Tag Archives: jalie patterns

Frances’s Fancy Pants

Making pants for Frances that fit is one of the reasons I got into sewing clothes.

It’s also one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever worked on.

I’ve tried so many patterns and so many alterations, and most of them, Frances couldn’t wear. They were too tight here or too loose there or too low-cut or fit on the legs weird. So in the meantime we bought a lot of very loose blue jeans in bigger sizes and hemmed them shorter.

Frances does not want her image shared online without her permission so the photos will not be modeled.

Frances’s body grows differently; it’s part of her genetic condition. Her bones are a lot shorter, the joints are a slightly different shape, her back is quite curved, her ribs (and therefore torso) are bigger. Relative to other kids her age, she needs pants with a bigger waist, a snugger back, shorter legs; and then of course she likes things to be in her own style, which at this point in her life means “casual.”

It’s been an incredibly long project to get a set of alterations that fit her well and she enjoys wearing. But by George, we’ve finally done it.

Theses are the first pair of proper blue jeans I’ve made for her that she actually wears, and that fit.

They are not perfect. My sewing machine was incredibly unhappy about sewing through all the layers of denim and interfacing on the waistband and at the seams, so the topstitching is crap. One of the belt loops was sewed on a bit crooked.

Otherwise. I LOVE THESE. And so does Frances.

The pattern is a custom hodge-podge of Jalie stretch jeans, an Ottobre denim shorts pattern, and a trace-off of Frances’s favourite Old Navy Jeans, all with her alterations. The denim is very heavy, 97% cotton 3% spandex, from European textiles on Ottawa St N in Hamilton. $9/m, I think, so they were overall cheaper than Old Navy jeans. Nice metal jeans zipper. The pockets are quilting cotton with an adorable fox pattern on them, because Frances loves foxes.

I rigged up a buttonhole-and-button setup on the inner back waistband so we could get some buttonhole elastic and ensure that the back waistband is as snug as she wants it to be. It’s not as tidy as I would have liked, but it is functional.

My sewing machine went on strike over the buttonhole at the front: too many layers of fabric. I tried four buttonholes and ripped out three; the last one only completed halfway. So half of the buttonhole is by machine and the other half is by hand. It turned out pretty neatly, I think.

They fit her well (YAY!) but I have a list of small tweaks for the next one:

  1. take some length and depth out of the front crotch curve
  2. angle in the back yoke a bit more to make the waist a bit snugger back there.
  3. add maybe half an inch to the back rise
  4. lower the front pocket curve by about 3/8″
  5. deepen the front pockets by an inch
  6. and use angled pockets for the back rather than the rounded ones that came with the Ottobre pattern.

I can’t emphasize this enough, Dear Readers: rounded back patch pockets in thick fabric with contrast topstitcing are the devil. The fabric doesn’t want to fold in nicely to match the curve, even with gathering stitches to help; and the sewing machine has no interest in moving smoothly around that curve while topstitching afterwards. Angled pockets. They’re the way to go.

Exhibit A. These are not the back pockets to use on jeans.

The important thing is that now we are a hair’s breadth from having a perfect pants block for Frances. So I can make her pants that she can wear, hallelujah.

Also hallelujah: Frances has decided that the next pair of pants she wants, is leggings. That should be a much faster and easier project than blue jeans, even having to trace and alter a new pattern. (And in fact they’re already done, traced out and sewn up in a single day. Thank goodness.)

But after that: more jeans. More leggings. Fancy pants to wear when she needs to dress up and doesn’t want to wear a dress. Pants forever.

I cannot wait to make All The Pants for Frances. Frances now has a lifetime Pants Avalanche coming her way.

I made jeans!

And they’re not Gingers!

Not that there’s anything wrong with Gingers, I’m sure, but I already had a Jalie jeans pattern so that’s what I made, and here is my Jalie jeans offering in the midst of this current Gingers maelstrom.

Doing what I do, when I wear jeans. Yep, that's a pile of magazines on the arm of the chair.
Doing what I do, when I wear jeans. Yep, that’s a pile of magazines on the arm of the chair, and fuzzy socks on my feet. Hey, it’s cold!

I suppose a more accurate title might be “I made ANYTHING!” but actually, I’ve been sewing quite a bit. I just haven’t been the slightest bit interested in taking off my incredibly comfortable lounging-around clothes to make any kind of effort in blog photographs whatsoever, as you can see above. I’ll get to blogging them, hopefully before spring, but no timeline guarantees here.

I made them on Christmas Day, because my daughter was at her dad’s house, and all the stores are closed so what are you going to do? Yes, I know, other people visit family or friends, but as far as I’m concerned it isn’t Christmas without my girl, so I’d rather not.

I know the theory is that blue jeans are super hard to sew. But really, they’re just pants with a lot of extra top-stitching. I did a quick muslin on Christmas Eve, just waist to knees to get the fit right, and then Christmas Day sewed the whole thing up. Jalie has their own sizing, and I think these were a U in the waist and a W in the hips. I also added 1 1/2 inches between hip and waist, and changed the leg shape from the dramatic flare to a more relaxed bootcut. And as is de rigeur in the SBC, I used Liberty lawn scraps to line the front pockets.

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A word on this jeans pattern, though I have shared this before: The good thing about it is, that every size from preschool girl to 3XL womam is in the same envelope.

The bad thing is, that they’re all on the same piece of paper. So there is a lot of tracing required.

But I can theoretically use this same pattern for blue jeans for both Frances and myself until we both kick the bucket. That’s a pretty good plus.

The other pretty good plus is that it’s a well-drafted pattern that goes together nicely. Notches line up, instructions make sense, and so on. I didn’t follow them completely, as I prefer the join-inseams-then-crotch-then-outsides method of pants construction. But whatever. It all worked. And I enjoyed using the bartack stitch so much, and pounding in a nice metal jeans button.

Oh, and I totally ignored the markings for rear pocket placement. I put the jeans together, and tried them on, and then figured out where I wanted the rear pockets to sit. I sewed one on one side, took off the jeans, and folded them in half carefully along the centre back seam, making sure that the waist band and hips lined up properly. I then stuck pins through all layers, at the corners and points of the one pocket that was sewed on, and used those pins on the other side to align the second pocket for placement. Easy peasy–but apparently something that is often overlooked either in the rush to completion or an urge to be completely faithful to the pattern markings.

Here is my butt, in the jeans that I made. No fancy topstitching this time, but next time for sure. The slight offness of the back yoke is the only thing I'm not really happy with, but it's usually covered by a shirt, so whatever.
Here is my butt, in the jeans that I made. No fancy topstitching this time, but next time for sure. The slight offness of the back yoke is the only thing I’m not really happy with, but it’s usually covered by a shirt, so whatever.

Since then I’ve worn them every day I can get away with. They are incredibly comfortable. It’s 94% cotton & 6% spandex, starts off fairly snug and then bags out a bit over 3-4 days. The photos in the post are from the point with the most bagging out, so there’s some additional wrinkles that aren’t there when they’ve been freshly washed, but they’re still snug enough that they mostly stay put (I can sit down without showing my underwear! THERE IS NO MUFFIN TOP!) and given all the rolling around these things tolerate, I can’t complain.

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And yes, there’s also a pile of books on the floor, and more books on the table.
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You should see the pile of books beside the bed. And the one in the night table.
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But at least I just gave away a box of books …
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… because that means there’s room for new ones! Ok, not really.

I love them.

And I will make more–but not until the projects pile is a bit smaller.

Jalie Stretch Jeans for Frances, Theoretically

So I mentioned a few posts back about how Frances now wants to be wearing jeans again, and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen the picture of the jeans I started making, realized were the wrong size for her, and ripped apart.

And here is part 2 of that saga. I’m hoping it’s the second part of a trilogy, as I’d hate to have Jeans for Frances turning into a Wheel-of-Time-esque fourteen-volume epic fantasy. But time will tell. At any rate, it’s not done yet.

On the recommendation of some online sewing friends, I decided to give Jalie’s Stretch Jeans pattern a try. Jalie is a french Canadian company, and what’s more, there’s a small fabric store in Hamilton that sells their patterns, so hurray for no shipping fees. Also, their patterns have absolutely crazy multi-sizing: they start at about a girl’s size 5 and go all the way up to a woman’s size 3XL or so. All in one envelope.

In fact, all on one piece of paper.

This makes them very cost-effective, but it introduces its own challenges: for one, all of the nested pattern lines can be difficult to follow; this I solved by first tracing the size lines I wanted in a dark Sharpie pen so that I could then trace it onto pattern paper more easily. (It worked, if you’re looking for a solution yourself.) Also, the pattern pieces–some of them, at least–come kind of in a jigsaw-puzzle style, with for instance the top of the front leg on one piece and the bottom of the front leg on another piece, and you have to put them together before cutting out the fabric. It’s doable and laid out well, but it does take more time.

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Proper metal blue-jeans button, pounded in with a hammer and everything.

I have no one to blame but myself and the dozens of nested pattern size lines for this goof, but: I accidentally traced and cut out the low-rise view.

It took me a while to figure this out, though, and by then I was already invested in them, emotionally and physically, in the form of cut-out denim pieces partially sewn together with front pockets and everything. But I’m getting ahead of myself:

I do like how the back looks. Too bad they're too low.
I do like how the back looks. Too bad they’re too low.

So, to deal with my bunny-girl’s sizing issues, I went with a straight size-7 for the back pieces, and at the front graded out a fair bit, as I usually do with knit pants and dresses (and it works well there). For these, it did not work. I’d assembled the front pieces and back pieces, done the top-stitching along the seams, and joined them up along the inseam, when I held them up to see how they’d fit. The front pieces seemed fine, but the back pieces were a good inch too short on each side.

Thus followed the very tedious process of ripping out the double top-stitching on the inseam and the serging.

I was lucky to have just barely enough of the denim left to cut out another set of back leg pieces and back yokes in a wider size (this was when I realized I’d accidentally cut out the low-rise versions of both the front and back, but I didn’t have enough to cut out new high-rise versions for the whole jeans, so I cut the low-rise again).

You can see why this project took forever.

Anyway. Sewed them up, did the double top-stitching again, assembled the front-fly, and basted the front and backs together and …

…it was too big. Not much, but too big.

Figures.

Serged it down a bit on the sides for the final seams and back-tacked the side seams at the hips. It was also becoming clear that the low-rise version was not going to be high enough, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I got the waistband on, so I made up the belt loops, and put the last of it together, with a proper metal blue-jeans button and everything. And yes, it is too low.

It’s also too big. As in too loose. Which it really shouldn’t be, given all the trying-on we did while I was putting it together. But it’s the first time I’ve made blue jeans, so I expected some goofs and learning experiences.

blog-4-1Because they’re too loose and too low and I know Frances won’t wear them, I’ve decided not to finish the hem. I’ll just cannibalize them for denim scraps over time, and get some more stretch denim when I have the chance, and try again: high-rise; snugger in the waist.

The good news is that the rest of it went together pretty well and I got some decent practice on the contrast top-stitching and the assembly of the belt loops and waistbands and pockets etc. So the next pair will hopefully not just fit, but also look better. These ones were a bit messier than I’d like.

It’ll have to wait until I get more denim, though.

And hey, maybe after the conclusion of the Frances Jeans trilogy, I can make my own!