Monday, November 30, 2015

Muppet Flail Arms! : or Liana

Strange title for a post?  Not really.  Imagine if you will a happy muppet-y flailing of arms.  I'll give you a minute...  Ok.  Got that image in your mind?  Good!  That's pretty much me right now!

Why you ask?  Because I've made myself a pair of jeans.  Yes.  I made jeans.  And I survived!!!!  Ok, ok.  I know I'm late to the party by about a year.  Every other sewing blogger/bloggess out there has made a pair of jeans.  But being late to the party has not diminished my excitement in the least.

I decided last winter that I was going to make a pair of jeans for myself.  So I bought a pattern. Then I bought denim.  Then I pre-washed the denim...  And then I completely lost all courage for making jeans.  Seriously.  I was completely terrified of the prospect of it.  Could not even contemplate being successful at it, such was my intimidation.

With my "good time gal" crappy Walmart Singer, there was absolutely no way I could make jeans anyways.  That machine had fits at anything heavier than two layers of quilt cotton.  But then I started shopping around for a new machine in the spring and I specifically chose a work horse 40-something year old Pfaff off of Kijiji with the notion that I could make jeans with a machine like that.  The first thing I did when I got that baby set up on my sewing table was try sewing denim (for research purposes it sewed through a whopping six layers of denim like it was butter).  But I was still way too intimidated by jeans.  Oh jeans how you scare me so.  There's just so many areas that they can go rogue on you, really.

Then one of my fave designers, Kennis Wong, of Itch-to-Stitch - you may recall I already have a slight obsession with her Idyllwild* tee going on - put out the call for testers for her new Liana Stretch Jeans pattern. Liana comes with three different leg options - skinny, straight and bootcut and uses denim with 25% stretch.  I jumped at the chance without even giving it a second thought.  I knew that the combination of Kennis' pattern making and instructions and the motivation of having a deadline was exactly what I needed to tackle jeans head on.  And I was right.

And actually?  They're not really that scary after all!  I had a bit of a fitting conundrum that was causing me one heck of an unflattering rear view - but thanks to Kennis, with her wisdom and advice, I was able to sort out that I just needed to do a bit of tweaking of the pattern for my shape and what a difference!

Yikes!!  Lets get those wrinkles going, going, GONE!!!!
For your amusement here's a little collage I put together to show the before, in progress and final tweaking I did for the derrière.  Yikes! Try not to laugh too hard at those huge smiley butt wrinkles.    It's amazing what 3/8" of tweaking can accomplish!

I love that this denim has a subtle stripe to it!
Also topstitching.  Love how it turned out!
I was worried about the topstitching.  I thought it might be a bit of a nightmare switching back and forth from thread to thread as needed, not to mention when using such a contrasting thread any little blunder is going to be so painfully obvious, but in the end it wasn't bad. You never have to change the bobbin thread, so it's pretty quick and painless really and actually it turns out I kind of like topstitching.  My trick for keeping my double lines nice and even was to do the edge stitching and then align my right edge of my presser foot (which conveniently - thank you Pfaff of the past - happens to be a lovely, perfect 1/4") along the edge of the edge stitching and voila!  There's also the built in benefit with topstitching that you get to have the rights to "ooh and ahhh" at your own handiwork every time you finish a section of it.

This is how I feel about taking photos of myself.  LOL
Also what the heck wind?!?  Could you give me two seconds between gusts?  Please?!?

At least this one is pretty normal.  LOL!  These are the straight leg version of Liana.
Something is obviously fascinating on the ground...

Did that camera timer go or not yet?!?
So there you have it!  Jeans.  Just like that.  Sewing didn't even take that long all things considered.  I set the timer the other morning for two hours and got the backs and the fronts all done.  A couple more hours for basting and fitting and modifying for my body shape, and then another hour and a half or so for hemming and the waistband and I was done.  Incredible!

I'll show you the first pair I made of Liana too - because while they're not the best fit, they're not really that bad. I think with some tweaking I can still make them work, but I had a couple issues with them.  First off my denim had really poor recovery.  Like a pair of jeans from Old Navy, I can wear them for about five minutes and then they start to sag in a sorry way.  So keep that in mind if you're making your own pair.  The percentage of stretch is very important for sizing, but ultimately so is the recovery.  (make sure that fabric bounces right on back to where it started from or prepare for some disappointment) I also panicked about sizing and made them a size too big.  Ooops a daisy!  Should have thought that one through better!  But this pair taught me so much about the construction of jeans and really helped me to overcome the intimidation.  They were a great practice pair and the fabric I used for the pockets? What seamstress wouldn't smile at it?

Pockets for my first pair
And since I'm showing off pockets -
here's the second pair making use of what I had left over from my "Bluebirds of Happiness" dress 

Again what is so interesting on the ground?!?!  LOL

Not bad looking until they stretch out and don't want to go back!
(Remember good recovery = happiness!)
So are you ready to take the plunge and try making your own jeans?  I highly recommend it!  Liana is a great pattern to start your adventure in jeans making with - Kennis walks you through each step in the illustrated instructions - and if you're an experienced jeans sewist, I think you'll really enjoy these! Having the opportunity to be a tester and getting in on this pattern at the ground level, so to speak, I know that she put a lot of work into creating a great pattern that will work for a really wide range of sizes! You can find the newly released Liana Stretch Jeans pattern over at Itch-to-Stitch.  Kennis is hosting a sew along for Liana and also has a great sale going on right now until December 6th!!

I'll be back later on today to tell you about another great new pattern from Kennis that I was lucky enough to test!


  1. You are so brave! Good job! They look fantastic. So I'm not the only one who has issues with Old Navy denim not keeping it's shape, lol.

  2. You are so brave! Good job! They look fantastic. So I'm not the only one who has issues with Old Navy denim not keeping it's shape, lol.

    1. Thanks, Rose! And nope! Old Navy jeans are ridiculous! I've never had any luck with them keeping their shape (which leads me to wonder why I've gotten suckered in so many times there! I don't learn lessons well apparently! LOL)

  3. Love your jeans! They look great on you! I have the same problem with Gap jeans too! I was wondering where you got your "good" denim?