Category Archives: MPB Jeans Sew-Along

Moves Like Jagger — Butterick 5682 Jeans

I DID IT! I made pants! These lovelies are from Butterick 5682, which is a basic jeans pattern. I made View B, which has straight legs, in a size 10. The finished hip measurement was pretty close to my exact measurement at 37.5 inches. I’m positive this worked as well as it did because I used stretch denim — if I want non-stretch jeans, I’d have to go up to a 12. The only change I made to this pattern was to sew the inseam at 3/8″ instead of 5/8″ which is how I work around needing more room for my thighs. Frankly, that extra quarter inch was very necessary here. Otherwise, this came together remarkably well. I think this is the fourth (maybe fifth?) pair of jeans I’ve tried to make on this blog, and by far my favorite.

A few quirks: the allowance for the front zip is definitely short, as I noted when I first made this pattern. Next time, I’ll lengthen the fly and fly shield by a bit to allow for a longer zipper. The pattern piece for the waistband demands that you cut it on the cross grain, which made my print go a bit wonky. I get why this is necessary — to avoid undue stretch in the waist — but if I’m using a patterned denim, I might try cutting it on the straight grain and interfacing the heck out of it next time. I did have to lay out the pieces carefully, to match the cheetah print at the pockets and so on, but it was relatively easy to do with four yards. I still have enough left to make a skirt, assuming I need any more cheetah print in my closet.

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere due to brain drain, and the schedule won’t let up anytime soon. We’re coming up on March Madness, and I don’t mean basketball; choir, sports and Scouts all have events this month. After the jeans project, which took about six days, I’m ready for something quick and easy!

To sew, that is.


Banger pants DONE! I’m a sewing ninja.

The flash washed these out. They're a dark navy, like the other pic.

I’m done, I’m done!  I finished the pants over the weekend while watching Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (aww, Hugo Weaving is so adorable in that).  They did end up totally gangbanger pants, I have NO idea why the legs are so baggy.  It’s not even like I have toothpick legs.  McCalls has a lot to answer for.

Anyhow, I embraced the banger look and added a loop for the wallet chain.  Just in case I decide to….jingle when I walk?  Alert people that I’m carrying money?  Prevent myself from hunting birds, like a cat bell?  I have no idea.

So, I could take a week or two off now but it’s Muslin Monday and you all know what that means.

It means I’m going to Disney World!

No — it means I need to get off the computer and start my next project.

I see by your outfit you’re a gangsta…

I still need to attach carriers, hook and eyes, and finish the hems. Also, they look a little too blue because of my iPhone photo.

Ok, maybe not.  But I’m reaching the tail end of the MPB Sew-Along and a few things I’ve learned:

1) Gutermann topstitching thread is EVIL.  It shreds and tangles and chews on itself and in short, behaves like embroidery floss.  Also, they only give you 33 m per spool.  WTF Gutermann?  I bought 2 spools and now need a third to finish.

2) I didn’t trim down my waistband seam allowances enough and hence will need to use hooks and eyes rather than a button to finish.  My machine flat out refuses to do buttonholes in fabric over a certain thickness.  Duly noted for next time.

3) I still need a full seat adjustment.  I guess that’s in the works for another pair of pants.

4) These pants make me look totally gangsta.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the look McCall’s was going for (but maybe they were.  It’s hard to tell from the pictures sometimes if they’re yanking your chain).  The back pockets are low and the legs are extremely baggy.  It’s an interesting look.  I might even wear them outside and risk getting shot.

Denim Diaries II — How to Win Friends and Traumatize People

Jeans sewing has reached an impasse, since I need to rip out a wonky leg seam.  Also, no camera.  Grrr….  So while we wait, I thought I’d explain the impetus to sew jeans.  Well, my impetus anyway; you’ll have to explain your own.

I know many women get frustrated in the search for the perfect pair of jeans — the ritual seems to be go shopping, try on 20-plus pairs of jeans, cry, vow to go on a diet, leave mall empty-handed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  However, I think I’m the only person I know who managed to transfer my jeans angst to someone else.  Literally, one of my besties who is terrified of shopping for jeans entirely because of ME.  And you thought my skills were limited to sewing and snark.

Everyone, meet my friend Erika.  Erika, this is everyone.  Now picture the camera going all swirly and murky while we flash back to 20 years ago….  Erika and I have been dropped at the mall for an afternoon with the meager contents of our allowance, and I in particular am in search of jeans.  The perfect jeans.  The jeans that will make me slim, popular, and fulfilled but still cost less than $25.

I was a teenager.  What can I say?

We shopped every store in the mall.  We shopped from Macy’s at one end to Nordstrom on the other.  We crossed the footbridge and shopped at another, adjacent mall (I live in retail heaven, the malls here are insane).  Finally, after five hours and innumerable jeans later, I peered into a mirror at a barely acceptable pair of Lees and said with a sigh, “What do you think?”

Erika, already curled into the fetal position in a corner of the dressing room, unfurled herself long enough to say, “THEY LOOK FINE.  FOR GOD’S SAKE, BUY THEM ALREADY!”  It was while watching her sob and rock in the corner that I started to feel deeply uneasy about this entire jeans experience.

I never did enjoy wearing that pair of Lees.

Every now and again, I’ll be somewhere with Erika and I’ll mention shopping.  She gets a little twitch and a manic smile, and I have to back away from her slowly.  Well, it’s a 20 year friendship….I try to allow people their little quirks.

Muslin Monday — the Denim Diaries

These are kind of dark but you can see the silver topstitching and the pins showing where I need to topstitch the fly.

Ok, no muslin this week and no real diaries here but I did make some progress on my jeans.  The front is assembled except for topstitching the fly, and the back is taking shape.  Tomorrow, I’ll hopefully have an hour or so to work on them and we’ll see how far I get at that point.

Over here, in the bad news aisle….my camera is dying a horrible death.  It is chewing through batteries with each use and will no longer show digital images.  We’ve ordered a new one, but goodness knows when THAT will arrive.  I might be stuck with a few iPhone photos for a while, or I could try to use the fragile and finicky professional camera we inherited from my father-in-law.  Oh well, we’ve had many good years with this camera and it’s probably about time to replace it.

Damn the torpedoes — full speed ahead!

After the lackluster performance of yesterday’s muslin, I reevaluated M5392 against another pattern I had in my stash, M5142.  Let’s be frank here — the cover photography on M5142 is less than appealing.  However, when I laid the two patterns on top of each other, M5142 had some advantages:

1) Choice of straight mid-rise waistband or high curved waistband.  I prefer the mid-rise look but I think I can easily use the curved waistband on the lower waist.

2) Longer back rise and crotch length, but similarly short front rise.  I may still need to scoop out the front waist a bit but the change should be minimal.

3) Curved yoke, meaning I don’t have to take an acre out of the middle seam to get it to lay flat.

4) Legs appear to hang straight from the hip.  The pattern photo makes them look bootcut and maybe they are, but the relative lack of curvature means it will be much easier for me to take in the leg seam if they wind up too baggy.

The cons?  Well, they may end up being completely dowdy.  However, I am eager to get on with sewing and I don’t necessarily have a full bolt of denim laying around to do innumerable muslins.  Which means I’m going to cut out my pattern and fabric, and commence stitching soon!

Please note, this is how I make all challenging decisions — think, deliberate, test, then throw caution to the wind.  It seems to work…..mostly.

Muslin Monday – Vulgar clown pants!

Yes, I took this picture standing on my bathtub edge. I live dangerously.

In the spirit of getting ready for the MPB (male pattern boldness for the uninitiated) Jeans Sew-Along, I decided to do a muslin of my jeans pattern.  The results were….sobering.  First of all, I wanted a straight leg design but my chosen pattern, M5392, is much closer to a skinny leg.  I like the top part of the pattern and think it would be easy to modify, since I already know I will need to take out some length in the front rise and add some to my swayback/bubble butt.  However, getting the shape I want would mean lengthening the leg and changing the leg line of the pattern overall.  It might be easier to start with another pattern (I do have other patterns that might work).  One of the challenges of making jeans is that there is no straight waistband created anywhere that will lay flat on my proportions — even this pattern has a waistband that is relatively straight in the back and I already know it won’t fit.  It doesn’t even fit well on the pattern — I took one inch out of the yoke and sewed the side seams at 3/4″ and the waistband is still too short.  I’m pretty sure there’s a drafting error somewhere.

Pretty nice side view. That back gap is ALL waistband -- you can also see where I need to do a full seat adjustment.

So to sum up the alterations from top to bottom:  frankenstein waistband from another pattern, shorten front rise, lengthen back rise with full seat adjustment, redraw bizarre hip curve, straighten leg and add material in calf area, lengthen leg.  Too much?  I could stick with the skinny silhouette although it’s not my best look.  I might try another muslin this week of my OTHER jeans pattern (it’s one of the two McCall’s Palmer/Pletsch patterns, although I can’t remember which one) just to see the difference.  What do you guys think I should do?

Also, the gal who suggested this might be a wearable muslin?  I salute your bravery.  I also want some of whatever you’re on, because that is the only way I could ignore these suggestive swirls all over certain parts of my anatomy.  I’m pretty sure even clowns aren’t allowed to wear something this loud.

And another muslin

I’m hoping to join in with Peter’s jeans sew-a-long in May (go check out his blog at, he’s an inspiration!), so I thought I would cut out a bit of muslin today.  The plan is to use McCall’s M5392, now alas out of print, to recreate my favorite straight/skinny jeans.  I can find bootcut jeans with no problem but apparently, women are not supposed to have muscular calves so anything fitted below the knee is usually way too tight.  I have one pair of straight jeans that works and I’d like to recreate their look, since the fit is more flattering than truly skinny jeans.

The fabric I’m using is some heavy stretch twill (vaguely the same weight as denim) with a denim and studded print on it.  I picked it up in LA’s Fabric District for $1.50 per yard.  I had this idea of making an incredibly punk rock pair of pants — or possibly a skirt — with it, but the pattern has consistently defeated me.  It is getting used as a muslin and good riddance.

I apologize for the crappy iPhone photos, but it should be immediately obvious to all right-thinking people that this does not belong on a human body.

Clearly, there is a reason why this was $1.50, right?