January 4, 2012

The Jeans from Hell

***Ahem, this is going to be a very long and technical description of my jeans fitting nightmare. You have been warned! If you're into that sort of thing, please read and give me advice. If fitting ain't your thing you can come back later for my finished pants. ;)

I want to take these jeans out to my back yard and beat them senseless - Office Space style.

Why you ask? Because they are evil. They are satan's jeans and they deserve punishment for all the pain they've put me through. And I'm not even finished!


Let's start at the beginning. The new McCall's catalogue features many a pair of colorful skinny jeans in their images for new Spring patterns. I though "Ooooh! Yes please!" I found that the jeans were this pattern, version C. I never would have thought to buy that pattern were it not for the colorful jeans images but I took a chance.

Big mistake. First I cut a 16 but with tissue fitting recut to a 14. Then I tissue fitted again and things looked ok. Sure, the legs were a little wide but that could easily be fixed. I went ahead and cut my denim - a 99% cotton 1% spandex blend, a little stretch like the pattern required.

Massive fail. I had loose thighs, a gross amount of excess front crotch fabric and under booty wrinkles as deep as the grand canyon. Oh, and of course the legs were wide enough for two calves.

After trying many alterations I had wound up with a hot mess of fraying seams and my seam ripper begged for mercy.

So I gave up. I reached for my trusty pair of gap skinnies that had a rip at the crotch from an unfortunate game of "crack the egg" on a trampoline over Thanksgiving with my cousins. They were my favorite jeans so I though "Hey, I could recreate them!" These jeans weren't too low rise, nor were they too tight. They had a 2% stretch in the material and were also several years worn. I cut the gap jeans' legs apart, seam ripped the legs of my in progress jeans and layered the pieces over eachother and traced. I notice the crotch line of the gap jeans was massively different than the line of the original pattern. (I know montanachic hates the look of gap pants but they tend to fit me really well. And yes, I am super jealous of her self-drafted jean masterpiece.)

But when I sewed up the new version I was still dishartened. They fit better but I still had many of the same problems. I worked one leg at a time to get a better fit. I took in the inseam on one leg, then the other. I lengthened the crotch depth. I took in the back leg piece on the side from the thigh down on one leg and all that helped. The front crotch looked better but the back still had wrinkles.

I consulted Threads, Pants for Real People and Colette's Clover Sew-a-long but I was still at a loss.

At that point I took these photos from the inside out.

After taking the pics I tried to get rid of the under booty ripples by bringing in the back inseam more and thinning the thighs. I've found that adjusting the crotch depth helps with that, too.

I have a theory about that, though. I used my cut up old gap jeans pieces as pattern pieces to trace over the existing pieces of fabric but because the crotch line was different I had to do some fenagaling to make the old gap jeans piece fit. This means that the grainline on the legs is slightly off center. This could possibly contribute to the angled wrinkles in the knee and thighs as the fabric is pulling in weird directions.

But that can't be helped. The insides of these jeans have been so trimmed and whacked up that they look like a crime scene. There's very little seam allowance to be salvaged.

So then I decided to wear my only other pair of skinnies as a comparision and snapped these pics. These are also gap jeans but they fit more snug than my old faves. They have extra stretch and the label calls them "Slouchy" skinny jeans. I think this just means that they stuck the pockets farther down on the thighs. I was getting a similar effect. Yes, they were smoother in general but the slouchy gap jeans still had a few under booty wrinkles and some knee wrinkles. Hmm... why hadn't I consulted these pants before??


After some more minor adjustments I tried on my handmade jeans again (pics above). And then magic happened. I don't know why or how but something changed... Maybe it was also looking at myself slouchy gap jeans along with pics of skinny jeans on the net but for some reason they looked better... Yes, some under booty wrinkles still existed but they weren't too bad. The front knee wrinkles lessened and while the back knee wrinkles were still aparent they looked more like normal store bought jeans... Maybe we're getting somewhere.

This motivated me to make more adjustments. I trimmed the thighs and legs of the left, non adjusted leg. I pulled in the waist a little more at the sides. I let out the knees slightly at the inseam and fiddled with the bottom of the crotch seam a little more.

Ok, so I think I may have a fit that will work. Not the perfect fit but something comparable to RTW. That's a start. Now all I have to do is trim and serge the seams. Hem and top stitch the legs; make a back yoke; make back pockets; re-do the front pockets; insert a zipper and finish the front crotch seam; make, interface, and line a waistband; make and attach belt loops and add a front button. Sweet Jesus, what have I gotten myself into??

11 comments:

  1. Well you can't say you haven't tried - is there any method of getting a fit that you didn't try??? You must feel like a voodoo doll after all of that pinning and cutting (and ripping). But end result is a great looking pair of jeans. Well done!!! Onwards with the rest...

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  2. I think it helps sometimes to try things on right side out, it will look more "real" that way. I really need to try to copy my favorite jeans, that seems to be the easiest way to get a good pair.

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  3. I cannot believe how difficult pants are to fit. Your last pair looks great. I think it will be worth it in the end to have a really great tried and true pants pattern.

    There are four pairs of Clovers in a heap on my craft room floor right now. I gave up. BUT a few years ago I made some seriously fabulous jeans from the Built By Wendy pattern that was in her first book. My pocket placement is a little weird (too big and low), but the fit is spot on. (I just realized that I should see how the Clover pattern pieces compare to Wendy's. Something good may come out of that!!)

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  4. Doobee64 - OMG I have a scrape up the side of my calf that looks like a cat sctatch from a nasty pin from pinning my self every which way.

    molly - you're right, and it's easier to see places that need to be changed when you're not distracted by crazy seam allowances sticking out everywhere.

    Stephanie - I've seen so many great Clover and just as many people who have had tons of problems with them. I'm a little nervous but I love the idea of having a nice little pair of cigarette pants that I'm still wanting to try them.

    I don't have BBW's first book. I didn't even know it had a pants pattern in it. I have the simplicity pants pattern by her. I made the shorts version but the waist was so low that I kind of gave up on them. Maybe I should go back and try the pants and see how they fit. I remember I hardly made any adjustments to the pattern. Thanks for the idea!

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  5. Jeans broke me once. I worked probably 20 hours on them and they still didn't fit right. I went to Old Navy the next week and pulled the perfect fitting pair of the clearance rack for $15. It was enough to make me want to gnaw off my own arm. Good for you for keeping at it.

    I was going to say exactly what your own conclusion was take a deep breath and look again. The pants are actually pretty good. A few tweaks and you are on your way.

    As for the Clover pants I will say I had huge success with them. I am flat butted, and that seems to be a trend for people that really like them. I have two apirs and wear them all the time. I expect I will make many more.

    Good for you for keeping at the jeans. You are so close!

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  6. I have high hopes for this project. I've seen your fortitude in lots of other sewing conundrums and this one will prove to be the same.

    I haven't made pants before but I know from fitting other garments that it is so easy to over examine. And often I wonder: what should it look like in the end? What am I really shooting for?

    To remove every wrinkle? Nah.

    In the end, I think we should be looking for a garment that doesn't feel overly restricting in any area (I say "overly" because some styles like strapless dresses need to be tight fitting), and portrays the "style" we want. Want a wide leg pant? Go for it. Want a skinny jean? Go for it. I have yet to find a book or guide that had a full set of pictures showing what a perfect fitting garment should look like. I've seen pictures demonstrating remedies for swaybacks, sloping shoulders, thin thighs, etc. but nothing for the other end of the stick: the perfect shirt or pants. And until then, I believe home sewers should approach their fitting sessions (or voodoo doll pinnings!) with the mindset of making the wearer achieve her style wish without scrutinization.

    Rebekah

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  7. Stacie - your old navy comment is hilarious and so true! I'm glad the clovers worked for you. It gives me hope!

    Rebekah - you're right. I am over examining and succumbing to the over-fitting monster. I think one of my problems was that I got to a point where I didn't have a real direction. At first I wanted skinny jeans but not to the point of "jeggings" tight. Once I scrapped the original pattern I was going down a dark tunnel without any real idea of what I wanted the revised pants to be. I didn't know what I was looking for and it wasn't until I had a new style in mind did I start to relax.

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  8. It looks like you're nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. I've had success with the Jalie jeans and they have some below butt wrinkles but they are so comfortable. Then I've used Vogue for a non-stretch woven for 'skinny jeans' and while there's some butt room, I'm not walking around as stiff as a board. You've done a great piece of investigation and problem solving on these jeans.

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  9. I feel your pain! Under booty wrinkles have always been my problem, even RTW jeans. I have the Clover and made my muslin, but that is the extent of my pants experience, and according to their pant fit guide, ladies with this problem have a low butt, and therefore need to lower the crotch. You probably saw that already, and like I said, I am definitely not an authority here! Let us know if you have an aha moment!

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  10. Two important things I found when making my jeans is that one all jeans have a little wrinkling under the butt. If they didn't you wouldn't ever be able to bend over in them. RTW ads just have the models stand in a certain way to eliminate them for the picture. I also found when I put in my yoke that if I took that in a little on the center seam it seemed to pull the booty up a little bit. Does that make sense. I think it is always our instinct to take things in on the sides but for me I needed to do the sides and the top of the back middle since my figure is very hour glassy. They are looking good and keep with it, you will be so happy when you get the perfect fit then you will have a great pattern for years to come.

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  11. velosewer - hmm, I'm going to have to check out Jalie for jeans patterns. thanks!

    amber - you are correct, I checked out colette's pants fitting guide and did many of suggestions there. I think lowering the crotch did help.

    montanachic - you're right and after seeing other jeans online and on people (gosh I don't think I've ever stared at strangers' butts more in my life, ah!) I've realized that some wrinkles are normal. And since I took these pics I did add a yoke and tucked in the back center seam even more.

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