The jeans I spent like two years making

girl in handmade denim jeans with red topstitching standing against a lilac wall

Flashback to February of 2018: Heather Lou of Closet Core Patterns introduced her “No Fear Jeans Month,” which sparked a desire to try my hand at making a pair of Ginger Jeans. I had previously made a pair of Lander Pants and found the process to be surprisingly easy (at least, much easier than I would have expected making a pair of pants to be!), so I felt like I could handle some jeans-making. At the time, however, I was busy crafting a Rumana Coat for that year’s Sew My Style challenge, so I didn’t jump into jeans-making right away.

The project had been on hold for a few months when Blackbird Fabrics sold a batch of some of the last Cone Mills denim from the now-shuttered American Cone Mills plant. I scooped up enough of the 10.75oz S-Gene Stretch Denim to make myself a pair of high-waisted, skinny Ginger Jeans in my size, then set it aside for several additional months.

Finally, one year later, in early 2019, I coaxed myself into cutting into the fabric and getting started. One of the biggest motivators was my purchase of Heather’s Sew Your Dream Jeans Workshop — it’s packed with great tips and visual examples of the jeans-making process. At the time, these jeans were the most complicated sewing pattern I’d ever attempted, which was likely why I put them off for so long. Having a video walkthrough made it much easier to understand the process and gave me the kickstart I needed. I watched the entire workshop before I began, then re-watched it step by step as I made my own jeans.

From that point, it still took me several months to complete the jeans. Whenever I would find time to sew, I worked on them little by little. I took my time because I really wanted to end up with a great quality pair of jeans that I could wear for years. I finally finished them in early 2020 and wore them a few times to work before the entire world shut down and, well, did anybody really wear jeans in quarantine? I know I didn’t. These beauties have been sitting folded up in my dresser ever since.

girl in handmade denim jeans with red topstitching sitting in a chair against a lilac wall

I recently pulled them out to take these photographs, and have had a few opportunities to wear them out more often over the past few months. For my first pair of jeans, I’m thrilled with how they turned out. I basted them together to check the fit before getting too far into the process, and I was happy with the fit on a straight size 6, no grading needed. Now that they’re done, there are a few minor adjustments I’ll make next time, but these are perfectly wearable. My favorite feature of the jeans is the red topstitching. It’s so fun and very unique.

closeup detail shot of handmade jeans with red topstitching front pocket

Breakdown:

Grand total: $136.31

Sewn on my Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine and Brother 1034D Serger with Schmetz 100/16 Jeans Needles. The t-shirt I’m wearing is from Wicked Clothes (currently out of stock) and the earrings are from Aster (purchased through my Rocksbox Subscription — click the link to try a free month).

I made a blog and also a coat

A woman wearing a green wool coat.

A reasonable person would not attempt to make a fully lined wool coat within two years of purchasing their very first sewing machine. A reasonable person would try some easy projects first — a t-shirt, a skirt, perhaps a dress — and work their way up to more complex patterns. At the very least, a reasonable person would master a pair of pants or a jacket before diving into uncharted coat-making territories.

But, I swear, I’m not an unreasonable person. Attempting a coat made sense at the time. I’d finished making a t-shirt with a full bust adjustment that fit great! And I’d both purchased fabric for and thought about making a pair of pants. Plus, I desperately needed a winter coat for Southern California’s annual fifteen seconds of winter weather.

I’d had my eye on the Rumana Coat from By Hand London for some time. When Sew My Style announced it as the monthly pattern for February of 2018, I decided to go for it. I splurged on some stunning dark green Italian wool coating from Mood and a beautiful floral Liberty Tana Lawn lining. Because if I was going to do the thing, I was going to really do the thing.

I did have the foresight to sew up a muslin before slicing into my expensive green wool. I cut out a straight US size 6 and added my usual FBA. The fit was perfect, so I tossed my one-sleeved muslin aside to get to work on the real thing.

I attempted to steam-shrink the wool before cutting it out but realized that my iron, even at its lowest setting, was burning the material and leaving marks. Abandoning the iron, I forged ahead and began cutting out my pieces anyway. Having lost about a foot of material to the iron mishap, I made a few changes to my cutting layout. I also forgot about this little thing called fabric nap, which meant I cut out a handful of pieces upside down. Oops…

At the end of the month, when others were sharing their finished makes, I’d only finished cutting out my pieces. I continued working until the weather became too warm to be in the same room as wool fabric and set it aside for the summer.

In the interim, I worked on other projects (one of which was that pair of pants). When the weather started to cool off again, I was ready to dive back in and finish it up in time for our winter travels. The coat came together quickly after that. I had some issues with the vent, which I had to re-sew a couple of times to stop it from pulling up in the back. Several others in the Sew My Style group had run into similar problems, and I was able to use their expertise to fix it up. Since I couldn’t press my fabric without ruining it, I added a row of topstitching around the edge of the coat, which looks pretty nice.

A woman wearing a green wool coat.

All in all, it turned out well for my very first coat. It was perfect for our winter travels last year, and I even managed to wear it a couple of times in Los Angeles on colder days. I can’t wait to pull it out of the closet again this year! Even so, I do think I’ll wait a little while before tackling another coat.

A woman wearing a green wool coat.