Delving into Denim with Closet Case Ginger Jeans and Alina Sewing & Design Hampton Jacket

My journey with denim began a long time ago when at 15, inspired by my home economics teacher, Miss Hobbs, I made my first pair of straight leg jeans along with a tweed waistcoat and matching tie! No stretch denim back then and luckily no photos. My interest was renewed just a couple of years ago when I was lucky enough to be the only person in a Jeans Technique class with Lorna Knight. Sewing machines and fabric have certainly moved on in forty years.

The Ginger pattern I bought last year after seeing so many great reviews on IG but only got around to making up last month when I decided I needed to use my embroidery machine more. Having signed up for the Alina Sewing and Design newsletter when I bought the Chi pattern for SewMyStyle2019 I got an email on a promotion for the Hampton - more denim practice as well as another chance to embroider.

First I made the skinny leg version of the Ginger mid-rise pattern using some lovely dark denim from Guthrie & Ghani. This is a 61 page PDF pattern so I had printed at Netprinter. The big debate was which size to make as I have little difference between waist and hips. I compared my favourite RTW pair with the finished size measurements and went with the 8. I didn’t think through the fact that my fabric had a lot less stretch than the RTW pair so they fit pretty tight and had to reduce the leg seam allowance to be able to pull up.

On to the lining fabric. I have so much cotton fabric left from quilting to choose from but went for a colourful fabric that I thought would look good with denim. Then I wanted an embroidery design for the pocket to tie in with the lining fabric colours. It was quite hard to find a design with multi colours and would also fit well within the stitch lines. The design is Western Flair by Embroidery Library.

Choosing the embroidery thread was quite difficult as I was also matching the topstitch thread as well. So in the end it was more orange gold than the fabric and a lighter purple as the darker colour didn’t show up enough. I had just watched a class on my Bluprint subscription called Machine Embroidery on Denim by Katrina Walker which went through these issues.

I mostly followed the sewalong as I prefer photos to technical drawings. However, the pattern has been updated since the sewalong to accommodate a pocket stay (attached in the fly) which at the time of the sewalong was just an option. My only out of sync action was to sew the back pockets in before attaching to the front. The idea is to get to the stage of being able to test fit and check the position but I went with where my RTW sat as didn’t want to fiddle around topstitching later.

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I have to say if you follow the instructions you should come out with some impressive looking jeans. The contrasting overlocker thread is a great idea and I picked up the lining fabric colour and followed through with my embroidered name. I ordered a couple of zips, one as per the instructions and then 1” shorter, but in the end I used a much shorter one I had lying around. It was still a little long and uncomfortable with feeling for the metal teeth I used my little kit to take out the extra teeth and replace the end stops.

I hadn’t bothered with a test make so the only room I had for adjusting was when I came to sew the outside leg seams. This is when I realised how little stretch my fabric had. So from just above my knee I reduced the seam allowance by 1/4” and this is enough to get them on. Although I did end up with loads of small bruises where I caught my skin on my first attempt to get them on.

I attempted to sew on the belt loops with my walking foot attached but I just couldn’t see what I was doing. In the end I used my applique foot which is quite short and open. Along with the jean-a-ma-jig and wonder tape I managed 5 perfectly placed neat belt loops. And then the dreaded buttonhole. The buttonhole foot just kept catching in the seam allowance and knotted. I tried normal thread the same colour as the topstitch thread. After a google search I came across a Youtube video on a manual buttonhole. It takes a bit of practice but looks fantastic. However, I did use fraycheck on the back and let dry before I cut open.

Now a little more relaxed around denim I thought I would tackle the jacket - all those buttonholes! It was easier to decide which size to make as my waist measurement ties in with my bust and I again made an 8. Another PDF but this pattern is layered so I could just print out the one size and a manageable number of pages. Every single page lined up perfectly. Then it struck me there were an awful lot of pattern pieces - 20 in fact, A to T. Thankfully, as with the Ginger there is a fabulous sewalong to accompany the pattern instructions which have technical drawings. Again I mostly followed the sewalong occasionally referring back to the pattern but I should point out that they are enough but I prefer photos.

I wanted to embroider the back but wanted the design to fit within the centre back panel as I didn’t want to go over the bulky seams. This time the pattern is for a non-stretch denim and I used a mid blue from Empress Mills. This influenced the design I used because a lot of the designs would work on either bleached or very dark denim. I found another Embroidery Library design that I thought would work really well called Wild West Blooms. I changed out the teal for a more turquoise colour to pop on the denim.

I traced the pattern piece and roughly cut around so I didn’t have to be too precise in the hooping as I am still a complete beginner with the bigger hoops. I then traced out the pattern piece ensuring it was exactly in the centre.

I used smaller designs in the set for the front yoke and side panel. To help with placement I drew on all the seam allowances and top stitching lines. I am so pleased with the result.

The welt pocket worked beautifully and with a sigh of relief I moved onto the front pocket flaps and the buttonholes. First, I had to choose a button. The copper laurel wreath looks fabulous with the embroidery. Remembering to ensure the seam allowances would be out of the way I managed two perfect buttonholes. I was using a Gütermann Jeans thread which had caught my eye on the trip to Sew Your Own Wardrobe. The description is a “two-colour appearance which makes it suitable for darning and decoration”. As I was embroidering the jacket I didn’t want the design to compete with the thread and I thought this would be ideal. It looks metallic especially in the dense stitching of the bar tacks and buttonholes but it isn’t as thick as the topstitch thread I had used on the jeans.

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At this point I thought all the hard work had been done. The jacket was coming together and was looking fantastic. The first struggle was top stitching the front yoke. My machine just did not like going over the flap with all those layers. A few bangs with the rubber mallet really did help! There is also a lot of fabric to get through on the centre front edges especially at the corners but I pressed well and called on the services on my husband for some brute force.

The collar isn’t lined so that went in really well. The instructions for the cuff are excellent and looks so professional. The only fiddly bit is topstitching the second sleeve seam where you are sewing in a tunnel. Having just done this with my leggings I wasn’t phased. This is one of the best patterns I have used as everything lined up perfectly and even the button placement was where it should be. However, my favourite part was the set in sleeves. The pattern requires three rows of gathering stitches and then I pulled these up over a pressing ham before placing into the jacket. Perfect first time.

Kelly Anorak - Making Up

Finally got to start sewing today.  Out of sequence with the pattern I did the lining bits first as I had the blue cotton in the machine.  I also thought I would see how well the hood and sleeves went together before sewing the waxed cotton.  The walking foot came out for the understitching as I had a lot of bulk especially on the back pleat.  Fitted together pretty well.  

The first step is the back yoke followed by the front yokes.  I used a faux flat fell seam for the front yokes as my fabric is so bulky.  Even my overlocker felt the strain. Then the fun starts with the pockets.  I  did resort to the Closet Case blog on the gusset packet as I didn't find the instructions clear enough. to feel comfortable.  There is a snap fastener to keep the fold over flap in place.  The pocket side is hard to reach with the Prym pliers.  I did try both the tool that came with the fasteners as well as the tripod but wouldn't go through the fabric.  I brought in some brute force who then got the fabric caught and put two holes in my pocket.  So I started again and managed to make two pockets in the same direction.  Third time lucky and still married! Feeling nervous I attached the pockets to the fronts.  At least I managed to get these on straight and the bulk does flatten when pressed.

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Next step is to attach the fronts to the back.  I had decided not to put in the drawstring waist and I had already made the jacket and hood lining so I moved on to the sleeves.  The sleeves went together well although I could only top stitch the fist seam.  I am not sure that you could topstitch the closed sleeve in  any size.  Then I tried to inset the sleeves.  What a disaster.  My material just wasn't playing ball and after undoing twice I went with what I had.

In between undoings I did the zip and the hood.  The easing in the hood was a doddle after the sleeves and once pressed and topstitched looked pretty good.  I marked the sewing line for the two curves when I attached the hood to the hood lining as I wanted to ensure the  curves matched perfectly.  It can be difficult to keep on the seam allowance when sewing such tight corners.   

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Moving on to the zip.  I put on the right placket.  Then you insert the zip to the right facing.  Now this is where I have an issue with the pattern.  It tells you to line up the zip edge with facing edge.  You have to sew on the seam allowance and make sure you leave room to open the zip.  My zip was not wide enough. to do this.  Worried the zip would be in the wrong place I again resorted to a tutorial on inserting the zipper placket.  In the tutorial it does say to move your zip in from the edge so you can sew at the  correct seam allowance.  

So I drew a line where it needed to be.  Instead of pinning zips I use double sided tape as zips always seem to move around.  I did read the rest of the tutorial as again this gave clarity to the instructions.  Although I had to remember that the part about finishing the  facings is if you are not lining.  Took care to make sure the left side matched by fastening and marking on the zip where it should meet top, bottom and front yoke.  Yes it all matched.  Phew!

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The finish was in sight or so I thought.  After pressing up the hems the next step is too attach the lining.  Again I had an issue with the instructions.  It says the lining is shorter than the facings.  Mine were the same length.  So I got out the pattern pieces and yes they are the same length.  I think is should say shorter than the body of the coat.  

Then you attach the hood to the jacket body.  You have to do this in two parts because of the right placket.  A lot of fabric to go through but after clipping, it went in well.  I tried to use clover clips to hold the layers in place but they slide off when you get close to the machine foot so I stuck with pins.  I actually managed to get blood on the inside of the hood so  I resorted to basting in place after I found a needle sharp enough to go through all that fabric.

Again because of the placket  it is not possible to stitch the neckline of the lining to the neckline in one go.  You wrap the collar lining facing around the neckline seam sandwiching the jacket and lining neckline in between.  You stitch along the seam allowance for as far as you can go on both sides.  Tight for me with all the bulk of the fabric.

After attaching the sleeve linings to the jacket sleeve you turn to the right side and slip stitch the open neckline .  I added a hanging loop at this point.  To secure everything in place you top stitch along the neckline.  I just went real slow and it came out very neat.  it is optional to topstitch around the perimeter of the hood but I didn't bother in case I messed up the tight curves.  The lining sits along the crease of the hem and you topstitch through to hold in place.  

Finally the metal snaps.  I carefully checked the markings before I punched through on the right side.  I then fastened the coat and marked the left placement by marking through the hole.  The only issue I had was the bottom hood snap where the right side had to go through so many layers.

All done.  The coat looks amazing.  The hood fits perfectly and the pockets are just right for me.  The fit is a little snug as I had quilted the lining but ever so cosy.  

Kelly Anorak - Preparation

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Inspired by Lauren Guthrie's version of the Kelly Anorak I bought the PDF version as well as the lining expansion pack in the Black Friday sale.  A fortuitous trip to Birmingham that day I was able to source all the supplies I needed to complete from Guthrie and Ghani.  The fabric is a Millerain waxed cotton and I chose an Atelier Brunette cotton lawn which picked up the gold. I did buy quite a few other things but that is another day.

I hadn't really thought the PDF idea through as I had 90 sheets of A4 to stick together.  The PDF does come with a version for A0 paper so I did look at using one of the printer companies out there but as usual I didn't want to wait or spend any more money.  I prefer layered patterns then you can just print the sizes you want.  As it wasn't the pattern was difficult to cut in places as the many sizes are hard to differentiate especially on the neck facing pieces.  If not layered it would have been easier in colour.

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The choices are hood or standup collar and/or drawstring waist.  I have two waxed cotton jackets with collars so I decided to make the  hood version.  As I was adding a quilted lining I decided against the drawstring as I thought this would be too much bulk to deal with.  

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I  quickly cut out the main fabric pieces as I didn't want the waxed cotton folded for any longer than needed.  You do need to be careful to ensure you cut the single pieces on the correct side of the fabric.  You also have to trim the the right yoke and coat front on the trim line.  

 Then I had to decide what wadding to use for the quilted lining.  I went for a natural super soft cotton which needed to washed and dried before use. As I  have a long ruler  2 1/2" wide for binding I used this to mark the lines for my cross hatch pattern.  I did try using my quilting guide but just too hard too keep steady on a such a big piece of dark fabric,  At this point I remembered why I stopped quilting. 

I fused a soft woven interfacing to the lining sleeve and hood pieces as although I didn't want to add too much bulk the cotton lawn did need some support.

Then all the interfacing had to be applied. to the fabric  I used a medium non woven for the zip and pocket areas and woven for the neck and hood facings.  

Preparation done.  This pattern in not for the fainthearted.  Now waiting for dark gold overlocking thread to arrive.

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Sewing round up

Been busy so not much sewing done but so much planned.  Finally got all my supplies ready to make the Vogue dress pattern.

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Then all the plans went through the window when all the Black Friday offers came along.  Helen's closet, Closet Case, Brindille & Twig and Street Style patterns all had offers as well as my favourite organic cotton supplier Jelly Fabrics.  I stocked up on rib fabrics in all my favourite colours.  Then the pile just grew when  I visited Guthrie & Ghani whilst on a trip to Birmingham for the National Model Railway exhibition.  So now I have all this to do and not enough time in the day.

Where to start!  The only way to go was a major tidy up of sewing headquarters and start/finish the projects lying on the floor.  This was reinforced by the fact I was too embarrassed to take a picture of the room for Bpsewember.  I started with the T Shirts for my niece which had been hung on the door since summer.  I moved on to the cushion to be made from the applique ballerina made last year and finished with the advent calendars and Christmas napkins. 

The decision was to make the Kelly Anorak first as I didn't want to leave the waxed cotton folded up in case it marked.