Ginger Jeans – Done!

Ginger Jeans Collage

My Ginger jeans are done! The final stages made me feel physically ill. Would I ruin everything with a badly placed belt loop, a smashed up rivet or a bar tack gone wrong? In fact, I abandoned bar tacks early on in this process. My machine was not happy making them.

As soon as the jeans had been completed they were dragged on and Ella and I flung ourselves out of the front door for a walk. These babies stand up to multiple bending over to retrieve a ball abandoned for something more exciting. Oh, look – a squirrel! Oh, look – a goose! Oh, look – a pair of jeans!

Ginger Jeans By Didyoumakethat

Ella thinks she’s about to get a treat. Ella is wrong.

William Morris GalleryObviously, the best way to photograph a recently completed sewing project is by accessorising with Victorian kitchen maids. You don’t need me to tell you that.

So, how do I feel on completion of these babies?

Relieved. I was really anxious about something going wrong, after so much work.

Thrilled. They’re fantastic! The high waisted version really suits my body shape and I very much appreciate the opportunity to tweak fit, especially around the waist. Gaping jeans at the back waist, be gone!

Exhilarated. I made jeans. An actual pair of jeans. An actual pair of jeans that fit!

Improved. I learnt something new and I was prepared to share that every step of the way. To truly embrace creativity you need to be prepared to fail and you need to be braced for making a fool of yourself. That’s why I think most genuine creatives are the bravest people I know. It takes guts to make something and share it.

Not There Yet. These are far from perfect. The topstitching was a killer, even with my workhorse Bernina. But hey, really not gonna beat myself up too much.

top stitching

Will I rush to make a second version? Not quite yet. I need a palate cleanser. I also need to find just the right denim. But, yay! I made jeans! Would you make some? And why aren’t there more Victorian kitchen maids in sewing blogs?

Kitchen Maids ii

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92 Responses to Ginger Jeans – Done!

  1. Karen Minet says:

    Those jeans look wonderful on you. Love the new haircut. YIKES. WOULD NEVER MAKE JEANS. Way too much work. I like simple lines and letting the fabric take center stage. I so enjoy your writing. Wish you lived closer. We would be friends.

  2. Barbara says:

    Gosh, I love those jeans. I’d like to make some – def have to be Lycra/denim. My sewing machine struggles with top stitching too, but other than us stitchers who is to know! Brilliant make and so quick too!

  3. Samantha says:

    You have given me hope that I too can make jeans…!

  4. Mary says:

    They look great! I think you did a wonderful job! Yay!!

  5. Caroline says:

    Well done – they look awesome! It definitely looks worth all the hard work, worry and stress – you will feel so much better prepared to tackle your next pair. What colour for the next ones? Indigo, purple, bottle green?

  6. Jennifer Hill says:

    These look fantastic! They really suit you and I love the colour. May I ask what the fabric is, please? I wonder if It’s worth me having a go, as an adventurous beginner, maybe bordering on intermediate. I’ve made shirts, tops and skirts, so far, but am fed up with jeans that don’t fit! Jen

  7. Katie says:

    Fabulous! The fit is great and they’re extremely flattering. I wish I made the high-waist version in red like I planned to, ha ha.

  8. Stephanie says:

    These look absolutely fantastic on you. I would never have thought to choose that colour but it is great!! Love the accessorizing, too. 🙂 PS Thanks for sharing your top stitching mishaps. Top stitching is the thing I like the least about sewing, I think because I am obsessive about straight lines and so I can always see every little jog in the stitching. It drives me crazy.

  9. Leila says:

    Yay, jeans! I figured out some tricks for sewing bartacks when I made jeans. I use a buttonhole foot and shim the foot with fabric scraps until it is level. (pictures in this post). The bartacks come out so much better – straight, and with even stitch lengths, even on thick lumpy areas. It does depend on the sewing machine, though – one of my machines doesn’t like to sew jeans at all.

  10. wearawyatt says:

    WOW…WOW…WOW they are amazing- every last thing about them; not sure i cloud/would ever be so brave!

  11. Yay! You did it! They look absolutely fabulous…accessorized with kitchen maids or not! The colour and the contrast top stitching really sings! And, the floral lining makes me smile. I gather you didn’t discover a miracle technique for attaching the belt loops? Still a challenge for me.

    A Colourful Canvas: Classic Gingers with a Twist

  12. Chris says:

    Congratulations – they look great! I noticed you cut off the zipper at the top. Do you not get problems with the zipper wanting to open unasked because the little metally end bit at the top is missing? That’s one of the big problems I have with metal zippers.

    • I find that most modern zippers stay closed as long as the pull is flipped down, no matter about the top stop. But I’ve definitely had this problem with vintage zippers, in fact I have one pair of shorts that still depends on a safety pin to keep the zipper up …

      • Jen (NY) says:

        There are some good metal zipper shortening videos on you tube. Remove and save the top stopper, and then pull out the teeth from the top with pliers, replace the top stop. It’s tedious and take’s patience, but can be done. I think it’s possible to buy extra top stoppers online, in case they get lost and/or are unusable.

      • Ditto your comment. My new zips stay up. Have you tried using a round key ring instead of a safety pin? Providing there’s a hole in the zipper tab, all you do is thread the key ring on, and then loop it over your jeans or trouser button.

      • Good idea Sue! I bet I can find a ring that would work.
        Also, my local fabric store sells zipper stops, so it might be worth asking if you decide you need some.

  13. Joyapple says:

    Congratulations – even if you never make another pair you’ve crossed a sewing watershed with some style.
    Can I suggest a something in snowflake organza as a palate cleanser? All ‘Frozen’ fans in your life would be thrilled!!

  14. They look fabulous on you! I love the color and the top stitching and the punk vibe. I’d to try making a pair of high waisted flares. And a palate cleanser would be in order. Maybe a lunch bag or potholder,hehe

  15. PinhouseP says:

    Your jeans looks absolutely fabulous! You should be proud of yourself. I am taking your tip on adding Victorian kitchen maids to my makes. Can’t go wrong with those 😉

  16. Debbie Ile says:

    They look great! Love the colour. And seriously, who’s going to be up that close to see the topstitching anyway.

  17. kdaltrey says:

    Fab work, love the floral matching lining! They look great.

  18. Jane says:

    these are wonderful, you should be very proud, they fit you brilliantly. very impressed

  19. Gorgeous! I love the colour and the fit looks really good. Once you make your own jeans I think you don’t really go back 😀

  20. Those look great, really flattering and stylish, congratulations! I want a beeswax T-shirt now too, “punk-rock-maker” is a good look!

  21. Jen (NY) says:

    The red jeans are really cute! I have also noticed that my (old) Bernina is a bit finicky with topstitching on thick fabrics. Even though it doesn’t seem to make sense, I have found that trying different top-stitch thread brands and sometimes using a lighter weight thread on the bobbin can help. (I usually use Guterman Mara for heavy top stitching). And patience, yeah!

  22. Mimi Godfrey says:

    Wow! The jeans are fabu!

  23. These are really nice and a great fit. I have always though that jeans looked quite involved and easier to buy but I think that you just proved me wrong. 🙂 xx

  24. louise says:

    they look great, Congratulations. Which machine couldn’t hack the belt tabs. The £50.00 machine or your bernina. I agree we should definitely have more victorian kitchen maids on sewing blogs.

  25. Jane says:

    Very, VERY impressive! You look fab in them. x

  26. They are fabulous, no need to ever go near the Levi’s store ever again!

  27. Jenny says:

    The idea of making your own jeans seems like such a difficult and aspirational thing to do so huge congratulations on pulling it off with such success. It sounds like at the moment you can only focus on the issues you had bit I hope you will soon be able to appreciate the achievement! One day, maybe I’ll be as brave as you!

  28. helen says:

    They look fab! Well done.
    I’ve just finished my first pair a few days ago – well not quite as I still have to rivet. The first set of rivets didn’t work out (cue lots of stressing) and I’m waiting on more.
    The topstitching has really tried my patience at times but over all I’m mighty impressed. I followed the Jeanius course and copied a great fitting pair of Levis.

  29. Tracy says:

    Yay! They look great.

    (Also, that Merchant and Mills shirt! I just bought one myself this afternoon at Uniqlo. 🙂

  30. Mertxe says:

    Karen, they are fantastic!! They fit you and suit you and you look gorgeous in them. I am surprised that your machine was having trouble sewing them up. Can a Vernina sew four layers of denim???? And what is that fear to fail? You did a wonderful job!

  31. debs2748 says:

    Hey they look fab and seem to fit you very well, from look in photo’s. well done Karen. I truly understand your need for a break though. Lots of thinking and processes going into these bad babies.

    I too ventured into jean making last year, was pleased with result, more then pleased actually. I used Jalie pattern and the high rise version. I did tweak pattern prior to cutting out as I know I am longer then standard pattern lengths. When complete they fitted like a dream. I did find one error on instructions which I followed to the letter none the less, in case I was wrong, I wasn’t. So I have no top stitching on right lower zip fly. Not to worry second pair will be amazing (or so I hope).

  32. ewa says:

    I’m pretty much a beginner, but I will make my own jeans. Yeah, I will, one day. Yours are very encouraging, the fit is great.

  33. Kathryn says:

    These look amazing! I really like this high-waisted style & your colour choice.

  34. Fantastic jeans and the fit is great! Where did you get the red denim? You’ve done a fantastic job on the top-stitching too. I have noticed that lots of people do seem to have machine problems with multiple layers. It’s strange as I don’t seem to suffer these problems at all. I have an old Singer which seems to plough through multiple layers of corduroy / canvas / upholstery fabric – never misses a stitch. I use Gutterman top-stitch thread, but then I haven’t tried anything else, as I’ve never needed to.

  35. Sally says:

    These look superb! Love the color of the denim! 🙂

  36. Sewniptuck says:

    Topstitching is so often a breath holding experience isn’t it?!

  37. Eliza-sew-little says:

    Stun-ning. Fab job well done. I understand the need for the palate cleanser. I get that. What will you choose?

  38. Great job Karen, these look great on you and. I love the colour. Will be a long time before. I even consider making jeans. I’m still working on simple trousers…

  39. Alison says:

    I love the colour, love the fit, love the contrast with the kitchen maids. Great job! Sometimes I think I would look better in the Victorian kitchen maid outfit…but I have made a few pairs of jeans. I want to try the Jalie pattern next I think.

  40. SarahStar says:

    Oh they are fab, Fab, FAB!! Well done you! The fit is amazing. Jeans that fit! In plum denim! Love it 🙂

  41. sewmanju says:

    Congrats Karen. Fab fit and great colour.

  42. Britney says:

    They look so awesome!! You look so rock and roll. So bad ass. OMG I can’t get enough.

  43. Natasha says:

    Those jeans are AWESOME! You crack me up with your Victorian serving maids. I am so glad that you are brave enough to talk about the imperfections as you sew. We all have our sewing “moments” and it’s good to know we aren’t alone. I hope you wear the hell out of those jeans because they are CUTE!

  44. The new jeans are looking great on you Karen 🙂 – and topstitching over such thick fabric taxes the best of us (I’ve had to do weird things with hand stitching to get mine to work sometimes haha!)

  45. Alice says:

    They are super, Karen! Well done you!

  46. jubublian says:

    Your jeans look great! Well done! A pair of Ginger Jeans is on my “wish to make” list but I think it will be a while before I tackle them as I’m only now getting to grips with sewing clothes.

  47. Congratulations! They look fabulous and are a perfect fit.

  48. Thimberlina says:

    they are one cool pair of jeans. I really need to get started on mine!

  49. Thea says:

    These are great – love the colour! I’m slowly inching closer to making jeans. Slowly, slowly, slowly. Maybe by the end of the year 😉 (mind you, maybe that depends on how much longer my current one pair of well-fitting jeans survive!).

  50. Alex says:

    I love your jeans, really well done!!! I find an old vintage machine has the power and steadiness to sew through layers of denim. I am the lucky owner of 2 from the early 60’s and they work like a dream on heavier fabric! They are smooth, metal workhorses! You’ve really inspired me, love your blog xxxx

  51. Yvonne Bennett says:

    Great job! They look well fitted and comfortable. I agree making jeans is quite a bit of work, but well worth the effort when they fit.

  52. These look great! Where did you get that denim?

  53. JLC of Perth says:

    I have made lots of jeans and agree that topstitching is a challenge on multiple layers of denim. It helps a lot if you pound the thick areas with a hammer before sewing through them. Pressing with an iron is not enough: I put the thick area on a housebrick and hit it fairly firmly about six times with a hammer. This flattens and softens the denim enough that my Janome can sew through it without any trouble. Try it — you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes. I use 16oz denim for jeans — that’s the really thick stuff that feels like cardboard before it is washed — but it can be tamed by hammering it.

  54. Amelia Wray says:

    These look so great! Great colour, too. With each new pair of Ginger Jeans I see, the more it moves up my list of patterns to make!

  55. Sasha says:

    That’s a wicked pair of gingers … That colour WOW … After hammering the only place where my Bernina has some trouble is the buttonhole, yours looks so neat !!!

  56. kieravanella says:

    Wow! They came out great! I can’t even imagine attempting to make jeans!

  57. Elena Knits says:

    Great jeans! I recently made jeans too and my machine suffered a lot with the topstitching. When I was sewing the beltloops it was so awful that gluing them in place crossed my mind a couple of times. I want to make a second pair with some improvements but, like you, I was not ready when I got those finished. Now that I’ve almost completed another project I’m thinking more and more of making jeans again as soon as possible 🙂

  58. Really fantastic! I’m on spring break and woke up deciding what to muslin. The Gingers are at the top now. I’m taking your wonderful plums as a sign! Thanks;)

  59. Oh Karen, I love them and must say how brave to attempt the first one in a brighter color! I ordered the kit that Heather Lou was offering a little while ago, so I know Ginger jeans are in my future once they ship and I’m still terrified. (By then I’ll hopefully have a shiny new Bernina machine which gave me more hope than the absolutely terrible topstitching I can do with my old one.) I love yours, and they look fantastic on you!

  60. Those are adorable! Nice job. 🙂 Nope, I can say with (almost) absolute certainty that I will not ever make my own pair of jeans. I have great admiration for someone that can, but sewing machines hate me and I’m not too fond of them- we had a misunderstanding a few years back. 😉 Thanks for sharing your latest creation with us, and have a great week! 🙂

  61. Emma says:

    Oh those are tremendous and may I say that they are a pair of true sit-me-down enhancers. The colour is super too. Heavens, jeans. Stitchy engineering, that’s for sure. GO YOU AND YOUR KECKS.

  62. fk says:

    I love these jeans. You’ve made me consider making a pair myself. I have just discovered the miraculous walking foot attachment, which I’ve used recently for various topstitching tasks. Mine reminds me of a miniature army tank, plowing forward relentlessly, crushing everything underfoot.

  63. Debra says:

    Your jeans are great, well done. I am tempted to try some as I’ve never owned jeans that fit, or any trousers that fit in fact; I live in leggings and yoga pants. However, I am struggling to fit a pair of ‘Ultimate Trousers’ at the moment so Gingers might be a bit of a way off yet. Your fit looks very good.

    Thanks for the inspiration and the topstitching confessions. I like JLC’s suggestion of hitting the jeans with a hammer. It sounds effective but anyway I just like the idea of hitting jeans with a hammer.

  64. Heather Lou says:

    YAY! Karen, these look SO great! The fit is terrific.Don’t be hard on yourself about the topstitching. My first few pairs are not the prettiest either, but I think you figure out how to make your machine behave eventually. They are all precious little snowflakes, hahaha.

  65. Emma says:

    These look great! They are on my to-do next pile…. very useful review 🙂 awesome accessorizing by kitchen maid.

  66. a. vaughn says:

    Nicely done! As soon as I complete my last course of grad school and an going on a fabric and pattern shopping spree. You do inspire me.

  67. no says:

    I love everything about these! They’re perfect. That shade of red counts as a neutral, I’m sure of it.

  68. Ewka says:

    They look fantastic on you Karen! Great work beautifully done. My old Bernina handles thick layers reasonably well but for some reason it just has a hissy fit if presented with a combo of thick layers and thick thread even with a jeans needle. I wonder whether you had to change the needle throughout the process?

  69. BeaJay says:

    Fabulous jeans. So well made.

  70. sewnbyashley says:

    These are FANTASTIC!!! I love the whole look you have here. Jeans are so intimidating.

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  72. Melissa says:

    Your jeans look awesome, I love the color! And the kitchen maids – hilarious!!

  73. Gail says:

    Might have to jump on the Ginger jeans bandwagon too. They look fabulous.

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  75. I made jeans too but luckily I have space to leave out my stuff so I could work in small stages and not get too fatigued. I read all the tutorials for the ginger jeans but used a burda pattern. You can see my jeans here http://joeveryday19.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/make-your-own-jeans.html

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