Indie Pattern Month has officially resurrected me from my blog hibernation/vacation. The last I posted anything, I was about 5 months pregnant with my baby who is now 15 months old! It seemed that any free moment I had, I preferred to spend actually sewing or knitting rather than blogging about it. I have continued to follow my favorite blogs, though and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing what everyone has been stitching. I’m so excited to be back and have lots to share.
For the New To Me challenge, I tried out the Birkin Flares from Baste + Gather. You can read the back story as to why I love sewing jeans here, but long story short, this is the first commercially produced jeans pattern I’ve ever tried.
I mulled over which size to make for a long time because all the jeans I’ve ever sewn were a stable denim but this pattern calls for a stretch denim. I wanted my jeans to be fitted but wasn’t sure I wanted them to be 3 inches of negative ease like the pattern suggested. I measured out to be a size 30 waist, a 27/28 hip, 24 front rise, 28/29 back rise, and a ridiculous off-the-bottom-of-the-chart inseam. I also wavered on the rise because everywhere I looked online said these are high-rise but I didn’t want something sitting at my natural waist, but rather just below. I settled on making the 28. I didn’t have any suitable stretch fabric for a muslin and this denim wasn’t budget-breaking so I crossed my fingers, dove in head first, and hoped for the best.
Before cutting I immediately made some length adjustments, taking up 2.5” at the upper lengthen/shorten line and cutting off 4” from the bottom. Spoiler alert! I ended up cutting off an additional inch before hemming them, too! That’s a whopping 7.5 inches (19 cm for you international friends) removed from the length! Wowza! I know Birkin is intentionally drafted long to cover your high heels, but I’m not into rocking uncomfortable stilettos with comfy jeans. But I still let the hem cover the tops of my sneakers and break a little at the front.
I painstakingly followed the directions, though I made a few preference adjustments along the way. I omitted the coin pocket just because I don’t really like tiny pointless pockets that not even my little finger can reach into. Does anyone actually use a coin pocket?
I sewed my pocket lining so that the right side would show if the pocket peeked out of its lining by accident.
I left off the belt loops, too. Years ago I started leaving belt loops off my jeans because I would habitually pull up the jeans by the belt loops and break them off, leaving little holes in the fabric that couldn’t be repaired. Stop adding belt loops – problem solved. I modified the pocket lining instructions slightly by French seaming the bottom of the lining for a cleaner finish. I love how tidy the inside looks now!
My fabric was a bit thin for a denim and I was concerned about it’s durability. I always wear through the back pockets so I also cut those out of lining and used it as an underlining, basting the lining to the denim on the wrong side with a fabric glue basting stick. Then I treated it as one piece, sewing as directed. I also lengthened the back pocket before cutting, adding about 5/8” or so before cutting to accommodate the depth of my phone which lives in my right back pocket.
I ignored the directions to alternate between top stitching and regular threads at each step just because it’s a hassle. I did change back and forth for my stitch length, though, as directed.
I used classic yellow denim top stitching thread in the upper spool and a regular light blue thread in the bobbin throughout the project. I added pretty little flowers – a decorative stitch on my machine – across the back pockets.
I followed the bizarre direction to offset the center back seam so it will APPEAR to be centered after top stitching. In the end, I decided I didn’t like that because while it appeared centered by optical illusion, it was in fact off center and makes me feel unbalanced when I wear it because I can FEEL that it’s not centered on my backside! One side of the jeans feels tighter than the other because it’s actually slightly smaller!
When it came time to stitch the main pieces together, I stitched, serged, and top stitched the inseam, then basted the outseam to try it on. I’m SO glad I did because I had to reduce the outseam to ¼” in order to zip them up! YIKES! I knew a size 29 would be in order for the next pair. Once finished, you can see where the zipper line and pockets pull too much because they are really a bit too tight. These will be reserved for the days I’m feeling skinny.
Once they were all finished, though, I was very pleased with the comfort of a stretch jean. I found that they sit a decent bit below my natural waist as indicated by my finger in the picture. I wouldn’t call these high-rise at all. They are more of a mid-rise jean but by today’s booty-displaying low-cut styles which I personally find uncomfortably revealing, I suppose they are quite a bit higher.
I was in fact so pleased with my Birkin Flares that I immediately cut out another pair and forgot to reprint my pattern in a size 29 until it was too late! It worked out for the best in the end because on the second pair I used a denim with 5% Lycra whereas the first pair has 1 or 2% (can’t remember which). The additional stretch meant that the second pair fits like a dream. I got so excited with them that I also forgot to decorate my back pockets but oh well. At least I remembered not to offset the center back seam because that just feels awkward. To balance the optical illusion of it being off center after top stitching, I added a third row of top stitching off the other side of the seam.
Overall thoughts on the pattern: Birkin flares is written to hold your hand sewing jeans for the first time. If you’ve always wanted to try sewing jeans but were scared, this is the pattern for you. The instructions are very thorough and actually explain WHY you are doing certain things. In fact, there is so much detail that the instruction book is a hefty 21 pages long!
My only issue with the pattern is that funky offset center back seam. If you want to look balanced but feel sideways, go ahead and stitch it that way. If you want to look AND feel balanced, try it with my triple back top stitching adjustment.
In the end, I love my new Birkin Flares! There are many more in the pipeline but they will have to wait because I have lots more stitching to do for IPM and making that second pair put me way behind on my 1 pattern 2 ways plans.