I made jeans.
When I began sewing my own clothes I figured if I ever made jeans I could say I have arrived. I still don’t think I’ve arrived, but as an apparel sewist, jeans are a pretty big deal so I’m quite pleased.
I sewed the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans in Cone Mills S-Gene Denim from Threadbare Fabrics. I only spent most of my pregnancy last year thinking about them. Then in the springtime after loosing my baby-weight I made a muslin. But soon after that the heat index soared past 100 degrees Fahrenheit and I lost all my motivation. However one morning in August I woke up and decided it was time. 10 days later I had an awesome pair of jeans to show for it! (and two months later I’m finally blogging about it!)

*excuse the variety of stylings. My camera was having focus issues so I attempted pictures several times!

I have a lot to talk about, so I’ve created links and you can jump to the parts that interest you 😉

Fit adjustments: I cut the size 6 view B and then made some changes during the muslin phase. I’m going off my terrible memory here, but basically I:

  • adjusted the crotch curve slightly using the flexible ruler method.
  • took about an inch out of the rise.
  • added length, my usual 2-3″ (My finished inseams is 35″).
  • added some width at the seam allowances. (more about that here).


  • topstitched the waistband facing
  • embroidered the waistband facing (more about that here)
  • distressed all the seams prior to topstitching
  • flat felled the inseam
  • added a detail to the bottom inseam, visible when cuffed
  • put the pocket lining on backwards so I can see the design when I use my pockets
  • used the Closet Case Files back pocket template guide for the pocket design

Hear me Roar embroidered into the waistband of jeans. Ginger Jeans made by SewJourners, Pattern by Closet Case Patterns and fabric from Threadbare Fabric My favorite design element of these jeans is by far the embroidered waistband. Heather proposed writing something on them in her sewalong, but I doubted I would come up with anything worth writing, so I got to work selecting my pocket bag fabric. I had just picked up my menagerie pre-order and was admiring some of the metallic floral prints when my eye caught the yard of Jungle print that was set aside for my son’s blanket. With Katy Perry’s Roar song in my head from my last spin class it all just came together and there was no turning back. For real, I tried to convince myself not to do it. The fabric was for my son’s blanket. But he couldn’t defend himself so I selfishly decided these jeans would be more awesome than the blanket and since he’s a baby (a boy baby at that) he wouldn’t care. Then I set to work figuring out how to operate the embroidery feature on my machine.

Ginger Jeans made by SewJourners, Pattern by Closet Case Patterns and fabric from Threadbare Fabric Heather offers back pocket template guide with 30 designs on them if you sign up for her mailing list. I highly recommend this. There is something for everyone and I really like the design I chose. To transfer the design to the jeans I traced it onto my Swedish tracing paper and then simply sewed the tracing paper to my pockets along the template lines! Then it was pretty easy to tear off the Swedish tracing paper. So if you weren’t sure how to transfer the design to your jeans, try that!
You can also see my distressing in these pictures. I took a fine grade sandpaper lightly to the seams prior to topstitching. I was going to sand some larger areas like the thighs, but I didn’t like the fuzzy look so I decided to let them wear naturally.
Hear me Roar embroidered into the waistband of jeans. Ginger Jeans made by SewJourners, Pattern by Closet Case Patterns and fabric from Threadbare Fabric
My biggest fear going into these jeans was topstitching the waistband. I had previously made the Chi Town Chinos skirt and struggled topstitching the waistband, but learned a lot of tricks to the trade in the process. I was more prepared this time. Here are some things that worked for me:

  • I pounded the thick areas with a hammer
  • I utilized a make-shift hump jumper
  • I used Schmetz Microtex Sharp needles. They worked better than denim or topstitching needles for me.
  • I switched back and forth between two guide foots, one to guide me along the seam and one to get me 1/4″ away from the first one.
  • I had a dedicated topstitching machine which was actually my Janome. It handles layers better than my Baby Lock.

In the end, topstitching the waistband went just fine until the last couple stitches, so I just left myself a long thread and finished it by hand. The bar tacks gave me more fits though. I eventually got the hang of it, but the one on the fly looks tacky…no pun intended.
I also topstitched the waistband facing before topstitching it down from the top. My RTW jeans have topstitching on the inside and I wanted to replicate it.

Ginger Jeans made by SewJourners, Pattern by Closet Case Patterns and fabric from Threadbare Fabric
When people think about making jeans or pants for that matter I think the scariest part is crotch fitting. Like I mentioned I followed the flexible ruler tutorial and made slight curve adjustments. I also tweaked it more during the muslin phase along with a slight rise adjustment, but overall I didn’t change much and I do really like the seat fit. The zipper doesn’t bubble up when I sit down and I don’t feel or see any weird drag lines. It is very comfortable and I’m happy with the front and back seat fit.
Ginger Jeans made by SewJourners, Pattern by Closet Case Patterns and fabric from Threadbare Fabric The legs however are a little too tight. The 9.5 oz. denim probably exasperates the issue. RTW skinny jeans I have are made with lighter weight denim and more stretch. So a heavier denim feels more restricting – primarily in the knees. It’s a little disappointing, given that I took time in the muslin and basting phases because I wanted perfect jeans on the first try. When I tried on the muslin it felt too tight in the legs. I didn’t know how much of that had to do with the fact that the twill had slightly less stretch than my denim, so I added a larger seam allowance to work with and kept going. During the basting of the denim they still felt a little tight, but not really that bad or uncomfortable, so I just went with as narrow of a seam allowance as I could and kept on. I didn’t see any drag lines indicating the need for a full calf or thigh adjustment. Now that they are done I notice folds of fabric mostly at the knees, but also just under my seat. I think I will try a full calf adjustment next time….Darn spin classes.
I also notice the inseam is a little too far forward for my preference. It looks like leg twist but I don’t see how that could have happened. The outseam also looks too forward, as if the front leg piece isn’t wide enough. I can’t be sure it isn’t just needing to size up, but the problem seems to be just the front leg. The listing photo inseam does the same thing. When I cut my pieces I spread the fabric out flat on the floor, used pattern weights, and measured from the grain-line to the selvedge to make sure I cut on grain. I traced all the leg pieces with chalk prior to cutting any so that I was always able to use the selvedge as a gauge. I did do a flat felled seam so that adds an extra 1/4″ toward the front, which visually impacts the appearance of leg twist.
Ginger Jeans made by SewJourners, Pattern by Closet Case Patterns and fabric from Threadbare Fabric Overall I am thrilled with my first pair of jeans and I wear them with pride. The details are legit. They look so purdy! The instructions both in the pattern and the sew along are great. I definitely intend to make them again, only I will work on giving myself a little more leg room and I will try a lighter weight denim next time.
Ginger Jeans made by SewJourners, Pattern by Closet Case Patterns and fabric from Threadbare Fabric
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  1. Super impressed! Jeans scare me but I’ll get there one day. You did an incredible job, even with your noted future changes they look great. Congratulations!

    • Thank you! Don’t be scared! They just take longer but are very satisfying 🙂 I get it though, it took me a while to go for it.

  2. Michelle!!!! You never cease to amaze me (not just in your creativity for the record) but seriously, so amaze balls!! And you are gorgeous! Nicely done! And even with three precious ones vying for your time.

  3. mamidesofiona Reply

    Love all of this!! Slowly but surely I feel myself being sucked into the jeans world….

    • It’s only a matter of time! You already have the skills. Maybe after Project Run and Play?

      • mamidesofiona Reply

        I think I need to do a muslin and see where that leads me. I even have some twill here that should work for that…. Hmmm

  4. Your jeans look great! I made my first pair of Gingers a few years ago and also flat felled the inseam. I didn’t notice it at first but after wearing them for months I realized that the entire inseam is too far forward for me. It’s not leg twist, it’s just not in the right place for me. Having that double row of stitching really highlights the problem on mine. I moved on to the Morgan jeans and sort of forgot about it because the inseam is good on those. I recently bought and made a muslin of the new Sasha trousers, which use the Ginger block, and that inseam is even worse on me. So I went back to my Ginger pattern and shifted the inseam back 3/4”. It worked great for me and might be something for you to try next time.

    • Teri, this is exactly right! I have been making myself wear my jeans regularly because I spent so much time on them, but every time I wear them it feels so restrictive behind the knee. Literally yesterday I told my husband that I needed to shift the inseam an inch toward the back and I was confident that would resolve it. I realized that when your knee bends the front panel stretches over the knee and the back panel folds into the knee. Since the inseam is so far forward, those folds reach way up toward the front cutting my circulation there. I would love to hear what method you used to shift the seam. I think it needs to be shifted all the way up to the crotch.

  5. That is exactly what I did– I extended the front crotch length by 3/4″ and then just added 3/4″ down the whole inseam, from crotch to hem. I shaved off 3/4″ from the back piece along the inseam (although, then I found the front crotch to be a little long for me so I shaved off a little bit during the baste fit stage.) I have been stalking photos of Ginger jeans ever since I made my first pair and noticing the inseam being forward in some photos but not 100% of the time.. I haven’t heard anyone talking about it at all, though, so I’m glad I’m not the only one with the problem. I haven’t gotten around to doing a blog post about my modified jeans but I’m planning to do one soon.

    • Kathleen Blackmur Reply

      Very interesting!! I have made my first pair of Gingers and noticed the same thing about the front inseam! I thought maybe I had inadvertently caused leg twist even though I was super careful with my layout and cutting. It’s good to know it’s not just me. I may make that adjustment too, although 3/4″ seems like a lot! And likewise, the Morgans are fine for me and in general I prefer the 100% cotton. But I’d still like to try another pair of Gingers especially since there are so many nice stretch denims out there.

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