Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Let's Make the Ginger Jeans! Making the Muslin First!

We have not made a ton of pants for me, especially pants that are designed to fit perfectly.  There's a real science to making pants, drafting pants patterns, and getting the fit just right.  So imagine and appreciate our courage in tackling the ultimate sewing/fitting challenge - jeans.

I'm sure there are sewists out there who have made jeans without much trouble - in fact we have several of our staff who have conquered their stretch denim fears and come up with great fitting jeans. Hey if they can do it, I guess I owe it a try.  Right?

We keep jean patterns in stock, all by our indie pattern designers.  The Morgan Jeans by Closet Case Files is a favorite because of the ease and comfort of the styling. Lauren has shown off her jeans construction acumen by making several pairs.

 We chose another of Closet Case Files patterns to make our jeans - the Ginger Jeans.

Ginger Jeans have a modern and flattering cut with subtly shaped back pockets, slimming side seams, and a higher back rise to "prevent peekabooty."  They are designed for stretch denim, so we chose a beautiful soft indigo denim with Lycra. You can browse our bottom weight fabrics—stretch and non stretch—here. And just to be uber creative, we will be topstitching our jeans in neon blue thread! Check out our selection of neon topstitching thread here! It's details like this that make the garments we create that much more special.

To ensure a great fit we chose a brown stretch denim with a leopard print pattern to make a wearable muslin. We decided to use the wrong side of the fabric for our muslin, as I'm just not the leopard pants type. :)

Before we jump right into sewing, there were a few preliminary steps to address:

1. Make sure you are using the right needle for your machine. Schmetz Jean Needles, also called denim needles, are great because they are specifically made for this purpose. The modified medium ball point and reinforced blade make this needle perfect for penetrating extra thick woven fabrics (like denim) or multiple layers in quilts. The reinforced blade causes less deflection of the needle and reduces the risk of needle breakage and skipped stitches.

2. Test your stitch settings your machine using the actual fabric of your jeans.

3. Test that all-important top-stitching detail on scraps of fabric until you get the tension correct.  Taking the time to work through these details will pay dividends in the end.  The Ginger Jeans pattern includes a lot more tips and tricks that are invaluable!

Sewing on this "muslin"is so satisfying, it's hard to stop doing the finishing details in the middle of the project. But since it is a muslin, we're not going to want to proceed any farther than just sewing up the sides and inseam, using a simple basting stitch. The goal is to try it on for a fitting, mark the adjustments, and then return to the sewing.  We're not even putting the zipper yet!

It's also worth noting that the Ginger Jeans come in two different styles - a medium rise jean and higher waist jean. However, each version also has a different style leg - a "stovepipe" leg is on the medium rise jeans and the high waist jeans have a "skinny" leg.  I think it will be interesting in that I may prefer the higher waist but not like the fit of a skinny leg. My muslin is made using the medium rise version, but we will still be able to test the fit in the crotch and legs, and decide which combination to make my final indigo denim jeans.

Interested in taking the plunge yourself? Check out our various options for jean making kits here. We have full jean kits, with fabric included:

Or, if you have your fabric already, you can buy all of the notions required in this kit:

When Laurel and I had our first fitting on these jeans, I was so impressed. In fact, this "muslin" will be very wearable!!! Here is a photo of the backside of the muslin fitting. We decided that the pocket can be higher, but overall the fit is pretty good. It's going to be a while before we can get back to finishing these jeans, so stay tuned for the next installment of our adventure into making the Ginger Jeans!

In the meantime, check out Miss Crayola Creepy's finished Ginger jeans.  We sent her a kit with everything she'd need to make her first pair of jeans, and they turned out great!  She used the same stretch denim that my Gingers will be made in, but hers is the black colorway.

Thanks again for your amazing support here on my blog and in my store, 

It's a dynamic time for Makers and I can't wait to see what more is possible!

Creatively yours,
2518 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704


  1. GREAT post! I love that you turned the leopard inside out-brilliant idea!!! They certainly don't look like a muslin "test" sew!

    1. Thanks so much! We love sharing all these ideas and inspiration that feeds us! You are right that they don't look like a test muslin - they will be fun to wear when complete :)

  2. Can you make these jeans using a serger?

    1. You can use a serger to finish the raw edges, but you'll need a regular sewing machine as well to construct these jeans.

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