Designer Denim Made to Order
A little over a year ago after first watching Kenneth D. King’s Jean-ius class on Craftsy, I promised my good friend that I’d copy her one pair of fancy designer jeans for her. She’s 4’10″, and a good fitting pair of jeans is hard to come by. She can’t just hem longer jeans since the knees end up too low. She actually had to special order her one pair and still have them hemmed. Then months and months passed as work and other projects got in the way. Finally, around the beginning of this year, I was determined to get moving on the project since I wanted to complete the jeans before moving to Seattle. We sat down together and looked over Mood Fabric’s extensive collection of denim. We were both drawn to a navy denim by the designer Theory that promised to be a “soft cotton denim with a subtle stretch”. And, that description did not disappoint! It was both incredibly soft and plenty stretchy. It was perfect for a comfy pair of “designer” jeans!
Week by week over the past few months, I’ve been working my way through the Jean-ius Craftsy class. I developed a pattern using her favorite ready-to-wear jeans with Kenneth D. King’s lessons and then basically launched right into the making of the jeans, also using guidance from the class. My attempt at a muslin was pretty much a failure since I used a non-stretch cotton muslin. It only told me how to adjust the side seam so that it would fall perfectly vertical down her leg; it was too tight to pull any other information from it. But, I figured that the fact that she could squeeze into the pattern when it was made from a non-stretch fabric meant that the “subtle stretch” in the Theory denim would make all the difference.
Working with this denim wasn’t hard at all. It’s a lightweight denim, and my machine didn’t have a problem with it at all. With some denims I’ve used in the past, I’ve ended up with sore arms from using my hand wheel through a large portion of sewing because of how unruly the denim was – not so here! And, the stretch was just what the pattern needed! I couldn’t believe it when the fit was pretty good right off the bat. I guess I should have expected it since I’d copied a pair of her jeans, after all!
I did have to take out a decent sized wedge out of the back, near the waist since there was a lot of gaping back there. But, thankfully, this denim is really forgiving. I just unpicked the back center seam and remarked a new seam that removed a few inches at the waist and then tapered down to nothing before the curve in the back crotch seam. I forgot to get a picture of it, but the back center belt loop covered the seam that had to be added to the waistband to accommodate the fitting. No one will be the wiser!
One of my favorite details are the back pockets. My friend and I together chose cursive L’s since her name begins with an L. I like that it’s not too over the top but has a lot of meaning!
The ready-to-wear jeans I was copying are hemmed for wearing with super high heels, and my friend asked if these could be hemmed for wearing with flats. I pinned them to length on her and then added a teeny bit more length in case these jeans shrink the first time she washes them. I don’t think that they should since the fabric was washed three times before I even cut into it, but I figured it was better to be safe.
I am really pleased with these jeans, and I think my friend is, too. I mean, look at that smile! Now I need to preserve the pattern – you never know if I’ll surprise her with more in the future or she’ll take up sewing or maybe her mother-in-law will want to try her hand at making a pair since I’ve heard she is quite talented with her sewing machine!
I also can’t wait to copy my husband’s favorite pair of jeans. I think I might need a few more yards of that soft Theory denim….