I’d love to say that this week, I’ve finally aligned with the hot weather and I’m bringing you some super-summery super-comfy dress that I’ve made, but… I’m not. I’m still struggling on that front, but I do at least have a couple of patterns that are ready to go for their first trial. I say ‘ready to go‘, but I’m still waiting for the fabric to arrive (from India) for one of them, and for the other one I need to trace and add the seam allowances – and we all know how fun that is 😑 This weekend though I’m gonna be throwing all other projects out the window (not literally) and instead bumping one of said summer dresses to the top of the queue, along with an Alexander Henry short sleeved shirt for the Handsome Husbeast. Because sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do, and that might just involve treating yo’self to sewing whatever the hell you want. Screw all those half-finished projects just weighin’ ya down, start something NEW!
So what I am bringing you this week is my third stab at jeans-making. The Deer and Doe Safrans were first (but haven’t yet made it to the blog despite us taking the photos literally months ago), the Palo jeans from Breaking The Pattern were second, and now these Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans are third. Third time lucky? Yes, and no.
I had all the heart-eyes for this pattern when I first saw it – I had already bought the Ginger Jeans pattern from Closet Case (because it was considered the best thing since sliced bread) but every time I looked at it I just felt meh. The rise wasn’t quite high enough for me, I didn’t want a skinny jean, and it just wasn’t the look I wanted. When I saw the Dawns, with their super high rise and retro rigid-denim requirements, I was SOLD. They were just like the RTW Mom jeans I’d been living in forever – I know this is like the worst picture of the jeans (thanks, ASOS) but they fit me really well and I LOVE them. If I can get my handmade ones as good as these, I’ll be proper happy.
You get three styles of jeans in the Dawn envelope, plus one jean short option – although you ain’t gonna get me in a pair of shorts for nothin’. I only – just about (grudgingly) – wear cycle shorts these days because it’s too hot in leggings, otherwise I’d happily wear full-on leg-cover all year round.
I couldn’t find denim that I liked for these (and that means something that isn’t blue or black), so in the end, I went with a corduroy. It’s a poly corduroy, though, which I’m not too keen on. The outside is okay, but the inside of the fabric feels a bit weird. A bit plastic-y. I think I’d actually like to make them in a slightly chunkier cotton cord, for the winter, but I need to find the right colour. A rusty orange would be perfect – a proper retro vibe! I seem to be drawn to 70s and 80s style just lately – I really want to make one of those t-shirts that have the contrast cuffs and collar, like the one on the right:
(and if anyone knows where I might get one of those – LEMME KNOW 😘)
I made the tapered leg version of the Dawns, because wide legs aren’t kind to me and skinny cuts don’t get around my enormous calves. The tapered cut is perfect 👌🏻
My corduroy fabric was stretch corduroy, even though the pattern calls for rigid fabrics. I figured a little bit of stretch couldn’t do any harm, right? It’d only make them more comfy to wear, surely… thankfully, this seems to have been the case and there were no ill effects from using the stretch fabric. So if you’ve got (slightly) stretch denim, you have my blessing to go ahead and use it to make the Dawns. The waistband – the one part that could get a little distorted with stretch fabric – is interfaced, so as long as you’re not using stretch interfacing (which you totally shouldn’t be) you’ll be a happy camper.
I used some leftover Liberty lawn for the pockets (offcuts from this shirt I made for the husbeast) and if you’re unfamiliar with the methods used for jeans pockets it will probably leave you a bit confused. There’s a lot of right-side-wrong-side buggeryness going on, and you feel like you’ve got the lining in the wrong way, but I promise you it will work out. You want the right side of the pocket fabric to be on the outside (so that you see it on the inside of the jeans) and the wrong side of the fabric to be inside the pocket bag where you put your hand. I can’t shake the feeling that that’s kinda wrong, because in my mind I want to see the nice fabric where I’m putting my hand (much the same as with a coat pocket lining) but that’s not the way with jeans, apparently 🤷🏻♀️
I followed the instructions for the fly but ended up with my buttonholes backwards – I still haven’t quite figured out why… and by ‘backwards’ I mean that the right side of the buttonhole was actually on the wrong side, once the fly was assembled. Really wasn’t impressed with this, as it’s one of the first few steps of the pattern! I ended up making two button fly pieces – ‘wrong’ one on the right, correct one on the left – but re-reading the instructions, I can’t actually see how my traced pattern piece would end up giving me what they show in the instructions. The buttonholes are on the wrong side of the template!
I felt a little edgy with just three buttons on the fly (it doesn’t feel like many to hold my stomach in, and the RTW button-fly-jeans that I own have five – FIVE!) so I went halfway and did four, keeping the same placement of the top and bottom buttonhole, but putting two in the middle rather than just one.
My little buttonhole-gauge thingy, which I only invested in about a year ago, is an absolute LEGEND for this kind of stuff 🙌🏻 Bye bye complicated calculations to work out buttonhole spacing, hello simples-ness.
I used keyhole buttonholes instead of a rectangular buttonhole, at one end (the end where the button sits) there’s a circle instead of corners. It’s good for jeans buttons that have a circular shank – it allows the fabric to sit a little bit flatter around it.
The one thing I will say about this pattern is that there are lots and lots and lots of switching between regular thread and topstitch thread. LOTS. Did I say there were lots? I was going to go for golden (as in, like traditional jeans) topstitch thread but instead went for purple… I wasn’t sure if I’d like the look of such a contrast-y topstitch thread, but I think it would have actually looked okay. I couldn’t get buttonholes stitched in topstitch thread – my machine just kept on eating it up, even on straight lines. I mean, LOOK AT THIS CARNAGE ON THE REVERSE SIDE:
It was a total game of Russian roulette as to whether I was gonna turn over the fabric and see normal stitching, or an absolute birds nest. I’d say that two out of three times it was a birds nest 😑 Probably should have used a topstitch needle, though I’m sceptical it would have made a difference…
I chose not to follow the pattern markings for pockets, instead getting them placed on my bum once the trousers were mostly complete… and then relying on the husbeast’s opinion (and photos) to decide on final placement. I have no idea how my final position compares with the pattern markings – they’re probably in the same place, and I faffed about for nothing 🤣 Oh, and Pro Tip on topstitching the pockets in place – make sure your pocket lining is held out of the way, or you’ll end up redoing a whole line of topstitching and swearing in the process.
I was pretty pleased with my topstitching on the fly though – I mean, check it out, it looks pretty fly… 🤣
Seriously though, it’s pretty sweet. It was at that point I wished I’d used a contrasting thread so that you could actually see it! I also amazed myself that I managed to get the topstitching on the back yoke lined up:
I used an awl to poke holes for the rivets (basically a sharp pointy metal thing that you could not only take someone’s eye out with but probably also kill them) – there’s really no other way around this, you’re gonna need the tool. Especially in places (like on the back pockets) where you’re trying to poke through what feels like about 100 layers of fabric. Despite putting the hole where I wanted it, the rivet ended up slightly off nearly every single time 🤬
(I could possibly blame the husbeast for this, as he was the one that actually installed the rivets.)
I took my jeans to the next level with a cool leather patch on the back – you get the template included in the pattern pieces, which I thought was a nice touch. I used a pretty ombré pink-purple-orange scrap of leather that we had laying around, which I was really happy with, only to find that the colour came off the leather after the jeans went through the wash… And now it’s a muddy grey colour. Oh well 🤣
I graded one size bigger at the legs than at the waist, and although the fit is fine at the waistband I could definitely do with sizing up at least one more size in the leg. Even with the stretch in the corduroy, they are still very tight – if these were rigid denim I don’t think I’d even get them on. I’m actually thinking about doing a full seat adjustment for the next pair – although that seems a bit scary 😨 I’ve got the same problem with these as I had with the Palo jeans – a baggy yoke just below the waistband, which I’ll try and sort out next time around.
Despite the few little niggles with these, I’m actually pretty happy with them for a first attempt. I really like this style of jeans, so I’m going to call this pair my toile. I’m not sure I’ll wear them too much – because the poly fabric feels a bit clammy and sweaty – but they’ve definitely fulfilled their purpose of determining whether the pattern would be suitable for me. And it would. I’ve bought some hot pink leopard denim for the next pair – I had to get it from Spoonflower, so it was a bit spendy, but I couldn’t find any cool patterned denim online (and believe me I searched a LOT of stores 🧐)
If you’re on the fence about making your first pair of jeans, I can recommend the Dawns. I’m not the most experienced at trouser-making but managed to get a pretty good finish. This was the first Megan Nielsen pattern I’ve used, and I was pretty happy with it and the level of detail in the instructions (despite the dodgy fly buttonholes, as mentioned above). I’ve since made the Rowan Tee, and although the finished garment was a bit meh, there was nothing actually wrong with the pattern, so I’d be willing to try more from their range – but nothing else really catches my eye just yet. I keep trying to seek out smaller indie pattern companies, so if you have any faves, let me know!👇🏻
Next week on the blog is my Make Nine update – because we’re already into the second half of the year so it’s about time I took stock of where I was… probably nowhere near halfway buttttt 🤷🏻♀️
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