A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sew Liberated skinny cords

Skinny jeans kind of snuck up on me.  I remember seeing them a few years ago for the first time and thinking, "Yuck!" They only looked good on the pin-thin, and even then, what was wrong with a good bootcut?

Well, maybe it's seeing skinny jean after skinny jean - seriously, this trend has been around awhile! - but I finally started to see the appeal.

My first pair of skinny jeans came from Carrefour - the French grocery chain whose Tbilisi store has a sizeable clothing section in addition to housewares, electronics, etc. - basically it's like Kmart.  I was down 20 pounds post baby #3, and in desperate need of pants that didn't have a saggy bottom.  The jeans cost me about $8, so I carried them home in a sack of lightbulbs and dishwashing liquid, feeling fairly sure that I would not really be able to pull them off.

It's possible I look dumb in them, but my friends and husband say they look good.  

And I guess the final step in my skinny jean conversion occurred when I bought Sew Liberated's Simple Skinny Jean pattern. 

 Inspired by maternity jeans, the pattern features a faux fly and a wide elastic waistband. Made up in stretch woven fabrics, it's actually a pretty easy and quick sew.  I made them up in a cheap stretch corduroy I found here at Goodwill (not a thrift store, actually another huge grocery store in Tbilisi!) for about $2/meter. 

I'm in between RTW sizes 10 and 12 at the moment, but with calves thick enough to pose a problem buying off-the-rack skinny jeans.  I sewed a size 12 to leave room for error.  The pants fit well in the calves, but were a tiny bit big in the thigh area, and way too big in the hips.  I had to take them in 2" on either side of the hips, tapering to nothing at the knee.

When I tried on the jeans before attaching the waistband, I found that the back rise was low.  Like, indecent-exposure low.  They didn't clear my not-particularly-curvy rump, and in fact, if I had attached the waistband right then, the waistband wouldn't have cleared my rump.  I can't remember now why I didn't rip the yoke out and draft a new one, but for some reason I decided to just cut a second piece and attach it to the first yoke.  So there are two separate yoke pieces on these pants.  You can see them in this photo.

It worked, and I redrafted the yoke piece so that I can cut just one on my next pair.  I have some purple stretch corduroy for that pair (or maybe it will become a Lisette Traveler dress ... hmm, can't decide!).

One other note: the inseam on these is quite short.  I am 5'8" and I had to add 4" of length to the pants, 2" after the fact in the form of an extra band sewn around the bottom.  Check before you cut!

Even with all these post-construction alterations, the pants didn't take very long to sew up.  The fit out of the envelope was unwearable, but the simplicity of the pattern means that adjustments aren't that complicated.  I did not expect to end up with something wearable out of my first foray into pants, but I did.

There is one more modification I should have made, but didn't: turn the faux front pockets into real pockets. This mama needs someplace to keep tissues and her cellphone!

I will say that, although Sew Liberated has some more cute patterns, my experience with this one has left me hesitant to try any of them.  The pattern instructions are sparse; in order to get more exact directions you have to refer to the video tutorials online.  The tutorial for this pattern is not broken up into easily-navigable chunks; it just comes as one long (maybe 30 minutes, I can't remember) video that you have to fast forward to find what you want.  With an easily constructed pattern like this one, that's not such a big deal, but I think it would be highly irritating in a more complex pattern.  Especially if, like mine, your internet is prone to crapping out on a fairly regular basis.

But I did get a good pair of pants - and more confidence in my ability to fit clothes to myself -  out of the pattern.  And I think that alone is worth the $15.95 I paid.

Are skinny jeans here to stay?  I don't know.  But I think they'll be around long enough for me to make another pair.


  1. Skinny jeans look great! Sorry it wasn't as easy pattern as you hoped for. I think after Oliver +S patterns I have great expectations for other patterns too. And get very upset when they don't meet those expectations.

  2. Those are cute on you, way to go! I am a skinny jean fan for the simple fact of comfort. Although, I do have a couple pairs that are too tight in the calves. I tend to have a difficult time finding skinny jeans off the rack that hit my where I like them on my hips. They are either too low or too high. Maybe I will try to sew some for myself some day. Thanks for sharing!

  3. These look great. I've been wanting to make some skinny cords, maybe after I try another pair of denim jeans. Bummer about the low back rise, that's definitely not fun! Since I haven't lost my baby belly yet, the elastic waistband sounds very appealing to me. :)


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