So, what is left to be said about Ginger jeans? This pattern has been out for a few years, and there are almost 14,000 #gingerjeans tags on Instagram. Like, what am I going to say?
I doubt I can offer anything groundbreaking, but I can offer you my unique perspective and over-explain-it-all style. I’ve got that going for me!
Hang out as I chat about my experience sewing Ginger jeans, including intel on my modifications, fabric, construction, and tools.
Why It Took Me So Long to Make Ginger Jeans
Backstory time. I bought the Ginger jeans pattern when Closet Case Patterns came out with its “Sew Your Dream Jeans” online course in 2017. The workshop came with the mid-rise Gingers. I watched the course with my younger son as we would eat lunch.
I meant to make the Gingers in early 2018 and blogged about it, but the first time I posted on Instagram about these jeans was in NOVEMBER (2018). Yeah, they’ve been a long time coming.
The main holdup to construction was fitting. I’m a big foot-dragger when it comes to fitting. I don’t like the process, and I tend to overthink and overfit. But, after three rounds of fitting, I called it good enough and sewed the gosh-darn Gingers.
I did three rounds of fitting modifications on a size 8. I sewed the skinny iteration. (I do love me a skinny dark denim jean!)
- Shorten front crotch by 1/4 inch.
- Removed 1/2 inch width from top yoke. (In my final pattern piece adjustments, I removed an additional 1/4 inch. It wasn’t necessary for the muslin.)
- Flat pubis adjustment — flattened 1/4 inch.
- Shortened hem 2 inches.
- Removed 1/4 inch from back inner thigh.
- Removed 1/4 inch from front crotch length.
- Removed 1/4 inch at outer knee.
Technically, these are the mid-rise Ginger jeans, but as you can see, I’ve made them high rise. I added 1 1/2 inches to the rise for this effect, and I did this before I got into the three rounds of fitting.
As I traced off the pattern pieces, I used Nancy Zieman’s slide-and-pivot technique for fitting, comparing my measurements to the pattern pieces. The thing is, because this denim is quite stretchy, I ended up taking off some width changes I made to the pattern pieces. Word to the wise: The pivot-and-slide method may not be great for stretch fabric and body-conscious patterns. Test!
My Ginger Jeans Fabric
These jeans are 8.6 ounce Robert Kaufman stretch denim. I tried this denim per the recommendation of Lauren “Lladybird” Taylor, who said this denim is an accessible and affordable option for this pattern. I bought mine on Amazon. (For the record, these jeans are my Ginger muslin before I dive into my Cone Mills denim!)
The Robert Kaufman denim is a littler lighter than I generally like my denim for jeans, but it was easy to work with, and I think the final product is great. However, the blue dye easily parts with the denim — in the washing machine and dryer, on your hands as you sew, and on your body as you wear the jeans (my knees turned blue the first time I wore them). I think that’s the nature of dark denim. I definitely recommend washing dark denim a few times before you sew it to get rid of excess dye.
One of the cool things about Ginger jeans is the pocket stay, and I used quilting/novelty cotton for my pocket stay. It’s the same fabric I used for my Lucent visor. I mean, how could I resist putting fabric with rivets inside my jeans?
Ginger Jeans: The Rest of the Story
I Used ALL the Sewing Gear
The first time I sewed jeans, I mentioned how I used tons of different sewing goodies. This pair of Gingers was no different. During construction, I used:
- Spool caps: Was constantly changing spools of thread, and they were different sizes (hence the need for different spool caps).
- Hammer and cast-iron skillet: To bang down those extra-bulky spots before stitching.
- Jean-a-ma-jig: This gizmo was a lifesaver when it came to stitching over mega lumps.
- Awl: To mark the jeans-button insertion spot.
- Fray Check and buttonhole chisel: I used Fray Check before AND after I cut the buttonhole, and I cut open the buttonhole with a tiny chisel. Related: I could cut buttonholes with a chisel ALL DAY. That’s an ASMR experience if there ever was one.
- Closet Case Patterns 15 Common Fitting Adjustments for Jeans and Pants: CCP’s freebie fitting guide saved my bacon.
- Pliers: To remove zipper teeth.
- Fabric glue: To baste belt loops in place. I gave each belt loop a dab of glue and a Wonder Clip. When it was time to sew down the loops, they weren’t going anywhere.
- Steamy iron and wood block clapper: To create gorgeous seams.
- Mini bucket: To wrangle all these little doodads while you’re sewing! I kept almost all my needles, thread, spool caps, and Jean-a-ma-jig in cup so I knew where they were at a moment’s notice.
I Used ALL the Thread
I used all-purpose navy poly thread for construction and jeans-gold topstitching thread for a lot of the topstitching. For the blue and red topstitching, I actually used two all-purpose poly threads together to get a nice, fat stitch.
I’m particularly happy with how the blue and red topstitching turned out. The red is two slightly different reds, and the blue is two slightly different blues. (I was going for a primary color scheme, but then as I was working, I saw I missed my chance to do a CMYK scheme (print nerd joke).)
ANYHOO. If you’re looking for something a bit unusual, try doubling up your AP thread for topstitching.
Speaking of topstitching, to use two types of thread at a time, I relied on a Thread Nanny — one of those mini shepherd’s hooks on a heavy-metal base. I’ve found the double spool setup on my sewing machine isn’t great. The second thread doesn’t unspool smoothly, creating too much tension. The Thread Nanny let my spools unspool without issue. (I have new hope for using twin needles!)
I Went a Little Non-Traditional in Challenging Spots
To sew the belt loops and buttonhole, I used AP navy thread. Those were the spots where my machine was most likely to struggle, and I didn’t want to draw attention to them.
I used my new-old Greist buttonholer, and the final product is just gorgeous. It took a while to find the right combo of thread and needle. I started with gold topstitching thread and a topstitching needle, but I ended up with mega bird nests on the wrong side of test scraps.
Eventually I went with the aforementioned navy thread (I didn’t have a non-topstitching thread that matched the rest of the gold topsttiching) and a leather needle. The leather needle did a fab job puncturing the layers of tough denim and interfacing, and I also used the leather needle to sew down the belt loops.
When sewing the belt loops, I used a long-ish straight stitch and plenty of backstitching. In her jeans workshop, CCP’s Heather Lou even suggests sewing the loops this way versus trying to sew bar tacks. I’ve never had success sewing bar tacks on my machine, TBH.
I Did the Waistband Topstitching My Way
This technique doesn’t turn up in the instructions — and I don’t feel like it turns up a lot anywhere, so maybe it’s really bizarre? — but to topstitch the waistband, I pinned the back of the waistband (the part of the waistband on the inside of your jeans that touches your body) in the ditch.
So, from the front, there was a line of pins in the waist seam holding the inside of the waistband in place for successful topstitching. With this technique, here’s no guessing whether you’re catching the inside of the waistband during stitching!
Overall waistband topstitching went well. There’s one spot where it went a bit crooked — unfortunately it’s the FRONT short edge. I should have drawn myself a guideline in chalk instead of eyeballing it. I suggest drawing a guideline for those spots with lots of fabric layers. I found it easy to get off track while sewing in those areas because it’s harder to manipulate your fabric, sewing machine, and needle.
I Turned the Perfect Curved Edge
The back pockets have a slight curve on the edge that’s closest to the back center seam (I think to give your booty a little more pop). The instructions call for turning under the edges of the back pockets and pressing before stitching them to the back leg pieces.
To keep the fold/pressing line nice and even on the curved edge, I drew a guideline for myself on the wrong side of the pocket and turned the raw edge to touch it. It worked a charm!
I Wished for More Contrast
I printed the instructions in grayscale (because I have a black-and-white printer), and there’s not a lot of contrast between right sides, wrong sides, and interfacing in the colorless booklet. I like to have a hard copy of my instructions so I can write on them, but I should have pulled up the color instructions on my computer, too, so I could double check some steps. Not a big deal, but if you like to print instructions (in B&W) it’s worth knowing about.
I Reinforced Stress Points
I did some bee-you-tif-ul topstitching on the pockets, if I do say so myself. I thought it was so lovely that backstitching would ugly up what I’d created. So, I pulled the top thread to the back and tied a knot with the bobbin thread.
Uh, yeah, that’s not a particularly strong way to finish a line of stitching, and it’s an especially weak choice for high-stress areas, like the pocket corners of jeans.
I ended up invisibly reinforcing the corners of the back and coin pockets with AP navy thread and hand-sewing stitches. Maybe I’ll circle back and add rivets in the future.
That’s my Ginger jeans story, and I’m sticking to it. The next iteration of Ginger shall be in Cone Mills denim, and I can’t wait to compare the two pairs of dungarees! I plan to blog about it.
Over to you, my sewing dudettes and dudes: Have you sewn Ginger jeans? Have you sewn other jeans patterns? What’s your favorite jeans style — high-rise, low-rise, bootcut, etc.? I’ll tell you, a classic pair of Wranglers looks dang good to my eyes. But maybe I just want to be a cowgirl? Thanks for reading!
P.S. Here’s the previous post: Thoughts on Size Inclusivity.
P.P.S. Here’s some other fancy-pantsy post for you:
Sew Over It Mia Jeans: 8 Things I Learned Sewing My First Jeans
Sewing Pants That Fit: A 3-Part Series
Made-to-Measure Leggings: Online Sewing Class Review
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Thank you! I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.
You should be so proud of these–they’re amazing! They look so professional. I am pretty jealous that you have a device that makes good buttonholes in denim, too! I especially love the creative topstitching though (mine is always so boring, LOL), it looks great. Thank you for the tip on gluing the belt loops down first: I would never have thought to do that, but it sounds way easier than what I’ve tried before! And count me as another person who refuses to bartack those things–it has never ended well. And YES to a hump-jumper thing: totally a must-have! (Mine are made of wadded up scraps within reach but still…)
I must confess to buying the Ginger pattern as soon as it came out and then never making it. O_o I made a block from a well-fitting pair of RTW jeans; that’s still my tried-and-true jeans pattern so I haven’t made any others! It was originally a low-rise jean (think 2.5″ zipper) and while I do like that style, I altered the rise to be similar to a pair of Madewell 9″ skinnies. They’re my ideal high(er)-rise; that’s been my new go-to style. Bonus: they work perfectly with cropped tops, which I’ve really gotten into lately. 😀 (BTW, I am a skinny jeans girl forever: I don’t care if they aren’t “cool” anymore, they’re my favorite!)
Hey, Abbey! Thanks for reading. Yeah, I just don’t think home sewing machines are really built for bar tacks on jeans. WHO has success with bar tacks on denim?? I’ve got some questions.
It’s so cool you were able to draft a pair of jeans from a RTW pair! I think for my next pair of Gingers I’m going to reference a beloved pair of Gap skinnies for some better shaping.