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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Different route...onto Custom Jeans!

My trip to the fabric store was so disappointing!  The selection of lingerie lace, specifically stretch lace, was more or less (truly LESS) non-existant.  So I ended up purchasing some lace trim that was about 1inch too narrow, a fat quarter of silk, fold over elastic and some invisible thread for my panties.  When I got home and layed everything out I just wasn't feeling it.  So onto which is where I seem to get insipiration.
About 1 month ago I purchased the Jean-ius course taught by Kenneth D. King (, and extraordiary designer and instructor.  I decided to take the plunge into creating my own custom pair of jeans using his reverse engineering technique.  I went slowly, but couldn't stop once I had begun.
I have a pair of Mavi jeans that I purchased, gosh I think 6 years ago, that fit like a glove.  So....I began hand basting the stitch lines, then the grain lines as Kenneth instructed.  Here is a picture of what they looked like when I was done.

Next, using silk organza...yes silk because it does not have a glare and does not slide easily, I traced my stitching lines, the lengthwise and crosswise grainlines.  This gave me the the basis to begin drafting my custom jeans pattern!  Sounds like a lot of work, and yest it is but well worth the effort.
Next, as you guessed...drafting the paper pattern.  I bought a roll of pattern tracing paper a year ago.  It is probably not the best and definately not what the professionals use, but I like it.  It is semiglossy on one side and paperlike on the other. Most importantly it is see throuth...oh and really inexpensive.  It took me about an hour or so to transfer the stitch and grainlines onto the paper using the worst non-wax tracing paper and cheapo tracing wheel.  Since I have never used these implements before, I didn't know that there is a true difference.  My impatience wouldn't allow me to wait for the waxed tracing paper as it is not something that is stocked at local fabric stores is an "old-school" type.  Apparently the newer "non-waxed" paper is supposed to be better.  Not so!  It transfers blurry and wipes away before you get a chance to really work with the traced lines.  Anyway, I digress.
First of all, I completely forgot to pin my grainlines from the organza to the paper.  It turned out okay...just alot of frustration in the process.  I then needed to true up my lines and I got to use my new designer's curved ruler.  My paper pattern was halfway done.  The little pattern pieces (fly facing, zipper shield, pocket applique and pocket bag) come in later when the test fit is complete. The waistband doesn't need to be drafted because Kenneth has a great technique that I will share later.
**Sidenote:  check out that beautiful table Dad made this for me about 10 years ago!
I added a seam allowance of the standard 5/8" by measuring out from the traced stitch line using my graded ruler and connected the dots.  The pattern really looked great!  I was feeling very proud and couldnt wait to get to the construction.   Not just yet though, I needed to test it out so made my "test-garment", yes a muslin.  I wondered, though, what I was going to use...I really didn't want to go back to the store and buy more fabric!   Oh yeah, I remembered that I had some extra denim from my last pair of jeans and it was exactly just enough to assemble a muslin without the waistband.  
I need to figure out how to photograph myself...but until then this is what I can do :).  They fit nearly perfectly but needed to have the front crotch curve flattened out about 1/4" because of some horizontal ripples along each side of the front crotch.  
Now I am onto the finalization...the creation of the rest of the pattern pieces.  Kenneth used a technique that creates a pocketbag that is similar to all RTW jeans out there, but I had already mastered the pocketbag from Angela Wolf (AW4200-The AW Bootcut Jean).  I really like the construction of this type of pocketbag so I drafted my pattern based on this using my front pattern piece and the dimensions of the existing pocket on my original Mavi jeans.  Here are all the little pattern pieces.
So now is the really fun part...starting the construction of my new custom jeans.  But first, I needed to decide on the stitching detail.  I used a scrap of my denim and tested the C & C Jeans Gold thread at differnt stitch lengths as well as the triple stretch stitch.  I liked the standard straight stitch at 4.5mm lenth for the topstitch detail.  I cut out all my pieces and decided to use a remnant of a woven cotton red print fabric for my front pocket bag.  Here is the pocket lining in my finished jeans as I forgot to take the picture before I cut and sewed....I jsut get so excited to finish. 
First, I decided to design my back pockets and chose to use a similar pattern as that on my original Mavi jeans.  I used the silk organza to copy, then used the crummy transfer paper and tracing wheel to get the pattern on my practice pocket. I also decided to use the gold thread to stitch super close to the edge and add a second row of stitching using a blue thread inside of the gold stitching to add a dressy feel.
I like how my stitching turned out even with the uneven makes if more custom...don't you think?
Finished pocket attached to back.
Once the back was complet with the yokes and pockets, I was onto the front where mucy more attention to detail is needed.  The first step is to install the zipper and I have to say I am getting much better at this and don't get a huge knot in my gut just thinking about it anymore.  There are so many great tutorials (Easy, Flat Fly-Front Zipper) on the web and with the instruction of Kenneth King ( class "Jean-ius") and Angela Wolf (Make Your Own Jeans), I am sure to succeed...and have!  Second, I attached my coin pocket to the right pocket applique.  Third, the pocket bags went in.  All of those details put together to create the front of my new custom jeans! The front and back were joined at the center crotch first and topstitched with a double row.  
Since the outseam only needs topstitching from the waist to the end of the front pocket, these are stitched next.  The next step was to create the waistband, without a pattern.  Kenneth King uses a formula to calculate how wide of a strip to cut on the crossgrain.  It is double the depth (of the original waistband), double the seam allowance and add 1/4".  So for a 1 1/2" finish, you would cut a strip 4" wide.  Then you press it in half lengthwise and press one side in 1/2".  Then you press in a cool!  It really works so you don't have to cut a curved piece and stitch it together creating bulk where you don't really want it. 
Once pinned to the jeans in the same way as a traditional pattern, I cut it to fit MY pattern...Custom!  Actually I left about 2 inches hanging out from the overlap and underlap in order to make it easier to finish the ends, then trimmed before turning.  One detail that I added which is a tip I learned from Angela Wolf, is to add stay tape to the inside top of the waistband.  This keeps it from stretching out over time creating a gap where you dont really want it.  Turned, pressed, topstitched, and pressed! This was the easiest waistband I have ever put on a garment.  
Almost done...on a roll... the beltloops are made custom.  I decided to topstitch them down the center which I really like compared to the usual which is a double row of stitching that I always end up with a wonky stitch line.  The beltloops were attached; I chose to add 6 loops and angled the two at the hipline. This keeps the belt in place better and creates a slimming look.  
Final step was to hem them which is probably the best hem I have ever done!  Thanks for reading...let me know what you are working on.


  1. Your jeans look amazing! Now I want to go buy some denim and make myself a pair!

    1. Thank you! Go forth and make you some amazing jeans. I had so much fun!

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