I have been wearing my jeans for a few weeks now. The denim is softening a little bit, but they are still pretty stiff. Here is a little recap of the process I went through to make the jeans. When I started I didn’t really know much about denim or clothing design for that matter. Over the course of several months though, I learned enough about pattern drafting and construction techniques to make myself a custom pair of jeans.
Step 1. I sewed a practice pair in muslin using a commercial pattern. I used Burda 7733 to get a general understanding of the shapes of the different pattern pieces that make up a pair of jeans. When I began this project, I knew I wanted to design my own pattern, but using a commercial pattern was a good place for me to start.
Step 2. I drafted and test fit a men’s jeans sloper. The sloper is a simple pattern without any style lines or pockets that helps to establish a good fit and basic shape. A sloper can be used to create more “stylized” patterns later.
Step 3. I designed my jeans pattern. Using the sloper from step 2, I modified the shape of this basic pattern to include the pockets, yoke, fly, and waistband. My goal here was to create a straight leg, somewhat slim fitting men’s jeans pattern. After creating the pattern pieces, I added seam allowance to each piece and cut them out in tracing paper.
Step 4. I sewed a second practice pair in muslin. Before cutting into high quality denim, I needed to make sure that the pattern I created in step 3 fit and that the pieces would actually go together properly. Everything went together as planned. Yay for my good work!
Step 5. I sewed the final denim jeans using the same pattern from step 3. Aside from the waist being a little too big and some less than perfect top-stitching, they turned out much better than I expected.
In fact, they have become my “go to” jeans for everyday wear. While I am already contemplating the changes I want to make for my second pair, I may have to learn how to make a women’s jeans sloper and pattern first because my wife secretly wants her own pair of custom selvedge denim jeans. I guess I’ll take that as a complement!
I finally finished my jeans and couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out. I used a 12.25 oz, raw, selvedge denim from the famous Cone Mills in North Carolina. After working with muslin for so long, it was nice to use some quality fabric that I would actually wear.
My main concern leading up to this project was that the sewing machine (Pfaff select 1526) would not be able to handle the thickness of the denim. For the most part it did just fine. In a few really thick areas, where I was sewing through two flat felled seams (the crotch point and where the back yokes came together), I had to hand crank the machine. This was fine by me because I tend to sew at a snail’s pace anyway.
The denim is a bit streaky, which I like because it gives the jeans some subtle texture. I added a branding leather patch that I left blank because I haven’t thought of a name for my “line” yet. I also added rivets to this pair, and lined the fly with the same fabric I used for the front pocket bags.
There are a few changes and improvements I would make on the next pair. The second muslin practice pair I made from my pattern had a little extra room in the waistband. I debated whether or not I should modify the pattern when cutting out the denim. After trying on the muslin practice pair multiple times, I thought that maybe the muslin had stretched, which would explain the extra room in the waist. I also thought the denim would be stiff and I would want a little wiggle room, so I left the extra room in the pattern when I made this pair. I wish I hadn’t because my waistband is still too big. While I can wear them with a belt, I was hoping for a perfect fit.
I would also take in the pattern through the entire length of the leg to make the overall fit a little slimmer. The last change or improvement I would make is to my top-stitching, which I’m sure will improve with time and practice. The top-stitching in the fly area is less than perfect, but will be fine for everyday wear.
The front pocket lining has greetings in multiple languages from all over the world. I used the selvedge on the fly as a way to reduce bulk.
Despite the waist being a bit big and my top-stitching wavering here and there, I am thrilled with the way these turned out. Armed with my own pattern and an obsession with high quality denim, I can’t see myself ever buying a pair of store bought jeans again.
Once my pattern was complete, I wanted to make another pair of test “jeans” out of muslin before diving into actual denim. Since this was my first attempt at drafting a custom pattern, I was a little nervous that maybe the pattern wouldn’t come together properly. I needed to make sure that the fit was right, and well…that it could actually be sewn.
Prior to this, I always had a set of instructions and the various markings on the commercial patterns I had sewn to guide me. This time around I was completely on my own, which actually made the sewing process more enjoyable. It was quite freeing to not worry about following a set of instructions, and to just assemble these practice jeans in the way that made the most sense.
To my surprise, everything went together flawlessly. They fit well through the leg, crotch, and butt area. I had a little extra room in the waste band, which could easily be fixed in the pattern. The only detail I left off this pair that I would put on a denim pair is rivets. I went ahead and put on the fly buttons for practice. As I mentioned in the pattern making post, I wanted to learn how to make a button fly. I used David Page Coffin’s book Making Trousers for Men and Women to figure out how a button fly is constructed. The book has a section on button flies that was very helpful with step by step instructions.
My top stitching through the fly area could still use some work, but this was a practice pair, and I wasn’t too concerned with making them look perfect. Here is the back side.
I want to make these back pockets a bit bigger on a denim pair, but the overall shape is fine. The top stitching across the back pockets is supposed to make a somewhat abstract pair of “T’s.”
Other than taking a little extra room out of the waste area, my pattern doesn’t need to be modified in any way. I have spent sooooo much time designing the pattern and test fitting that I am really looking forward to cutting into some real denim.
Time to roll out the good stuff!