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A classic pair of jeans

13 September 2013, 12:18

I know I’ve been recently focusing on sewing for my upcoming Mexico trip but I’ve been wanting to sew these since my FW12 and SS13 plans so it was high time I actually just sat down and made them!

After umming and ahhing for months over which pattern I should use, then muslining two different patterns which were both too small, I ended up making this pair in two days’ flat! As you’ll recall, it’s #120 from the April 2010 issue of Burda magazine (sadly not on Burdastyle.com! UPDATE: my mistake! they are on BurdaStyle.com now!), an issue which also had a great pair of men’s trousers I’ve been eyeing up for James, too.

Worn here with my plum bamboo Jalie top

I’m a bit scared that I can sew an entire pair of jeans now (including the front fly) without looking at instructions a single time… I did, however, inspect a pair of James’s RTW jeans once or twice to see which side of the seam they topstitched!

This one has been lightened so you can see the details a little better!

Oh, and remember when I tried on the muslin for this pattern and it was way too small in the waist and hips? Well, I put the muslin to the side in my sewing cave and tried them on a few weeks later and they fit perfectly now! Yes, only I would go and change my body instead of just doing a pattern alteration…

I did have to take in the CB seam by about four inches due to gaping though – a new alteration for me. This required a fair bit of unpicking of the topstitching, but it was worth it in the end as I managed an invisible join by pulling the threads to the back and tying. This was the only alteration I needed, apart from lengthening the legs by about 3 inches, which is standard for me and Burda trousers.

So when I finally sat down to start sewing these, I pulled out my vintage hand crank Singer (aka “the best damn topstitching machine ever!”) only to see that I had like 5 feet of copper topstitching thread left. Boo! So I trialled all the other colours of Gutermann Upholstery thread in my stash, only to admit that really, the copper was the only one that would give the classic look I was after. Happily, James saw my plea on Twitter and stopped at John Lewis on his ride home and picked me up the spool I needed (along with some sea salt chocolate! Best husband ever!).

Back pocket inspiration came to me from my swirl sheath dress where I used alternating sides of the same fabric – so here I laid down some scrap denim showing the reverse, topstitched, and frayed the edges for some texture.

The lining fabric is some quilting cotton with little running men all over it – I’d bought it to make a baby changing mat for a good friend (one of my fellow river running buddies) and there was a little bit leftover from the metre to use here. As per usual, I used the quilting cotton for the inner waistband, front pocket facings, and the fly underlap.

The denim here is gloriously wonderful stuff – all the better for aging like a fine wine in my stash since my mom brought it over in her suitcase for the wedding in 2010! So it’s officially over three years old, and I wish I’d bought more of it from Fabric.com, but for those of you who can buy from there without crippling shipping costs, apparently it’s “Heavy weight denim marine”. It’s non-stretch, has a great colour and texture, and really feels very high end boutique denim. Paired with some stellar rivets from Junior again (remember I showed you how to use these a while back, too), and I’ve got myself some very expensive-looking jeans for not very much time or money! Much better than fighting my way through the shops, that’s for sure.

The photos this time around were taken only about 10 minutes and 50 metres away from the terracotta Hummingbird skirt photos, believe it or not! These were shot on the roof of a neighbour’s boat (yes, they’ve got astroturf up there, very cool!), and we stuck around afterwards for a cup of tea.

Since nobody ever really wears their jeans with a shirt tucked in, I thought you’d like to see how I’d normally wear this in every day life – with a cup of tea in my hand, too!

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  1. They look fabulous Melissa! And your Singer does a great job with all that topstiching. Jeans are near the top of my autumn sewing (skinnies probably) – so thank you for the inspiration :)
    Mobile themes are working great too btw :-)
    Louise x

    Louise    Sep 13, 12:57 PM    #
  2. Very Stylish. But now I must go and make myself some tea.

    — Frances    Sep 13, 01:19 PM    #
  3. Terrific looking jeans! That’s what’s on the table in my sewing room right now. Wish I didn’t need to look at the instructions, but I rarely make jeans……

    — cindy    Sep 13, 01:49 PM    #
  4. I like classic jeans and these are perfect. The fit is excellent and flattering

    Nancy Karpen    Sep 13, 03:35 PM    #
  5. Wow, you are really fit. It almost makes me want to diet. I tried giving up carbs for three days and failed miserably. Sigh.

    The Jeans are fab. Love the fit and the style. The copper thread is perfect. Wahoo for excellent husbands.

    Elizabeth    Sep 13, 03:36 PM    #
  6. I never tuck in, either, but it was very nice to see all the stitching detail! Just lovely – and the copper thread is perfect. You’ve inspired me to get on with a pair of jeans, too!

    — M Kate    Sep 13, 04:51 PM    #
  7. These look fantastic! Great job!

    CGCouture    Sep 13, 07:44 PM    #
  8. Fantastic jeans Melissa. The topstitching looks great and James is a keeper. Thread and chocolate!

    Kim Hood    Sep 13, 08:43 PM    #
  9. Nice work.

    Vicki    Sep 13, 11:07 PM    #
  10. Fantastic looking jeans! Lots of nice detailing and they look great on you!

    — Levone    Sep 14, 01:00 PM    #
  11. Great work, they look really flattering on you. I’ve never been tempted to make jeans because it seems like so much work for an uncertain outcome, but I’ll bookmark this pattern just in case

    Kristy    Sep 14, 01:22 PM    #
  12. Hi Melissa,

    I visit your blog frequently for inspiration, magazine reviews and sewing tips.

    I’m a huge fan of Manequim, it’s better than most of Burda which I saw lately. The only problem is that Manequim patterns come mostly in a single size. And right now I’m trying to figure out how to downgrade a pant pattern (there is one from Karl Lagerfeld that I would love to wear, available only in 42 size).

    I would appreciate any ideas of yours !

    Thank you in advance.


    — Elina    Sep 14, 08:08 PM    #
  13. Thanks for the rivet link! I’m rebuilding a Singer chain stitch machine for that very purpose (and probably use that very thread and color). Your blog is a treasure!

    Stephanie    Sep 15, 01:16 AM    #
  14. You’ve done a splendid job on these. The finish is very professional and you’ve achieved a great fit.

    Gail    Sep 15, 08:29 AM    #
  15. I’m speechless! These are fantastic. Two days?! I can’t believe it.

    Stephanie    Sep 15, 12:45 PM    #
  16. Thread and Chocolate??Seriously.The.Best.Hubby.Ever!

    — JenL    Sep 16, 04:42 AM    #
  17. Nice fitting jeans. Beautiful!

    senaSews    Sep 16, 11:53 AM    #
  18. Melissa, you are not the only one preferring to change her body instead of altering a pattern…I was ready to go for a boob job to avoid moving darts on my first knitting project…but I won´t…I love those jeans and they really fit you so well. The pocket detail is fabulous and so are the rivets. The fit is great on your long legs. In two days I don´t even manage to finish a knit top! You´re very inspiring!

    Sewing Princess    Sep 17, 01:17 PM    #
  19. Absolutely fabulous jeans! Burda Style has several patterns I liked, however when I printed one of them the scale was way off. I spent a whole afternoon trying to adjust it. After a quarter ream of paper I was finally able to come up with a little 1/4 size mock up. I’ve decided to re-draft a pattern I made years ago and it will help in terms of making the missing pieces.

    If you, or anyone else has a clue how to get downloaded patterns to print correctly I’d love to hear it. I’m afraid to try any more.

    My first machine was a 1968 Singer Featherweight. I had huge regrets about selling it after I got a newer style machine. My Singer did the BEST topstitching ever! I think it’s the little round hole. With the wide zig zag plate, the fabric sinks into the hole a bit as you stitch. When I get missing my Singer I take consolation in the fact I sold it to a man who wanted to be able to repair his work clothes.

    Kudos on your jeans. They rank with the best I’ve seen! Cheers, Sewing Canary.

    — sewing canary    Sep 19, 03:29 PM    #
  20. these look and fit sooooo good!

    kriston lion    Sep 28, 09:53 AM    #

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