achievement unlocked: feminist Ginger jeans

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Allow me to preface this post by stating upfront: I LOVE THESE JEANS. Not only are they the best-fitting pair of pants I have made so far (including pajama pants!)…they may be the best-fitting pair of jeans I have ever had in my entire life.

This was my third go with the Ginger jeans pattern. I made a black pair in February & a gray pair with black topstitching in June. I cut these dark blue jeans out approximately thirty seconds after finishing the gray pair, but I quickly lost momentum with them because I was disappointed with the fit of the gray jeans. I had sized down with them a bit because my black pair had turned out kind of big, but I over-did it & made them a hair too snug. I actually popped the button off once when I bent over to put on my shoes! That was just a superb moment in which I felt super-great about my body & my sewing skills.

I had cut these jeans about the same size as the gray ones & really considered just tossing the unsewn pieces. Making jeans is kind of arduous & time-consuming. I like doing it, but it’s a lot of work to sink into something that is likely to be unwearable. I stuffed them into a plastic gallon bag (where I stash works in progress) & put them aside. It was summer anyway–too damn hot to wear jeans.

October rolled around & I was desperate for some new jeans. I hadn’t tried my gray jeans since the whole button-popping incident (though I had repaired the button), & my black jeans were being worn to tattered rags. I dug out my cut pieces & decided to baste them together & try them on before giving up on them.

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Lo & behold: they fit like a motherfucking glove! The only bit that gave me pause was that the back waistline gaped a little (which is also an issue I’ve had with my last two pairs of Ginger jeans). I knew it could be addressed by contouring the waistband a little bit more &/or taking a wedge out of the yoke, but all my pieces had already been cut & the scraps tossed out months earlier. I decided to experiment by cutting a tiny bit off my yoke pieces in the center–literally like 1/4″. & I stretched my waistband a tiny bit when I sewed it on so it would nip in a little more through the waist. The result: SHEER PERFECTION. 100% comfort & no gaping whatsoever.

Okay, I am going to admit something really embarrassing about the construction of these jeans. When I made my last two pairs, I somehow glossed over the bit about easing together the front & back legs through the hips & thighs. If I recall, the hemline did come out wonky, but I just chalked it up to user error (which it was, technically, just not the kind of error I thought) & cut off the excess to make it even. The finished jeans are all right, but there is a tiny bit of leg-twisting in both pairs. I think I got away with it because I have disproportionately slim thighs, & this pattern is drafted for a more generous hindquarters. If I had a little more badonkadonk, missing this step may have made those first two pairs unwearable.

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Anyway, I caught on to the proper construction techniques with this pair, with stellar results. These babies don’t twist at all. They don’t pull across the thighs when I walk or sit. They are like a second skin! I really can’t say enough good things about them. They are maybe my favorite thing I have sewn so far.

I think the denim is by Robert Kaufman & I got it from fabric.com, which is proof that you don’t need to splash out on $25/yard denim to get a pretty great pair of jeans (though I do still dream of trying Cone Mills one day). I lined the waistband & made the pockets bags from the fabric I used for one of my very first real sewing projects, the covers for my last zine. It’s a cotton/linen blend printed with elephants & it was NOT cheap. It cost at least twice as much as the denim. I also once again sewed the pocket bags the wrong way around so the wrong side of the fabric is facing out when the jeans are inside out. Curses! I mean, it doesn’t matter, no one but me will ever know (& now anyone who is reading this). It’s just not what I intended to do.

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(Sorry these are super-wrinkly from being worn. Honestly, if I waited to take photos at some point when they are fresh out of the dryer, it would never happen, because I wear them all the damn time.)

The only other construction snafu with these is that I topstitched the BACK inseam instead of the front. I just spaced on which side gets topstitched & was too lazy to double-check, & then too lazy to rip it out & do it again when I realized my mistake. Again, probably not noticeable to the casual observer, but it irks me a bit.

I also experimented a bit with the back pockets. I bought a new sewing machine last spring, & it has a lot of monogram stitches. I used them to spell out “feminist killjoy” on one pocket & “trust no man” on the other, surrounded by some goofy heart-shaped decorative stitching. & of course I used pink thread for the topstitching. The glory of making your own jeans is that you can use whatever colors you like! I love pink (I used to dress exclusively in pink: pants, shoes, coat, hoodie, hair, everything–I really stood out amongst the black bloc at protests), so I like having a little pop of it on these perfect indigo jeans.

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Details: I made view A, the low-rise with the stovepipe legs. I added about 1″, grading to nothing at the side seams, to the front rise, for belly accommodation. I’m pretty short-waisted with a major swayback, so that small change made these mid-rise, which is my personal preference. I cut a size 20 to start, but I’ve fiddled with the side seams so much, they’re probably more like a 16 at this point. For reference, the last time I took my measurements, I had a 37″ waist & 45″ hips. Though my weight has been fluctuating wildly for the last few months due to the whole cancer situation. Those gray button-popping jeans? They fit now. The black jeans? Multiple inches too big. (I still wear them though.)

I am currently at work on my FOURTH pair of Ginger jeans, in super-fine wale black corduroy. The fabric is a lint magnet, but whatever. I’m doing a ridiculously time-consuming back pocket treatment, so this pair may not be finished until after my hysterectomy (scheduled for Valentine’s Day–is that too perfect or what?), but I’m really trying to finish them by the end of January.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. hoperoth says:

    Those look fantastic! I loooove the pink top-stitching.

    1. Ciara says:

      Me toooooo. That pink color is my favorite. Not too bright, not too pastel. & it goes with everything (in my opinion, haha).

  2. wendy0322 says:

    Great post, I’m impressed with your sewing skills!

  3. Naomi says:

    Awesome. I loved these when you did your Patti Smith version for IPM and these are super kill. Love the feminist buzzkill especially!

    1. Ciara says:

      Well, you will be excited for my next pair of Gingers then. They are going to be even more feminist-y. They’re just taking forever to embellish.

  4. Debbie Cook says:

    Great jeans! I think your pocket bags are fine … at least to me. That’s the way I always do it. I want the inside of the actual pockets to be the right side, not the inside of the jeans/pants themselves. And since that’s the usual way, maybe the construction instructions messed with your plan??

    1. Ciara says:

      Yeah, I know what you mean. These pocket bags are made from two layers of fabric, & in a perfect world, one layer would be visible inside the pocket when I’m wearing them, & the other layer would face out when the jeans are inside out. It’s just a miracle if I ever manage to sew both layers in the direction I intend. One of these days I’ll get it right!

      & the directions are confusing because I think they were changed after I printed my pattern (???). There all this stuff about folding & I am like, “Bwah?”

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