Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Very Promising Jeans Muslin, Or, Holy Calvin Klein! Vogue 2442

Holy Calvin Klein, y'all, I think I've found the Holy Gail of jeans patterns!  Remember Brooke Shields and her famous Calvin Klein jean commercials?  I don't because I was living out of the country from 1978 to 1981, but I've heard tales.  And did you know that Vogue released a pattern in 1980 of Calvin Klein's jeans pattern?  I didn't know that, but found this on one day in my effort to find a jeans pattern that is more in style with my 1980's college jeans that I am trying to recreate:

My research indicates that it was featured in Vogue Patterns March/April 1980 issue (the model's hair style certainly looks 1979).  I went ahead and bought it because the current jeans patterns have the same fit as the ready-to-wear jeans of today - low rise and just uncomfortable all the way around.  I figured if I'm trying to get my 1980s jeans back, maybe I need a pattern from 1980s.

I never owned a pair of Calvin Klein jeans.  I've been a Levi's girl since I was 13.  But this pattern seem to have the rise and seat shape I'm looking for.  I bought a size 12, which matched my measurements, and found it to be uncut:

Although I don't believe it has been unused.  The tissue paper pattern had clearly been handled over the years - I suspect this is a sought-after pattern, although my internet searches have revealed no bloggers who have made jeans from this pattern.  (I did find CarmencitaB who made the skirt, though. Merci beaucoup!)

I love the pattern.  You can see that the seam allowances are marked.  Yay.  And interestingly, the skirt pattern pieces are completely separate from the jeans pattern pieces.  I thought maybe the jeans and skirt would use the same waist pattern pieces or pockets, etc.  Nope. Completely separate.

Here's the pattern piece for the famous Calvin Klein back pocket:

Comparing this pattern to the patterns I have used for my prior muslins, I got pretty excited about this one - it looked like it had the fit and ease I was looking for. (I was so excited I actually trace the pattern, which I normally don't do!) I was tempted to jump right in and use my good jeans fabric and skip the muslin, but good sense prevailed.  I wasn't happy about doing a muslin, but I made a deal with myself:  I would use regular sewing thread and a jeans needle for the entire construction, rather than switching out with topstitching thread.  I felt like I had enough practice topstitching away.

The instructions are great:

Very clear, especially the fly instructions.  The only thing weird is above; the instructions have you sew the side seams first, and then the inseam, while every other pants/jeans pattern or blog instructions have you do it the other way around.  I did the inseams first.

I also took this opportunity to experiment and made one back pocket the Calvin Klein way, and the other back pocket the Levi's way to see which I liked better.  I drafted the Levi's pocket piece from my college jeans:

I made the pattern piece mostly by measurement and a ruler:

On the left is the back pocket in its finished size and on the right is the pattern piece with 5/8 inch seam allowances added.

Here it is compared to the Calvin Klein pocket:

You can see that the Calvin Klein pocket is more square/upright, while the Levi's pocket is more slanty (is that a word? Spellcheck  says no).  

I used some of the leftover white bull denim I used on my jean skirt for these jeans, while I used the grey twill from my Vogue skirt for the pockets:

The topstitching is hard to see since I only used regular thread on this muslin, but it gave me the general idea.  Calvin Klein:


The real test though was the try-on.  As soon I put them on my body said, "Ahhhhhhh!"  This was the fit I remember:

It's not perfect, of course, but the seat curve is extremely comfortable, and what I am looking for.  Changes I want to make: 1) lower the rise in the front to be just below the belly button (I found out how to make this alteration here); and 2) and I need to narrow the thighs (which I haven't quite figured out how to achieve yet other than to find other patterns with a closer fit and frankenpattern the whole she-bang).

Here's the back which shows the excess fabric in the back thigh area that needs to be eliminated:

If anyone has any ideas how to achieve this, I'm all ears!  You can see that I made the waistband from some blue denim fabric, leftover from another muslin.  The pattern comes with a contoured waistband, but an examination of my college Levis shows that they were made with just a long rectangle of fabric cut on the crosswise grain with no interfacing.  So I gave it a try, and I like it.  The crosswise grain has more stretch (and who doesn't like stretch in the waistband?) and the crosswise grain is less likely to shrink (unlike the lengthwise grain, which many pants patterns use).

I also took this opportunity to put in a real metal jean zipper, my first.  It was long and I just sewed over it while sewing on the waistband.  I didn't break a needle, but I probably just got lucky.

You can see I've turned up the length - these jeans finish 33 1/4 inches long, which is way long for me and I have pretty long legs, as most of my height is in my legs, not my torso.

So as pleased as I am with this muslin, you would think I would go about making my pattern changes and get on with making the real jeans.  You would be wrong.  I'm taking a detour and making some jeans from McCall's 6610 because I am crazy.  I guess I want to see if there are aspects of this pattern that I like that I can incorporate into my final real jeans.  The one difference is that I am making a wearable muslin of McCalls 6610, rather than a real muslin, because sometimes you just have to make something you can really wear.  I making them in a red twill.  More to come on that.

One tip I want to share for topstitching jeans, and it's not my tip, but I wanted to pass it along.  Somewhere, in all my jeans research, I read that when you are using topstitching thread you should tighten your upper thread tension, which sounds backwards.  Logically, it sounds like you should loosen your tension with a thicker thread.  I read (and I'm sorry I can't remember who gave this advice so I can give credit where credit is due) that you should adjust your tension from a 4 on your Bernina to 7.  I tried it and it worked:

The bottom stitching on the pocket illustrates the tension set at 4 on the wrong of your fabric.  The top line illustrates tighter tension set at 7.  Here's a close up - you can see how much better the tension is when it is tighter:

Here's the finished pocket on the right side with proper topstitching thread and tension:

(Again, I used topstiching thread on top and regular thread in the bobbin, with the tension set at 7.)

Parting Shots:  The Carpenter got bored taking regular photos and felt we should be more "arty".  I can't say we succeeded:

P.S. I'm trying not to freak out about how huge my ass looks in these photos . . .


Unknown said...

My mother in law told me about this ck jeans pattern recently. Her sister made them in muslin when she took a sewing class years ago and raved about it so my mil bought the pattern and made several pair. I have never made pants for myself- I've mastered lined blazers,heavy lined coats with sleeve plackets and just finished and then tailored a silk shantung dress for my daughter. I'm a little afraid of pants- really, jeans- basically my uniform for life, because I am so absolutely picky about the fit. I may take apart a pair of jeans that have seen better days for a pattern before buying the vintage ck pattern. But it was great to see exactly what they look like and that my mil was spot on about the fit. Thanks for sharing.

patsijean said...

Check out Peggy Sagers videos on pants fitting and jeans. She describes a technique that involves pinning a "dart" in the seat that takes out the excess fabric.