This is another in the series of making more from your patterns. This time I wanted to use the Portia Trousers to make a pair of jeans. After making up the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans from Closet Case files and teaching the Jeans Making Course I have hankered after a pair of wide leg cropped jeans to wear with some new summer tops I’m planning.
In Part One I showed you what I did to alter the pattern to make it have more of a jeans style.
Now in Part Two I’ll cover the sewing processes involved. You’ll notice that I’ve used a paler denim for some of the images in this tutorial. That’s because I made up the dark pair first to see if it would actually work and then loved them so much I’ve made another pair in the paler denim and photographed how I made this pair. The denim I used was the 8oz washed dark denim and the 8oz washed pale denim from our store. It is a pretty long tutorial as I’ve tried to cover everything I did, so I hope you stick with it.
Cutting Out –
I laid out the pattern pieces in a single layer. This may seem a bit long winded but it will make a difference to the way your jeans hang and sit on the body. The nature of the twill weave in a denim fabric means the fabric naturally wants to follow the weave and can result in the fabric twisting. By reversing the pattern pieces you minimise the risk of the fabric twisting the trouser legs. So it is easier to do this by cutting as a single layer.
I placed the pattern pieces on the fabric first to arrange them in the most fabric efficient way (the technical term for this is called getting a “tight lay” and always makes me snigger, childish I know) before pinning them in place temporarily while chalking around each piece.
Once cut out I marked out all the notches and pattern markings.
Using the correct needle and thread –
The seams on a pair of jeans can get rather bulky with all the layers of fabric used so a good quality Jeans needle is a must!
I used Schmetz Jeans size 90 for this project. The thread used for the basic construction can be normal sewing thread, but if you want the top stitching to show up a contrasting top stitching thread is much better as it’s slightly heavier than normal sewing thread. As I’m using a dark denim for these jeans I wanted a lovely bright yellow top stitching thread to use to really show up. I also used a specific top stitching needle too to go through all the thicknesses of fabric.
Sewing a flat felled seam, or not –
True flat felled seams are strong and neat, enclosing all the raw edges of fabric. They are often used in shirt making as well as jeans. You can follow the tutorial here for sewing a flat felled seam.
You can cheat slightly if you want to create nice flat seams without the extra bulk of a proper flat felled seam by sewing a normal flat seam then overlocking both seam allowances together to neaten it. Press the seam to one side and sew a row of top-stitching a couple of millimetres from the seam line on the right side through the seam allowance underneath. You can sew another row about 6mm from that if you would like a double top stitch feature. This was the method I used for the seams on my jeans, not particularly authentic I’ll admit, but much quicker!
Jeans Construction –
To be honest most of the processes involved are the same as the Portia Trousers. However I prefer the Closet Case Files method of putting in the zip. I have tied to batch things as much as I can as it really does make sewing up a garment that much quicker.
First of all I attached the back yoke pieces to the back trouser pieces.
Although it was only one seam, I could then overlock all the pieces I needed in one batch which included the back yoke seams, belt loops, across the tops of the back pockets and around the edge of the pocket back facings.
Now I could press everything flat. In this pressing batch I also pressed over the top of the back pocket, the coin pocket and pressed the belt loops into thirds ready to top stitch.
I top stitched across several pieces in one batch – the back yoke seam, back pocket, belt loops and coin pocket.
Now I could press the sides of the back pockets and coin pocket in place ready to top stitch again.
The easiest way to get your topstitching perfect is to line up the edge of the foot with the edge of the pocket and then swing the needle over to the right a couple of clicks. You can then use the edge of the foot as your guide. On the coin pocket I started at the base of the pocket stitched up then counted the stitches across the top (4 at stitch length 3.5) before sewing back down the other side. On the second/ return row I used the edge of the foot along the first row of sewing as my guide.
On the back pocket I started where the horizontal rows of stitching were instead of right at the top. This meant that once I had gone all the way around the edge of the pocket and back up to the top, I could count the stitches to sew across the top (4 at stitch length 3.5, same as the coin pocket) and then come back around the pocket the other way using the edge of the foot against the first row of sewing to create the inside row of stitching. I counted the stitches across the top again before coming back down to meet the start of the stitching.
Back to ordinary sewing for this batch. Join the two back trousers.
Make sure to sew up to the blunted off point on the centre back seam allowance at the crotch. It’s easy to miss this and it will throw out the inside leg seam if you do.
And attach the back pocket facing to the back pocket lining.
The pocket facings are just sewn straight on top of the lining.
And I also stitched across the base of the coin pocket. Although if you make you pattern piece the correct size in the first place you won’t need to!!
Still with on ordinary sewing I attached the front pocket facing to the front pocket lining and hopped up to press the seam down quickly.
The front pocket is placed on top of the front trouser sections with the right sides together and stitched around the curved pocket opening. Snip into the seam allowance to release the tension in the curve.
This isn’t obligatory but because I was using the Portia pockets rather than normal jeans pockets I wanted to understitch the pocket seam. So I sewed through the pocket facing and seam allowance close to the seam line.
This made it easier for the pocket facing to sit flat and hidden underneath the edge of the pocket. You won’t see the understitching from the right side and it won’t interfere with the top stitching, but you could leave it out if you wanted to.
Still on normal sewing I attached the two front trouser pieces together along the centre front seam. Use a long basting stitch from the waist down to the mark for the base of the fly extension, then reduce the stitch length to normal, reverse a few stitches and carry on to the end of the seam.
Snip into the seam allowance to the stitching line at the base of the fly extension.
Now I can do a batch of overlocking as I need to go back and neaten the centre back seam…
…as well as the front crotch seam…
And the left hand side of the fly extension.
Back to a bit of topstitching and I can now sew the rows of top stitching around the edge of the front pocket.
I can also push the centre back seam allowance over to the left and top stitch through that.
YES!! The topstitching matches! That is so satisfying!
The centre front seam allowance is also pushed over to the left (I know it looks like the right but it’s the left if you’re wearing the trousers) and top stitched all the way around the seam.
This is the method of inserting the zip that Closet Case Files use and it is really easy.
On the wrong side of the jeans place the zip face down onto the right hand side of the fly extension. Make sure that the zip teeth are about 6mm from the seam line and the zip stopper is about 1.3mm above the end of fly extension. This is to make sure it’s out of the way when you come to topstitch the fly. It doesn’t matter if the zip comes up above the waist of the jeans, you can deal with that later.
Pin in place but only pin through the fly extension NOT the trouser front.
Fold the right trouser front out of the way so you can sew though the zip tape and the fly extension. Sew close to the zip teeth using a zip foot.
Fold back the the zip so that the fly extension is pulled back from the zip teeth. Top stitch through the fly extension close to the seam line.
Flip out the left hand fly extension and fold over the zip so it lies face down on top of the left fly extension. Pin in place through the zip tape and fly extension.
Flip back the end of the zip tape if it hangs below the fly extension and pin in place out of the way. You can catch this in when sewing the next step.
Sew down the left side of the zip tape close to the zip teeth. Then sew a second row close to the edge of the zip tape. This helps to strengthen the zip. Fold back the rest of the jeans so the zip sits nice and flat along the centre front.
From the right side mark where the metal zip stopper is. You don’t want to accidentally hit this when top stitching a break a needle!
Use a template to give you the guide for top stitching the curved shape for the front fly.
I marked on where the zip stopper was to make sure that the inside row of top stitching would miss it.
Top stitch around the front fly following your guide line. Then sew the second row using the edge of the foot along the first row as your guide. Make sure to stop at the centre front seam and not to cross over onto the right hand side of the jeans front.
Sew across the bottom edge of the fly facing and trim it back by half.
Turn the fly facing to the right side and press it flat. I prefer to overlock the open edge now ** but you can leave it and do it at another step further on.
Undo the basting stitches that have been holding the centre front part of the zip together.
On the wrong side lay the fly facing over the zip so that the folded edge lines up with the overlocked edge of the fly extension.
Sew along the overlocked edge of the fly facing through the zip tape and the right hand fly extension. You could have left overlocking the edges of the fly facing until now instead of doing it earlier. ** You could overlock now through all the layers trimming off the excess front the fly extension if you wanted to. I think it’s quite tricky trying to get all the layers under the foot of the overlocker, so I prefer to overlock the fly facing first then just machine it in place, but it’s up to you and your overlocker.
Then I trimmed off the excess fly extension close to the stitching so it won’t show.
From the right side sew a bar of satin stitch at the base of the zip and on the curve of the outer row of fly topstitching. Sew these through the fly facing as well.
This helps to secure the zip and keeps the fly facing in place.
Now I can finish the front pockets. You could do this earlier on but I don’t think it makes a lot of difference and I can batch things more now.
Lay the back pocket on to the wrong side of the trousers so that the right sides of the pockets are together. Pin and sew around the curves edge of the pocket bag only, lifting the rest of the jeans out of the way.
Baste the top edges and the sides of the pockets to the trouser fronts to hold them in place.
With the right sides together match up the crotch seams and pin and sew the inside leg seam. I just used a normal closed overlocked seam and pressed the seam to the front before topstitching it. But you could use a proper flat felled seam here if you prefer.
Then I pinned the outside leg seam with the right sides together. Now is a really good time to try the jeans on and make any adjustments you might need. This will really be beneficial if you’re using a fabric that has any stretch in it as you will almost certainly need to take in the side seam a fraction to account for any stretch.
Also don’t forget that denim will ease out during the day as you wear them so you may need to account for a bit of that too when deciding how close you want to make them on the waist and hips. As you can see I needed to take these in just a fraction.
Overlock the seam and press it towards the back.
More jeans detailing means top stitching though the side seam only as far down as the pocket bag. So feel through the fabric layers and mark the bottom of the pocket bag.
Now is the time to make any adjustments to the zip. Measure down the seam allowance and mark that with a pin.
Now for a little bit of sewing dentistry! You can pull off the unwanted zip teeth with a pair of pliers quite easily. Make sure you have pulled off enough so they won’t get caught when sewing on the waistband. Just DON”T PULL UP THE ZIP NOW. There is nothing to stop the zip head flying off the end of the zip!!
Interface the outside waistband and then sew the two waistbands together along the top edge.
Trim the sew allowance down by about half then press it open. This helps the seam to sit right on the edge of the waistband when it’s turned round the right way.
Press the waistband with the wrong side together so it sits nice and flat.
Starting at the centre back pin the interfaced side of the waistband around the waist of the jeans. It should be longer than the waist of the jeans so you can trim some off later.
Sew around the waist making sure that you stitch right across the ends of the fly. Then press the seam up towards the waistband.
I wanted to give the inside waistband an bit of decoration so I pressed up the seam allowance to give me a guide to sew on some pretty bias binding. I folded out the bias and pressed it flat before sewing on to the waistband lining up the creases as a guide.
To neaten off the ends of the bias and to make it tuck up inside the waistband neatly I angled the start and finish of the sewing line.
Fold back the waistband so the right sides are together and sew across the ends in line with the centre front on one side and the fly extension on the other. Make sure that the bias binding sits just over the waist seam. Trim off the excess waistband and turn it through to the right side.
Fold over the waistband and press it all nice and flat. Tuck under the bias binding so just the decorative edge is showing. Pin it vertically so you can sew over the pins if you need to. Just make sure the pin heads are well out of the way of the stitching line.
From the right side top stitch across the waistband just above the waist seam first to secure the waistband. Reverse at the start and finish to secure your stitching. If you are super careful you should see the top stitching just on the edge of the inside waistband above the bias binding. Then it’s easier to top stitch around the rest of the waistband pivoting at the corners. You can use the edge the foot along the edge of the waistband as a guide and swing the needle into the correct position.
Attach the belt loops and the centre back, side seams and in line with the front pockets. Do this with a small satin stitch to really hold them securely.
Mark and sew the buttonhole. I used a rounded buttonhole as I like the look of them as opposed to a normal square ended one, but you can choose whichever you prefer.
A proper jeans button will usually need a hole punched into the waistband first to make it easier to insert the button. There are kits available that will have a punch as well as buttons and rivets.
I inserted the button back, lined up the button then flipped over the waistband and hammered the two together. It’s really easy!
I did the same with the rivets at the sides of the pockets. I used the punch to make the holes through all the layers of fabric then the rivet sat in the die while I hammered it in. I think it’s worth adding these little details, they do make all the difference.
So this is my second pair of Portia as Jeans. I really enjoyed making them and I can’t wait to wear the paler version now as well.
I hope you decide to alter your Portia Trousers and make them up as jeans too. It really isn’t difficult and I’d love to see how you get on.