I used to have this idea in my head that jeans were just too hard, too time consuming and I did not need to venture into that realm of DIY fashion. And then Lauren of Baste and Gather released the Birkin Flares and I started to think, why not? Why not give myself a little challenge. I can make simple tank tops all day and yes they'll be worn to death but why not venture outside my comfort zone? So, when Indiesew invited me to participate in the blog tour for the Spring Collection I decided there was no time like the present to get started.
For most projects I can find everything I need in my stash but jeans require a few things that I didn't already have. I started out by going to the downtown LA fashion district and picking up some denim. As it is my first pair of jeans, I didn't want to use an expensive fabric yet. The pattern is designed with negative ease so I needed to find a denim with stretch. I went to one of my favorite little fabric stores, Alex Fabrics on 9th and found two great pieces of denim. This is my go-to store for zippers and fabrics are around $5 a yard. For my first pair of Birkins, I went with a classic dark blue. I found a couple of zippers at Alex then explored some other shops on Maple and picked up a few more.
Next in the supply hunt, I ordered topstitching thread, rivets and buttons from Taylor Tailor. His shop specializes in jeans supplies so you should definitely check it out if you're making jeans. I did look for these supplies downtown but couldn't easily find what I wanted. My order came really quickly and the spools of topstitching thread are quite large so I still have plenty leftover. When I made this denim dress, I used a small spool of Gutermann topstitching thread. It was great thread but I ran out and had to buy an additional spool part way through. For this pair of jeans, I used yellow for most of the topstitching and red as an accent for the bar tacks.
There are a ton of fabulous examples of this pattern on the interwebs, just take a look at #birkinflares on Instagram. So, I was pretty confident that the fit was going to be great. I cut a straight size 29 and did not add any length. The pattern comes with a 34 inch inseam which is perfect for me with a 1 or 2 inch heel. I think I'd actually like to make another pair that's longer to wear with some other higher shoes. I really like the fit of these jeans, they sit a few inches below my natural waist just under my belly button. They do a great job of covering that poochy belly part but I'm still a little tempted to try another version with a higher rise. Cause I'm crazy. And I just have a thing for super high rise jeans. Let's bring back the 70s y'all!
I've also considered narrowing the leg at the lower thigh just above the knee. Being accustomed to the tight skinny jean silhouette, I wanted it to be tight through the whole thigh. But after looking at other versions of these and more episodes of Gilmore Girls than I'm willing to admit, I noticed that this style is usually not tight on the lower thigh. I do think it would create more dramatic silhouette so I might try basting it just to see.
Making these jeans took a long time. As in days. I'm a sucker for quick projects so it took some patience on my part to just stick with it and keep going. There are a lot of steps but the instructions are fabulous. I really appreciated the detail put into them. Usually I'm a little annoyed if there are too many steps but jeans require some specific things so this time I liked it. Specifically, when to topstitch, when and where to serge. Reminders to change your stitch length and thread, etc. So helpful to have that all detailed. It would be really convenient to have two machines set up, one with topstitching thread and the other with regular. I felt like I spent a lot of time switching back and forth.
I'm pretty satisfied with my topstitching. There are a few wonky places but I don't think anyone will notice unless they look super close. I do recommend switching to a slower stitch speed when doing the topstitching. For me, it helped keep the stitches even. I do suspect that if I had a fancier (more expensive) machine that my stitches would be even better but for now these'll do just fine. I struggled a little bit getting the curve around the fly and re-did it three or four times. Anyone have tips for stitching a nice smooth curve?
I think the hardest/scariest part for me was the rivets. The jeans button went in fine but oh my the rivets. I watched Lauren's video and read articles and practiced. And my test samples were not great. I just had the hardest time finding the right surface. I ended up using the flat end of a barbell and my rivets are a little bit smushed but no one's going to notice. They're not that bad. I did add spacers to the back rather than trying to trim the posts. I also want to mention removing the zipper teeth. I really struggled to pull them off until I discovered that if I grab the tooth with the fat part of the pliers, it worked right away. Trying to use the narrow "needle" end of the pliers did nothing. But the wider part near the hinge worked perfectly.
All in all, I'm really, really happy with how these turned out. I've worn these jeans a lot since I finished them and I'm very happy with the fit and how the denim has held up and not stretched out. I've actually worn this exact outfit about once a week since I finished them. I also love that the design of the pants is not what everyone else is wearing all the time. Flares are definitely back in style but they're also definitely not as popular as skinnies still are. I will likely be making jeans again, maybe skinnies next time! I have some gray denim that I'd love to have as skinnies. It's a lot of work to make jeans so I'm taking a little "break" and playing with easy patterns. Like the top pictured here! It just so happens to be my pattern, the Lou Box Top. I'll be posting more about this zipper back variation later this week so stay tuned.
For now, head over to Indiesew to pick up the Spring Collection bundle which includes both the Lou Box Top and Birkin Flares, plus the Sanibel Romper (see mine here), the Rushcutter Dress (see mine here) and The Florence Kimono. It's an awesome collection of patterns that are truly wardrobe builders. Also make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for some amazing sewing inspiration.
Disclosure: I received this pattern for free but all thoughts/opinions are my own.