I did it! I made a pair of jeans and squeezed them into 2017 (and squeezed into them in 2017) by the skin of me teeth. Hemming occurred on December 31st, heh heh. They were on my #makenine list for last year and I was determined to get them done, if only to please myself, since there was no other real reason. I made this somewhat easier to accomplish by signing up for a jeans workshop at Drygoods Design here in Seattle, which ran over three evenings and then I finished them up at home. I had intended to post them pretty soon after, but then decided to wear them for a few weeks and see what happened, so there is a little time-travelling going on in this post… just so’s you know.
The Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans are probably the second most popular jeans pattern in the world after their sister jeans, the Gingers, and are a mid-rise boyfriend cut jean, in comparison to the Ginger’s high-waisted skinny silhouette. One thing you will always read in any review of the Morgans or the Gingers, no matter the shape or size of the sewist, nor how many alterations they’ve made is that they’re “the most comfortable pair of jeans ever”. I found it hard to believe that all these ladies, irrespective of starting point, thought this same thing … and then I put mine on for the first time. And folks, they are the most comfortable jeans, straight off the assembly line, I’ve ever put on.
There are lots of things people always want to know (including me) about making jeans, and there is a TON of info out there. Heather from Closet Case Patterns alone has a full Ginger jeans tutorial, Morgan-specific extras like a buttonfly insertion video tutorial, and even a free fitting jeans ebook, so rather than witter on about random stuff, I’ve decided to write this in a more systematic way than normal and highlight the key points I reckon might be interesting and/or useful. Here we go!
Overall, the jeans were really not that bad at all to make. I am not an experienced seamstress, so for anyone who has been gathering the courage to give them a go, I say go for it! It’s easier than you think and the instructions are very thorough. Of course, it wasn’t all totally plain sailing, so here are a few points I came across:
Topstitching: I used a tension of 6 as opposed to my normal 4 for topstitching. This was a tip from our class teacher and it definitely helped. I used a denim needle and normal thread in the bobbin when topstitching. Topstitching is fun! I really enjoyed it actually. With the exception of…
Belt loops: I created some lovely nests when topstitching the belt loops. My machine did not like them at all. I used Fray Check to keep them stable at the back of the stitching, but two weeks later two of the little suckers had already come loose, so I hand-stitched them firmly back on, which is probably what I should have done in the first place. It was so much quicker as well as more secure, and, believe me, I ain’t no hand sewist!
Edit: Hmm, I just read this in the instructions “It also helps to use a folded piece of cardboard under the back of your foot when you are sewing over areas like button loops.” Maybe I should have read that before, haha! I’ll try it next time. Maybe.
Buttonfly: A lot of people seem to make these jeans with the zipped fly from the Ginger jeans. I have to say, I really like a buttonfly. Always have! This is one of the most feared parts of making jeans and, in my favour, we had an experienced teacher watching over us, which helped. However, the instructions are really good and I didn’t really have any issues by following them. I didn’t use topstitching thread for the buttonholes on the fly. The machine at the sewing studio really didn’t like it and, besides, you can’t see them! I had more problems with the…
Waistband: The waistband! I don’t see people complaining about waistbands too much, but this is a common problem area for me. The ease is off, or I just don’t get it right and it sits funny… I don’t know; it’s not my favourite part. With these jeans, you also have to make sure all the other little pieces you’ve completed are flat and in the right place. I caused creases in the hips the first time I attached it, so had to redo the whole thing, by which point my basting had disappeared from the pockets and argh… My advice is – baste first all the way round and use lots of pins/clips.
Then I had issues with the main waistband buttonhole as well. I practiced on scrap fabric with topstitching thread like a good little sewist. Perfect! Onto the jeans – crunch, munch, needle stuck. Unpicked everything (and that was NOT fun). Tested again. Perfect! Back to the jeans… needle stuck again. Third and final attempt with topstitching thread, it worked. Doesn’t look like my perfect samples, but it does the job. Fray-checked the hell out of it and called it done.
Rivets: I don’t know what to say about these. The first two at the hips went in pretty easily. I bought one of those little rivet kits from JoAnn Fabrics and used it (the hardware is the Closet Case Patterns set). Then we (my husband gave me a hand here) could NOT get the coin pocket rivet to catch. We tried all sorts of hammer strengths, positioning and techniques, as gleaned from the internet and tutorials. In the end, we managed it – and what seemed to make the difference (we think) was making the initial hole in the jeans larger than you’d think necessary so that the rivet and base could definitely catch properly. My husband also got rid of the little anvil that came with the kit and used the back of a heavy cast iron griddle pan instead. It worked. That’s all I can offer!
Sizing and adjustment points
Sizing: The biggie! Okay, so I made an 18, which should have been slightly large in finished measurements (my measurements probably put me more at a 16), but Heather said the sizing was slightly on the small side to account for the jeans stretching, which, as we all know, they do. What I really didn’t want was an in-between sized jean in this style, because I figured they might look a bit like Mum jeans.
The principal adjustment I made while making the jeans was that I had to chop a whole 4 inches off the length. I didn’t actually find too many comments about the length when I looked up other reviews, which intrigued me, because 4 inches is quite a lot! I know my legs are a little shorter in comparison to my body, but I’m 5’6″, so I would have thought a lot of people might have the same issue. This meant that I did lose quite some tapering at the bottom and so they were definitely a bit more straight-legged on me than the pattern cover version. Since the finished jeans were snug but definitely not tight I decided to give it a few weeks to see if I wanted to adjust them any more.
Two weeks later adjustments: Okay, so, in the photos the jeans are just out of the wash. And they’re a pretty good fit, no? I’ve really been enjoying wearing them both ankle length and rolled up. But after half a day they start to loosen up, and by Day 2, they’re a little baggy and I really need to wear a belt. They’re particularly baggy around the bum and hips. I reckon I definitely should have stuck with the size 16 to start with.
Secondly, I tried to rock the baggy straight-legged look, but in the end, I did miss the taper. So I ended up tapering the legs from 1/8″ at the hip to a full inch at the ankle. As mentioned, this was partly because I lopped the excess length from the bottom and not the proper “lengthen/shorten here” line. They look a LOT better tapered and are still plenty roomy.
Finally, my waistband tends to droop at the front, although the fit is good at the back. I feel like I have a bit of a tilted pelvis (I have swayback issues too) and I think this is affecting the angle of the waistband.
I popped back into DryGoods for a post-make fitting and the teacher, Julienne, agreed that I definitely need to go down a size. I thought I needed a little more in the crotch rise, but Julienne advised I should shave some off instead as she could see some crotch frowns (lucky old her!), so we adjusted the pattern by taking a wedge out, from front to back. She reckons this will also help with the droopy waistband front as the jeans should cling to the body more with the reduced crotch rise.
Of course, I’ll adjust the length properly next time, and I may interface the waistband if I use the same weight of denim. One thing I will definitely do is increase the width of the waistband as it’s a little narrow and floppy. I compared to some RTW jeans and they were a little wider.
Finally, I do have a bit of a flat arse, so I might look into that adjustment. I think placing the pockets higher up on my bum will help a little, although I do like the angle.
Denim: I used Cone Mills non-stretch 10oz denim in indigo. It’s quite lightweight compared to RTW jeans I own, but I think that works for the boyfriend style. They’d look like clown trousers in heavier denim! I bought 2.5 yards in a sale from Threadbare Fabrics a while back and I still have maybe 1/2 yard left for something else. It’s a beautifully soft, wonderful quality denim. I recommend it!
Lining: I used a scrap of Cotton and Steel cotton that I LOVE and which was left over from my Colette Beignet skirt. Satisfying!
I love these jeans. Sure, there are a few little tweaks needed here and there, but that was always going to be the case. What did amaze me was they fit so WELL straight from the pattern. There are so many resources available for making these jeans and they really are “the most comfortable jeans I’ve ever tried on“.