HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (yesterday!)! 🙂
Can I begin by noting that there is no other month of the year when I see so many people announcing their own birthdays on social media… Maybe I simply notice it more in August because it is also my birthday month, but I’m drawn to thinking this is just a special thing that we Leos do because we are so special (or so we think!!) I’ve loved sharing my birth month with so many other great sewists so far, and today I’m excited to share the birth month love with YOU guys! More details on that below. 🙂
Before all of that, though, let’s talk about my JEANS. That’s right, I said jeans. I made jeans!!
Every year for my birthday, I pull out a couple of things that I am extra excited to sew. Most years, it is a super special fabric that likely turns into a pretty dress of some sort. Last year, feeling super pregnant, I sewed up a great knit t-shirt dress and a couple of Pony Tanks. This year, I am hitting all the bases. I’ve got a BEAUTIFUL AK Patterns Lisa Dress in the works right now – more on that next week! I’ve got 2 great knit dresses planned with some incredibly beautiful fabric from Minerva. But the big deal birthday gift to myself this year was a pair of Ash Jeans.
Back in early September 2018, Blackbird Fabrics had a big presale for a great denim shipment that they had coming in. Making jeans was a big bucket list sewing goal of mine, so I used their presale as motivation and purchased denim for FOUR different pairs of jeans that I had imagined up in my head. I was ridiculously ambitious, and I picked out different denims with plans to make FOUR different jeans patterns. I was very pregnant at the time, and knew that jeans making was going to be a future endeavour, but I wanted to be ready!
Sew My Style dedicated a month to jeans this year, and I knew that it was the last little push I needed to finally accomplish this big goal. The Ash Jeans by Megan Nielsen was one of the four patterns I’d chosen early on, and I knew that this light Italian slub denim was going to work so well with the pattern. As July rolled in, I pulled my denim out of the box (yeah, it was still in the box.), put it in for a prewash, and started gathering supplies. I wanted to make things as easy as possible the first time around, because the idea of sewing jeans was pretty intimidating to me. In order to avoid sourcing supplies and hoping everything matched well, I ordered a fly zip jeans notions kit directly from Megan Nielsen. It came with everything I needed, in a color that I got to choose, and took a lot of the guesswork and searching out of the jeans-making process. Though I have no problem sourcing notions and supplies, I do find that a kit offers a little peace of mind from time to time! I’m super glad that I got the kit, and quite honestly, I would do it again.
Once I finally got started, I actually really enjoyed the process of sewing up these jeans. This was the most labor intensive project I’ve done in quite a while, and some parts could easily become tedious if you let them – specifically the constant swapping between your regular needle / thread and your topstitching needle / thread. I recognized this early on, and instead just decided I was going to enjoy the process! I rarely get to sew for more than an hour at a time, and that probably helped too – I never got stuck spending hours and hours just swapping between needles and thread spools.
For reference, the Ash Jeans pattern is a 4-in-1 pattern offering a straight, skinny, wide, and flared leg option. I chose to sew up the skinny leg, as this is the silhouette I reach for most regularly in my current closet. Here are a couple of thoughts on the pattern, which may ultimately just be notes to myself for the future. Topstitching was new to me, and though I practiced on scrap denim and made sure to find a thread length I liked, and that my tension was appropriate, I think in the long run I would’ve preferred a bit of a longer stitch. I didn’t venture far out of the comfort zone (my machine defaults to a 2.5 length for a straight stitch, and I chose to topstitch at 3.0) and I think I realized I preferred a 3.5 or 4.0, but I’ll keep that in mind for future jeans projects! Bartacks and I didn’t become friends on this project… I use my machine’s bartack function, and though it got stuck a little of the way through, I ended up with bartacks that actually resemble bartacks on the fly of my jeans. My outside seam bartacks, though, are essentially non-existent. I just could not get them going! Looking back, I think that my zigzag width was set too narrow, and I could’ve stood to practice a few (tens) more on my scrap denim. The buttonhole was my other biggest struggle. I was impatient and excited to finish my jeans. I quickly recognized that the automatic buttonhole feature wasn’t going to work well on the thick denim, so I nixed that idea and clicked over to Megan Nielsen’s blog to follow her tutorial for a manual buttonhole. I practiced only two or three times, none of which resulted in a buttonhole I was satisfied with, and then moved on to the real deal. I am placated by the fact that no one will ever really see the jeans without the button in the buttonhole, concealing the messiness of it all, but I’m just not super impressed with it. Future self, SLOW DOWN and practice that thing!!
Now that I’ve pretty well covered my thoughts on construction, let’s talk about FIT! Once I got to the baste fit stage of the jeans, I was over the moon – they were really coming together! I tried them on in my Instagram stories, and was so pleased to find that they fit. LIKE. A. GLOVE. I felt like there might be a little extra fabric in the crotch area, but it was hard to tell without the waistband in place to hold everything up. I left everything exactly as it was, stitched along the ⅝” line, and moved forward with construction. I’m happy with the fit, but even with the waistband on, it seems like there is a little extra fabric in the front crotch area still. I find that although the jeans themselves fit perfectly (I made a size 28 based on my measurements) the waistband might be a fraction of an inch too small. In the future, I may need to add a small bit to my waistband, and to take a little smaller seam at the calves, as I do have some nice, defined calf muscles!
Overall, I am so impressed with how these fit, especially considering I made no modifications and sewed these up straight off of the pattern. Despite being a stretch denim, they are still a good deal less stretchy than the typical jeans I’ve purchased ready to wear, and I think that this will take a little getting used to. They are more and more comfortable each time I wear them, though. And I plan to wear them a LOT, just so I can brag about them to everyone on the streets! As for those other three cute of denim in my sewing room… They’ll be jeans eventually! RIght now though, I’ll be sewing a good number of knit projects and giving myself a well-deserved denim break!!
Thank you so much for popping in to see my brand new jeans! If you have read this far, maybe you’re just sticking around for the giveaway? Either way, I love you.
So let’s celebrate my 29 years of life!! I want to send YOU a gift, and I’m pretty partial, but I’d say it’s a good one! I have a Madam Sew presser foot kit (I’ve talked about this all over stories lately – it is a 32-piece presser foot kit with EVERYTHING that you need!), a Chalk & Notch pattern of your choice, an Ellie & Mac pattern of your choice, AND a copy of the Ash Jeans pattern so that you can try your hand at a pair of handmade jeans, too! I’m super excited to give some fun things away to you guys – these are all products that I use and LOVE. The presser foot kit came in absolutely key with both my Winslow Culottes and a pair of SOI Ultimate Trousers recently, and I have really enjoyed trying some cool new finishes now that I have the tools! Ellie and Mac is such a great pattern company for knit projects, you can see a few things I’ve made using their patterns here – I will definitely be working with a few of these patterns again in the very immediate future as I recover from such a laborious project!! And finally, Chalk & Notch is one of my very favorite pattern designers – the Orchid Midi and Fringe dress have both been fabulous dresses that offer the unexpected benefit of nursing access, and the Pony Tank has been a total work horse in my closet lately. You can see all of the things I’ve made with Chalk & Notch patterns here! I hope that this fun giveaway bundle will bolster your love of sewing!
To enter the giveaway, comment below and tell me if you have ever used a pre-prepped kit when sewing a garment. Let me know what kit you used and whether or not you loved it!! (PS – you can get additional entries by commenting on today’s Instagram post, and also by tagging a friend over there!). I’ll let the giveaway run for a couple of days, and I will announce the winner on Friday, August 16th!
Jeans: handmade by me
Pattern: Megan Nielsen Patterns – Ash Jeans
Fabric: Blackbird Fabrics – 10oz Italian Slubby Stretch Denim – Light Wash (now sold out!)
Megan Nielsen Jeans Zip Fly Notions Kit in Copper
Brother XR9500PRW Sewing Machine
Brother 1034D Overlocker
Schmetz Chrome Topstitch Needles – Size 90/14
Schmetz Denim Needles – Size 100/16
Gutterman Topstitch Thread – Color 520
Dahle 36×48 Self-healing Cutting Mat
Mini Hammer (for use with Mini Anvil for hardware placement)
All products used in this post were purchased at my own cost, and all words and opinions expressed are my own, as always! Links provided throughout this post may be affiliate links – if you choose to purchase any products through these links, I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you. This simply helps me justify the costs of my sewing habit and the time it takes to share it with you!! Happy Sewing – and good luck with the giveaway!
- XX Elizabeth