After 3 Craftsy classes, numerous YouTube videos about installing a fly front zipper, a surprise win of the only knit jeans pattern (that I know of), and a few sewing hours, I am the proud owner of boot-cut, knit jeans.
This pair is the ultimate in comfort jeans. The knit fabric upgrades this pair for the style-plus-comfort seekers. Jeans are nothing if not snug-but-comfy, and good looking at the same time. This is how it went:
The pattern: I won it! Jennifer Stern Haseman emailed me that I was a co-winner of her Ponte Knit Jeans pattern, along with another lucky lady! The pattern is availlable in Misses and Womens sizes. A Misses 16 matched my size so I traced that. The guide sheet pages have body size and finished garment charts, including helpful front-rise and back-rise info. I made this pattern exactly according to the pattern designer’s instructions. All following versions will suffer my tweaks.
Alterations: I reduced a LOT of length. My friends, you know that I’m under 5’4”, right? The pattern is marked with a knee point and it’s imperative that your knee matches this very point. That’s the way jean making goes. I reduced the length above and below the knee point, as well as at the hem. I made a width adjustment at the side seams after they were sewn. The jeans were not snug enough so I took them in at the sides starting 2-3″ below the waist. Much better, but the coin pocket moved closer to the side. The pattern guide makes it clear that for a snug fit, one should choose the size smaller than the one that matches your body measurement.
Fabric: Purchased from Sew Much Fabric – there is a lovely, curated selection of fabric here. Since textile manufacturers have not created a denim look ponte knit, I decided to go with black, risking blindness at the end of the project. I think my eye glass prescription changed a little with this project.
Top of the jeans: this area is what makes jeans, er, jean-like. It includes a cotton pocket lining which extends across the inside front, forming a stay. It keeps your abdomen area “together” (mine is beyond keeping together), and forms a smooth line at the top. Oh, and there’s an optional coin pocket. Everything in this area is top stitched, including the crotch seam.
Fly zipper: My last fly zipper installation was decades ago, and silly me, I thought I would remember exactly how its done. Haha. But – nothing is difficult if you know how. I read pattern instructions repeatedly, watched numerous videos and concluded that each expert has his/her own fly zipper method. So I followed Jennifer’s instructions. Even made a sample. Except, on the main piece I forgot to cut off the extra one inch of the zipper at the bottom and now it’s caught in the top stitching on the side. I left it there since it’s not changing anything. It’s laying smoothly in.
Top stitching: What’s a pair of jeans without top stitching? After an hour of deliberation, I was left with two thread choices for top stitching; black and a mottled denim-like blue. Black top stitching thread started to majorly strain my eyes, so I went with the denim-y thread for top stitching. It was visible without being too much of a contrast. I’ll save the yellow/orange top stitching for denim jeans. On the other hand, I always wear longer tunic length tops these days so all that effort is going to be hidden anyway. The instructions do not specify top stitching on the sides or inseams; no mention of the hem in the instructions. So – I did not top stitch the side seams or the inseam, and made a top stitched hem.
Back pockets & belt loops: Back pockets with fancy top stitching or embellishment are de riguer in jeans. But, I decided to eliminate them because no human will see them anyway, under my longer tops. Maybe the next pair will get them. Belt loops did not get in because I do not use belts.
Sewing: The instructions do not specify any particular stitch to use with the knit so I just went with the straight stitch extended to 3.5, and stretched the fabric slightly as I sewed.
Things I will do differently next time: Select a non-black fabric, reconsider back pockets, top stitch the side seams, trace a size 14 pattern, and narrow the leg. Oh, and I’ll use a stretch stitch for stronger seams. Also, I’ll select a cotton lining fabric that matches the fashion fabric color (to prevent the contrast accidentally peeking through at the zipper area); I’ll add a small wedge at center back of the waistband to give it some curve and hugging properties.
Conclusion: They look just like black knit pants until you look closely. I love this first pair, and see a few more in my future. Thank you, Jennifer Stern Haseman!
Hope you give jean making a try! It’s so empowering…..