achievement unlocked: gray Patti Smith jeans

So, we are moving in three weeks! It’s actually a bit stressful, because we have to be out of current place in three weeks, but we don’t get the keys to our new place until the end of July. So we have a full week of nowhere to live, nowhere to put our stuff…We wound up securing storage through Uhaul & booking an Airbnb for the week. The troubling part is that the Airbnb is in Oskaloosa, which is a tiny, itsy bitsy little town (only about 1000 residents) 25 miles north of Lawrence. I’m going to bring a lot of library books & some hand-mending that I have been procrastinating on & view it as a Kansas staycation, but I think the real benefit is that it will make our new place seem palatial by comparison.

One of my goals is to finish photographing & blogging my backlog of garments before we move. We shall see if that happens. Today I have another pair of Ginger jeans. They are one of the three garments I made for the “RTW knock-off” challenge over at the Monthly Stitch. Voting is open now, so maybe consider heading over & voting for me? &/or any of the other entries. There are some good ones. That vintage-y dress & little bolero-style sweater that Hila from Saturday Night Stitch made is just fabulous. You can vote for three entries.


Anyway, on to the jeans! After I made my first pair of Gingers back in February, I decided that they were a little too big. I made a straight size 18, view A (low-rise with stovepipe legs), & brought the rise up 1″. They fit perfectly fresh out of the wash, but the stretch twill I used bags out over time, so they were sliding down my butt after like two wears. & I am not one of those people who rushes to wash jeans after every wear, unless something terrible happens to them (like spilling an entire cup of coffee on them–that happens to me more often than I’d like to contemplate).

For this version, I kept the size 18 at the inseam & went to size 14 at the side seams. I also brought the yoke in 1″ because I had a little bit of gaping in the back waistband with my first pair.


The result is a pretty okay fit. Maybe even a little too tight in the hips? I’ve already cut out a third pair (I wear jeans A LOT when it’s not 100 degrees out, & I’m trying to phase all RTW out of my wardrobe, so having several pairs of jeans I’ve made myself is definitely something I want) with that same 14/18 sizing. I think I might sew the hips with a slightly smaller seam allowance to give myself a little more space there.


My main issue with the fit is the waistband. I’m still getting some gaping in the back, & it really just seems a little too big all around. There’s a 8″ difference between my waist & my hips…but still. Maybe I need to contour the waistband a little more? I don’t think it needs to be taken in where the waistband meets the jeans. It’s more the top of the waistband that is the issue. I’m just not 100% sure how to address this problem. If anyone reading this has any insight they want to offer, I’m all ears.


Anyway, I made these up in pretty heavyweight stretch twill. I chose gray just to mix things up a little, & to experiment with contrast topstitching while still keeping things very neutral. I used heavyweight Gutermann topstitching thread & you know what? I hate it. I like Gutermann all-purpose thread a lot. But their topstitching thread is too heavy. I’ve used it on three different machines (a Singer, a Brother, & a Pfaff), & all three were like, “Fuck this.” I’ve used a slightly lighter weight button thread from Gutermann is it just slides through the machine like butter. My local shop doesn’t sell that weight, so I have to special order it from Wawak, but it is 100% worth the shipping cost & extra planning. There are places on these jeans where the heavyweight thread is looping a bit on the underside & it drives me insane.

I mostly sewed these on my new Pfaff. I haven’t talked much about it, even though I’ve been using it exclusively for like six weeks now. I am still learning my way around it a bit, but I like it a lot. It handled the fabric & the topstitching a lot better than my Brother did when I made my first pair of Gingers. Some of that could maybe be chalked up to experience (only four months elapsed between the two pairs, but I feel like I am improving all the time, & I went through that all-shirtdresses-all-the-time phase between the jeans, which was a crash course in topstitching), but a lot of it was just not having to fight the machine quite as much. It took corners, like on the waistband, especially well.


Because these were made for my Patti Smith-inspired outfit, I used the alphabet stitches on my Pfaff to embroider a quote from her on the back pockets. She gave an interview about her personal style to the “New York Times” a few years ago & said, “My style is very, ‘Look at me, don’t look at me.'” I think that quote could be read in two ways. Interpretation #1: “Look at me!” *waves frantically, trying to draw all attention* “Don’t look at me!” *hides face from all attention* Interpretation #2: “Look at me, don’t look at me, I don’t give a damn either way.” I could kind of relate to either interpretation, really.


So, those are my newest jeans! I wore them to the local fabric shop yesterday & one of employees asked if I needed any help while I was examining the wall of notions. I turned around & she said, “Oh, it’s you! I just saw you from the back & was like, ‘That person sews & obviously knows what she’s doing,’ but I didn’t recognize you,” & one of the other employees said, “Yeah, because she’s not wearing black.”


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

16 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: gray Patti Smith jeans

    1. Another bonus is that I just think the button thread just looks better. The official topstitching thread is so chunky that it sometimes just looks like a blob on the fabric, instead of stitches.

  1. I love these! I love that you put the quote on the pockets, so much.

    I just made a pair of gingers and I found the waistband pretty gapey – I’ve heard others say the size ran large. I’ll blog about them as soon as I can get photos but mine were different because I made them with an elastic waist and eliminated the fly. Because of that I made the waistband seam at the back. I ended up taking the back and front seams in LOTS – like four inches at the back – with the result that that part was much more tapered. Perhaps you could take some ‘darts’ in the waistband? Or slash and overlap so it’s smaller on the top/more curved? Or add some elastic just in the back 4″ or so, to suck it in? I favour the latter because for me, if I make it fit properly when I’m standing then it is way too tight when I’m sitting, but idk if you have the same problem.

    1. Yeah, the bigger sizes definitely run large. On the one hand, I’m glad they will accommodate a larger size range. On the other hand, it would be nice if the sizing chart was accurate. If the size 16, for instance, actually fits 46″ hips, just say so! I definitely took my first pair in a TON–multiple inches, after cutting exactly the size indicated for my measurements. It’s weird because they’re supposed to be tight, with negative ease.

      I like the idea of slashing & overlapping the waistband piece. It’s really just the waistband that is too big at this point, & I wasn’t sure how to fix it, given that the area where the waistband is attached to the jeans is the perfect size.

      1. Yup! I cut mine to what should actually have been a bit small, because I figured negative ease… And I ended up taking it in probably 6″ overall. That’s a lot!

        I feel the same way. I mean, it was an advantage for me because I fit into it rather than it being too small. But then there will be people who it would fit who won’t try it at all! Luckily for me the fit was perfect on my hips, though. Oh well, I suppose every pattern has its idiosyncrasies!

        I’ve done the overlap to make a straight waistband curved in one of my M6696 makes, because I needed a larger lowerhalf. I haven’t managed to put it all back together again but when I tried it on it fit and worked well. The slashing and overlapping is essentially what I did when taking in the back seam on my gingers so I think I’ll go back and adjust the pattern piece to be like that permanently.

        1. I mean, truthfully…If you have people cutting according to your size chart & then having to take their garment in six inches, you have a problem with your size chart. Heather should really actually fix that.

          I won an Itch to Stitch pattern of my choice (my Patti Smith outfit was one of the winners in the RTW Knock-Off challenge at the Monthly Stitch) & I chose the Liana jeans. Part of me was like, “Do I need another stretch jeans pattern?” but I’m interested to give them a try & see how they stack up against the Gingers. Maybe getting some experience with two different patterns will help me figure out exactly what I need to tweak to get the perfect handmade jeans.

          1. I agree! The size chart should be at least CLOSE to the actual size. That’s what it’s for. I suspect it’s indicative of smaller sized drafters not really knowing how larger bodies work as they go up in size. Not that I can criticise, I barely understand how my own body works! But I mean a larger stomach has more give than a smaller waist, you know?

            Congrats on the win! Those jeans deserved it 🙂 Those Liana jeans look interesting! I think trying different patterns is useful. The whole rise shape and size is a world I haven’t really explored, I think trying different patterns is good for that. I need to go back and look at the gingers rise (too large but the right shape) with the Colette Juniper rise (too short, shape is ????) and see if I can figure out what works for me.

  2. I am super behind in reading the blogs I follow, but I wanted to say that I really love these! I love the quote on the pockets, and I’m really glad you won! I totally agree on the topstitching thread issue. I have some heavier weight thread from Guterman, and I’m not sure it’s button thread (it might be upholstery thread?), but the spool is grey rather than whatever color the actual topstitching thread is. It works much better and looks fine. I get it from Joann, but I think you said the closest Joann to you is pretty far away. But if you get there, it’s worth checking out!

    1. Apparently a Joann is moving into the old Hancock space once they are all closed down, but I don’t know when that will be. In the meantime, I have been ordering from Wawak, which carries both traditional topstitching thread & the more lightweight buttonhole thread. Plus they have it available in about a trillion colors for around $2.50 per giant spool.

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