Sewing jeans: Muslin 2

If you are now wondering whether you missed a post about muslin 1. You didn’t. I had originally planned to blog the whole fitting process but muslin 1 was unfortunately not suitable for public display due to indecent exposure of underwear.

I am attempting to sew myself a pair of well-fitting jeans. I’ve wanted to do so for years because I am never completely happy with the fit of RTW jeans, yet jeans are what I wear most days. In summer I am a jeans and t-shirt girl, the rest of the year I’m a jeans, t-shirt and cardigan girl. With my RTW fast the need to finally make these self-made jeans happen is getting more urgent. Sewbusylizzy organised a Jeans in June and July challenge and this was the final push I needed to get started. Not sure whether I’ll actually manage to finish an actual pair in July since August is already looming on the horizon and I have to work all remaining July days except for today but if I finish the muslin process in July I’m happy (and if not, I’m probably still happy).

I already had a pair of jeans stashed away that I had started copying using the method from Kenneth D. Kings Craftsy class. I started that project ages ago but got distracted and was also a bit scared to continue because my first ever attempt at trousers years ago failed horribly and caused a bit of a trauma.

Tracing pattern onto silk organza

copying jeans

The original jeans were copied by thread tracing the seams and straight of grain lines and then transferring these markings to silk organza. If you want to get a better idea of how this method works have a look at this post by Cindy from cationdesigns, she posted about this process in more detail earlier this week. The pattern was then transferred from silk organza onto Swedish tracing paper (my favourite type of tracing paper ever). The pattern was trued (which means making sure that all seams have the correct shape and that seams that are supposed to match up, do in fact match up) and I made a muslin. I made my muslin using regular muslin fabric without stretch, because this is what Angela Wolff recommends even if your fashion fabric contains lycra. I’m really hoping this will work out ok when I do sew my final pair in denim that contains some lycra and is, therefore, somewhat stretchy…

Anyway, as you may have guessed after reading the first paragraph of this post, they did not fit. In fact, they were super tight and couldn’t close (to be honest the original jeans are also a bit on the tight side). I made 3 changes to the pattern. 1. An adjustment for full inner thighs. 2. More room at center back. 3. More room at side seam of back. I probably could have tried to change more but worried that it would get so messy that transferring my changes to the pattern would become a nightmare.

After making these changes to the pattern I made muslin 2 from the same muslin fabric hoping I would now have something approaching wearable. Note that this muslin does not yet have a waistband. I’ve used waxed tracing paper to indicate the straight of grain lines. I’ve also added some horizontal lines that help to diagnose fit issues. These are definitely not the most flattering pictures I have ever posted of myself but I think I am now at a point that it seems likely I can get to a fitting pair at some point. Remember, it’s always the garment that is causing the horrible fit, your body is just fine! After all, I can change the garment to adjust for my shape but I can hardly adjust my shape to fit the garment. Well, I suppose I could get a surgeon to shave some flesh of my thighs but that doesn’t really seem like a workable approach to use for each new garment I want to make…

Muslin front

Do you notice how the fabric is pulled into the crotch causing distortions?

Muslin back

Again fabric is pulled into the crotch. It’s also pulled towards the sides. I will also need to change the placement of the back pockets at the end of the process to make sure they end up more centered.

muslin sides

Eventually the side seam should end up perpendicular to the floor. Right now there is too much strain because fabric is being pulled to areas where there isn’t enough fabric causing a wave-like shape

Obviously they are still too tight but at least I can close them now. I believe most of the issues are caused by a too short crotch length that is causing the fabric to be pulled into the crotch both at the front and back. I think I will also need to add some more room in the thigh area as they are still very tight. My previous adjustments at center back now causes some gaping at the yoke (something I nearly always get in RTW jeans) so I’ll fix that too.

Do you have any other suggestions for adjustments that I could make to get a better fit?

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13 comments on “Sewing jeans: Muslin 2

  1. Deborah says:

    Wow! I am so impressed! I am glad you cleared up the muslin numbering system, because my first thought was, “How did I miss one of Emmely’s posts? ;-) What I really like about seeing this process is that it really points out how important it is to take the time to really check the fit before you invest materials and time on the real thing. Why spend all that time, money, and energy for something that you will ultimately be unhappy with? I am really going to like following this process. Thanks for sharing the steps. :-)

    • Emmely says:

      Oh fitting is absolutely essential when making a pair of trousers. Which is where I went wrong the last time and back then I was completely clueless with regards to fitting. I’m still no expert but at least I now know that I might achieve something that fits even though it might take several attempts, loads of trial and error and a lot of time. My muslin fabric cost 5 euros for 3 meters (and I really should have bought more…). My fashion fabric was more like 12 euros per meter. I’d definitely have been disappointed if I had had to throw that fabric in the bin!

      • Deborah says:

        Oh, it totally makes sense, but I am willing to bet a lot of people don’t take time to do that step. My mother doesn’t sew much anymore, but what an accomplished seamstress she was. She made us all kinds of clothing when we were growing up. I have sewn a few pieces of clothing in my day, but not for many years. Maybe when I move back to the US, I might try a few pieces. You’re inspiring me. :-)

      • Emmely says:

        When I just started sewing I thought it was a waste of time but over time I learned that my body isn’t the same shape as the fit models that are used by pattern companies. Really, who would have thought?

      • Deborah says:

        Who indeed? As if people can be categorized easily into a finite (and small) number of pattern sizes. ;-)

  2. sewbusylizzy says:

    Wow your work & level of detail just blows me away. I think I’ll always try to sew jeans… I think I need to buy a Craftsy class!

    • Emmely says:

      Thank you and thank you for starting this challenge because otherwise that pair of RTW jeans would probably still be tucked away in a closet… I love learning new skills and find the level of teaching in most Craftsy classes well worth the money (especially when bought during a sale).

  3. Here is a really good reference for your fitting issues. Thank you for sharing the muslin, usually I am too impatient but I think in the long run this will help you make a super finish.

    Colette Patterns Pants Fitting Cheatsheet

  4. katechiconi says:

    It’s looking very tight across the seat at the back – if it were me, I’d open the pattern for the back up the centre of each leg and give it some ease, especially at the top of the leg and across the backside. I also like jeans to be fairly high cut at the back waist so they don’t gape when I sit down. I do admire your methodical approach, and will be interested to see the final result.

    • Emmely says:

      I’ve added extra space at the side- and inseam. This already made a huge difference, it no longer feels as if I am about to burst out at any moment. I’ve also added extra lenght at the seat and this also helped. I might still raise them more because like you I also don’t like gaping. Now I need to transfer everything to the paper. Expect a new post soon!

  5. onedabbles says:

    Your attention to detail and methodical approach will pay off, I’m sure. Imagine when you arrive at the Great-fitting-jeans-for-Emmely pattern, you can then replicate to your heart’s content. I like the Craftsy classes too – they are great resources and value for money in the sale. Tailor made education – literally.

    • Emmely says:

      I hope to make muslin 3 today and I’m confident it will show greatly improved fit. Let’s hope my confidence pays off… ;-)

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