Gingerly Yours

ginger34Can you believe I have spent the last two years without a pair of jeans, or without a pair of trousers for that matter?! The only thing resembling trousers in my wardrobe were these 3/4-length jeans, only wearable in summer. The rest of the time: not a single pair!

I’m more of a skirt/dress wearing kind of woman (duh!), but still, no pair at all had started to get a little tiresome. I’ll choose a skirt/dress over a pair of jeans 99% of the time, but I’ve come to realise I need jeans for the remaining percent. I mean, how stupid did I look hiking in a dress and tights last winter? 😀

gingerprofilThe reason I spent so much time without a somewhat essential piece of wardrobe is that well-fitting trousers are close to impossible to find in shops for me: there is a 36 cm difference between my hips and waist, which means that shop-bought trousers that fit my waist will never (and I mean never) go past my hips, and the ones that go past my hips will inevitably gape at the waist. The best I could aim for were ones that didn’t gape so much that they were completely unwearable, but really, I have actually never owned a pair of perfectly fitting trousers. The ones I’ve linked to in the first paragraph were one of my best fitting pairs, yet they gaped enough at the back that I always needed to cover the waist.

gingerfaceBy the way, I’d like to stress the fact that I’m not complaining about my body shape, but about the fact that I couldn’t find trousers that fit that shape. I’m insisting because absolutely every time I have happened to talk about the objective size difference between my hips and waist, there have been people to tell me that I should not be saying that, that I’m not fat and God knows what, as if simply acknowledging (and, let me insist again, not complaining about) a particularity of my body was the same as criticising that body. We all have different bodies, there’s nothing negative in identifying what makes ours different from the accepted norm. Also, people automatically jumping to the conclusion that wide hips = negative kind of puzzles me, but whatever.

Now that’s off my chest, let’s talk about MY FIRST EVER PAIR OF WELL FITTING JEANS! 😀

gingerface2When the Closet Case Ginger jeans first came out, like a lot of people I was kind of tempted, but also kind of intimidated. What worried me was the fitting part. I remembered from the Clover-craze a few years ago that trousers seemed an absolute nightmare to fit, and I wasn’t feeling up to the task. Still, when the Ginger pattern was on sale and I found the perfect dark stretch denim (for €3! – and it is surprisingly good quality!) at Tissus Passion, I gave in. And finally, a few months later, I mustered up the courage and started cutting. What was the worst that could happen after all? Wasting less than €6 of fabric? Spoiler alert: I didn’t waste a single cent!

gingerdosIn a bout of mad optimism, I opted for the high-rise skinny version. I had never in my life even tried on a pair of skinny jeans, but I thought, there’s always a first, and I was curious… My fabric is pretty stretchy, so I went down to a size 10 in the hips instead of what should have been a 12. Also, I didn’t dare grading up or down too many sizes and the jeans are not supposed to fall at the natural waist but a little bit lower, which is why I chose a size 8 for the waist instead of a 4.

So at first I simply graded from a size 8 waist to a size 10 hips, and I tried on the basted jeans (without waistband) as advised in the sewalong and in the eBook. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the fit was already quite good! I just needed to take a wedge out at the back yoke. And before finishing the jeans for real, I tried on the waistband and simply cut off the excess after attaching it to the jeans. Right below are my modified pattern pieces for reference (click on the image to enlarge): in red are the changes I made before even cutting the pattern (i.e. simply grading between a size 8 and a size 10) and in green (only on the yoke piece) the wedge I took out after trying on the basted jeans (the broken line is the seam line, the solid one adds a 5/8” seam allowance). I didn’t transfer the changes I made to the waistband piece, but this will be easy to measure on the finished jeans before I remake a pair. Do not pay attention to any orange marks on the pattern pieces; these are just traces left by the tailor’s chalk.

gingermodifsI mentioned above that I used Heather Lou’s Sewing Your Own Jeans eBook. It was nice having all the info in one place, as well as some additional information that wasn’t included in the sewalong, but what I found most useful is all available for free in the sewalong. So if you need even more hand-holding than in the sewalong, I’d recommend it as it’s so well thought out, but if you don’t, well, it’s far from mandatory to get a nice looking pair of jeans.

And the pattern itself is so impressive! I have read here and there that the fly front zipper insertion method alone made it worth a buy (or a peek at the sewalong! 😉 ) and it’s true, really; I defy you to fail your zipper insertion following this method. But the rest of the pattern is so worth it, too. Everything is so well explained and carefully thought out, I think even a confident beginner could take it one step at a time and get more than satisfying results in the end.

gingerdetails2As you may have understood by now, I am positively ecstatic about my Ginger jeans. There are a few small details I’d like to improve on for a future version (I’d like my topstitching and bar tacks to be more regular next time – I hope not to sew the next pair on the same low range plastic sewing machine though, so this should be achievable! 😀 – and I’d also maybe lengthen the legs a little bit and move the pockets a tiny bit more towards the centre, which are pretty simple changes), but they look so much better than what I had imagined! And they are so comfortable (as proven here)! I love the comfort of the high waist (hitting me around the belly button) and the pocket stay does its job in keeping everything in place: it’s so nice not having to adjust the pockets in place every time you put on the jeans.

gingerdetails1I used some Liberty tana lawn remnants (from this dress and this blouse) to line the pockets and waistband. I chose gold topstitching thread and copper coloured button and rivets for a classic jeans look.

I also made the Breton top I am wearing in the pictures. It’s a Sewaholic Renfrew I modified slightly: I changed the shape of the neckline and I simply turned and stitched it instead of adding a neckband; I also omitted the sleeve and hem bands, lengthened the sleeves and added slits at the sides of the bottom hem. What really makes the top is the fabric, of course. I bought it online from Un chat sur un fil, but it was at least two years ago and I don’t think they have it in stock anymore. It’s 100% cotton, quite thick and it doesn’t have a lot of stretch for a knit. It has pilled a little bit around the spot where the shoulder strap of my bag rubs, but nothing anyone but me is going to notice, I think. I still have enough fabric to make another tee, so when this one bites the dust I can make its clone, phew!

gingerdos2Now can I get back to waxing poetic about the jeans? Just kidding, I’m already embarrassed enough at the sheer length of this post! Please cut me some slack: I MADE JEANS!

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Blue-Ribbon Beignet

Beignet1

I had been meaning to sew myself a denim Beignet for years, thinking it would be a great basic skirt that would go with everything. Yet I pushed that project over and over to the bottom of the pile, always finding a new garment that seemed more appealing to sew.

But lo and behold, Me-Made-May made me realise more concretely that my wardrobe was missing a few basics. Not that I don’t wear the less basic garments I sewed (or knit), I almost always do, but they would be so much easier to mix and match with simpler ones.

Beignet2

This small piece of denim had been in my stash for years too, bought from the remnant bin of one of the local fabric stores. So no excuses not to sew that denim Beignet! Initially I was afraid the 0,80 meters I had wouldn’t be enough and I chose a contrast fabric for the facings, but in fact I had no problem getting all the pattern pieces on that very small piece, so no need for the contrast facing.

The lining is dark blue rayon bemberg, which I bought for the occasion. I try to use up my stash as much I possible, but there isn’t a lot of lining in it, so it is usually the only fabric I have to buy. About this lining, I must say I had the most difficult time sewing it without puckers and the like. Do any of you know how to avoid that? Should I loosen the tension a bit or something? Anyway, the inside hem of this lining was not very even-looking, so I sewed on a pretty blue ribbon I have tons of in my stash, hence the name. Well, that and the fact that I’m pretty pleased with my new skirt! 🙂

Beignet3

As far as modifications go, I topstitched all of the outside seams (except for the side seams because of the pockets) with a very strong thread like the one you would find on jeans. I also couldn’t turn inside out tiny belt loops made from this quite thick denim, so I folded and topstitched those, too. Oh, and I had to go from a size 0 waist (first time in my whole life I’ve been a size 0 anything, thanks Colette Patterns!) to size 4 hips.

I wouldn’t say the skirt was difficult to sew, but it wasn’t easy either: there were a lot of steps involved. But everything was explained very clearly in the booklet, so I didn’t encounter any major obstacle. Only the buttonholes made me really loose my temper: the machine I used had a hard time handling the thickness of the thread, so I had to redo some of them a couple of times (and some are still a little wonky). Oh, and I literally stabbed myself in the thumb with the embroidery scissors I used to slice them open, ouch!

Beignet4

After that, putting in the buttons felt very liberating: I used jeans buttons, so I had to hammer them in place and I LOVED doing that (though I broke three of them in the process, but fortunately I had a few spare ones)!

So, sewing this skirt was not a piece of cake, but the result is exactly what I had in mind (if you don’t look at the inside – or the buttonholes – from too close) and I already know I’ll be wearing it a lot in the future! Now off to find a thin brown leather belt!