Monday, February 12, 2007

jules' jeans #2

First thing with new mishin!

New machine is supposed to sew through anything. So what better to test it on than denim? This is a repeat stitchin' of Vogue 7481. This time I used much thicker denim and attempted some of the topstitching details. What I really wanted to work on was the fit. As well as seeming too large at the front crotch, the previous pair we slightly loose when finished and are even looser now. So I made the pattern alterations that I had noted last time: I took an inch off front waist, tapering to nothing at the hips, and then took 5/8" off most of the outside of the legs. Then I took a cm off the front inside leg all the way down. I then redrafted the waistband to taper more towards the waist. I'm not sure I got the grainline correct on both waistband pieces - the left side looks kind of wrong on the finished garment.

I'd already washed the fabric 3 times to pre-shrink it (it is what they advise for denim). Then I cut across the grain at either end and attempted to lay it out. The fabric was about 4 inches off grain! I do wonder if I made it do this by stitching the ends together before washing it (to stop it fraying). Perhaps one ought to try and straighten it while wet? Or after it is dry? Anyway I did neither of these. Instead, with James' help I laid the selvages on top of each other. The ends were about 4 inches off, but the fabric was lying very happily with a nice flat fold -- if you fold fabrc off-grain usually the fold will not lie flat. The fabric was also already showing another irritating characteristic of picking up bits. I thought I may as well carry on since the main aim was improving fit.

So I cut out and then I basted it all together in no time, using my new machine, on which it is possible to sew long stitches that can be easily pulled apart. The result certainly seemed tight!, but I've heard often of people sewing jeans which then stretch in wear that I thought I should not adjust it but carry the experiment through. I think what I failed to take into account was the extra bulk taken up by this thicker fabric which makes them tighter compared to the previous pair. I took another cm off each side of the legs below the thigh because they really did seem too baggy especially when compared to the tightness of the top. This change needs transferring to the pattern.

To test the new machine I bought some #20 thickness "jeans stitch" thread. I had wanted very dark red but it didn't seem to be available so I got an orangey instead. I wanted to be able to see it clearly to see how good the topstitching really is. I think this thread is thicker than one usually sees in RTW jeans so probably one could just as well use #30 thread which is available in a huge range of colours. Anyway, yes, the machine stiches merrily through 8+ layers of denim. I even made flat felled side seams and the new machine and new iron just made it easy. The only thing I didn't feel confident enough to do was the double row of topstitching round the fly. Perhaps next time... For the hems I copied my RTW jeans and did a double folded hem (2.5cmx2).

I haven't done any of the details like the belt loops, or the yoke and pockets of the other views. I suppose having belt loops might be useful if/when the jeans get looser.

At present they are certainly tight round the bum, but not tighter than pairs of jeans I have bought before. I am waiting for several round of wearing and washing before casting a verdict...


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