Friday, May 27, 2011

Flares in Plum

Hot off the press... my new flared jeans for winter, and for Joy's Bell-Bottom challenge!
I adore flares, after half a lifetime of trial and error I have finally decided they could be the most flattering jeans shape for my particular body type.  Sure, I wear other kinds of jeans as the mood takes me but really the shape of flares always just pleases me immensely.  I think the flare from knee down provides a nice counterpoint to the curve of a lady's hips above.  Skinnies look wonderful on the very slim hipped, and if a girl is in that lucky category then yay! for skinnies.  Go for it!  But I reckon for me with wider hips, or child-bearing hips as my grandmother referred to them; then the look of the skinny leg from those hips tapering down into petite little ankles is perhaps not the most flattering silhouette for my body type.  When I do wear my skinnies I usually try to counteract that tapering effect by wearing them with biker boots to provide some visual weight for the lower half of my legs... as here.
But getting off track, my new flares, groovy, no?  I already had this grape coloured stretch denim planned for some new winter jeans when I read about Joy's challenge, and instantly knew nothing could be groovier nor more age of Aquarius than the colour purple.  Even the word "purple" brings to mind decadence, pimp-chic and naughty avant garde movies from the seventies, yes?  Do you recall Alvin Purple, fellow Aussies?  I was too young to ever be allowed to watch this, hehe.  I imagine though that some of the (dressed) ladies might have worn pants such as these...?

Jeans; Burda 7863 with modifications, purple stretch denim, see my review of this pattern here
Top; Metalicus
Cardigan; Country Road
Scarf; alta, a gift from Cassie
Shoes; Sandler, from an op shop
Dressmaking details:
I used my old favourite Burda 7863, and cut the legs to taper out from knee level down to the ankles by about 5cm each edge, resulting in an extra 20cm flare on each ankle.  I am happy with this amount of flare, although I can see I could have gone more... it becomes an exercise in how much flare is possible without making the outward curve of the pants leg too sudden.
I put in my now standard modifications of a zip placket and a coin pocket, and left off the pocket flaps.  
I've seen some very interesting and unusual pocket stitchings out there, I usually choose something simple and abstract... below was my effort this time:
Another modification with regard to this pattern; after studying RTW jeans and ever since my first pair of jeans from this pattern I have used a different method of construction to that outlined in the pattern... as follows:
(after doing the yoke, both sets of pockets and all topstitching therein...)
Sew the inside leg seam first, and topstitch the seam allowance down to the front with a double row of topstitching.
Sew the front pants legs together from the bottom of the zip opening, and around the back legs for about 20cm, no more.
Then sew the outside leg seam of each leg.  Topstitch the seam allowance down onto the pants back with a single row of topstitching down to the lower level of the pocket edge.
This order of construction gives the same look as RTW jeans.
At the time of purchasing the fabric I was encouraged by one of the shop ladies to buy some proper top-stitching thread to finish off my purple jeans and I thought this would be a good idea.  While I was browsing the colour range she helpfully suggested baby pink! can you imagine; quelle horreur!  I politely declined the pink... and eventually chose this lovely strong mustard/rusty colour.  I thought this would be pretty good-looking against the richness of the plum. But the top-stitching thread turned out to be a nightmare... my poor old machine hated it with a passion and threw major wobbly fits during the most visible and important of the topstitching moments.  Yikes!!  It particularly hated going through the thickest parts, such as the belt loops.  A close inspection of my jeans would reveal that these parts are sewn on with ordinary black thread, and I merely embroidered the top-stitching thread over the top in back stitch, to mimic the look of topstitching.  It was either that or break more needles, and lead to my incarceration in a lunatic asylum...  I broke my last denim needle doing the waistband topstitching, and then two more ordinary needles (well, it was late at night and I was at that crazy determined stage where I was going to finish those jeans then and there no matter how many needles it took, or die in the attempt...)
Re the Burda waistband technique, and since I have mentioned this on a few other blogs, I will try to illustrate here how I think the Burda method of attaching waistbands is so useful for getting a good fit ...
Burda usually attaches their left and right waistbands as separate pieces to each pants side, and then to sew up the centre back seam including the waistband in one fell swoop after fitting.  I think this makes a superb method of getting a really good fit on your pants, especially if like me you have a slight sway back combined with wide hips, and the back of even the best fitting RTW pants nearly always require taking at the back of the waist.  This is a picture of the centre back seam of these pants with the (black) stitching line taking in the centre back of the pants and the centre back of the waistband all in one clean seam.  
The dark blue/grey linen at the left of picture is my waistband facing, which I use here as well as for the pocket piece to reduce fabric bulk.  The centre back seam on this facing is angled out to mirror the angle of the seam on the waistband, so it will fold down to the inside smoothly.  The pin in the picture is marking the seamline as it is in the pattern, and if I had sewed the back seam here, and then put on a straight one-piece waistband as done in other pants patterns I would end up with a floppy pokey-outy waistband hanging away from the small of my back, grrr.  So to have the waistband in two halves like this, and to sew a fitted angled seam all in one, makes for a really GREAT fit.  Below is a picture of the inside of a pair of my husband's good suit pants, showing that this one-seam/two-piece waistband method of construction is also used in high quality menswear.  It additionally means if a person loses or gains weight, that centre back seam can be adjusted relatively easily without having to reconstruct the waistband...


  1. Wow! They look amazing on you. I like the colour, the fit and think that the flare is just perfect for your height too.
    Thanks for posting your technique re making up and waitband. I've alomost found the courage to make a pair - I have pattern and fabric, just need to take a deep breath and go for it!
    PS You have such a great figure you couldn't not look great in anything you wear!

  2. They look fab with your colouring! I agree with the ankles balancing out the hips thing...and these look great on you!

  3. Great job with the jeans - I love the purple! And I too am a die-hard fan of the flare leg. My mom insists on calling them bell bottoms even when the flare is pretty mini, so I guess I'm secretly a fan of bell bottoms.

    I'll have to try that waist band construction method because I have a sway back. Thanks for the info :)

  4. Purple jeans seem to be all the rage in blogland. They look amazing on you! Nice bootleg.

  5. Thank you for sharing your construction details and going into more depth about Burda waistbands. My machine doesn't like topstitching thread either.

    Your jeans look fab! Have you seen Eugenia's purple jeans? It's looking like a trend. I don't see you as having wide hips at all! I see you as enviably tall and slim. The sort of figure that could wear anything.

  6. Purple jeans! woo. Love anything purple, now I'm wishing for a pair. And hey, I like bell bottoms better than skinnies. havagewdweekend love. xo

  7. It looks great on you! I totally agree love the flare, it's very stylized figure, anyway, you have a perfect body ideal, I envy your mini-waist, sigh.

  8. Oh wow! These are amazing. Seriously, I love the flare and that they are PURPLE. I'm off to look for some purple denim right now.

  9. Amazing purple jeans, the topstitching is perfect. Great job and thanks for sharing so many details.

  10. I was reading your blog this morning my husband walked by and glanced over my shoulder.

    "Those....are awesome!"

    And I agree!

  11. Gorgeous! I love them in purple.

  12. These look fantastic! I Love the colour.

  13. Woo hoo! Fabulous jeans. The skinny-to-flared shape is great. I'm really glad you didn't choose pink topstitching....

  14. Your jeans look amazing! I'm planning to make some flairs this summer also, your construction tips are greatly appreciated.

  15. The jeans are fabulous! I've been thinking lately, as to why I haven't put a seam in the back of pants waistbands, because it really would be so much easier to tweak the waist fit. Thank-you for bringing it up. Now if only I could remember this the next time I'm sewing pants...

  16. Seriously, you're killing me with your stuff lately! These jeans are absolutely fantastic. Love the color, the fit is amazing, I cannot say enough good things about them. Only one bad thing: I don't have a pair! :)

  17. Like most of us, you are much too critical of your figure. You have a very nice shape. These gorgeous purple jeans prove it.

  18. Fabulous purple jeans! Look at you being all colourful on bottoms!

    I, too, embrace the bootleg cut. I've yet to make a successful pair of pants, but on the most recent attempt (#3), I used that same method in the waistband. I don't think I'll be doing it any other way from here on in. Now I've just got to perfect that darn crotch curve...

  19. I want these pants. So cute! I like your mustard top stitching thread. It sounds like a frustrating experience, but it paid off.

  20. WOW!! I love them Carolyn, what an amazing pair of flares

  21. Your purple jeans look amazing. Just the fight amount of flare. If I wasn't determined to be entirely happy with the body I have been given I would be wildly jealous of your long and elegant limbs. Your mustard topstitching is perfect.

    Thank you for an Ah-ha moment re Burda's back waistband instructions. I have been reading them incorrectly, and trying to sew the back seam of the waistband after sewing the yoke together, then sewing the waistband pieces to the yoke individually. This had caused much muttering.
    I have just looked up the shorts where you commented on the waistband instructions I was whining about, and I have decided that I would like you to write the Burda instructions. Burda still seems to be telling me to sew the yoke together first. Hmmm.

  22. Wow those jeans are just AMAZING.

  23. Love them! The cut, the color, the topstitching and the overall look. I am saving this review for the waistband explanation-they are next on my list of techniques to improve upon.

  24. Wow, they look great on you! Love the color!

  25. Gorgeous jeans. Thankyou for the tip on the waistband. What a difference that will make to my pants too. They always seem to not fit in that area!

  26. They look great! Thankyou for explaining what you do with the centre back seam and why. I too have "childbearing hips" and find that area particularly hard to fit.

    Regarding the topstitching, no idea if this makes any difference in how your machine handles it, but it did with mine. Instead of buying the official topstitching thread, I read somewhere to simply double up on normal sewing thread in the top of the machine.
    Worked a treat machine-wise, still has the visual weight to it, there are more colour choices, and cheaper too.
    Anyway, just thought I would mention it :-)

  27. Thank you for sharing this waistband technique! you do a great job of explaining it, and i plan to use it the next time i make a pair of pants or skirt for that matter.

    my waistbands always gap at center back, which completely befuddles me - i have a very flat fanny, in fact it has been referred to as 'the anti-@ss' on occasion! who can penetrate the mysteries of fitting ;)

    your flares look great, and love the colors! baby pink mite look nice on a six year old's version of these, but as we mature we develop a taste for the bitter as well as the sweet....happy sunday! steph

  28. Yes! I totally love these. I'm so excited to have flared and wide leg jeans coming back in. The skinny jeans trend was getting old in my opinion. :)
    I like that you left off the pocket flaps. I think it looks better that way.
    Great job Carolyn, They turned out amazingly!

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  30. Holy smokes! You made jeans!?! And they look amazing!

  31. hmmm, yes, skinnies are such a nice look on some girls, and I, like you, am so often disappointed. Though a good straight leg pair seems to give me enough of that silhouette so I'm not quite so disappointed anymore. Yours are so classy! I like the waistband technique too. it seems very useful. This will be a fun one to see you remix.