Monday, April 15, 2013

Corduroy Pants Using Kenneth D. King's Jean-ius Craftsy Class

I have always been disappointed in my attempts to sew apparel, so I have been trying to learn more from online instructors and video demos. They all seem a little different in their approaches, so maybe I need to just keep it simple instead of wanting to know all the different ways to attach a collar or set in a sleeve. I've been watching methods used by Sandra BetzinaPeggy Sagers, and Angela Wolf. Who else would you recommend? Do you have a favorite method for particular techniques?

I saw Kenneth D. King on Threads, and I really enjoyed his approach to lessons. Even though I dress very casually and have no interest in wearing designer dresses myself, he is very helpful. When I saw he has a Craftsy class, I signed up immediately. The class is Jean-ius - Reverse Engineer Your Favorite Fit. This class is so good! I read in the comments that Kenneth was asked to do a future class, most likely on jackets. I can't wait!

At the same time, I stumbled on some silly, crazy corduroy fabric, and I joked with my husband that I should make him some pants with it! It's Robert Kaufman's Cool Cords 21 Wale Brown Argyle by Ann Welle. This fabric is meant to be used in children's clothing, such as M6575 Infants' Hats. For adults, it screams HIPSTER. Eek! Oh, well.

My dear husband has a great sense of humor, so I figured worst-case scenario, it would make a great toile test garment. Best case scenario, he'll dance around the house and perform karaoke to Steel Panther (probably NSFW)!

He showed me his favorite jeans to copy, and I followed Kenneth's step-by-step instructions. This class was so helpful, from drafting, to pattern alteration, all the way to full construction. Fantastic!

The only thing I did not follow was using basting thread to mark all the seams and grain lines on the original jeans. After breaking my wrists, it is very difficult to push a hand-needle through jeans for so long. If you have any tips on what type of needle would be easier, I probably need help with that. Instead, I used the rub-off method. I heard about this technique from Steffani Lincecum. I just hoped I could be accurate enough for it to work on these jeans. Here are my pattern pieces:

I struggled with tracing the jeans because they were so worn in that they were distorted to the point that both sides were not symmetrical. I went back and forth trying to decide which side I should trace, especially on the front. The zipper seemed crooked, but my husband loves the fit, and I was too lazy to draft two fronts and two backs, so I kinda averaged them out. Kenneth's instructions are so detailed. I love when he says to "mark everything as if you will be struck with amnesia at a moment's notice." This worked wonders! The pattern creation portion of the class was worth it alone. On top of that we got step-by-step construction demonstrations:. how to make the back pocket, front pocket appliques, front pocket bags, watch pocket, back yoke, fly shield, zipper, etc... Fabulous!

Even though I was too lazy (actually fearful and doubting this whole process) to draft two asymmetrical fronts and backs, I did want to match those damned argyle patterns. I cut two separate fronts and two separate backs and tried so hard to match everything. BUT I FORGOT ABOUT THE BACK YOKES! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!  Bummer. I had never made pants or jeans with a back yoke, and I completely spaced out about this extra length at the top of the back. This shifted all my matching patterns down by more than an inch. What a letdown. I almost quit at that point, but my husband didn't seem to mind. What a sweetheart.

I didn't match the back pockets, because they were not on the same grain as the back pants. 
Do you just cut them on the same grain anyway to match?

I did manage to match the front pocket appliques to the front pants, but I drafted the appliques too short. I should have made them go deeper into the pockets.

I used a really bright orange zipper. It is too close to the edge to be completely hidden by the fly front. I need to set it in more next time.

This fabric is stretchy, and it's not strong enough to really act like jeans, but they were fun to make.

Hopefully, next time with real denim, this will turn out better. 
I'm learning even more by reading You Sew Girl's blog about making jeans. She has some great tips and techniques, especially the stitching on her back pockets!
One more resource I found came from a company in New Zealand: Ande Whall Denim Co. has step-by-step pictures of how they make jeans, including hand felled seams.
Do you have other resources for pattern drafting from RTW or jean construction? I'd love to hear about it.

Now, I'm going to try this technique on a pair of jeans for myself. I joined the challenge: