Some time ago–you know, about the point when I finished the major jumper project–I started making a pair of jeans. Please understand I finished that jumper in June. Perhaps I started the jeans in July. But it is now October. Say no more. This is the one picture I took of the process. I do usually think of the blog when I’m making something, and try to take the odd photo. This was quite a fail. But here is a freshly applied pocket, with bonus chalk marks.
These jeans arose from a few different motivations. I am still asking myself whether I can buy less, and whether I might just stop buying new clothes, certainly the mass produced kind. It’s a thought experiment, don’t panic. One of the things that makes me feel this goal may be over ambitious, is jeans. I love them, I wear them whenever possible, and you know, I have made them, but I find it difficult and even more than that, I find it a bit scary. On the other hand, two pairs of jeans have made it to the gardening only department (which takes a LOT, in my case). And one more is only just behind them. I am running out of jeans while not buying jeans. This winter it led to my wearing woolen pants I had made to work quite a bit–no bad thing. But jeans.
I decided after listening to a friend about the benefits of craftsy, that one approach to my confidence issues would be to do some training. So I enrolled for a class on craftsy and surprised myself by not really liking it much even though it seemed like something I should enjoy. And for all kinds of irrelevant reasons that I myself thought were silly reasons not to have the benefit of the learning. I learned a couple of things that really helped (and I can still finish the class one day and learn more!) But I also had a pile of new thoughts. I remembered all over again that many of my feelings about clothes are really feelings about my body, and how sad it is that there is so much money to be made making us feel bad this way–because there is a lot of invitation to feel less than loving toward one’s own body in this society. Especially if you grew up female.
I remembered all the ill fitting and less than perfect jeans I have owned and worn to rags. Why do the jeans I make have to be perfect? Maybe they don’t. And so on. So, I made the jeans. I already had two patterns that I had bought in the past and not made. So speaking of not buying stuff, I chose between them and settled on Vogue 7608. I like the level of instruction offered by the designer and they sounded like the kind of jeans I might like to wear. I made the pockets. No problem. I set the zipper and constructed the fly (those instructions were awesomely good). Then, sewed the whole thing together to try-on-stage and found that these ‘below waist’ jeans were only below waist if you understand that they were half way up my ribs at the front. Below waist as understood in the late 1970s or early 1980s, perhaps. Not below my waist, however. Perhaps I am not the shape contemplated by the designer, and indeed, I have had this pointed out to me when buying jeans in shops…. which has occasionally had me in tears. So, in a genius move that long time readers will recognise, I put them aside for weeks.
Then came the afternoon I did all the adjusting I could do. When I measured the curve on these jeans I found it was 5 cm longer at the front than my current favourites. Quite a bit! Note to self, next time try measuring this before cutting out. I did all the adjusting I could figure out, and my overlocker suffered a discombobulation that required a trip to the shop (for a new belt). Then, I put them down for some more weeks until one day a friend came over. She is a tailor with loads of experience. I tried them on and actually, she pronounced them very good, complimented my topstitching and we both agreed that the adjustment had been quite successful, and that I could make the ‘waistband’ (it isn’t really a waistband) narrower and help things along.
So over the course of the following week, I finished them. Not perfect, but wearable, and jeans. Made from denim I already had, with thread I already had, and a brown zipper (who will see it?) and an op shop jeans button from a pack that made it sound like I needed a patented tool. No, I just needed a hammer and a block of wood. Good outcome! A further realisation was that I always make pants that are too big. Even when I measure and compare with the pattern. In this case I feel sure there is a lot of ease to allow for adjustment. But for some reason I am allergic to making things that fit. So… it seems I need more practice! Perhaps I should try the other pattern…