Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Self-Drafted Jeggings

Jeggings Thumbnail

A couple of months ago I got the idea in my head that I wanted some jeggings.  I am really not sure why this idea took hold of me so strongly, but I couldn't shake it.  I finally bit the bullet and ordered some fabric from Tissu in the UK on Melissa's recommendation.  I refuse to convert the shipping, which was bad enough in pounds, to dollars to figure out how much I paid, but I got the fabric in 3 days so I got my money's worth in shipping, at any rate.  The total cost came out to about $15/yd, which is a fair price for the fabric--it is as opaque as one can hope from a knit and has reasonably good recovery.

I have had a pair of RTW yoga pants for probably 10 years that are really perfect for me.  When they started to wear out, I tried to buy a new pair but the company, Marika, had changed the fabric content in the meantime to a cotton blend.  I have just not found cotton knits to have adequate recovery or to be good for actual, you know, yoga, so I rubbed off a pattern and made a new pair, which are perfect except that the leg seam swings all the way around at the bottom so that the inseam is at the outseam.  Annette Hickman said this is a grain issue.

A Million Little Pieces
The yoga pant pattern was my starting place for the jeggings.  I based the leg width on a pair of running tights, laying them on top of the pattern and tracing off from them.  Creating the pattern with its million fiddly little pieces (front facing, front yoke, front pocket facing, back yoke, coin pocket, and back pocket) was a horror and took about 2 1/2 hours.   But the construction went faster than I thought at about 5 hours.

Cereal Box Templates

I copied the details, including the pockets, the back yoke size, and the topstitching patterns from a pair of Levi 512s.  I made 3 templates out of a cereal box:  back pocket, coin pocket, and fly.   What is a better material for this that can stand up to a steamy iron?

My main concern was that all the piecing and topstitching would compromise the stretch so much I wouldn't be able to pull the pants on.  I set the zigzag width to 1 for all the topstitching and stretched as I topstitched.  As it turns out, I have no trouble getting in and out of them, but I don't think I'll tempt fate by doing a straight topstitch on the next pair.

I've never made jeans and don't have a jeans pattern (I don't think), so the most taxing part of the construction was figuring out what order to do things in.  I now totally understand why people gripe about the thread-changing aspect of jeans construction.  You can structure the construction to some extent so that you group items needing topstitching together, but plenty of the topstitching has to be done before you can move to the next step in construction.  I switched back and forth between regular thread and topstitching thread probably 8 times.  I used nearly an entire Guterman spool of jeans topstitching thread.


My Levis, interestingly, do not have a typical front pocket.  There is a pocket opening and a pocket facing, but the inside guts is a pocket stay that goes all the way to the fly.  So I copied that detail for my jeggings.  Because the jeggings are a pull-on, I cut the front facing and front yoke on the fold at center front, so they sit smoothly underneath the fly and offer a tiny amount of tummy control.  I cut them out of a thin black knit heavy on the lycra.

Blind Fly

If you thought I finally tackled the fly front...well, think again.  Ha!  There is no zipper in these, but I wanted the look of a fly.  I cut the center front seam with a fly extension.  I basted above the fly extension and then pressed the extension to one side.  Using my cereal box template, I topstitched the extension in place with the CF still basted shut.  Then I opened up the basted seam and topstitched it and voila!  Fly.  Or close enough.  I based the length of the fly on the distance from front crotch of some low-rise jeans I have.  I did not want the fly to be too long.  However, it ended up being bizarrely short.  Will definitely lengthen the fly next time.

Pocket and Fly Detail

The waistband is elastic.  Off the body, these jeggings look like terrifying mom jeans, but the waistband sits fairly smoothly while worn.  Not that it matters, as I *never* plan to wear these styled so that the waistband is showing--helllooooooo saddlebags.  Even so, I topstitched at the top and bottom of the waistband so it wouldn't look too plain.

Back Crotch Compare
Front Crotch Compare

So here's an interesting comparison:  the crotch on the RTW yoga pants is nearly *identical* to the custom-fit crotch created in Annette's class (will write about the second class when I have time).

I thought the yoga pants fit so well partly because of the fabric's stretch, but apparently I just happened to have found pants that were built almost exclusively for me on the sale rack of a Ross or TJ Maxx sometime in the distant past!

I am pretty happy with these though they are by no means perfect.  The grain is still all wrong--the bottom hem spirals all the way around so the inseam is at the outseam.  I have read that the grain should be parallel to the seams, but that just isn't working.  I placed the pattern on top of my custom pants pattern, aligning the crotches, and drew the grainline from the block, so it's now at a bit of a diagonal on the jeggings pattern.  We'll see if that helps the next pair.

I most likely will not get a new, improved pair done before I go to Portugal in a week or so (eep!), so these will come with me, but here are the changes for next iteration.  The pattern has already been altered and is ready to go.

-Pocket facing double in size (the edges show inside the pocket window, ugh)
-Coin pocket moved lower
-Back pockets closer to CB
-Faux fly lengthened by one inch
-Raise front waistline 1/2 inch
-Take in CB waist by 3/8 inch

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


Rachelle said...

The pants are, as with all your sewing projects, really great, but those shoes are GORGEOUS!!

knitmachinequeen (KMQ) said...

You did a great job. You should be proud of yourself! TFS

Jacqui said...

Wonderful work on the topstitching! I had a panel on the front of some Old Navy jeans like your Levi's. I forget the name of the jeans but the panel is supposed to be support to hold the tummy in.

Victoria said...

Sexy!!!!! You are really working those jeggings. You did a phenomenol job creating these jeggings and the fit is superb. You inspire me to go make a few myself. Here's some advice, You might want to be careful with wearing these---you may have to beat men off with a stick!!! You do look great;)

Mrs. Micawber said...

Wow, great jeggings (and I love the necklace, earrings, shoes, top....)

Good work on the rub-off pattern. I've made cycling shorts by rubbing off an existing pair - no small feat with stretchy fabric. (And what is it with ready-to-wear knit clothes and the grain issue? I've got things that spiral around too and it drives me nuts. Now they're selling t-shirts that are so obviously off-grain it must be on purpose. Ugh.)

You really nailed the fit and styling on these, and the fly workaround is brilliant. The planned alterations will make the next pair even more smashing.

Re steam-resistant template material - perhaps a cheap flexible cutting board from the grocery store? I'm assuming the iron isn't too hot as you're working with knits. Or you could always wrap some aluminum foil around the cereal box templates.

Have fun in Portugal!

karin said...

I have and have had a couple of these and have worn them with dresses and tuniks, read as things that cover my -ss and hips, so great in the winter replacing pantyhose...

Karin said...

You did a great job on all the details. I could buy jeggings here cheaper than I could make them, and because they are stretch, they would probably fit. But, they would probably not have all the great details.

Rosie said...

Great job Trena!!!

SheriNJ said...

Spandex World, Inc. on 38th St. in NYC has that fabric in blues and black. Love your jeggings, and that tank top too. Spandex World also has all kinds of sequin fabrics too.

T. Sedai said...

These look great! The topstitching especially looks very well done. I love then with your sparkly top too - it looks like a great outfit for going out.

Also - I totally agree with you about cotton knits - they have awful recovery. I will use them for pajamas or tops and dresses, but never for exercise clothes.

LinB said...

Cutting board from the dollar store is a good idea, Mrs. Micawber! I was going to suggest the bit of plastic that lies under sliced bacon in a grocery-store package, but you'll get more area out of the el cheapo cutting board thingie. Or a milk carton, but not sure how heat resistant it is, plus it won't lie flat. I've used milk carton strips as boning for one-use costumes before.

liza jane said...

They look fantastic! I just bought a pair of jeggings the other week. My first pair ever. I tried to avoid the trend as long as I could, but I caved. I love wearing them with tunics. I really like the slight zigzag stitch for the top stitching. Not only was that smart for the stretch factor, but I think the stitching looks nice that way. I have so much trouble keeping my stitching even.

Nancy K said...

First, let me say that they are great on you. Grain line is perpendicular to the floor. To find the grainline on pants you fold the legs in half horizontally as far up as they will match, making the hemline match. That fold line is your new grainline. On the back you generally have to move it towards the side seam since the rear crotch is deep.
I love the fabric. It's a knit? It looks so much line denim.

Amanda S. said...

Wow! You are fearless!!! Jeans sound hard to me and leggings even harder, and here you are in the two put together. The fit looks perfect. I am about to copy your example and rub off a pair of good fitting pants because I want to make a pants suit which requires the making of pants. But ugg, I'm not looking forward to it.

Clio said...

You're really on a roll with pants! Aside from the grain issue (how annoying!), those are pretty great!

I was taught the same thing as Nancy K when it comes to pants and grain (and have since heard it corroborated).

aleah said...

Amazing job, as always! I just made a pair of elastic waist pants and I want to put pockets and a faux fly on my next version, so it's really helpful to see how you did this. Thanks!

Candice said...

You look amazing in these jeggings/leggings! Seriously, I love this entire look on you..

Leslie said...

Trena these look so great on you, wonderful job and I can't wait to see v2!

Erika said...

I mostly lurk but - YOW-ZA!!! NICE!

Carol said...

I'm really impressed! What a great job. I'm planning on rubbing off a pattern from a pair of regular jeans this weekend (Levi's Bold Curve - perfect fit for the first time in my life). You really did a great job with the topstitch details.

meli88a said...

Well, Hell-oh! These are perfect!

Faye Lewis said...

You did do a wonderful job - great fit also.

SEWN said...

Amazing. You look fab in these and they're really gorgeous. Great work!

Uta said...

These are fabulous, great job! I wouldn't think it's a knit looking at them. I'll probably jump on the jeggings train when they're gone from all the shops :-) .

AllisonC said...

You did really well finding that fabric, it really does look like a nice denim so you can get super skinny jeans you can actually eat and sit down in!