News & Reviews

A Phoenix Rises from the Ash Jeans

Now, I’m sure there are more than a few sewing bloggers out there who make out that sewing life is a whole lotta rosy…the birds chirrup away outside a sun-drenched sewing room whilst the sewer in question manages to churn out an endless array of perfectly made garments. Well, fellow sewer, I am here to tell you that that is a bare-faced lie! Sewing is not all sunshine and roses, sometimes it gets dark. Very, very dark. Especially if you mistakenly make a pair of skinny jeans using a denim with the WRONG AMOUNT OF STRETCH!!!!!! EPIC JEANS FAAAAAAAAAAIL!!!! What makes this story even more heartbreaking is that I only realised my monumental error during the “trying on” stage, meaning that I had already done the main bulk of the sewing. #sad

So, sit back, relax, and entertain yourself with my tale of misfortune. This happened about a week ago and I have only just come to terms with what I have done. If you see me in person, there’s a chance I may laugh about it, but you might have to give me a couple more weeks.

As a bit of background to the story, you might know that May is also known as Me Made May (or #mmmay18) on Instagram, which is the brainchild of blogger, Zoe, of The aim of #mmmay18 is to wear something you’ve made every day in the month of May which can help you identify areas in your handmade wardrobe that are a bit sparse. Mine is definitely all manner of trousers and jeans. For some reason, I avoid them like the plague and I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s a psychological thing because I know my hip/waist ratio is a bit strange and because I struggle to get good fitting ready to wear, I think I’m automatically not going to get a good fit with my handmade trews, which is completely ridiculous, as that’s the point of making my own clothes! Anyway, I digress… my aim this month is to try and fill in the wardrobe blanks, which meant I was determined to go all gung-ho and attempt my first pair of jeans!

Funnily enough, at the same time as me deciding my challenge, Megan Nielsen brought out a new jeans pattern – the Ash Jeans.  These looked ideal as you can make the jeans with different leg types (skinny, straight or wide-legged) and have them standard length or cropped.  They also give a tall length as well as regular (which is quite good for me as I do find a regular length trouser can sometimes makes me look like a Bay City Rollers throwback) so I decided this was the jeans pattern for me!  I went for the cropped skinny jeans, what with the warm weather rearing it’s sunny head, and I also had the perfect denim offcut in my stash (or so I thought!) so after 3 days of procrastination, the jeans sewing began.


I have to say, kudos to Megan Nielsen and all her clan!! These are hands down, the best set of sewing pattern instructions I have come across thus far!! The fly zipper went perfectly, as did the pockets, which is majorly down to the pattern instructions rather than my sewing skills. I didn’t have to Google anything once! 🙂 Things were going well…almost too well, it turns out. My topstitching was for the main part bang on point and by “trying on” stage, I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself! Oh, how the mighty fall, and when I say fall, I mean slip down a huge mineshaft with no means of escape.

You may or may not know that I have a bit of a penchant for weight lifting. I love it. I love lifting things up and putting them down. Which means, dainty I ain’t; I have the calves of an Eastern European shotputter. Skinny jeans can therefore be a bit too skinny around the old calf area for me, but it doesn’t normally cause me any bother as unlike myself, proper jeans manufacturers don’t tend to make the schoolgirl error of using denim with too little stretch to it…10% too little stretch to be exact!! Now, what I had done, is stash away this little offcut of denim from the shop, but as it had been a while ago, I hadn’t realised it was a different denim to the one we currently have in stock, which has 20% stretch to it and would have made it ideal for these jeans! <<<facepalm>>>. Oh the humanity!!! There are few words to describe my emotions when I had realised what I had done. There were a few tears. There was certainly a lot of slapping myself on the head. There was definitely copious amounts of Google searches such as “How to make denim stretch more” and “How to get jeans to fit around the calf”. Both searches led me to drench my half-finished jeans in lukewarm water, stand on the legs and pull with all my might to try and get some extra leg width!!! Needless to say, it didn’t work, although it did prove that my stitching was very, very secure, so every cloud…!

A few shots of Jack Daniels later and I was feeling a little more optimistic and creative, which then led me to decide to not let the jeans and all my hard work go to waste…they were destined to become a denim skirt!! So the leg bottoms were hacked off (as was I at this point!!), unpicked at the side seams and used as panels for the front and back. I managed to line up the topstitching of the leg bottoms to that of the front and back crotch, hemmed the skirt accordingly and voila – a denim skirt with an impeccable fly zipper, pockets and topstitching!

So I am yet to make my jeans. I need a little break from that I think, before I have another go. But when I do, I’ll definitely be using the Ash Jeans pattern again and still have my whisky on standby.

The moral of the story is this…when life throws you 10% stretch denim, make a chuffin’ skirt out it, not jeans!!!!!!

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