Friday, 30 March 2012

Denim Tips 4 - Fly Zip

Hot Patterns Boyfriend jeans - Fly zip.
I am somewhat disappointed (and confused) with the instructions included with this pattern. At some points there seems to be an assumption that you know what you are doing and some steps are glossed over or left out completely. Other instructions (measurements) are just plain wrong and it seems no one proof read them first; 1 1/2" is NOT 6.25cm. There's even a sentence that refers to the SKIRT!
It doesn't help too much either that the diagrams are only line drawings with no shading to show you right side or wrong side of fabric. So I've made this photographic rendition of the steps involved in inserting the zip and making the fly front in the hopes that it will help some of you who are making jeans for the first time or, like me, just not too sure.
Step one - Sew the fronts right sides together just below the bottom of the fly for about 2" towards the point of the front crotch.  Make a smile.

1. Machine tack (baste) with a large stitch (4mm) the fly openings from the end of the first stitching to the waistband and press open.

Hand tack (baste) the zip to the fly shield along the left hand edge of both. The zip top should extend further than the shield, it is cut off later. After attaching the waistband I noticed that the right side is not long enough to catch the shield so remember to cut the waistband 2" longer at centre front for a more professional finish later.

1. Fold the right front of the jeans under the left but leave the fly open.

2. Match the free edge of the zip with the centre front.


3. Turn the zip and shield over and  tack (baste) the basted edge to the right hand edge of the fly only. Aim to match the top of the shield with the top edge of the jeans and the bottom with the bottom of the fly.

This is to prevent the metal zip teeth cutting into your tummy when wearing, so apart from comfort, it also adds colour and a professional finish.


4. Sew this basted edge by machine through the fly only - NOT the front of the jeans. Sew close to the zip teeth but watch you don't hit the metal teeth or you'll lose a needle! Jeans zips generally have wide tape so you may not need to change to a zipper foot, this means more grip when using your usual sewing foot.


5. Trim off the excess from the fly front and overlock or zig-zag to neater the edge and stop fraying.

6. Fold the zip right way out and pin through the fly, shield and zip tape.

Sew along this line of pins.
Zip and shield folded back in place.


7. Let the zip fall naturally to the left and pin as it lies against the left hand fly. Hold the shield out of the way. Sew this line but just the zip tape and the fly - NOT the front of the jeans.

8. Trim off any excess and overlock the edge if you want.


9. Turn the jeans over and mark up the outside stitching line. This should catch the left hand zip tape and curve round at the bottom to hold the end of the zip.
Move the shield out of the way and stitch by machine. This is seen by the public so take your time. Use a larger stitch 2.5mm or so and you can stitch again for a double top stitching look. Take care at the bottom as you may sew over the metal stops or teeth - better to hand turn the needle and sew slowly - or you'll lose another needle.

Give it all a good pressing and rip out the tacks (basting stitches) at the centre front.
After you sew the waistband on you cut the extra off the zip, so don't worry that it's hanging out at this stage.
There - that's better than a line drawing isn't it?

Next time....... Construction Order

Hope this helps and thanks for reading. Ruth

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Denim Tips 3 - Pockets & Waist

Hot Patterns Boyfriend Jeans

Changes to cutting out of the pockets and waistband.

Home made jeans are great because you can use a quilters cotton or any thing else that takes your fancy for the pockets, fly shield and waistband facing so that they look good from the inside. It also adds a personal touch and colour, to say nothing of uniqueness.

Taylor of TaylorTailor made his wife a pair of jeans and look what he chose for pocket linings. His wife is a great home baker so what better way to personalise a pair of jeans!

I had an old bit of navy/white flowery cotton kicking about so I used this. Next time I'm going for psychedelic colour and pattern!

To cut the waistbands, cut left and right with the denim right side up and your lining wrong side up.
The right hand side is not long enough to catch the fly shield when attaching it so cut this piece 2" longer now - you can always trim off later. I only noticed this flaw after the jeans were practically completed. Better to get the fix now.

 The front pockets.
Below are the two pieces that make up the front pocket. The top piece is cut in denim while the bottom piece is cut in lining or cotton for the inside pocket. Now, that joining seam that you see below is probably the hardest seam in the world to sew well - a perfect curve - it's difficult even pinning the pieces together when they are this shape - an exaggerated princess seam! Also, it means there would be a raw seam on the inside of the jeans.
So here's my solution to easier sewing and a better finish.

Pin the pocket lining piece onto the cotton and then match up the vertical and horizontal edges of the pocket facing (1/4 circle piece). Cut as one.

 Instead of having the pocket lining looking like the paper pattern shape you have a shape like that on the right. One other thing, these pockets are not too deep, so you may want to add an extra 1" or so. Do this in the middle of the pocket lining.

Now cut the pocket facing (1/4 circle bit) in your denim. I didn't remove the seam allowance, just cut off the notch. You can finish the curved edge with a zig-zag or overlock stitch now. Position the facings on the WRONG side of the linings, matching the vertical and horizontal edges again. This means that when you fold the pocket linings up the printed side of the cotton is shown on the inside of the jeans and not hidden inside the pocket.
Stich the now flat pieces together along the curved edge of the facing. I did a straight stitch to fix the facings in place, then I zig-zagged for extra strength and to stop fraying.

Now you have smooth pockets on the inside of your jeans and an easy time sewing.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading. Ruth

Next time - the fly zip.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Denim Tips 2 - Fitting

There's just no avoiding it - it makes or breaks a pair of jeans.

 Trousers (pants) and jeans are 90% easy to make; it's the 10% between the legs that causes the most trouble, so deep breath and tackle it once and for all.

Usually, I don't make a toile (muslin) unless it is a fitted jacket or a particularly complicated design -  I go straight to fabric, cut large, sew or tack (baste), try on, pin out the extra, re-sew and cut off the excess. Done! This means however, that every time I make something I have to go through the whole rigamarole again. I am resigned to the fact that when I make trousers (pants) this is my tried and tested procedure for perfect fit.

The fit of the boyfriend jeans was so far out that I thought it was time to act like a grown-up and do it right. Take it from one who has learned from her own mistakes......If you intend to make a lot of jeans or trousers, whether it's this pattern or not, this is time well spent. Gosh I sound like a proper adult! Now listen children.......

As usual, I cut a 14 in the intended fabric, a pin stripe denim. Made up as per the instructions - which I will tell you to change in a future post - tried on and pinned out all the extra fabric, cut off and sewed again, only this time I collected all the cut off bits and placed them on top of the original paper pattern pieces.

I shaded in the difference. Just look at what I cut off the back - how uneven it is, especially at the point of the crotch. The front is not too bad, more of an even 'taking in' but again the point of the crotch is waaay too deep for my shape.

 I also had to remove about 2" from the yoke and waistband at centre back to avoid gaping when sitting and to adjust for my big bum (sway back I believe is the euphemism).

The boyfriend jean style has front and back legs cut with a straight edge on the outside seams - which makes for easy positioning on the fabric as you don't have to measure straight of grains, just place the seam allowance on the selvedge. This straight edge creates the relaxed look of the jeans as opposed to girly jeans that are all curvy to fit bum, hips and thighs. (I had to research this BTW, you'd think I knew what I was talking about here).  I kept this straight line as my basis for fitting, so all alterations were made in the centre back seam and the crotch line.

 I traced the new front and back leaving out the shaded bit from the pattern pieces above keeping the outside edge intact.

I had a piece of black cotton in the stash and as I don't wear black, I could make use of it for this fitting exercise and not feel guilty about keeping it in the fabric box without a use.

OK OK stashes have their purposes.
I tried my best to lighten these pics so that you can see the different fits.

Tight fit 

 Relaxed fit

Loose bum fit

New front and back pattern pieces - perfect bum fit. 

You don't have to go all the way making full length trousers at this point - shorts will do. Just as long as you get below the crotch. With this new bum pattern I am now free to change the leg style too - I can add curves for thighs and boot-cut style if I want. If you can read the above writing, to get a looser fit I just cut wider on the outside straight edge, anything from 0.5cm and I have tested up to 2cm (1").

Does anyone who knows about these things see a problem here?
Can it really be that easy that I just cut a little wider at the edges for a looser fit?

My intention from now on is to place my perfect bum pattern on top of the actual pattern piece and grade into the leg so that I can have different leg lengths and styles using this home-made method.

My first bum pattern is actually quite fitted, which I thought I'd keep for future use, so I figured out a new jeans style called - Loose Bum Style! This, I think, is the Boyfriend look. See the picture - to get a looser fit, lose some fabric. It's counterintuitive (I've been waiting ages to get that word in a post), but it works. Cut away more fabric for a bigger size.

So the black cotton stash is now used up. I have one new jeans front pattern piece and two new jeans backs and from these two pieces I can make at least three different fits with endless leg variations. 
 If you do this method of self-fitting remember to alter the yoke, front pockets (as they are caught into the side seams) and waistband to fit.

Next time.....
Cutting out the pockets for the Hot Patterns pattern

Hope this helps. Thanks for reading. Ruth

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Denim Tips 1 - Preparation

Hot Patterns Boyfriend jeans.

Some tips and tricks if you're thinking of making these jeans - or any, for that matter.

Learn from my mistakes!

 Hot Patterns produce their patterns on stiff white paper not tissue. This makes for a durable pattern piece but can be awkward to pin and position. ALL sizes are on one piece and it can be a bit tricky locating your size line especially at corners and curves.

So, trace over your size in coloured pen before you cut. If you have the patience and endurance you could trace your size onto tissue paper too. That way you'll always have the complete original pattern and easier to pin and manipulate pieces. I'm lazy, so I didn't do this.

Do not use your good fabric scissors to cut the paper: nothing blunts scissors quicker than paper and when you come to next cut that delicate chiffon it will tear and snag. Use household scissors.

I know some of you always wash and treat your fabric before making up - I don't usually as I hand wash most hand made items but with denim it's different.

Firstly, it shrinks about 20% so unless you want a really tight fitting pair of jeans - pre-shrink in a relatively hot wash at 40 degrees C.
On the Get Ready page Lynda commented

Hey Ruth... one thing I've learned the hard way is that with denim, I wash on HOT and dry at the hottest temp on the dryer at least 3 times, unless you really like high waters!
Have fun with this!

Secondly, this wash also eliminates extra dye. If you don't want hands like this when you're sewing and a denim dyed ironing board - wash the denim.

Use special jeans needles. There are times when you are sewing your jeans that you will have multiple layers of denim to sew through - top-stitching, attaching belt carriers and so on, maybe 8 layers of denim - so you need a needle that is sharp and tough.

You can see one casualty here - bent and broken - and this was a jeans needle! So buy a new pack you may need all of them.

Next time.....

Changes and alterations to the Hot Patterns pattern to make your life easier and your jeans better.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Boyfriend Jeans - Get Ready

 I was chuffed when my Hot Patterns Boyfriend jeans pattern arrived  from USA and was dead keen to get started on the project.

 I thought if any of you are making these - or any jeans for that matter - you might like a very informal sew-along sort of thing. I will go through the following issues in the next few posts so I'd appreciate additional advice and comments form those of you more experienced than I:
  1. Denim prep
  2. Fitting nightmare
  3. Changes to Hot Patterns - cutting out the pockets and construction - 
  4. Fly zip
  5. Better construction method than Hot Patterns
  6. Waistband - Hot Patterns explained
Health Warning:
I disregarded the Hot Patterns instructions from about step 5 and moved to my own preferred construction procedure. I would like to point out that this is the way I make jeans and may not be the best, industry standard or any other recommended method available. It works for me - it might just work for you.

We may not look like this at the end of it - but at least you can say we tried!

This is my denim of choice for the project - a pin stripe blue. Should prove to be an interesting visual illusion.

Thanks for reading. Ruth