Dawn Jeans: Toile #1

None of the links in this blog post are affiliate links, nor have any of the companies I mentioned asked that I do this formal review. All opinions are my own. 

I want to start off by saying, I am in no way an expert in pants, either fitting or drafting. I have tinkered with pants throughout my sewing journey, but have always preferred sewing and wearing dresses. I just find them much easier for my brain to grasp. 

The Start of My Jeans Making Saga

My first foray into sewing a pair of jeans was during my high school years. I did what I had done for all the other sewing projects that had sparked my curiosity before - I started by taking apart a pair of jeans that I already liked and that fit me well and drafting a pattern from them. I should note that at this point in my sewing practice, I didn't fully grasp the concept of seam allowances, zippers, or even the importance of a grain line. This lack of knowledge never stopped me, though, from simply trying things out and following my curiosity. 

Needless to say, my first pair of jeans weren't a rousing success. They weren't terrible, but they definitely weren't magnificent either. I wouldn't attempt to sew jeans until I entered into my second year of college. For one of our final projects in our drafting class series, we were required to draft and sew a pair of pants. I don't know what possessed me to chose to draft and sew a pair of jeans, but I did it and I had a blast (at least in hindsight that's how I remember it going). 

Again, I didn't really understand stretch at this point, but by now I had learned the importance of a grain line, how to install a zipper, and added in a decent amount of seam allowance. And I came out the other end with a nice red hot pair of jeans! Still, I had a lot to learn (and continue to). 

Fast forward from I think 2011 to 2018 when I was finally ready to try jeans for the third time ever. This time, though, I used a pattern and sewed up a pair of the Ginger Jeans by Closet Core Patterns. I was absolutely amazed!

Even though these jeans weren't for me to keep, they were one of the proudest sewing moments of my life. They looked so professional and fit me so well (not perfectly, but that's ok)! I mean, it only took 7 years to gather the courage to try my hand at them again, but with the help of a pattern, I felt like my confidence was up just a bit. 

From 2018 till now I have sewn around 6 pairs of jeans including (4) Dawn Jeans, (1) Ginger Jeans, (1) Ash Jeans, and (1) Morgan Jeans. 

All have had varying levels of success. Four were sewn for myself, and of those four, I currently have two in my wardrobe, one of which is fairly new, and I consider a wearable toile. These are also the jeans I will be discussing today!

The Inspiration for this Series

All of that to say... getting to this point in my jeans sewing journey has been exactly that: A long and winding journey, indeed. Honestly, I hadn't thought much outside the fit of my jeans -- aside from the waist, hips, thighs and calves -- until I started seeing posts by @winmichele @minimalistmachinist and @sewnbyele online. Watching their stories really inspired me to do a deep dive into my own jeans fit and really begin to dissect how well they actually worked for me. 

This is where the idea for this series has come about. I found their insights to be incredibly helpful and I hope by sharing my own experiences, I can add to the conversation in a way that helps others as they tackle the fit of their jeans as well. I know that everything I go over may not be relevant to every sewist on their jeans making journey, but hopefully some things will be helpful or informative!

Dawn Jeans: Toile #1

This year, I had a goal of making a few new pairs of jeans for myself. I currently only have one pair (the original Dawn's), and I have found myself using them for everything. This has led them to break in rather nicely, but at the same time, I have had to also repair them quite often as they get a lot of work, especially when I am out in the garden. It was my hope to sew up a few pairs specifically for outdoor use and a few for everyday use so that I could extend the life of my jeans. 

To start, I measured myself in various areas that I believed would need alterations based on my past experience with the Dawn Jeans. My most recent measurements as of January 25th, 2020 were:

  • Waist: 28.5" (72,4 cm)
  • Hips: 39.5" (100,3 cm)
  • Full Rise: 28" (71,1 cm)
  • Thigh: 23" (58,4 cm)
  • Calf: 14.75" (37,5 cm)

I then measured the pattern flat in these areas mentioned above to determine what alterations I needed to make to the pattern. The alterations I made to this first toile based on my flat measuring are as follows:

  • Graded from a size 10 waist to 14 through hips down
  • Added 1.75" (4.5 cm) to both the front AND back rise
  • Used 1/2" (1,3 cm) seam allowances everywhere EXCEPT when joining the back yoke to the back pant leg
  • Cut the long leg version
  • Added an extra button to the fly due to the lengthened rise
  • Change length of rise as it seems to be just a bit too long on me now.

In addition to these alterations, I stitched my grainlines onto my jeans toile as well as any place I hade measured or added length. So my jeans wound up looking something like this:

I wanted a visual representation of the alterations I was doing to help guide me and make decisions on possible future alterations. Next time, though, I will make sure to stitch with a darker thread as the pink thread I used is difficult to see (I guess this is a good thing because the grainlines are WAY off). 

I noted a few of the issues I saw right off the bat in my IG stories, but I wanted to wear the jeans a bit to see if I noticed any new issues that hadn't made their presence known just yet. The complete list of grievances/ things I need to look in to include:

  • Checking the Waistband measurement to the top edge of the pant measurement. A lot of people messaged me to say they had issues getting one side of their waistbands to fit on their jeans, which is something I experienced as well even though I did not alter between the top edge of the jeans and the waistband.
  • Adjusting the balance of the leg - my grainline was out by about 1" (2,5 cm) but I am unsure if this is because of how I graded my jeans.
  • Play around with pocket size + placement.
  • Look into excess bagging at the knees - is this because of the balance line being off, the knee point being in the wrong spot, or a lack of space for my calves?
  •  Adjust pocket bags to be more like Ginger Jeans as I hate how the Dawn pockets always poke out. 

As you can see, I have quite a bit to play around with and tweak. I will be focusing on just one or two of these issues at a time as I was once told that if you do too many alterations at once, you can wind up with a whole host of other issues and not know which change they came from. You can also sometimes fix one issue when solving another, which is always great fun!

I hope this post has helped and I can't wait to share what I *hopefully* will have discovered through my next toile! Until then, I would love to hear some of the issue you all are currently facing when making jeans. Is there anything that has you pulling your hair out? Or something that you recently discovered that helped fix an issue you were having? Let me know in the comments below!

 

8 comments

Mitzi

Thanks for starting this series – It’s already so helpful! I have just started my first toile of the dawn jeans, so it will be really interesting to follow along with your progress. Yours already look great, so it’s motivating me to get on with mine!
I also found that the CB seam on the yoke was too long for me. I compared to a pair of RTW jeans that I like, and the dawn yoke was a fair bit longer at CB. I just went ahead and slashed and overlapped the extra length on the back yoke, tapering to nothing to the side seam, as I prefer that shape anyway. Its worked well so far.
The thing I’m super stuck on is the under bum fabric! I have similar horizontal measurements to you, but I have a whole load of fabric gathering under the bum.. I’m happy with the crotch shape, and so I’m wondering if that’s the only part I can change, or might it be something else that’s happening. In my first pair of ash jeans, I lengthened my back crotch but it became more like a looser tailored trousers look, and less like the peachy jeans bum of my dreams! I’m experimenting with @WinMichele’s idea of adding to the CB a little to see if that might help :)
Looking forward to the next instalment!

Brittani Bumb

Hi Brenda!

Oh thank you thank you for all this wonderful advice! It sounds similar to what Leila of Muna & Broad mentioned to me on IG as well. I need to compile all of these tips into one singular place so that I can work my way through each adjustment and document how the changes affect the final jeans. EEEP! This series is going to be so fun (albeit a bit slow going.) Also, thank you for the fitting book suggestion — I only have one fitting book and it’s very minimal, so this one sounds like a must for my sewing room!

Brittani Bumb

Elke- Thank you so much for all this info! You did quite a bit to your pattern, but the results look fantastic! I hope to apply some of your ideas to my next toile (I promise to give you credit for any I adopt!)

The Morgan jeans are fantastic! I really liked the fit of them straight out the packet. I don’t think I made any adjustments to them at all and they looked just like how the pattern suggested, at least to me! I just personally prefer a more tapered style which is why I keep trudging on with the Dawns!

Brenda

Great blog post! I loved reading about your iterative process towards better fit.

What I observe from your pics is that you’ve got a couple of fitting issues, but the tweaks needed to fix them are all quite minimal. Another toile is definitely in order, and you should be golden with a few very minor changes.

First, the wrinkles you’re seeing under the seat of your jeans mean you need a slightly deeper crotch. If you drop the crotch curve at the lowest part of that curve about a ½ inch, those wrinkles will disappear. You could also try grading to a smaller size at the back inner leg.

The differences you mentioned at the waist, and the wrinkles on the right of the back body indicate a high hip on your right side. A high hip totally changes the way garments hang. Basically it forces garments to hang off grain, and makes the knees and seat stretch out of shape. The diagonal wrinkles at the back knee point to high hip issues.

Finally, everything I know about fit and pattern alterations is due to my very dog eared copy of Fast Fit, by Sandra Betzina. It’s my fitting BIBLE. Get the ring bound version if you can. Seriously, the it’s the best book on quick pattern hacking, as well as more in-depth pattern alterations, that I have ever found. I think you’ll love it.

Elke

Hi Brittani
I made quite a few adjustments! The tops of my thighs are my widest point. I started with a 12 and headed down to an 8 at the waist, which worked for the calico toil but when I made the jeans in 12oz twill it didn’t work. Too tight at the top and too wide at the top thigh so I adjusted the final outside leg seam and probably ended up with a 10 up and down (and feeling a bit daft!). My main adjustment at the back which did work and which I kept was shortening the rise at the point where it meets the yoke. It grades down from the side into the middle by 3 sizes, roughly half an inch. I had to adjust the pocket positioning. The yoke itself I adjusted along the centre back seam, grading down 3 sizes from the bottom of the yoke to the top. The main back piece was also adjusted from size 12 to size 0. It dramatic but these adjustments in the back really work in taking it the excess fabric at the top and across the lower back. I ended up with a size 10 but different distribution of the fabric across the hips. The adjustments to the sides turned out to be a complete waste of time! And I could not get the waistband to fit despite following through all the adjustments. I ended up cutting a new one half an inch longer.
Happy to share photos of the pattern if that helps.
I want to try the Morgan jeans as I prefer rigid denim but a loser fit.

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