Gingers <3

I feel a little like the two-dimensional best friend in a romantic comedy (a love story between a garment sewist and a TNT). “When you find The One, don’t let go!”. For me, that’s this pattern.

If my math checks out, I’ve made 10 pairs of Gingers. I started sewing them before I started spreadsheeting, but I’ve given away at least 2 pairs (one pair got tight, I didn’t like the topstitching on another), completely unpicked and remade 1 pair (I didn’t like the topstitching on those either), cut 1 pair into shorts (no! The crotch seam started fleeing north, immediately and uncomfortably), tucked 1 into my giveaway bag (flares – I might get them on the blog before I re-home them), and I currently have a ‘denim drawer’ with 4 working pairs of Gingers and 4 pairs of Morgans. And now, these! We did it, team! Double-digit Gingers!

And as I’m wearing them in one-third of my blog posts it seemed like time to say something about them!

This pattern is terrible, don’t make it. (JOKING!)

I was initially terrified of sewing jeans (don’t be, I promise!) but I got wonderfully lucky with this pattern. My first version was the true skinnies and I graded between a 10 and 12 at the waist (a mythical size 11), and 14 at the hip. I used olive stretch twill and gold topstitching thread and when I first pulled them on I said “uh-oh” because I knew I couldn’t go back to RTW (this was also in 2014 or 2015, when mid-rise was high-rise and you could only find low-rise anyway). This is meant as a paean of gratitude, not a brag, but; things I did not need to do then, nor do I need to do now –

  • Any adjustments to the crotch curve
  • Any adjustments to the crotch extensions (I’m using the original version of the pattern, with slightly longer extensions that accommodate full thighs)
  • Any adjustments to the leg length
  • Any adjustments to the back rise
  • Any adjustments to the front rise

Is it surprising that I got hooked? I know I have wrinkles, but shoot, even though the olive twill pair grew too tight (RIP), I felt like a hot potato in my wedgie-free upper-mid-rise jeans! Plus, I only need 1.5 yards of denim or twill per pair, usually Cone Mills denim – a.k.a. The Good Stuff – which means a pair of jeans costs me on average $30 – 35. Actually, I can’t quit anytime I want, but also I don’t want.

The first pair of pants/trousers I made was actually the Colette Junipers, and I still wear them from time to time (mostly when I’m on my period, since the wide contoured waistband is very comfortable on a bloaty crampy period belly). Way back then I skipped the fly zipper, because fear is the mind killer, and used a side zip instead. So the first fly zip I sewed was actually on the Thread Theory Jeds. It went okay. But the first fly zip I loved to sew was on the Gingers!  

The directions are justifiably praised by many. I apply them to the majority of fly zips I sew and would recommend them, without hesitation, to a beginner. I also like that the fly is handled early in the sewing order, though I push it slightly later, and use it to divide my sewing into enjoyable chapters. First I sew short seams (pockets, back yoke), then the fly, and then long seams (inseams, outseams, waistband). Jeans are a satisfying, meaty sew, and I like having these natural stopping points as an option.

 You might notice there’s only one line of fly topstitching. I had two, but I enjoy an uncluttered crotch! Unpicking black thread on black denim is no joke, though. In more than one place, I snagged a denim thread instead of my topstitching thread, and once I accidentally caught and popped a thread right on the edge of the fly overlap. You can’t see any this (I hope) because I colored in any little white trouble spots with a black Sharpie. We’ll see what happens when I wash these.

I only use tonal topstitching thread now. I loved the thrill and challenge of high-contrast topstitching thread, and my heart yearns towards anyone’s gorgeous shot of on-point topstitching, especially in beautiful color combos (rust thread on blue! Grey on blush! Any color on grey! <3). But, I find that my jeans age better if I use tonal thread – it doesn’t show as much wear-and-tear and I get more years of satisfied use.  

I don’t interface the waistband, but I always use quilting cotton for the inner. It crumples with wear, but it’s comfortable to move in and stretches out less than self-fabric. I’ve been using this alternative waistband method for a while! I find I get neater results. Sometimes I remove the zipper teeth with pliers, as instructed (like a tiny fairy Marathon Man) and sometimes I just snip the zipper tape. Some of the jeans I’ve been wearing for years are pairs where I snipped the zipper tape. Tell no-one!

So somewhere, sometime, I got the impression that denim wrinkles are the enemy. That ‘true skinnies’ fit like a second skin. I haven’t attempted a really smooth fit, but I just made a belated but useful discovery: even when sewing skinny jeans, tighter does not necessarily mean fewer wrinkles. While wrinkles can indicate excess fabric, I think in my case they were indicating a lack of space (the way a pileup of fabric on your bum can indicate a swayback, or indicate that the fabric can’t fit comfortably over las pompas). On this pair, I added an extra ¼” to all outseams – leg, yoke, pocket pieces – and I think I have my smoothest fit over the hips yet. There’s extra space on my lower legs, but let’s just agree they’re stovepipes from the knee down! Viva la extra ¼“!

Hi, Gingers; I love you!   


Pattern: Closet Case Ginger jeans

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ‘11’ waist, 14 hip, with ¼” added to all outseams (so ‘13’ waist, 16 hip?)

Supplies: 1.5 yards of 11 oz. Cone Mills S-Gene Denim in Black, Threadbare Fabrics, $24.20; 1/2 yard of Ruby Star Society Anagram cotton, Gather Here, $6; zipper, Sewfisticated, $2.80; thread, Michael’s, $1.90; rivet from stash

Total time: 7.25 hours

Total cost: $34.90