Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Make-Do and Mend: Jeans

Before we left for Hawaii I realized that I was going to need some shorts. Unfortunately for me, a rather chilly California winter was still in progress (and it still is, really) and the last thing retailers are pushing right now is sensible shorts. The best I could find was ahem-shorts, by which I mean garments that may have once resembled short trousers, but that now more closely resemble what the British would call "pants". Knickers.  Slightly too brief for me, thanks.

Neither was the internet any help. I ordered two pair of board shorts, neither of which fit even halfway up my legs. (And this when they professed that they fit two sizes larger than I am? Please!)

The day before we left I was working on the 1940's ensemble and dropped something on the workroom floor. When I bent to pick it up, I noticed the mending pile. The mending pile has a few pairs of my old favorite jeans in it, most of which have worn out at the most annoying place ever - namely the inner thigh. These jeans had stayed in the pile (rather than just being chucked out with the rest) precisely because they'd been so comfortable.  And they'd been expensive!  A pity to waste them. I'd tried mending issues like this before by doing some reinforcing darning with my zigzag machine, but I found that the whole chunk of darning ripped out a few washes later as the fabric surrounding it was just not up to a whole lot of support. A complete patch would have to be the thing.

First things first though, acquire patch material!  Since I was making cutoff shorts (pedal pushers? capris? something like that) this part was easy: cut off the legs. Make sure they come out even.

Next, I laid out the jeans so the worn panel was completely flat and on true grain.  This is trickier than it sounds, but you can figure it out if you mess with it enough.  I then took a small piece of scrap pattern paper and creased it to the crotch depth.

Next, I pin-pricked the line, just to be sure it was good and accurate, and transferrable.

Next, I cut away the excess paper to make a better patch shape.  And here's a tip - if you're doing this process for multiple pairs of jeans - even if they're from the same manufacturer - you're going to have to make a different paper pattern for each. They're all going to differ slightly based on the cut, the year of the cut, and the fiber content of the denim material.  And it hardly takes but a minute, so why not?
Then I laid out the proto-pattern on the straight of grain on the jeans, and cut it out.  (Remember to leave seam allowance!) Oh and the other nice thing - you can get one full patch from part of a single leg. Which means that if the patch wears out and the rest of the jeans are still sound, you can just... patch them again!
 I also added an inch to the inside, so I could dodge my patch around the already-pretty-thick inner seam of the jeans.

After cutting out two of these, I pretended they were part of a pair of jeans: I sewed them together along the crotch seam...

...And then flat-felled the join.
Next, placement.  I lined up the crotch seam of the patch with the crotch seam of the jeans, and pinned it in place.
I then opened the patch up and pinned it along the crotch line and then along each inseam, making sure that the end of the patch ended up at approximately the same part of each leg. With the patch tacked down, I then tucked under the edges of the patch and pinned that down too, for easier sewing.

The hardest part was probably adjusting my sewing machine's tension to deal with the extra layers. :P  Oh and not stabbing myself when I forgot and my pins switched directions halfway around the patch.

The end result?  Nearly invisible!  And I got to mend something, avoid paying for clothes that I don't know will fit, and also pick the exact length of the jeans.

(And for what it's worth, they looked and felt just fine while I wore them, too!)

1 comment:

  1. omg I have lost more pairs of jeans than i care to count this way- I am so trying this!