Calamity Jeans

I sewed up these jeans mostly for Following the Thread’s #literarysewingcircle challenge, this year using Nalo Hopkinson’s The New Moon’s Arms, but it was also a denim project entirely cut out and sewn during the month of August, so I’m sharing it here too. I’ll spare all of you the talk about the book and the character and the inspiration and why blue jeans etc. in this post, and focus on the project. But I do recommend the book, and clicking through to Following The Thread to read more about it, everyone’s projects, and an interview with the author.

I tend to wear my clothes until they fall apart, which takes a long time for denim, which means all of the blue jeans and shorts I own are old. At least several years, and some a couple of decades. Which means, the past 20 years being what they were, they’re all fairly low-rise. I didn’t like it even when it was in style, and I like it less now; still, every time I thought of buying a pair of high-rise jeans, I thought, they’ll never fit right; I should just sew them; it’s not like I don’t already have jeans; it took so long the last time I made jeans and then the length shrunk even though I’d prewashed them. And in this way, years passed.


But lo! I have finally sewn up some high-waisted blue jeans.

There are a ton of photos on my own site if anyone wants to see more; but I didn’t want to upload the Monthly Stitch servers so have kept them to a minimum here.

These are the Jalie stretch jeans, based on the regular rise, but raised a further 1-2″ all around. I did add about 1 1/2″ to the crotch extension, which I think may not have been quite enough, and I wish I’d also added about 1″ to the back hip width, where it is a bit snug. Of course it’s stretch denim, so it’ll relax with wear, but I really feel it when I put them on.

The denim is a heavy-weight 98% cotton 2% spandex blend from European Textiles on Ottawa St N in Hamilton, I believe. It’s been in the stash for a long time, so I’m not 100% sure on its provenance. It has enough stretch to give a bit without so much that it feels like jeggings, and despite the photos is a very dark indigo, not black. I washed it on regular and dried it on hot four times; hopefully that will prevent (much?) future shrinking.

I did the topstitching with regular thread as I wanted a good colour match and none of the top-stitching threads were dark enough. The topstitching on the waistband and to attach the back pockets was done with the coverstitch machine on the chainstitch setting, to keep lots of stretch in the fabric.


I used rivets on the front pockets and I’m not sure if I’ll do so again. I found them finicky and I’m not confident in their stay-put-ness. There’s also a lot of bar-tacking around the pockets and the fly for added stability.

For the pocket linings and fly facing, I used this Tula Pink bumblebee print. And just to complete the theme, I embroidered a bee on the right back pocket with some metallic embroidery cords. I chose them to be very subtle; since the topstitching matches the denim so closely, I didn’t want the butt bee to be the only clearly visible needlework on the whole thing. It’s visible (you can see it in the featured image) but not overly so.


It’s a Sublime Stitching pattern. From the Big Flowers set, I think.

And just above the bee–though you can’t read it here–I stitched Voglio Il Core.

I got the phrase from a book on historical English clothing, where apparently a nobleman in the 1500s had the phrase embroidered all over a pair of his underwear. It means “I want the heart” or “I want the core,” and I’ve been thinking about embroidering it on a garment for fun ever since.

For embroidery nerds: the back side of the pocket is reinforced with fusible stabilizer; the pattern was traced onto freezer paper and then ironed to the denim. I embroidered the bee and the words first, and then cut out the pocket and finished it. The inside is lined with the same bee fabric to protect the ends of the embroidery threads.

Sizing Note

I love Jalie. Their sizing is a thing of beauty. I went by body measurements. So this is a size T at the waist, U at the hips, and in retrospect I could have gone to a V at the hips and given myself a bit of room (given that the pattern recommends a denim with 4% spandex and these only have 2%). But! No weird ease issues. I’ve now had the pleasure of sewing up a few of their patterns and so far, going by body measurements is a completely reliable way to choose a size.

One thought on “Calamity Jeans

  1. Those jeans look amazing! I love the silhouette, the high waist with the straight leg through the calf.

    You can always add extra photos to a post by using the URL feature. That lets you take photos from your blog & post them ehere without impacting the storage space the Monthly Stitch has available for media hosting. This is really what everyone should do for all the photos they post here, as we are swiftly running out of room!


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