ginger pocket using Preview for Mac. Then I could trace the printed design onto Sulky Heat-Away Clear Film and sew straight onto the pocket (with another layer of film underneath to stabilise).

The back pockets of handmade jeans featuring decorative topstitching in contrast thread.
Back pockets, pre-rivets.

 

A woman stands in front of a garden fence. She wears dark blue, slim jeans and a button up shirt.

Dislikes

Poor quality materials

This is one of my bug-bears about sewing – no matter how well I fit and sew, often my project is ruined by poor quality materials that just cannot compare to RTW. The denim in my Misty Jeans bled dye, and the black replacement denim I used for the Georgie Jeans and Simplicity skirt wore away to almost white at the seams with handling.

I expected great things from this particular fabric, as it came from M. Recht Accessories, a Melbourne retailer noted for their quality. Unfortunately, it pilled all over, both sides, after just one wash. Honestly, I could have bought longer lasting denim from KMart. M. Recht were good about it, and due to their reputation I’m hoping it was an anomaly.

Inside a pair of jeans. The denim fabric is pilled.

I had much the same problem with the notions. My first set of buttons and rivets from M. Recht were good quality, but nothing I bought matched. This was entirely my fault, as I didn’t quite understand how rivets and jeans buttons worked at that point (and you purchase buttons, rivets, burrs and posts/nails separately).

The buttons and rivets I ended up using came from Closet Case as I couldn’t find that lovely brass colour anywhere else. To my surprise, the buttons were mostly indistinguishable in quality to the 20c cheapies I had from eBay – they both had a plastic-y quality that the M. Recht notions were lacking. In the future, I would stick with M. Recht for quality accessories (if I figure out how to order correctly!), and eBay/AliExpress for budget.*

Attaching notions

Am I the only person on earth who can’t figure out how to attach rivets? Even my Macgyver, bookbinder dad who faffs about with this kind of stuff all day was perplexed. No matter how much we trimmed the post, the attached rivet still hovered above the fabric. It was only by hammering with a snap setting tool that would make the rivet edges flush with the fabric, and force the inner post up and out.

What were we doing wrong? Was I setting them in upside down? WHY DID NO ONE ELSE HAVE THIS PROBLEM?

A rivet in hand made jeans.
Left: attached but not flush. Right: sides hammered in so middle pops out.
Fitting

Unlike everyone else who has made these jeans, I found the fit first time round unflattering, to say the least. I think I have the opposite body shape to what Heather drafts for – I’m flat in the back and round in front – so the seat was saggy and sad, and they were a bit big all around.

It took a bit of experimenting but by straightening the back hip curve then taking in the hips and thighs a little, I achieved the magical ~Ginger Jeans fit~ everybody raves about.

A woman stands in front of a garden fence. She wears dark blue, slim jeans and a button up shirt.
I moved the pockets WAY up and towards the centre but they could afford to come in a little more. It’s still a little loose but I’d rather that fit in this lower-stretch denim.

Verdict

I LOVE THESE JEANS. Ahem. Like, I know I love a lot of stuff I make, and I didn’t really expect to incorporate these jeans as part of my everyday wardrobe, but after wearing them for one day I just kept wearing them. They are so comfy and flattering and actually make me look like I have long legs, which is a minor miracle in itself.

But were they worth making? Yes, and no. I enjoyed the sewing process (rivets aside), and liked the creative control. But, as with many types of crafting, the lack of readily attainable and affordable high quality materials gives me pause for thought. Is it really worth spending all that time, energy and money (the materials for these jeans cost $120AUD, not including the notions I bought but didn’t use) on something that won’t have the same quality materials as jeans that I could buy for, say, $80?

Right now, the answer is yes – because I can’t find jeans in this style anywhere. Everything is super-skinny or not quite high rise enough. So, I probably would make another pair of Gingers to attain something equally flattering. But I would be much happier about it if I could make it with materials that were at least equivalent in quality to RTW!

A woman stands in front of a garden fence. She wears dark blue, slim jeans and a button up shirt.
I really like the jeans.

 

The deets:
Pattern: Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans
Pattern details: Skinny jeans pattern with two rise and leg variations. Available as printed pattern or PDF download, A4 and copy shop. Sizes 0-20.
Errata: found that coin pocket interfacing was too short. Link to sewalong in instructions links to Bombshell Swimsuit sewalong.
Fabric: 2m x 55″ denim from M Recht – Stretch Denim Art: MRA344. 10oz, indigo blue, 98% cotton, 2% elastane.
Other materials: Sheerweft interfacing. Stash Exterminate Spoonflower fabric for pockets. 3 x Gutermann polytwist (topstitching) thread, 612, from Spotlight. YKK 4.5 metal zip, 20cm, auto lock 560 navy, from M. Recht. Copper button and rivets, from Closet Case.
Mods: View B with leg in between skinny and stovepipe width. Size 14.
– Tiny scoop out of back crotch curve
– Didn’t fuse waistband, used double layer denim (this is an option in the pattern to maintain stretch)
– Straightened hip curve of back slightly, maybe 4-5mm at most, going to nothing at waist and upper thigh
– Narrowed side seams slightly (maybe 3mm) from end of pocket bags to knee/calf
– Own pocket placement and topstitching design
Next time:
– Use a lighter weight, more agreeable cotton for the inner pocket – Spoonflower fabric very stiff and difficult to work with
– Deepen pockets and sew line down middle to delineate pocket and stay area
– Take in side seams and waistband slightly to accommodate natural stretch – they fit perfectly after a wash but bag out a little with wear

 

*This is purely based on postal cost, as M. Recht’s notions are actually very affordable. The eBay listings generally have no added post. If I could purchase in store, M Recht’s offerings would actually be cheaper.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

21 thoughts on “Late to the party take two: Ginger Jeans”

  1. Long time reader, first time commenter 😁 Love the Gingers; they are great. Thread Theory have a rivet tutorial that I found invaluable when trying to demystify rivets and I’ve also bought decent jean hardware from them at a reasonable cost (I’m in nz) .

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    1. Ah, thank you! I did look at their tutorial but the idea of padding rivet posts didn’t really make sense to me, as I thought they’d poke out a little on the wrong side and catch things. Their shop was closed when I was looking at ordering but I’ll definitely give them a go next time.

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  2. This look like they were worth the effort – congratulations to you. I have not tried making proper jeans, although I have made a denim skirt and trousers. I don’t know about rivet quality but I had a similar problem with two-piece jeans buttons (the kind with the decorative front and the tack in the back). I needed seven for a button-front denim skirt and one (of course, the one at the waistband) kept breaking !

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    1. What a pain! I had trouble with the buttons, too. The post seemed a bit long and if you look closely at the button in my pictures, there’s a little indent from the post hitting the inside top of the button!

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  3. Your topstitching on that fly is A+++++! What a disappointment about that fabric though, that’s just not acceptable. I have had trouble with rivets too, although my issue was hammering them in straight–it’s harder than it looks, LOL!

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    1. Isn’t it! The shop was good about the fabric and sent me a replacement, but they did note they’d sold a lot of that fabric and not had a complaint. I wonder if people had issues but didn’t bother pursuing them?

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  4. Hi Siobhan, kudos for making your own jeans! They look great. Disappointing about the fabric, though, I hope you have better luck with sourcing in future.
    I haven’t attempted jeans yet, I’m still more into easier projects. Fitting the crotch curve seems daunting. But, did you see Closet Case Files tutorial (with images) re pants fitting? It seemed very helpful.

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    1. Yes, I did! Her sewalong is very helpful and I had it open along with the instructions while making these jeans. I didn’t need to make any alterations to the crotch curve, and you might not either – these fit very close to RTW with a nice, anatomical curve, and the stretch in the jeans makes fitting much easier.

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  5. Bums about the fabric, but great end result. Slammin! I have a lot of jeans – 6 pairs I think. So absolutely no need to make any. But it does look like fun and my machine is a tank too: 8 layers of wool, sure, OK!

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  6. Your jeans look great! Love the back pocket design. I’ve made my own jeans in the past, but, for the same reasons you listed, have gone back to RTW. I do make all my other pants/shorts because I just can’t get the fit I need otherwise!

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    1. Sometimes it just works out better to buy RTW and save yourself the hassle. Fit is certainly one of those times you might want to make for yourself though! I can’t see myself buying a dress with a fitted bodice again when I can make one that actually fits my body.

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  7. Your jeans look great and your topstitching is perfect! One of my goals is to make jeans this year, but I’m procrastinating for lots of reasons, including trying rivets for the first time. Now I’m really worried since you had problems, too! >_<

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  8. I love your topstitching and pockets. I agree that there are many times that I have to struggle to find the proper supplies. With jeans though my local fabric store carries all that I need. I found when I started attaching rivets first I couldn’t get them on without a gap, then I was crushing them. Finally I realized how many taps it took with my husband’s favourite hammer to get them attached correctly! 😂

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  9. Ugh I FEEL you. If you find a source of good stretch denim in Australia – or with reasonable postage, please let me know! I really want to make some more gingers – tbh I probably will make them elastic waisted and not bother with rivets but I could do with some actual wearable pants. But I just can’t find any denim that isn’t total rubbish. Surely it exists somewhere out there? It’s so frustrating. Which denim did you buy from Mrecht?

    I actually can’t buy wearable jeans because of my hip: waist ratio – everything cuts me in half when I sit down, or else is saggy baggy on the butt when standing. Hence the plan to make elastic waist gingers… I once, in desperation, bought maternity jeans and they shrunk enough in the wash that they cut right into my stomach. Maternity jeans!!

    I have similar issues with knit fabric. I want to make more of my own leisure wear so I can be comfy and casual without feeling frumpy or weird in my odd KMart trakkies that are just that smidge too small. But I can’t find any fleece or even nice jersey knits that aren’t either millions of dollars or super cheap and nasty. Oh well. I’ll keep looking…

    Whinging aside, I love the design you used on the pockets and these jeans look fabulous on you!

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    1. Someone told me that The Fabric Store has good denim but I’m nowhere near them and they don’t have any on their website. So I can’t verify that claim!

      Elastic waist jeans sound like a fun and wearable project. The denim I bought from M Recht was MRA344 10 oz, indigo blue, 98% cotton 2% elastane. They sent me a replacement which is MRA101, 10.75 oz, black, 71% cotton, 2% elastane, 27% polyester. It washed up better and seems to have more stretch and recovery, so I’ve got higher hopes. It might be a good choice for elastic waist jeans if it sews up well. My other thought is that I’ve never had a bad fabric from The Remnant Warehouse and they stock denim at times. I haven’t tried any but I’ve bought a lot of different types of fabric from them and they’ve all been excellent quality. They have fantastic knits too!

      You’re not the only one who has been betrayed by maternity clothes! I’ve bought them before to accommodate my tum and they have always still been too small there. This has happened more than once!

      Have you ever tried Tummy Trimmers from JeansWest? I picked some up at the op shop the other day and they were very comfortable. The name is deceiving, they actually have a hidden internal elastic waistband which is really soft and stretchy.

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      1. I heard from a fellow blogger who is in melbs and could go to the MRecht store that the poly blend seemed stretchier but they didn’t like that it was poly. But idk if that’s fabric snobbery (which I sometimes share but only if it’s useful!) or something practical.

        The fabric store will send out samples for free if you call the store. I’ve had that done before, they are usually pretty excellent if you just say ‘I’m looking for [whatever] can you send me some samples’.

        I love the remnant warehouse. Everything I’ve had from there has been so good. I just have to restrain myself from buying too much because what if it goes and I miss out?! I don’t need more stash fabric.

        What do the poor pregnant women do? Honestly I was so appalled by those jeans. I haven’t tried those specific ones from Jeans West but they used to be my fave jeans store – maybe I’ll go in and have a look! I miss wearing jeans, I gotta say.

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        1. I’m usually a fabric snob but poly in denim is a good thing – it helps with stretch and recovery. I actually saw another pair of JeansWest Tummy Trimmers at the op shop today and they didn’t have elastic! They looked very uncomfortable. So maybe there are different varieties? IDK, I base all my shopping knowledge on the secondhand stuff I buy at the op shops so my intel may be wrong!

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          1. I was thinking about this on the weekend – I’m pretty sure I had a pair called tummy trimmers or something similar, with no elastic. They were good though! Until the inseam wore out… JeansWest is pretty good at having variety though so I wouldn’t be surprised if they mixed it up… I am similarly disconnected from the new-items shopping scene! It’s very relaxing honestly.

            That was my instinct re: the poly in denim but I don’t know enough to be sure. I found some really nice stretchy bengaline in a local store the other day so I think I’m going to make a couple pairs of pants (eventually) to see if I actually like wearing them as I am otherwise a pants-free liver, and then I might try the Mrecht poly denim.

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