Sewing friends, I’m a big-time outfit repeater. And by outfit repeater I mean repeat-outfit sewist.
This here is another Cass T-shirt and pair of Ginger jeans. I wear this look with comfort and pride, alleged uncoolness of skinny jeans be damned.
Even though I’ve sewn these patterns before, the process was far from boring. I still learned stuff and was able to make these pieces feel fresh.
Here’s how it happened.
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Striped Cass T-Shirt
Pattern Description, Size, and Modifications
In case you didn’t know, Cass is Sie Macht’s first pattern! It’s a lovely T-shirt pattern PDF that comes in two size ranges — B (misses) and D (plus). Cass is a relaxed-fit, grown-on sleeve T-shirt that’s easy to wear without being basic to look at (IMO as the designer).
When you buy the Cass, you also get illustrated directions for how to hack the tee five additional ways.
I sewed size 6/8 in the B range. I added one inch of length to account for my long torso. Another modification I made is that I didn’t turn and stitch the sleeve and bottom hems. Instead I serged off the seam allowance (½ inch) to finish the raw edges with a three-thread narrow overlock. The sleeves don’t really roll, but the bottom hem does, ever so slightly. Doesn’t bother me none.
I also went against the grain for the back bodice to run the stripes vertically. First, I love how the stripe directions come together at the shoulder seams. Second, I love that I didn’t have to match stripes!
The fabric is a cotton-poly blended knit from Blackbird Fabrics. This striped stuff is one of Blackbird’s retro-inspired knits, which were introduced in spring 2020.
RELATED: Meet the Cass T-Shirt Pattern and Book of Hacks
What I Like About This Cass
Blackbird has carried this fabric on and off for the past year or so. The first couple times I tried to buy it, it was sold out! I stalked the store’s Instagram for a restock announcement, and when it finally happened in January, I was on it like white on rice.
This muted rainbow colorway is the perfect example of sewing rainbow clothes that don’t make you look like Rainbow Brite (awesome as she is).
Comfort and Coolness Factor
I’m completely biased as the pattern designer of Cass, but this T-shirt is the most comfortable, guys, and it looks cute tucked or untucked. It doesn’t cling to your body, yet it’s decidedly feminine. You wouldn’t mistake it for a unisex T-shirt pattern. (Obviously humans of all genders can wear what they please.)
What Could Be Better
Initially I wanted to sew a stretch blind hem on my sewing machine. I thought it might give this Cass a different mood. But, when I started sewing the blind hem, I knew it wasn’t going to work.
The fabric edge on which the non-blind stitches are stitched was way too narrow. (See this pic to understand what I mean.) Before I even sewing, I could practically see the jersey getting jammed into my throat plate without moving the needle. No, thank you.
The smart thing to do would have been to extend the hem so the non-blind stitches had a more robust foundation. Then, I could have trimmed away the excess. I’ll file away this thought the next time I have a thin knit to hem.
I thought long and hard about how to cut the neckband to make sure the green and blue stripes showed up on the right side. Green and blue are more my colors than rust and gold.
But, looking at the shirt now, I wish I had finished the neckline with ribbing. Ribbing would have had a more retro vibe. I totally didn’t think of this until I put on the T for the first time. Navy ribbing would have been the ticket. Oh well.
Lack of Drape
Cass is designed for knit fabrics with mega drape, and this cotton-polyester blend does not fit the bill. This iteration of the pattern doesn’t have the slinkiness I envisioned, and the boxiness is more prominent.
In my head, Cass is supposed to pour over the body, not stand away from it. There’s a bit of a fabric-pattern mismatch here. But, now I know how Cass looks in a fabric with more body, and it’s not an eyesore. It’s just different.
One of the first things I thought when I put on this T-shirt was, “Oh man, this has strong Ernie and Bert vibes.” It’s the combination of the ‘70s-ish colorway and the vertical Bert stripes on the back.
In a similar vein, this shirt reminds me of the striped shirts that little boys wore in the ‘80s for picture day. It’s kinda dopey, but I kinda like it, too.
Pattern Description, Size, and Modifications
These are the Closet Core Patterns Ginger skinny jeans, originally drafted as mid-rise. They’re a classic five-pocket jean, and they’ve been a favorite in the sewing community for what feels like forever (and for good reason). The instructions are wonderful and there’s a lot of support on CCP’s website and around the online sewing community to stitch these dungarees.
I sewed a size 8. I raised the rise (to the same rise as my previous Gingers). High-rise jeans help my legs look longer and my torso shorter.
I also made a swayback adjustment to the waistband, yoke, and back leg pieces. It helped bring in the waist (of course), but I could have gone harder with it. Maybe for my next Gingers? I’m always hesitant to take in pants too much, because if they’re too small, I’ll never wear them. But, I have to remember that stretch jeans are pretty forgiving as long as they mostly fit the shape of your body.
So, um, I think this is stretch Cone Mills denim? I have a confession to make: I cut out the fabric pattern pieces for these Gingers more than a year ago, and they’ve been chilling in a Ziploc bag ever since. Sewing these Gingers started with shuffling fabric in my sewing room, as one does. I came across the Ziploc and its contents and thought, “Well dang, this is just begging to be sewn. Let’s move it to the top of the queue.”
As I prepared to write this post, I went through my email inbox looking for a receipt for this fabric and found nothing. I also physically pored over my textiles and couldn’t find identifying info.
But, I found a fair amount of denim that I had forgotten about. I was super-stoked to sew ALL THE JEANS a year or two ago, I guess. Ugh, embarrassing. A fabric stash is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but when you can’t remember what’s in there… well, it might be time to reorganize, purge, and/or catalog.
Anyhoo, this is dark denim, while a stretch denim, definitely is not leggings weight, which is what I try to avoid in denim for jeans. It’s heavier than Robert Kaufman and holds its shape better, too. I just wish I could remember its origin! Especially because Cone Mills denim isn’t cheap!
On a related note, because I started this sewing project so long ago and couldn’t find more of this denim in my stash, I ended up making the belt loops and fly shield in the stretch denim I used to sew these Mia jeans from Sew Over It. You can’t see the fly shield, but if you squint, you’ll notice the belt loops are a little different from the rest of the jeans.
My takeaway: When you set aside a project, write yourself a detailed note about where you left off. Perhaps make a “Done” list and a “Yet-to-Be Done” list.
What I Like About These Ginger Jeans
Light Blue Topstitching
I’m glad I went for the light blue topstitching! It works so well with the dark denim (and coordinating gold topstitching). The blue is warmer than white topstitching, which I think too often looks tacky on jeans. Jeans with white topstitching remind me of those low-rise jeans with the butt-flap pockets that were popular in the early ‘00. Shudder.
Anyhoo, light blue topstitching on dark denim: Get into it.
And while we’re on the topic of light blue topstitching, I love love love how the back pockets turned out! The little blue waterfall has that ‘70s bubble curviness that looks so cute on a butt.
The pocket-stitching design is from CCP. I bought CCP’s “Sew Your Dream Jeans” online course, and a collection of pocket designs were part of the bundle (along with my Ginger jeans pattern).
To transfer the design from paper to the pockets, I used Saral transfer paper and a serrated wheel tool. I don’t use those tools often, but I’m happy to have them around!
How These Gingers Could Be Better
Using Topstitching Thread
The No. 1 thing that cheeses me off about these jeans is the topstitching thread. I’m happy that the topstitching turned out well, if I do say so myself, but the thread was occasionally unpleasant.
The strands of yarn (plies, or ply in the singular) that make up the topstitching thread is thick, because topstitching thread is thick (thicc?). What happened more than once is that one ply or two plies would separate from the thread and get bunched or tangled in the eye of the needle. Then, of course, you’re forced to rethread and pick up your line of topstitching.
I used either a designated topstitching needle, jeans, or leather needle for topstitching. I switched around depending on my stitching task — for example, if I had a lot of denim layers to sew, I might grab the leather needle. But, sometimes I’d start sewing without changing the needle because I forget to change the needle or because I was too lazy to change the needle. (In my experience, with involved projects such as jeans, you get to a point when you don’t care too much anymore to change the gosh-darn needle and rethread the gosh-darn sewing machine, RAWR I just want new jeans!)
So, I did some research so I wouldn’t have to live through this thread nightmare again. According to Gutermann, maker of my topstitching thread, sewists should use a universal needle, size 100-120, with this thread. Just so you know, here of the sizes of the needles I used:
That’s one area to improve next time!
The success of your top thread also depends on your bobbin thread and your upper-thread tension. I used dark gray serger thread (I can’t recall the brand — sorry) in my bobbin. Serger thread is finer than most all-purpose threads for a sewing machine. I read somewhere online that a finer bobbin thread can be a good counterpoint to a thicker top thread. (TBH, I’ve been using this gray cone of serger thread for most of my sewing projects, regardless of fabric type, because gray works for lots of fabric colors and it’s a breeze to wind three to four bobbins in one go so that I never run out.)
What’s often recommended for heavier-weight fabrics is to reduce the top tension. I used a reduced-to-normal tension to keep the top and bobbin threads in balance (to my judgment, anyway).
With my previous pair of Gingers, I did a lot of topstitching with two regular threads — that is, I had two spools set up to thread through my machine and needle at once. And, while it was a while back, I don’t recall having these wretched topstitching thread issues with the double-threaded needle.
OK, I have some options to test the next time I topstitch denim!
This next bit definitely is a “DUH” moment on my part! One of the unique things about the Ginger pattern is that it features front pocket stays; the front pocket bags are sewn into the fly, and the result is a lightweight girdle effect on your abdomen.
I used Johanna Lundstrom’s new-ish jeans-sewing book to sew the fly, and it worked like a charm… except her method didn’t include the front pocket stay, which means I didn’t sew the front pocket stay.
In the end, the front pockets of these jeans look a lot more like the front pockets of ready-to-wear jeans. Really, it’s no harm, no foul, but when I realized what I did, I had to laugh at myself for not sewing a pattern’s unique selling proposition, HA.
Back when I was buying all my denim (presumably), I also bought several jeans hardware kits from Blackbird Fabrics. I even bought them in different colors, because variety is the spice of life.
I am too strong for the good of my jeans, guys. Instructions for installing the rivets and jeans button call for banging the hardware through the denim using a hammer and cast-iron pan (or tiny anvil, if ya fancy).
Well, I managed to blast the post (on the inside) through the rivet top (on the outside) on several rivets. I had to replace at least two rivets because I swing a hammer with too much zeal! I was worried that I wasn’t going to secure the rivet, so I went hard. Too hard.
The kits included extra rivets (thankfully), so it wasn’t a big deal. And for the rivet tops that I cracked but otherwise seemed secure, I covered the silver post with… a permanent metallic Sharpie marker! Yes, it worked, and the Sharpied rivets stayed Sharpied through a wash cycle. I’m proud of this fix, although I wish I didn’t have to make it. Next time, I’ll hold back when it comes to securing jeans hardware.
And that’s the story of this T-shirt-and-jeans ensemble! Please consider sewing the same patterns multiple times; there’s always stuff to improvise on and techniques to improve. You might surprise yourself!
Over to you: When was the last time you sewed a garment that reminded you of a Muppet? What are your best tips for installing rivets? How do you feel about T-shirt hems finished with serging? Are you a repeat-outfit sewist? Please sound off in the comments!
P.S. Should you grab your own Cass T-shirt pattern, you might want to check out these articles as you start stitching: