Two pairs of Morgan Jeans … and a chat about Raw Denim

Hi! I’ve finally got around to writing this post having been bed-ridden for 9 days straight with the worst flu I’ve ever had – I say flu, but I really don’t know – it was the weirdest case of flu ever! But thankfully I’m back to normal now (‘normal’ being a relative term, obvs!)

Sarah Smith v Raw Denim, Round 1

[*EDIT : this post has been amended retrospectively to take into account, lessons learned since initially writing it!]

I’ve sewn a few pairs of skinny jeans in my time (using the Eleanore stretch pants pattern by Jalie – see here) but I really felt my wardrobe was lacking a relaxed pair; my last RTW ones having finally fallen apart! The Morgan ‘boyfriend’ jeans have a traditional coin pocket and button fly and are suited to a roll-up hem – in other words, exactly what I was looking for. PDF duly purchased!

Have you sewn jeans before? If not, are you intimidated by the idea? I’ve got to say from the off, in terms of actual sewing, making jeans is not difficult. And I found the Morgan instructions to be absolutely faultless; which of course helps – in fact, I find sewing jeans a methodical and therefore joyfully therapeutic process. All that lovely topstitching for example!

I will say, having the right notions and tools for the job really makes a difference though; I found my Hump Jumper / Bulky Seam Aid absolutely came into its own with this project, ensuring that my sewing machine foot navigated bulky seams with ease and ensuring that my topstitching didn’t ‘skip’. A seam guide (the 1/4″ mark is particularly useful) and a fabric marker (I used my Clover Chalk Pen) are also incredibly useful for marking your double topstitching lines so you can sew them equidistant.  You will also need good quality jean topstitching thread (choosing your colour is fun in itself!) I used these rivets and these ‘laurel wreath’ jeans buttons. (If you’re unsure how they’re installed; I use the same method as in my Snap tutorial – no hammer required!)

To my mind, the hardest part of sewing jeans is not the construction; it’s not even, technically speaking, the fitting of the jeans – it’s accounting for the particularity of your chosen raw denim. Raw denim, being 100% cotton, tends to relax substantially throughout the day  – so what fitted perfectly in the morning may be a baggy mess by the evening. Conversely, a pair that has marginal breathing room over breakfast fit beautifully come dinner  – or so I’ve found! Which can make ‘seeing’ what fit adjustments you need to make that bit trickier!

Using fabric scraps leftover from my Panda Pajamas for the pockets and waistband

The weight of your denim is really important then. I would say for this particularly pattern, you don’t want to use anything less than 10 oz. Mine for both pairs – was 9.5 oz – I didn’t think that half ounce would make a real difference but it does feel too lightweight for the cut of these pants  – if I sew this pattern again, and I’m sure I will with further mods, I think I’d be looking for something substantially firmer – between 10 – 11 oz, as these are likely to have less ‘give’.

Let me talk you through my experience – I’ve sewn the Morgans twice now with different adjustments – and I’ve washed and worn both pairs loads

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A Jacket & A Coat – the Pona Jacket by Helen’s Closet

Hello again! It seems I’m on a bit of a sewing binge at the moment – having sewn two pairs of jeans, two sets of PJs and a turtleneck recently. Now, adding to that, two coats using the brand new sewing pattern release from Helen’s Closet; the Pona Jacket. I think its safe to say my Sewjo is back and I couldn’t be happier!

I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for this one; as soon as I saw the initial line drawings I was in! *The Pona (a PDF pattern) was just the pattern I was looking for – a true wardrobe staple, something that will transition nicely all year round. It can either be a lightweight throw-on jacket for the warmer months or a full on warm coat for the cooler months. Or something in-between! And, as a bonus, this is incredibly simple – and quick – to make!

I love the drafting; it’s unlined but has a nifty facing that allows the front lapels to drape open. It also has no closures; it’s meant to be worn open, although there is enough cross-over if you do want to add a button or a frog fastening. I left the cropped jacket as is but added a simple hidden snap fastening to the top left on the coat version so that I can wear it closed with the collar up should I need to. I think this pattern makes for a great introduction to sewing coats and jackets for those wanting to dip their toes in these waters! If you haven’t already, I can heartily recommend you do so using this pattern – come on in, the water is warm!

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#sewtogetherforsummer 2019 – The Winners – Prize Draw … and some Geeky Stats!

Phew, what a momentous journey this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer has been! The deadline of 21st June came and went followed by some serious data checking and number crunching! A staggering 767 garments were entered this year from all over the world – including Brazil, Tasmania, Europe, UK, Canada, America, Denmark and Australia – showing just how universally strong the Jumpsuit trend is – it’s proved to be, quite literally, global!

So on to the fun business of announcing the Winners!

Not just of the Challenge prizes but also the pattern companies and sewing patterns that came out on top – so I thought I’d present some stats for you – we all love to geek out over this stuff don’t we – not just me?! I’m always curious to see which was the most used pattern company and what were the most sewn patterns for the Challenge so let’s take a look (I’m not a statistician; these are just for fun!) :

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Top ‘n’ Tailing : A Guide to Hacking your own unique Jumpsuit Pattern (from patterns you already have!)

Have you ever wanted to create your own unique garment, by hacking together certain features from your favourite sewing patterns but find yourself unsure where to begin? Perhaps you’d like to enter this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer challenge but can’t quite find a pattern that has all the elements you wish it had? Today we bring you a guide to get you started mashing up your own unique style – since it relates specifically to Jumpsuits we’ll be talking about putting your favourite bodice to your favourite trousers, perhaps adding your favourite sleeves and other features … from the patterns already in your stash!

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Pattern Testing the Yanta Overalls by Helen’s Closet

I’ve happily pattern tested for Helen for some while now (see here, here and here) so it was doubly-exciting to discover, when discussing this years’ sponsorship for the #sewtogetherforsummer Jumpsuit / Dungaree / Overalls Challenge, to discover that the next pattern in her testing pipeline was only, you guessed it, a pair of Overalls! 

The Yantas by Helen’s Closet are a relaxed approach to this years’ major Jumpsuit / Overall trend, described as a casual artist-style overall with a loose fit through the waist hips and legs (with the option to add a side zip should you want one). I’d describe their overall shape (see what I did there) as somewhat cocoon or lantern like; with shaping darts to front and back. Also included are classic features such as the ‘V’ shaped back and pointed front patch chest pocket. They can be made either cropped leg or as shorts.

Although these are listed as an ‘Intermediate’ sew, I think Helen has completely excelled herself with the instructions to this pattern, making them accessible to confident beginners (who aren’t afraid of buttonholes!) Her instructions are crystal clear; being extremely well thought-out and presented. She also offers plenty of easily digestible information regarding sizing and grading to get the fit you want from this pattern. I truly believe they’re fool-proof.

What I like about the Yanta pattern is, I feel, that it can act as a blank canvas for your imagination! You could embellish them in a multitude of ways; adding in-seam pockets; decorative belt loops or patch side pockets; jazz up the insides with contrast fabric for the facings and embellish the topstitching – there are so many ways you could customise these! Also you will get a very different look depending on the type of woven fabric you go for; from a structured pair using a denim or cord to softer warm-weather Overalls in a linen/viscose slub, for example.

So what did I opt to do?

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