04 April, 2010

Scribble jeans!

 Today Yesterday I decided to try production line sewing. A few stretch cottons from an internet vendor were ordered. After ordering them, I noticed that our Fabricland was selling stretch denim for a song. So I grabbed a couple - er, few - of those too.  Moral: if one needs fabric, it's advisable to check locally before paying for international shipping.

So I thought, OK, can do - two at once?  Why not?  I laid the two (pre-washed, ironed flat, folded lengthways) fabrics one on top of the other, and then placed my Jalie jeans pattern pieces on top. I'm a scissors cutter, and my scissors are getting dull - so I cut two fabric thicknesses at a time.

I had transferred my pattern changes from my muslin clamdiggers onto  the pattern pieces, feeling fortunate the changes were few and straightforward: a small downward scoop of the back crotch, and a big tuck of the back waist. To that, I added a reduction of upper front, by tipping the zipper to decrease front waist by 1 cm (each side). Roll your eyes if you will, but I grew up in paint-me-on jeans, and that's the way I like'em. Not that I intend to dress like that at work.... well, maybe for casual Friday. We'll see.

Today then I made two pairs of jeans. I set up my trusty old 20+ year old Kenmore and my lovely nearly-new serger on the dining table, and a crotchety old lady in my study upstairs.  The old lady did the hardest work of them all: topstitching.

Just look at her: up at the crack of dawn, working hard on the back yoke of my scribble jeans.  This gal belonged to my husband's grandmother, and was passed down the generations... yes, a real family treasure, very well worn around the edges, crotchety to the nines, noisy, smelly, slow....temperamental to a T... took a lot persuasion to get the job done, but still. She doesn't just pre-date me: she pre-dates my grandmother!!!  Really. Can you just imagine?  Four generations of homo sapiens have been born, and three are still living, since this old biddy's first year on Earth.

My husband tells me he remembers this old lady in use by various and sundry adults in his home when she was still a treadle.  While he was only a young child, she was modernized to a motor drive with knee-actuator. Have you ever tried to sew with your thighs?  It gives the adductors a good workout, and far more productive than anything they'd be working in a gym! Funny thing is, I'm so accustomed to sewing with a foot pedal (which takes ever so little muscle energy) that I'd automatically slip off my right shoe, only to realize I'd be a hapless, prince-less Cinderella at thee olde machine.

Another interesting tidbit: the bobbin was modernized at the same time as the old gal was electrified; incredibly, the bobbin and bobbin holder are identical to those in my trusty old Kenmore.  Interested in more Singer machine history?  Take a fascinating long look through Alex Askaroff's Singer Through The Ages.

There's something charming, nay magical, about getting a pair of I'm-so-modern jeans sewn up by a piece of equipment already owned by a family member over a hundred years ago!

Ahem, don't look too closely.  Yes the hems are sagging, because I was running out of daylight.  And the (lovely linen self-drafted pattern) top (made last year) is covering the waistline because (cough-cough) the belt-loops are just tucked in, and the waistband just held together with a pin -that's what evenings are for, people!

In other news, El Nino decided to give us the most incredible Easter weekend in living memory. We clocked 29C at the airport yesterday:  that's 11C warmer than the previous maximum recorded in over 70 years.  July weather.  So I was not only 1. playing Easter Bunny; 2. playing with my sewing machine(s),  3. making two pairs of jeans; I had to 4. take my silly old lawnmower out for a spin (in the second pair of barely-finished-today brand new Jalie jeans).

So, that's my Easter Sunday.  Loved every second of it.

Scribble, scribble...


  1. What she said! I've ordered the pattern. Could not withstand the pressure. (And the tie top as well, if you want to borrow it...) Question for you re these - how much stretch do you think is actually necessary for these jeans (as opposed to what is called for)?

  2. Ditto Katie's comment-awesome!

  3. Well, Kaye, the dark ones, lightweight denim with 3% lycra, are a very easy fit, even though I sewed each vertical seam 1/8" smaller (making that seam 1/4" smaller) than designed.

  4. Wow! You were a very busy woman yesterday! :) Love the jeans and especially love the fact that they were made on a machine several generations old!

  5. Two pairs of jeans at once! I am impressed!

  6. New jeans, old machine, priceless. What an enjoyable, busy day. I love the scribbles one, especially.

  7. Great looking jeans!. Isn't it interesting that it is the old, mechanical, workhorse machines that do the best job of topstitching.