shoo, fly, don’t bother me

I hope that the first few steps of jeans sewing are the most difficult.

Turns out, putting in a fly zipper is pretty complicated. And when the pattern leaves out a key detail like seam allowance (see my complaints in the previous post)… and the fact that you have to sort of offset the one zipper tape (so that you can hide the zipper and everything will close up flush – does that make sense to you? Photo below)….

Adding a zipper to my jeans
See on the right side of this photo? The zipper is sort of recessed back from the edge? Took me a few tries to get that right.

Yeah, it took me a while. Several days’ worth of naptimes. It’s cool, though. I’m taking extensive notes for the next pair. #wearablemuslin

Things that I’m still mystified about:

  • Good zippers for jeans. The shortest one in Joann’s is still too long, far too long. If you sew jeans, do you usually order the zippers online?
  • Good buttons for jeans. Joann’s, again, had only 2 choices and I wasn’t in love with either of them (looks-wise).
  • How to use a twin-needle with my machine. That would cut my sewing time down pretty drastically, and make my top-stitching more even and professional-looking.
  • Will the gosh-darn things fit? Contrary to a normal wearable muslin, I’m going whole hog with this pair – finishing the edges, doing all the techniques. I want to test-drive it all. I’m subbing in flat-felled seams, for one thing, and trying out a different finishing stitch on my machine. It’s basically science, y’all. Hypothesize, test, and test again.

I also want to know how these new seams & finishing touches wear. Which ones are going to fall apart in the wash, which stress points tear first? I’m in it to win it with this jeans game. I will bet you a big, fat load of Party Points that I tear a hole in the first two weeks.

Nothing like optimism, right?


jean jam

I have another confession. Crafting confession #1,000?

When it comes to knitting, sewing, printmaking (anything in the craft realm really) I have little or no idea about what skill level most projects are – and I don’t care. I would rather try to make something I want and need and love – and spend four weeks cussing and Googling and picking out seams – than go through measured steps to slowly build my skills. The intermediate projects always look so boring, right? Tell me I’m not the only recklessly impatient one around this neck of the woods.

So you won’t be surprised to hear that my latest sewing project is a pair of jeans. Never set in a zipper before? No problem. Looking for a chance to test out flat-felled seams because you read about them in the Colette Sewing Handbook? Sounds perfect. Eager to excuse your impatience by utilizing the phrase “wearable muslin”? Me, too!

The first seam in my new jeans!
The first seam in my new jeans! Does anybody know if you’re supposed to use the jeans-specific top-stitching thread for the whole project? I did….

Also, I am down to one pair of jeans that still fits me, and if I’m going to spend $30-$60 on a pair of pants, I am darn well going to have the fun of making something at the same time.

I understand that this might make me crazy. But let me take you on a tour of my latest-and-greatest sewing madness anyway. (I figure, if you’re sticking around, you’re probably crazy, too.)

I spent about 20 minutes surfing around and looking up jeans-patterns-reviews online, ordered a Sew U Built by Wendy book based on the lovely creations of a few sewers, and got some clearance denim for my wearable muslin.

Before you run over to Amazon and buy that book, though, you should know (due to what I can only imagine is a publisher’s error on a huge scale) there are no seam allowances included! The book says that seam allowances are noted on the pattern pieces (because Wendy recommends anywhere from 1/2″-3/4″ depending on the garment), but it’s a big fat lie. You are going to be guessing like crazy the whole way through.

This makes me angry. There are so many good independent pattern writers out there who go to great lengths to ensure that their patterns are accessible to all levels by including information about ease, seam allowances, and tutorials for the hard parts. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a “big name” pattern or book again – I’d rather stick with the indies, and know that I’m getting a good product with actual customer support if there’s a printing error.

However. I have the book now. I did a lot of manic math while I was adjusting the legs for more of a skinny-jeans look. The legs should fit OK. It’s anybody’s guess about the behind-area, of course, until I finish.

I do recommend the Colette Sewing Handbook. I will probably never make most of the actual garments (see impatience with slowly building skills above), but there is a wealth of information about fitting adjustments, different seams, and common techniques you’ll run into when garment sewing. I’ve referred to it multiple times while adjusting and sewing my jeans.

Next time, on The Jeans Diaries: zippers turn out to be hard.

I’ll see you then, hopefully with more photos.


uh-oh my daddo

Overnight, my baby has become a full-grown kid. His fat belly slimmed down to merely pouchy, his determination in all things is uncompromised (I think I’m putting that nicely). He plows ahead with reckless abandon (straight into the corner of the coffee table, unfortunately) and cackles with achievement when he tops the staircase.

And he has suddenly realized that his Daddo is a very cool guy.

The other day, I was too slow to retrieve Sylvan’s apple from the fridge, so he toppled over backwards in his most dramatic way and wailed uh-oh my Daddo! Apple! Daddo!

Today, he cried for ten straight minutes while Daddo was out planting cantelope in the garden. Tears pooled up under his eyes and coated his eyelashes. Uh-oh my Daddo! Uh-oh!

I made pizza for dinner, and he only tugged on my legs once, because he was busy chasing after Daddo.

I brought out my knitting, and he didn’t try to grab the needles out of my hand. (Maybe that means more knitting-related blog content coming your way soon! Maybe I’ll finally finish that first pattern sitting on my hard drive!)

We’re settling into a whole new phase of life. Mama still has the best cuddles after a hard headbonk, and I’m still the one who will hand out extra snacks and risk a sippy cup of milk in the carpeted living room. But Daddo is already the model, the person to be like, the one with the most fun things going on.

I can’t tell, over the internet, if these incidents sound sad. It is the end of an epoch. But really, I think it’s time to celebrate. Daddo supported me well through a year and a half of baby time, the hard work that is breastfeeding and shepherding a babe through lots of firsts – sitting, standing, walking, ear infection, allergic reaction, and most blessedly of all the first full night’s sleep for all of us. Now it’s my turn to support, to take back some of the mundane house tasks so that I can take pleasure listening to my guys bond over something in the other room (I can tell it’s going well by the crazy giggles).


becoming a writer again

Something about falling in love made writing irrelevant to my life. We exchanged letters, my sweetheart and I, and I did not need to write anything else for any other person on earth.

Now that I’m a mother, I find myself turning to writing again. Maybe because this new love in my life doesn’t read, and maybe because it suddenly feels important to preserve some thoughts to be read someday far in the future.

Not that my son will ever be interested in reading my mostly-knitting blog.

That’s OK. It’s been good to start evaluating sentences again, to start feeling out which words feel authentic, which are overkill, and slowly discover (after a few hundred words) whether or not I have anything important to stay.

In an uncharacteristically bold move, I even volunteered to start blogging for a local organization called Lancaster Transplant. I admire the work they do of connecting people to their place (a place I really like!) – and decided I would like to lend my (tiny) storytelling capabilities to strengthen my community.

And you know what? They actually said yes, please blog for us. 

You can read my first post for them now - on my first time taking Sylvan to the park.

Enjoy! Or not, if you would just like a quick knitting fix. (Lovely yarn below, just for you. )

Yarn Hollow brand yarn in stripey autumn colors
My Yarn Hollow sock yarn has worn really well for me – so I’ve been squishing this skein a lot lately and dreaming of patterns – any recommendations?



when your wardrobe staple is the pocket

The Wardrobe Architect series has been super-helpful in my quest to create a tiny, usable wardrobe that fits my needs to a T. In a home with only one closet (true story!), it’s important to prune your stuff on the regular.

Remember when I emptied out all this stuff last week? Me, too. I’m still proud.

Thanks to those probing worksheets, I also now know that my sense of style can be summed up like this: Does it have pockets? I’m in. Presenting to the Board? I need some pockets to keep my pen in, please. A bridesmaid’s dress with pockets? You know we need to keep some tissues on hand, you brilliant designer, youTaking the kids to the park? I sure as heck need some pockets for band-aids, keys, and my phone. I’m not hauling along an extra bag to keep an eye on.

Is there such a thing as professional-yet-casual-pocket-chic?

I’m going to pretend like there is, at least in my house.