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I wasn’t planning on posting about my Jalie 2908 jeans again, but it seems that there are a lot of questions from my last couple of jeans posts, so I’m going to try to answer them all here, rather than dig back through all the comments and answer respond to them one by one.

The Open Letter to Jalie (OLtJ) jeans

The Holy Fecking Shet (HFS) jeans

Disclaimer: I am not a jeans sewing expert.  I have constructed two pairs of jeans, and the information I share here is from my experiences with them. It may not be indicative of the best way to do things, and certainly not indicative of the only way to do things, but it’s worked out pretty well for me so far. For tons more information, check out these two fantastic threads about sewing jeans on, here and here. They are chock full of everything you’d ever want to know about sewing jeans at home.

Okay, let’s see what’s in the old Selfish Seamstress mailbag…

Q: What are your jeans made of and where did you get it? 
The Holy Fecking Shet jeans are made out of a stretch denim (96% cotton, 4% lycra) that I would characterize as being light-medium weight. 9oz perhaps?  I don’t know because it wasn’t labeled. It’s dark blue with white threads in the warp and the weft.  I purchased it from  They no longer have that particular denim, but at the moment they have several others which appear to be about the same weight.

The Open Letter to Jalie jeans are made of a more substantial stretch denim (also 96% cotton, 4% lycra) that I picked up at my local Fabricland. I would guess it’s somewhere in the 10-12oz range (again, not labeled). It’s very dark blackish blue with no wash to it. You can purchase very similar denim online from Lura’s (more details in a previous post) – highly recommended for a great denim selection and wonderful, personal customer service.  

If I could only have one pair (why would I stop at one though??) I would pick to go with the more substantial denim. The lightweight one is nice and the fabric was very easy to work with, but it feels more like a “fashion” or “novelty” jean. The heavier denim feels somehow more authentic- more like real jeans than jean-styled trousers.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot the underpants pockets!

Q: How about washing and shrinking?
I washed my fabric in hot water and dried it in the dryer to pre-shrink before cutting. The fabric shrank a fair bit in the width and a little in the length. I then cut and sewed everything except the hem.  I washed and dried them again to shrink them before finalizing the length, then trimmed off the fuzzy frayed raw edges and hemmed. As it turned out for me, the length after the second wash was perfect both times, so I guess I could probably hem them without a second wash, but I like to be careful. I have washed the HFS jeans subsequently and not had any problems with shrinkage.  BUT I should mention that I never put my clothes through the dryer, with the exception of when I’m sewing and intentionally want to pre-shrink things. Otherwise I always air dry my clothes so they’re already less prone to shrinkage. If you routinely put your jeans through the dryer, it may be in your best interest to do more extensive pre-shrinking than I did.

Q. Tell me about topstitching?
For both pairs I used Gutermann topstitching thread. I used navy for the HFS jeans and dark non-metallic gold for the OLtJ jeans. The HFS topstitching is relatively subtle but the OLtJ topstitching is pretty aggressively in-your-face because the topstitching thread is heavier than what I see on most RTW jeans. I think this is a cool look with the super dark denim, but it’s rather stylized (think early 80’s Jordache), so I probably won’t go with this eye-popping contrast for all of my future jeans. I may try heavy duty thread for the next pair. If you use the Gutermann thread, buy two spools (or if you think you’ll mess up a lot, buy three!), as each spool only has about 33 meters. 

When topstitching, I only used the topstitching thread on top, and I used regular all-purpose thread in the bobbin. I set the tension to the maximum for the topstitching. Even so it sometimes came out loopy and loose underneath. I didn’t figure out a better way to fix this than rethreading the top thread and seeing if it went better the next time. Oh, and I’m not using a double needle to topstitch. I’m just doing it in two rows.  Practice a bit, go slowly, and have a good “landmark” on your presser foot against which to line it up, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how not-wonky it will look.

Q: How’d it go with the denim needle?
I’m still on my first denim needle.  It has made it successfully through two pairs of jeans without any problem. And someone asked if the denim needle scars heavy denim if you have to rip out stitches- not that I’ve noticed.  The fabric is very forgiving.

Q: Is it hard to sew denim?
Surprisingly, I am finding that the denim is very well behaved. It cuts easily, it doesn’t slip and slide under the presser foot (I’m not using a special foot), it stays where I put it with a minimum number of pins, and it doesn’t seem to be putting up much of a fight with my machine (Husqvarna Platinum 770). I was expecting struggles, but really haven’t run into any. The only thing is that it frays a lot after a wash (the heavier denim in particular), so definitely finish your edges.  I don’t have a serger, so I’ve been doing this by running a zigzag over seam allowance edges after stitching but prior to topstitching.

Q. Where’d you get your rivets?
Ebay.  I search on “jeans rivets” and have found several sellers who sell them in small quantities (a dozen sets or so.)

Q. How do you install your rivets?
Haha. It required a little resourcefulness.  I now have three little “tools” that I keep with my rivets.  They are: a small nail (like for hanging photographs on the wall), a larger nail (for more serious woodworking), and a small screw. I use the small nail to make a hole where I want the rivet, then I use the larger nail to make the hole bigger, and finally I use the screw to enlarge it even further. Then I do the same thing from the other side. I then insert the rivet bottom from the back (even with the screw hole, this can still be a bit fiddly), place the cap on from the front, and press them together until they click. Then I place the jeans face down against a hard surface and give it a couple of hammer thwacks on the back side of the rivet until the cap can no longer rotate. Ta-da! 

Q. How have you veered from the pattern as written/drafted?
Several people have noted that the pattern gapes at the back waist for them.  A common solution is to make two little darts in the back yoke, which fixes the problem and results in a slight ‘V’ shape to the back waist.  I didn’t really want darts in my jeans so I’ve taken a bit out from the sides of the back yoke, removing about a half an inch from either side at the top of the yoke tapering down to nothing at the bottom.

I’ve also found that the jeans in size R (the smallest adult size) are still a bit too wide in the leg.  I took about a half inch from each of the front inseam, back inseam, front outseam, and back outseam at the knee, tapering to nothing at the hip and the hem. So in total, that removes about 2″ from the circumference of each leg at the knee. If you are very small you could just try to go with one of the kids’ sizes, but I understand that the proportions of the kid’s jeans are different, most notably that the waist is higher because the good folks at Jalie aren’t keen on little girls wearing pants with too low a rise. Makes sense :)

I took an inch of length out of the thigh, after which the jeans fit me perfectly with the knee in the right place and without me having to cut off any more at the hem. So if you go for the size R and are not ridiculously short, check the length to make sure they aren’t too short for you. 

Finally, I cut the waistband on the cross grain rather than on the bias, as several people have said the bias waistband is just too big.  Honestly, with both pairs I’m finding that the stretch in the cross grain is making the waistband too big also. I will probably do a curved waistband on the next pair, or cut the band lengthwise to eliminate stretch.

Another change that I have not yet made but will make in the future is to make the fly extensions wider. I’ve been using the fly interfacing piece as the template for the topstitching (as suggested by the pattern) and I like the subsequent shape of the fly topstitching. But it’s also too far to catch the fly extension, which is making the fly a little unstable and causing the zipper to want to peek out from behind the fly front.

Okay, I think that answers all the questions I remember.  Did I miss anyone or anything?  If so, post a comment because I’m not going to dig back and look for them all in the old posts :D

Dear Jalie:

My story is a tragic one.  You see, I was born with a condition with which I have struggled my whole life. There is nothing I can take to ease it, and no procedure I can undergo to cure it. Doctors have looked me over and shaken their heads sadly before delivering their invariably depressing verdict on my condition:

“There’s nothing anyone can do about it.  It’s Genetics.”

Genetics affects different people in different ways. Some people even claim that Genetics makes them beautiful and intelligent. All I know is that for me, Genetics has manifested itself in a way that makes me extremely, distressingly, almost comically small. The truth is, I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I weren’t suffering from Genetics. I’ve lived with Genetics for over three decades now, from the physical discomfort of shoes that slip off of my pygmy feet, to the social discomfort of being looked down at during conversations with tall colleagues, to the simple inconvenience of not being able to make use of the top shelves of my kitchen cabinets. And worst of all, I’ve lived with the struggles of finding a pair of jeans with an even halfway decent fit. I have grown weary of being snickered at in the cafeteria and having to stand up from my seat at the uncool kids’ table, hold back tears, tug up my shapeless Levi’s, and proclaim, “It’s not my fault. It’s my Genetics.”

But recently, you’ve given me a light at the end of my tunnel of suffering. Since I discovered your Jalie 2908 jeans pattern, I feel like a new woman!  No more crying in the fitting room with a dozen pairs of ill-fitting denim balled up in sad wads on the floor. No more rolling up the hems some 6 or 7 inches only to find that the knee is halfway down my calf. No more swimming in the thighs of overpriced jeans only to find that I can’t button them closed at the waist. No more trying to squeeze a grown-up backside into a pair of size 12 kids’ jeans. Thanks to you, I have jeans, wonderfully fitting, slimming, flattering, jeans that even I can wear, despite my Genetics!

Oops. A little wrinkled and stretched out after a day's wearing. Another wash should shrink that right back to a perfect fit.


And thank you as well for constructing a pattern and instruction set that make a seemingly impossible task as simple and straightforward as assembling an Ikea shelf. Thank you for creating a construction process that largely eschews tedious steps like transferring markings, hand finishing, or extensive basting. And most of all, thank you for a cut and fit that have now yielded two well-loved pairs of jeans about which no one has ever asked me, “Did you make those yourself?” 

Thank you, Jalie, for everything you’ve done to help a long-suffering woman lead a happier life and come to terms with a condition that has plagued her for as long as she can remember. Though I know that I will live the rest of my life with my Genetics, with your help I’m not going to let it keep me down ever again! Well, at least not in the denim department.

Yours in Gratitude,
The Selfish Seamstress

P.S. I’m pretty sure they make my legs look longer too. RAD.

P.P.S. In case you were curious, the sweater is from a pattern in issue 33 of Rebecca, knit in Debbie Bliss ‘Cathay,’ my favorite yarn, now sadly discontinued.

Pretty well so far.  How’s your day going?

I’ve been wearing my Jalie 2908 holy fecking shet jeans way too much. They just fit me so much better than any of my RTW jeans that I’ve been wearing them tons and practically forgotten about any of my other jeans. We’re talking about a frequency of wear that is outside of the realm of socially acceptable.  Bordering on gross. Actually probably well into gross territory. (TMI!) So last night I decided it was time to start a new pair.

I got some new stretch denim which is heavier than what I used for the last pair (I love the last pair, but they do feel a little flimsier than I like for jeans) and in a darker, less blue wash. I’ve got dark gold (not metallic) Gutermann topstitching thread and a couple of rivets left over from the last pair, though I could stand to order some more. I cut out all the denim last night and then started thinking about what scraps of cotton to appropriate for pocket linings and facings. 

It’s really not worth getting new cotton for the pockets in my opinion because you really don’t see them (unlike a jacket lining) and it’s such a small amount of fabric. I guess if you decide to line the waistband it might be justifiable to go pick out some adorable new print, but I prefer my waistband to be all denim. For the last pair, which, if you recall, was actually supposed to be a muslin, I just snipped a bit of old bedsheet that I had previously used to muslin something else. But it wasn’t a particularly pretty bedsheet, and it has that wrinkly worn look of a very old, very nondescript bedsheet. So this time I wanted something prettier.  Here’s what I’m going with- some candystriped cuteness in varied shades of pink and brown:


You saw England,
You saw France!
I made you look at Dan’s UNDERPANTS!

That’s right- I’ve decided that old boxer shorts are the BEST source for jeans pocket fabrics. You can easily get a whole matching set out of a single pair of underwear and the prints are just so darn cute. (Don’t worry, they’re clean, which is more than I can say for the Jalie jeans that I’ve worn for the last 3 days in a row.)

More TMI! This pair was wearing and tearing at the seams and I had even mended them once already (*gasp* Did I just publicly admit to mending something for someone else?  And someone’s UNDERWEAR, no less?? Guess whose internal filter is not working today.  Mine!) but despite the patching, the fabric was just so worn at the seams that they were falling apart.  Other than at the seams, however, the fabric is in great shape. And so cute and pink.

I’ve been hoarding several pairs of Dan’s falling-apart boxers (yeah, more TMI! The Selfish Seamstress is freaky!) because the fabric is good quality and adorable in cheerful stripes and mermaid prints and polka dots, but hadn’t really had a plan for them other than the vague and perverse idea of an eventual “Underpants Quilt,” as there didn’t seem to be enough fabric in a pair to make much else. But now that I’m making my own jeans and will probably make several more pairs in the future, I’m pretty thrilled with this use of the undies. 

But it sure makes you think twice about asking me if I can carry your lipstick in my pocket when we go out, huh?   

[Note: The Selfish Seamstress is overflowing with joy and expletives at this latest sewing coup. At the same time, she realizes that much of her readership consists of gentlewomen of refined breeding whose delicate sensibilities may be offended by profanity. She is therefore censoring the naughty words in this post by replacing all of the vowels in them with “e.”]

Holy fecking shet, betches, the Selfish Seamstress made her some jeans and they are the fecking bomb! Check these badess feckers out:

Oh yes, these are my new jeans made from the famous Jalie 2908 pattern, low rise version. I realize that I am totally the last betch on the Jalie 2908 bandwagon, but I don’t give a shet. I am as proud of these jeans as if I had drafted the fecking pattern myself. They weren’t even meant to be production level, they were meant to be a muslin. But I am totally wearing this betch. I want to wear them every fecking day. This may be the greatest sewing coup of my entire sewing career, because I have *never* had jeans that fit the way I want them to. You see, in addition to being very short, I am also long waisted, which means my inseam is *extremely* short.  It’s pretty much impossible for me to find jeans that aren’t huge through the thigh and knee, and when I can find ones that fit in those areas, they’re literally 6-8″ too long. And hemming isn’t a great option because the knee is still in the wrong place.  When I can find a jean that fits, it’s usually pretty shapeless and nondescript. And in case you were thinking it, kids jeans don’t work either.  While they’re the right fit in the thigh and inseam, kids jeans are cut for kids with flat kiddie butts and the Selfish Seamstress, despite having a kiddie inseam, has a grown up butt. Fecked up, right?

I picked the smallest adult size for the Jalie jeans (size R).  The measurements looked a little bit big, but I didn’t want to go down to one of the kid sizes because I think the proportions for the kids version are different.  As many have noted, this pattern has a tendency to gape in the back, so I ended up compensating for that by taking some off of the back yoke piece at the side seams. Other than that, I shortened through the thigh by one inch.  I figured that would put the knee in the right place and then any additional shortening could happen at the hem. But I don’t know what kind of weird-ess traveling pants shet that pattern has going on, but mysteriously the length turned out perfect for me- I didn’t have to take any off the hem. How is that even possible?  Feck that, I’m not going to look that gift horse in the mouth. The only really significant edit I had to make was to take the legs in at both the inseam and outseam to make them slimmer as they were baggy through the leg.  I started taking in gradually from the hip and ended up removing about 1″ from the circumference at the knee, and then tapered back down to the leg opening. Oh yeah, and I added a coin pocket and rivets. And now they are just right- the jeans I have always wished I could find in a store! 

I cut the waistband on the crossgrain for a couple of reasons.  First I had read that cutting it on the bias (as the pattern recommends) results in too much stretching.  Second, I thought that the fabric I ordered was 60″, but it must have actually been 45″ or 50″ because it turned out that I was only able to fit all the pattern pieces in though a very economic layout, which left only enough fabric for me to cut the waistband on the cross grain.  It’s therefore a little more stretchy and less stable than I’d like. But next time I’m going to make sure I have enough fabric to cut it lengthwise, and you can bet your fecking ess that I’m going to be making these betches again and again. Feck yeah.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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