Self Drafted Jeans and Tips for Sewing Jeans


Since I’ve been doing so much reading and experimenting with jeans, I thought I would post my top tips for sewing jeans. Here’s a picture of my very first pair. I started them at the beginning of January, but I only just finished them now, mainly because I had to repair my flat felled seam on my inseam, which started totally coming apart, since I only used a 5/8 inch seam. These were made using a stretch denim. I’m not sure what the weight is since I bought it from the annex section at Mill End.


Here’s a picture of the pocket. To make the pattern for the top stitching, I folded a piece of paper in half, made a random curve on it, and cut that out.

Here’s the back of my jeans. For the back yoke, I wanted to completely eliminate my back dart by having the yoke encompass the whole dart. This made the back yoke length 4 inches. Bad idea. You can see how far down the yoke goes, and I’m not so into that look. So for my next pair of jeans, I made the back yoke 3 inches, and moved the rest of the dart into my side seam.

And here are my top tips for sewing jeans.

1. Make a muslin first, and after you make adjustments to your pattern, make another muslin, but this time, use your final fashion denim to make a pair of short shorts. That way, you can see how the stretch and weight of the denim affect the fit.

2. Buy high quality buttons and rivets. Do not buy those cheap ones from Joanns. High quality buttons and rivets are made out of metal and are easy to install with a hammer and metal plate. I used ones from

3. Use a 3/4 to 1 inch seam allowance for flat felled seams on denim. A 5/8 is insufficient. Tape paper to the outside of your pattern, and add that extra amount by using a ruler and pencil. 3/4 inch is good for a narrow looking seam, and 1 inch is good for a wider seam with 3 or 4 topstitching lines.

4. Practice sewing the front fly. By the time I got to my 4th fly on my purple jeans, then I finally felt like I knew what I was doing.

Okay, I was aiming for 10 tips, but that’s all I can think of for now. Have a great day!


Self-Drafted High Waist Side Zipper Jeans


Here is a pair of purple jeans that I sewed for the Pattern Review jeans contest.

These non-stretch jeans have flat-felled seams, four pockets, and a zip fly with button closure. It has a slightly tapered leg with metal side zippers. I used a purple 10 oz denim, and they are 100% cotton, with no stretch in them.

I drafted these pants using the book called “Building Patterns the Architecture of Women’s Clothing” by Suzy Furrer.
I wanted a pair of straight leg, high waisted jeans. I drew up the basic trouser sloper in the book, and then drafted the jeans based on the instructions in the book. I lowered the waistline to be 1 inch below the navel, and I’m pretty happy with this waistline. I used a contoured waistband, which I think fits much better than a straight waistband, even though my book says that if the waist is less than 1” below the natural waist, that you can use a straight waistband. My first pair of test jeans has a straight waistband, and it did not fit properly at all.

I drafted front pockets, and a front fly. For the zipper, I used a 5” metal zipper. In my test pair, I used a 7” zipper, and it was way too long. Since it was metal, it was hard to cut, but I did it anyway, with my paper scissors. For the front pockets, I used this fun purple and green quilting cotton. I wanted the fun fabric to be visible to me, so my whole pocket facing is with the quilting fabric. I serged and topstitched my denim piece that faces the outside on to the quilting fabric.

For the back pocket, I used the Butterick 5682 pocket. I also used the Butterick 5682 sewing instructions to construct my self-drafted jeans.

I used flat-felled seams on my back yoke and center back. On my test pair, I used the standard 5/8 inch seam allowance, and could not get it to really stay closed. I did some reading on-line, and increased my seam allowance to ¾, and that extra 1/8 inch really made a huge difference.

I followed the instructions on Male Pattern Boldness for both the flat felled seams,
and for attaching the fly:

I added 5 inch zippers to the bottom of the legs, and I really like how they turned out.

For topstitching, I used Guterman top stitching thread in brown, and a size 100 needle. I tried using both a size 90 jeans needle and a top stitching needle, but the size 100 needle worked best. I had them from my quilting days.
The rivets and buttons I got from Junior at and my husband said that they were easy to put in. He just used a hammer, and a metal plate that was on some piece of woodworking equipment. I bought the sombrero rivets, and read that sometimes they get smashed in. Luckily the ones that I had went in just fine with no special equipment.
All in all, I’m really happy with my jeans. I wore them today at work, and they brightened up the dreary rainy day.

Sewing Plan for 2012


After reading the inspiring Colette Sewing Handbook I decided to actually analyze my wardrobe, and to plan out what items I should sew, instead of buying random fabric and patterns. Instead of making pieces that will not ever get worn, I want to focus on wardrobe basics that I will wear every week. I decided that I like bold and graphic styles with simple silhouettes. The color palette that I’ve chosen for this year is:


And the clothes that I would like to sew are:


Right now, I’m working on my first pair of jeans ever, and they are self drafted from the book
Building Patterns the Architecture of Women’s Clothing
And I just bought some purple denim, and will be joining the jeans contest at Sewing Pattern Review!

Jeans Contest

2011 in review


I had a fun year sewing in 2011, and I’m really excited about 2012. Right now, I’m planning out my wardrobe and colors for 2012, and deciding what items I want to sew. Looking forward to starting with my first pair of jeans!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog. Enjoy!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Look 6901 Top and Portland Sewing A-line Skirt


This is the second time I’ve made this New Look 6901 top. I love the cowl neck design. This time, I made it sleeveless, and used a double knit jersey material. Using the thicker double knit helped this pattern, because the facing isn’t long enough, so on a thinner material, the bottom of the facing sometimes flips forward. All in all, I love this pattern, and I’m sure that I will be making more knit tops with it.

This skirt is an A line skirt that I made from the Portland Sewing class called Beginning Sewing 1. It focuses on teaching you good fundamental sewing techniques, and is a 4 day class in which you sew this A line skirt. There is a centered zipper in the back, and a facing on the inside. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I personally like A line skirts a lot, and I think that with the paper fitting that we did in class, the fit turned out quite nicely.

Weekly Sewing Inspiration: Christopher Kane dress


Every time I see a Christopher Kane dress in a magazine, I drool over it. I love the interesting fabrics that are used in the dresses, combined with a fairly simple cut that has a few interesting design elements in it.

My Christmas Wishlist

Christopher Kane winter white dress
£998 –

Jane Norman trench coat
£80 –

BALLIN fur lined boots
£624 –

Matthew Williamson clutch handbag
£850 –

Linea Pelle Collection leather bangle
$40 –

Betsey Johnson chain earrings
$41 –

New Look 6028 Jacket


I’ve made my first jacket! Since it’s now winter, I like to layer, and wanted to sew up some jackets and jersey cardigans, so that I can layer them over dresses and short sleeved shirts. But I’ve never made a jacket before, so I wanted to use a very simple pattern. I ended up choosing New Look 6028, which is a lined jacket labelled easy.

I chose to make view D.

They attach the lining by stitching it to the outer fabric along the neckline, center front, and bottom edge, and then you turn it inside out through an opening in the lining on side. It has princess seams going through the armscythe.

I bought a nice wool boucle, but wanted to make a wearable muslin first, and so I used some denim from the annex at Mill End in Beaverton, OR. And for the lining, I used some flannel. I think I must have been really cold that day, because the flannel sounded so nice and cozy.




The pants are the Colette Clover pants. They were my second try at making the pants, and they fit much better than my first pair. I took in the high hip point by 3/4 inch, and the low hip point by 1/4 inch, and also decreased the front crotch length by 1/2 inch.


And lastly, the grey double-knit shirt is New Look 6901, which is my go to pattern for cowl neck shirts.

Overall, I do like the New Look 6028 jacket. I think that it is very easy to sew, and the only hand stitching required is to attach the sleeve lining to the sleeve. Therefore, it is a very fast sew. I think that I will not make another one with this pattern, since I am taking patternmaking, and should be drafting my own jacket, and I am not completely happy with the fit here.