Archive | Trousers

Trousers I’ve made

August 31, 2015

White Ginger Jeans in time for Labor Day

Never one to be told what to wear when, I made some white jeans, just in time for Labor Day (non-Americans: you’re not meant to wear white trousers after Sep 7th here!).

Ever since Heather launched the genius that is the Ginger Jeans pattern I’ve been pining after a white pair. I know they used to be naff… are they cool now? I have no idea. I do feel a little Liz Hurley when I wear them. But if it’s good enough for Hugh Grant’s main squeeze it’s good enough for me!*

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

The main challenge was finding white denim: so much harder than you’d think! I’ve been stalking online stores for a solid year now, as well as popping in to the stores in NYC whenever I’m in town. No luck finding something the right weight with the right stretch. Eventually I stumbled across a listing from this seller on eBay and snapped some up.

The resulting jeans are… OK. Nowhere near as good as my triumphant first pair (still going strong!). They have less stretch than the other denim I’ve used, but peculiarly the jeans were coming up big and I kept on shaving more and more off the side seams to the extent I think they’re probably the size 16 now (I started with an 18). And yet I think they’re still a touch baggy for skinny jeans. I suspect that it’s the lack of recovery in the denim that’s doing this – I’m going to wash and dry them on hot and see if that snaps them back up!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

The bagginess is rather more obvious at the back…

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

In fact, these were nearly the jeans that weren’t, because I managed to cut three back legs from my yardage, and once I discovered this I didn’t have enough left for a second front leg! Quelle desastre! Luckily I had an extra of the larger back leg, so I was able to cut a front out of it with all but a sliver of the fly.. which I then patched another bit of denim on to. As a result I have a rather jaunty angled seam at the fly, but hopefully no-one will be staring long enough to notice…!

IMG_3771 2

As a fun little touch, I made the waistband facing from this lovely London map print that I bought at Jones and Vandermeer.


So another sewing goal achieved, yay! Now I’m starting to contemplate Autumn sewing… while still stubbornly going swimming at Walden Pond as often as possible. I’m definitely sad that summer is ending, but delighted to be back to tights + boots + coats, my favourite combo! Have you started sewing for Fall? What are your plans? I’m considering a trenchcoat…

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

*yes I’m stuck in 1995. Help!

May 11, 2015

Ginger Jeans in the Japanese Alps

Hello fun-bunnies!

Greetings from the top of a mountain in the Japanese Alps. OK, I’m not actually there *right now* (I’m writing this sitting on a futon on a tatami mat in Kyoto) but I was but a few days ago. On the second leg of our Japanese adventure, Anthony and I headed by Shinkansen and local train up to the town of Takayama, which is pretty much slap bang in the middle of Japan. It’s a well-known winter town, with a ropeway up a mountain, and I, dear readers, can never resist the chance to go up a mountain without actually having to expend any physical energy.

Despite the fact we were surrounded by snow, it was actually pretty warm, and was a good chance to wear my latest Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. 

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Cashmerette

These were my last-minute emergency-sewing project for Japan (everyone does that, right?). I was unsure what the weather would be like in late April – turns out, very warm  – and realized that jeans would be the best bet for lots of walking and changes in temperature. I used my second set of fabric from the Closet Case Files denim kit, which was the lighter weight and colour. Once again, the denim kit came through – the fabric quality really is so much higher than anything else I’ve used! My favourite Gingers remain my first pair (which were from the darker heavier denim) but these are a close second. Please excuse the mad wrinkliness of the below photo – this was after sitting on a bus for 2 hours, and under direct overhead sunlight… They do actually fit really well.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Cashmerette

I used my star rivets and deer button from my NYC Pacific Trimming trip – such finds.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans | Cashmerette



Blogging yet another pair of jeans seems a tad boring, so I’ll leave you with some more pretty pictures of the mountains…




Are you as addicted to the Ginger Jeans as I am? I’ve already made 3 pairs and have another 3 planned in my head already…

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February 24, 2015

Tutorial: 6 tips for nice jeans topstitching

Hi funsters!

I absolutely love making  Ginger Jeans  (5 paris and counting!), and I’ve received a bunch of questions about topstitching, so I thought I’d share some tips for getting professional results. And of course as with all sewing the best thing you can do is practice! But in the meantime, I hope these tips will help.


1. Use your feet

This was my biggest “aha” – that perfect topstitching on your ready to wear jeans isn’t due to someone with super-human steady hands. Nope, they’re just using specialist feet. Now not all of us can have presser feet for every task, but if you have a couple I’ll bet that you can get great results.

First, you want a foot that will get your first line perfectly straight and very close to the edge. The best option is an edge-stitching (sometimes called edge-joining) foot, or a blind hemming foot. I use this foot from Bernina, but there are also generic feet available that work on a variety of machines. They have a little dull blade in the middle of the foot – you move your needle over to the side (I go all the way to the left), and then  press the fabric up against the blade for stitching edges like pockets, or place the blade in the seam join if you’re stitching along places where the seams are already sewn, like on the yoke.

Then, for the second line you need a foot with a marking that will get you a perfect 1/4 inch width. You could use a specialist quarter inch foot (they’re very popular with quilters), or, just find a marking on one of your other feet that lines up. For me, I use my regular presser foot and put my needle two places over to the right which makes it an exact 1/4 inch from the edge of the foot.  Be very precise about where you line up the foot compared to the first line of stitching – I make sure that the edge of my foot is going along the *edge* of the previous line of stitching, so I can see it (rather than covering it) – this type of precision really helps.

2. Chalk it in first

There’s no shame in chalking on your lines before you stitch them. I usually only do this for the fly front, but if you’re just starting out, why not do it for all the seams? Following a line is much easier than following the seam allowance gauge on your machine (or at least it is for me), so give it a go. I have a rainbow assortment of Clover chalk liners which I love and give a fantastic thin line for this type of job.

3. Use topstitching thread in your top needle, and regular thread in your bobbin

I’ve had really good results using Gutermann topstitching thread. There’s no need to put topstitching in your bobbin though – in fact, it’s likely your machine won’t like it! As long as you have the tension correct (see below), you shouldn’t get any bobbin thread appearing on the top.

4. Increase the tension of your top thread

I’m not sure if this is universal or not, but on my machine, it helps to increase the tension to 7 (it’s usually around 4).

5. Increase your stitch length

The best topstitching will almost always be at a longer stitch length, especially if you’re using heavier topstitching thread. I usually go from my regular 2.5 stitch up to a 3.5 or 4. Definitely do a test on a piece of denim before you start to see which length you prefer.

6. Don’t backstitch!

Backstitching with topstitching thread is the worst. It just gets tangled up and nasty! Instead, start and end with a few really small stitches (I usually go down to 1 – 1.5). This secures the topstitching thread in place without snaggles.

So that’s what I do – do you have any other tips to add? I haven’t been at this jeans-making malarkey for very long so I’m sure there’s a lot more I haven’t learned yet!

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to some of the products that I personally use and recommend. If you’d rather not participate, feel free to Google the products instead. 

February 22, 2015

Ginger Jeans, Redux: super-skinny edition!

Ever since I made my first pair of Closet Case Files Ginger jeans I’ve been wearing them like… a person who really likes her jeans. As it happens, I thought I didn’t really like jeans because I never wore them much. Turns out I don’t like wearing ill-fitting jeans, but once I had well-fitting ones, I was sold!
I clearly need a few more pairs, but instead of immediately going back to my Ginger kit denim (I used the winter weight length already, but have the second set left) I ordered some off-black cotton stretch denim from EmmaOneSock. The denim was paired with the bronze set of button and rivets from the kit – I finally mastered putting rivets in so I thankfully managed to get all 6 installed first time.
This denim is a lot lighter and stretchier than my Ginger kit, so I made them with a pretty consistent 5/8 seam allowance rather than the varying seam allowances of my original pair. I also went this route because my original Gingers are starting to bag out a little bit (mostly remedied by being thrown in the dryer), and I thought it would behoove me to make these a little tighter to begin with.
The result? Super-skinny jeans! They fit pretty well through the legs, but I must say the waistband is a bit nippy this time. That’s probably because I also took a different waistband approach – instead of cutting on the cross grain without interfacing, this time I went to the opposite extreme, cutting with the grain and interfacing. I think I may have gone too far, as these have very little give – next time, I think I’ll try on the cross grain plus knit interfacing.
They also look a little wrinklier in these photos than my last pair, but that’s mostly because I’d already worn them all day when these photos were taken! They thinner denim does show up lumps and bumps a bit more though, I’ll admit.
I made a few changes to the back: I transferred some length (about 1/2 inch) from the yoke to the legs, and I also realized that last time I accidentally used the view A pockets. Oops! So this time, I used the slightly longer view B ones instead.

On the inside I made a pocket stay again, and used the same little birdie cotton to face the waistband. Funnily enough this was one of the fabrics I bought when I first started sewing 5 years ago – I don’t think I ever would have imagined it would end up in a pair of jeans!

Here’s how they’ll actually get worn! With a hat (actually, probably two hats if we continue having feet upon feet of snow here), and my big and snuggly zip-up cardigan from Iceland.

Now I just have to decide what to do about the waistband – whether to hope it stretches a little to be more comfortable, or to remove it and add a new one. Hmmm. Question is, how lazy I’m feeling. I’m also going to make up the second pair from the kit, because I need a proper jeans wardrobe in rotation!
How do you cut your jeans waistbands? Do you go the traditional on-grain, interfaced route, the newfangled cross-grain, non-interfaced, or something else entirely?

January 26, 2015

Finally getting comfy: my True Bias Hudson pants

I’m firmly a sewist of the “cake” variety, preferring to make everyday wearable garments over fancy frocks, but recently I noticed a lack of super-comfy outfits to wear when it’s minus 20 outside.
So what could I make but some True Bias Hudson pants? (Also known in my home town as “trakkie bums”)
TrueBias Hudson pants plus size
When the Hudsons first came out I thought they were super cool – but not for me. Partly because I wasn’t sure I could carry off the style, and also because the largest waist size was 38.5″, which is a little small for me. But after seeing so many folks showing off their ridiculously comfortable pants, and my experience that the Ginger size 18s were fine, I decided to take the plunge. And how happy I am!
TrueBias Hudson pants plus size
They fit well with no alterations- in fact, the waist is a little roomy, surprisingly, so I may end up taking in the elastic. I used this absolutely amazing 4-way stretch rayon blend ponte from EmmaOneSock – it’s still in stock in a number of colours and I really can’t recommend it highly enough – it’s soft, drapey with a great heft, and is perfect for this pattern. In fact I just bought another 10 yards for my stash to make sure I always have it on hand.
I finished the pockets with scraps of a gorgeous Vera Wang silk jersey (also from EOS) that I’ve been hoarding for over a year, and also used it to create the “tie” on the front.
TrueBias Hudson pants plus size
I made these shortly before it got ridiculously cold and I got mildly ill, so I can officially report that these are the perfect pants in which to spend a day on the sofa. And, stylish enough not to feel ashamed when you leave the house.
TrueBias Hudson pants plus size

Are you on the Hudson bandwagon yet, dear readers? Are you finding it hard to wear proper trousers now? I fear now I’ve tried them I’ll never go back.

January 12, 2015

Starting the new year with a hit: my Ginger Jeans!

There are some garments that I think most sewists think of as in an extra-special, extra-“hard” category: swimsuits, bras, jeans and coats come to mind. The silly thing is that most of them aren’t actually that hard or that much more difficult to make than other garments and yet, because they occupy that special mental category, when you manage to make one you feel triumphant. 
And so…
Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view B

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view B

I am quite overcome. Let’s get one thing out of the way straight up: this pattern has been drafted amazingly well. If you think jeans are hard, think again, because between the fantastic drafting, the instructions and the sewalong, you’ll be fine. And they totally capture the RTW fit of skinny jeans in a way I have never seen from the Big 4. For this pair, I used the infamous Ginger Jeans kit – these are the heavier “winter” denim (with 3% lycra), together with a metal YKK zip, and the jeans button and rivet included in the kit. 
You may have seen my fitting post last week – based on the comments there and on Pattern Review, here are the changes I made:
– Started with the size 18, view B (allegedly high waisted, but doesn’t really look so on me). If you’re worried about fitting into the sizing range, bear in mind that my waist is 40 – 41″ and the “body measurement” for the 18 waist is 38.5″ and I did no adjustments other than sewing the top side seam at 3/8. As I mentioned before, I think the grading is generous. 
– Did a 3/4 inch thin thighs adjustment which basically means you shave excess off the back inner thigh area. 
– Did a 1/4 inch flat bum adjustment, which involves dropping the crotch just a little bit
– Then through the basting process, I adjusted seam allowances to give me the best fit (bear in mind I have a larger waist and thinner thighs than average for my size). On the side seams I started at 3/8 at the waist, went to 5/8 through the upper thighs, then down to 1/4 through the calves (which run on the small side in this pattern). On the in-seam I went at 5/8 through the upper thigh, then 1/4 through the calves. 
I didn’t get rid of all the back thigh wrinkling, but I did get rid of most of it, and the crotch, err, “issues” are gone. 

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view B

I used the tutorial to add a pocket stay and I’m a total convert – it definitely holds everything in. I most certainly do not have a flat stomach, but my Ginger Jeans aren’t letting on! You may notice that the very top of the fly front buckles – this happens on all my trousers, and I’m not sure whether there’s a way to fix it? Also, I didn’t interface my waistband because I find they often dig into me which is uncomfortable. However, the side effect of that is that it creases a bit in the middle – I don’t mind as I’ll never actually wear these with something tucked in.

For topstitching, I used my ever-trusty Bernina edgstitching foot – this is the kind of magical tool that I was unaware of as a beginner when I thought all sewists must just have lightyears better hand-eye control than me… Using it lets me get a perfect 1/8 distance from the edge. Then, I used my 1/4 inch foot to do the second line. I increased my thread tension to 7 which helped (before, it was pulling the topstitch thread through too much to the back), and I quickly discovered backstitching doesn’t work with this thread on my machine so I started each seam at a low stitch length instead.

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view B
One thing that did help immensely was having all three sewing machines out at the same time: my old Brother for doing the seams, my Bernina for doing the topstitching (it worked like a dream, no hump jumper required!) and my serger for finishing all the seams. It would have taken twice as long if I’d had to switch out the thread constantly… 
Here are my beautiful Vlisco pocket stays during the construction process – you want something fairly thin but firm to get the effect I think. I decided to get all fancy and French seamed them but actually this wasn’t my brightest idea as it’s hard to do that round a curve, so they’re a little puckered on the inside.
Being a bit of a fool I decided to make these on Friday night in order to take photos on Saturday morning, so I ended up doing my first ever rivets at 1am… Oops. However, after 3 failed attempts I finally got the hang of it. As I didn’t have wire cutters to trim the rivet posts, I used spacers on the back of them instead – basically I cut scraps of denim, and used 3 layers of denim on the back of the rivet, and then trimmed around it afterwards. Worked like a charm. I did find the rivet post punctured the front of the rivet ever so slightly but I think that’s somewhat unavoidable unless you have a proper rivet press. 
Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view B
Here’s a big picture of my bum for you. I don’t usually care very much for pictures of my rather flat, rather low, bum, but I have to offer my thanks to Heather for an entirely acceptable back view in these!
I used the height of the pockets we’d tested on my muslin, and I do like them though they could probably be a bit improved. Some folks suggested that I shorten the yoke and I did a little bit, but maybe could more. Again though, I’ll never wear these with something tucked in so really the more relevant back view is the one above, and I think it looks fine. 
Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view B
So there we have it: my very first pair of jeans, and they are BY FAR the most well-fitting jeans I’ve ever owned. Who’d have thought it? I am slightly burned out now having made 3 pairs (including my muslins) in a week, so I’m going to put the other denim from my kit away for a bit, but trust me, I’ll be back before long. 
Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view B

Who else has tried the Ginger Jeans? Do you love them too?

January 7, 2015

Fitting my Ginger Jeans

It’s time for awkward staring at my pelvis time! YEAH!
I decided to make Heather Lou’s latest creation: the Ginger Jeans. A cool skinny jeans pattern has been long overdue in sewing world, so I was as pleased as everyone else was when it was released. Initially I assumed I couldn’t make them as I’m slightly outside the size 18 sizing, with a 40″ waist and 47″ hips, but then I realized that I shouldn’t be dissuaded by such trivialities… after all, that’s why we sew (even if it takes curvy sewists rather longer when you have to do adjustments. C’est la vie.)
As jeans often require quite some fitting, I decided to whip up two muslins, one for each view: the Ginger A, which are lower rise with stovepipe legs, and the Ginger B, which are higher rise with skinny legs. I’m glad I did because it didn’t play out quite as expected!
Today I’m sharing awkward photos of my muslins so you can see how I’m getting along… I’m hoping that my final version, made with the Ginger Jeans kit cone denim will be even better.
One stroke of genius I had was to first take photos wearing my most-commonly-worn Boden jeans, to set a benchmark. It’s really really hard (impossible perhaps?) to get perfectly fitting jeans with no wrinkles anywhere, so I wanted to make sure I was comparing realistically. And a good idea it was. Because here are the jeans I regularly wear and have never had any issues with:

Eek! You can see my classic issue here with RTW trousers: if they fit my waist (which these do), then they are bag-a-licious through the upper thighs. That’s quite a fold I have on the front there… yikes. And mega bags under my bum.  OK. Deep breath. Remember that I wear these regularly and don’t think they look that awful in real life.

Next up: Ginger As. For these, I graded up the waist by 3 inches (based on the finished measurement charts). It turned out that was too much – I hadn’t fully accounted for the stretch in the denim, plus I think that the grading is on the generous side. As a result, these are slightly loose at the waist and tend to slip down. In addition, this low rise just doesn’t work with my hip shape – I don’t have enough curve to keep them up! Still I must admit that they already look better than my Boden ones!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans view A

And now the best option I think: the view B. On trying these on, I immediately realised that “high waisted jeans” aren’t high waisted on me, because I have a very high waist in the first place! They just feel normal to me. I did a thin thigh adjustment (basically took extra off the back inseam), and I also did the flat bum adjustment that scoops things up a bit in the bum area. I think I overdid that – it’s a bit too scooped – so for my final jeans I need to add a bit back in. I also made an error when I made these and somehow ended up easing the jeans into the waistband and chopping off some waistband… why oh why oh why? Anyway, as a result, they’re too tight there, but I’m confident that if I just sew them properly I won’t have that problem.

Beyond that: there’s still bagginess on the back thighs. Should I do more of an adjustment there? Maybe take in the side seam too? It’s also pulling a bit in the front crotch but I’m thinking maybe adding back into the back crotch will help alleviate that – does that make sense?

Finally, I had my Crafty Foxes play “pin the pocket on the Jenny bum”, and as you can see below, the right hand side higher, further out, version worked better for me – I’m in the “make it look rounder and bigger” camp!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans View B

So there we go – I can’t quite believe how easy these were to put together (awesome sewalong, Heather), and that I procrastinated for so long. I”m looking forward to whipping up my finals hopefully later this week!


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