Darkest Dawns

I didn’t think I had too many pairs of jeans until I began regularly using the phrase “I’m not a denimhead, but”. I just love sewing jeans, and this pair was an easy comfort sew. Probably I should have taken it a little less easy, though, because the fit isn’t great!

Let’s rewind. These are Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans, the tapered view. I made one pretty bad muslin, and then adjusted the pattern and sewed one pretty good ‘real’ pair. This pair uses the pretty-good adjustments, plus a couple more, but with less success. These are shown on the 3rd (and final) day of wear, by the way (they are actually foxy and wrinkle-free right out of the dryer, but only for a few hours).

I started from a 14 waist, 16 hips, with a 16 rise. Here’s my list of total adjustments, with the new ones for this pair in bold:

  • ¼” small waist adjustment
  • 3/8” wide hip adjustment
  • removed ¼” from center front at waist
  • removed ½” from center back at waist
  • scooped butt curve ¾” deeper
  • lengthened front crotch extension by ¼”
  • lengthened back crotch extension by ½”
  • lowered back pocket placement by 1”
  • enlarged back pockets by ½” per side
  • integrated front fly pieces into the front legs
  • used a straight waistband

Bigger bum pockets, A+. Integrated fly extensions (and Ginger zip installation method), A++. Straight waistband…eh? B+, A-? Hard to judge in this fabric. The most significant issues stem from the denim, which is thin and crispy. I think either a heavier denim or a softer denim would be more *discreet* about my fitting problems, instead of the extremely obvious and sharp wrinkles I have here. Also, the waistband crumples. But most importantly, because I sewed my pretty-good pair with much thicker fabric, I think by comparison this pair came up a little…big? I’m not used to that. A hot wash & dry helps a lot, but the crotch is still busily wrinkled.

I spent a while staring at my own reflection, confronted with new-to-me wrinkles. I tried pinching and binder clipping excess fabric at a few different points, and what I came up with was: I just don’t know.

The extra fabric under my butt goes away if I sit down or angle a leg forward, so I assume that’s necessary for wearing ease.

The extra fabric in the front crotch smoothes out if I stand up exaggeratedly straight, but that’s not really part of my daily life in the same way sitting and walking is. If I tug the front leg fabric back (jerry-rigged test to see if I should shorten the front crotch extension), there’s no improvement. If I tug the fabric up (to see if I should shorten the vertical rise), it’s distinctly worse. I guess it’s probable that the front crotch curve needs to be shallower – it would make the crotch shorter overall, but wouldn’t affect the extension where it fits my inner thigh, or the rise.

Or it might just be that if I want to wear this cut, on my excellent bod, I’m gonna get these wrinkles! I wish I had used this fabric for something else – specifically, how good would it have been as Clyde pants?! But as the wisdom says, It’s Only Fabric.

And in any case, the pants are really comfortable. Pandemic or not, I like high hard pants. There’s no give in the fabric so I definitely couldn’t do yoga in these, but I already don’t do yoga, so problem solved.

Favorite new trick: selvage is useful not only for the outside edge of the belt loops and the unfolded edge of the fly shield, but also for the short end of the waistband underlap. It makes a neat, low-bulk finish. Yay woven selvage!

I made a couple very mild style swings on this pair. I used a traditional button instead of a jeans rivet to keep a low profile (oooh) and left the hems raw (aaah). I put a line of stitching ¼” from the raw edge as a safeguard. Then, after a wash, I trimmed the fringe neatly, somewhat mitigating my supercool edginess.

I remember reading something, somewhere, about softening natural fibers by soaking them in a solution of a common household good (like baking soda, not necessarily baking soda though) – does that ring a bell for anybody? I think I’d like these better if they weren’t so crunchy, but fabric softener seems like a no-go (I searched “is fabric softener…” and Google auto-filled “…bad?”, and the results said “Yup!”).

These are worn with a cupro knit Stellan tee, which is one of my favorite Stellans. It’s got a cool hand and it’s very slithery, so much so in fact that it slithers right out of my stitching and has been mended in several places. I’ll continue to fix it, because I love it.

Honestly I’m really fine with the jeans, too. Like I said, I’MNOTADENIMHEADBUT here’s an excellent excuse to iterate further. As always, I end up back where I started: thinking about sewing jeans.

Pattern: MN Dawn jeans (Curve, tapered view)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14 waist/16 hip & rise, with many changes

Supplies: 1 2/3 yards of Mid Weight Cotton Denim Black – 10 oz, Stylemaker Fabrics, $25.00; zipper, Gather Here, $1.60; thread, Michael’s, $3.70

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $30.30

23 thoughts on “Darkest Dawns

  1. I don’t think they look bad – in fact, they’re probably a lot better fit than many RTW jeans for sure! I can’t offer any suggestions on how to improve the fit – I’ve been going through a crotch fitting journey (woo, that sounds either weird, fun or bad depending on how you read it) of my own and can’t seem to nail it either. And every fabric I use adds a different dimension to the fit. Maybe try one thing at a time to see what kind of difference it makes?

    I can say that I have used Coke for softening fabrics before – add a can or two to the fabric (or sewn item) to the washing machine full of water and let it soak (overnight if possible) before draining and washing. Worked like a charm for me!

    Love your blog!

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    1. WOAH, that’s awesome! Can I tell you, half of my brain starting nodding at that Coke tip like “oh of course, probably enzymes” and the other half had to yell “You didn’t know that! That’s incredible! Also, define “enyme”!”.
      I hope your crotch journey (hahaha I see what you mean) is…I’m trying really hard not to say satisfying? 🤣

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  2. Did softening fabrics, Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns suggests washing with Coke… as in the original cola. No soap or softener… you can Google it or search on YouTube for more info. It has worked on a few things I’ve tried.

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    1. This is amazing, thanks! What CAN’T Coke do? (I have a recipe for Coca-Cola cake that uses a shocking amount of additional sugar and yet it’s so good. Now I have two excuses to buy a couple cans.)

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  3. Those look good to me –
    and at a$30 cost for what looks like a $100 pair of jeans – impressive – Congrats!

    I’m saving the link to this pattern. High waist jeans that would fit a 5’10” me – woah!
    thanks,
    Chris

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    1. ❤️ Aw, thanks! I almost never flinch at denim prices, because I don’t need much for a garment I’ll wear dozens of times – probably the one area where sewing really does save me money!

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    2. Oh and also! Just to add, the pattern has a ‘tall’ inseam option! And a ‘petite’, but that seems less relevant. 🙂

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  4. I think the “household fabric softener” was vinegar rather than soda. At least I read about softening linien by soaking it in a vinegar-water solution and some people use it as fabric softener in their washing machines, too. The latter is debateable though because putting an acid in some technical device not meant for it has the potential to do some damage. Doesn’t have to, but could.

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    1. Eek! I’ve gotten away with putting vinegar in our washer before, I didn’t realize how lucky I was! Thanks for the tip – maybe I’ll soak in mhy bathtub instead! Except all my showers after that might smell like salt-and-vinegar chips…

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      1. It’s more likely a problem if you do it all the time rather than just occasionally because it will probably only be a tiny damage, if any. It can just add up over time.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I can’t get over this. Really, who figured it out?! It might take me a little courage to pour Coke into the washer, though.

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    1. I didn’t realize vinegar softened as well as de-smelled! I’ve used it to remove (well, lessen) that smell denim sometimes has (not my third-day jeans, haha – I mean fresh from the factory). I’ll double check but I hope that’s the answer, I know it’s fine in my washer!

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  5. They look great! Honestly didn’t notice any of the wrinkles until I read the post. I made some Dawns with the stiffest denim ever. No wrinkles but also sitting is very tough. Are some wrinkles just necessary for sitting? Sometimes I feel like I’ve unintentionally separated my clothes into “sitting clothes” and “standing clothes”. Sitting clothes for work and regular life. Standing clothes for looking cute when I go dancing (pre-pandemic. These clothes are all sadly out of rotation nowadays.)

    Also — re: leaving the hem raw, you mean this was an intentional choice and not because you were just feeling lazy? Amazing.

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    1. I keep expecting one of my students (who are 10, sassy, and UP IN MY BIZ) to tell me “You didn’t finish your pants!!” Which isn’t untrue! 😂 I actually love that super-stiff denim feeling. I probably would have been one of those knights who was like “I’m just so comfy in my plate armor”.
      I miss dancing! At home dance-parties just aren’t the same. And sitting wrinkles must be mandatory, right? Because if something isn’t wrinkly before I sit on it, it will be afterwards!

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      1. HAHA you gotta sass back “they’re a DESIGN ELEMENT!!!!” And LOL do I feel a little superior wearing my super stiff denim? Yes, yes I do. I feel weirdly powerful wearing my super stiff Dawn jeans. One year later, they have not softened at all but they look CUUUUTE (admittedly i don’t wear them that much bc of quaranlife and have no tried to look into how to soften them bc lazy aka design element)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. One of them told me yesterday I was “hurting his brand” so they would probably respect that!! Also, ‘powerful’ is the perfect word – good luck getting through my FORTRESS OF DENIM!!

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  6. Remember the days of buying jeans, when you’d actually go to a store and try them on and eventually find a pair that fit you pretty perfectly after an afternoon in the dressing room, and then you’d come home and go online and realize that the same style/ make of jeans came in other colours and fabrics and you get all excited and order a few pairs to be delivered to your door and they arrive and none fit as well as the original pair, and in fact none fit in the same way as any of the others??? Gah!! Even large scale manufacturers can’t figure out how to get jeans to fit the same way in different fabrics.

    These jeans look great Lia 👍. I admire your dedication to the cause 😜. Love the selvage tip. Good luck with the Coke!

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    1. Oooh yeah. I would bring multiple pairs in the same size and cut into the fitting room because even in that one category some would look better than others! Looking back, I bet the back pockets were wandering around (also, I wasn’t exactly buying high-end pieces).
      I’m intrigued yet terrified by that Coke thing! Thanks for the luck! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The jeans look like a great fit. I’d definitely blame the fabric for the wrinkles (and it can’t defend itself, so you’re all right there)

    I use vinegar in my washing machine as a fabric softener all the time. Supposedly it can start to attack the rubber parts over time, but I haven’t had a problem yet and I’m pretty sure at almost 10 years of daily use it’s living on borrowed time anyway!

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    1. Haha, good point. I’ll start blaming the fabric for other household issues too (fabric!! You forgot to press the tofu!!). I love this plan! 😂 The washer in our apartment is a top-loader anyway, so there’s no rubber gasket or whatever to erode. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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