As we sew jeans this month, the question of patterns comes up. Sabra posted a great review yesterday of some of the commercially available patterns. Today I’m going to show you how to make a pattern from your own jeans. Even if your jeans don’t fit you perfectly, it’s worth rubbing off a pattern from them because then you can correct the fit to sew your new pair. Which is better than starting from scratch in my opinion.
Best of all? This method (also known as rub-off patterning) doesn’t destroy your jeans. I’m going to give a brief overview here, but if you want the step by step with lots of commentary I suggest you read first this post, then this post. In those I talk about supplies and rub off patterns from two other garments.
So, start with the front of the jeans. Spread the jeans out as flat as possible, and pin the leg closed in several places so that it can’t shift when you flip the pants over to do the back side.
Put your pins directly through the middle of the zipper. Remember to outline the pocket and the waistband, and add marks for the belt loops if desired. I don’t, because I just place them next to the pockets. Add pins down the front seam lines.
For the jeans back, flip the pants face down, making sure not to shift the waistband (pin it to itself to prevent this). Trace along the inseam and outseam with a pencil – most jeans have a back piece that wraps around to the front and you’re going to need this line to match up the fold. Place pins to outline the back yoke, waistband, pockets and back rise.
Flip the jeans back over and line up the edge of the pants inseam with your line. Then use pins to indicate how much the pants back piece overlaps around to the front.
For example, below you’d want to outline the area in red with pins – that bit needs to get added on to what you’ve alread traced of the pant back.
You’ll need to repeat the same process with the outseam, lining the pants up to the outseam line you traced.
Now, once you have a basic rub off of the pattern traced out, it’s time to get your measuring tape. Measure the waistband and make sure your tracing measures the same. Measure the outseams and inseams as well.
Next, to begin altering, measure yourself.
One trick I’ve used to get a better idea of the rise length I need is to get a sheet of foil and roll it into a tube. Then, with just your underwear on, you can shape this to fit your own rise. Use a sharpie to mark the crotch point (where your pants seam usually hits your body) and the level where the front and back of your pants should end. Step out of it carefully.
The foil measure helps you get a good measurement of your rise depth – measure from the front or back ending mark to the crotch point you marked and you now know how long the front/back rise should be on a pair of fitted pants, like jeans.
For example, I’ve learned by this that I always have to lengthen the back rise on my pants, or else risk plumbers crack. (PS – this also works for babies, particularly those that have cloth diapered bums).
Now that you’ve got the rise correct, what if the seat itself isn’t wide enough? This might be the case if all your jeans fit like this:
See all those wrinkles pointing into my rear? They’re caused by a too short rise and back leg that isn’t wide enough on top. Make this alteration to give your booty more room.
Now if you’re more apple shaped than pear shaped, you may need to keep the waist and rise of your jeans the same but take fabric out of the width of the rear and leg. You can do that this way.
With some of my skinny jeans, a lower than designed for buttock curve is also an issue. It’s the most likely culprit for the way these jeans fit:
See how the top of the back sits in the right place, but then the bottom of the rise is, well, rising into my body?
So if you smooth all those wrinkles below the bum into one big wrinkle, that will show you how much you need to lower the back crotch curve.
In fact, if you look at the image above and compare that to my foil rise ruler, the shape is pretty similar.
What if you’re not a skinny jeans girl? The fit isn’t flattering on everyone, I will admit that. Or maybe you just want options with your jeans. Here’s how to widen a leg:
Conversely, if you happen to have a wider leg pattern and want to make it skinnier, you do the opposite, slashing the leg and overlapping at the bottom.
Hooray - you read the whole post! Wanna hang out more? Check out the best sewing pins with me on Pinterest, join our Facebook discussions, get your daily sewing fix and behind the scenes scoops on Instagram, and your weekly updates/free pattern access through the newsletter.