A couple of months ago, Heather of Closet Case Files issued an open call for pattern testers for her upcoming (then) mystery pattern. I was so excited, and impressed, because it was the first time I'd seen such a call. Unlike most big indie pattern designers who seem to primarily rely on other big indie pattern designers for testing (causing a big controversy and even accusations of cliquey-ness and of pattern testing being a front for free publicity), Heather has stated her commitment to using testers of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels. I.e. regular people who have nothing to lose by being brutally honest. Brave move! And now she was making good on that promise! There was a short web form to apply through and a few weeks later I was ecstatic to get a testing invitation. If I had to guess, I'd say she probably picked me because I'd only made a few things ever and she was curious how a complete beginner would fare with her new pattern. So was I! 
That is, until I heard that the new pattern was jeans. NOOOOOO! PANTS ARE SCARY! AND JEANS ARE THE SCARIEST! Even to experienced sewists (or so I've heard). On top of it, RTW skinny jeans have never fit me right. I don't own a single pair because they're always too tight at and below the knees (I don't know why, I am a wimp with no muscles in my calves so I don't get it). 

And in general, 9 out of 10 RTW jeans of any style don't fit me right, because my waist is too big for my hips/thighs. So if I can breathe in them they bunch up under the butt and across the back thighs. The only place I can may be, just may be, find jeans that fit me is Express. On big sale days and even then the pricetag hurts. So there was just NO WAY I could make something remotely wearable so early in my sewing journey.

Still, I wasn't about to say "No" to my first pattern test! Plus even if I failed miserably, I'd still have something to say and critique (this is me, after all), which would hopefully be helpful to the designer. I hope! So I immediately emailed Heather to ask if it's ok to do it with 0 pants experience and hardly any sewing experience. She replied right away that yes, yes it was, and that I can totally do it. So I did!

And it worked! And better than I could have imagined!!! 
I am so happy I want to stop random strangers in the street and be like "Look what I made! Look at that topstitching! And did you see my butt? See how there's no fabric pooling under?". But that would be weird.

I am not saying my creation is perfect because clearly it isn't. But honestly these Gingers do fit me better than 90% of RTW jeans and better than 100% of skinny jeans I've tried. And they are my first! I can't wait to try it again. I am also secretly terrified that this was all beginner's luck, that the universe will correct itself the next time, and my second attempt will turn out rightfully terrible.

I will save the pattern details for another post (I might wait to post a full review after I try the official released pattern, because I know she's made changes based on feedback). 

But I can already tell you this:

1. YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY DO THIS! I know jeans are scary. But if I can follow this pattern, anyone can! And she is making changes based on feedback so I imagine it'll be even easier for you. And there'll be a sewalong! 

2. I first made these very rudimentary shorts to test the butt fit. It was very helpful and if you have any doubts I recommend it highly. I didn't end up changing the crotch lines or anything much about the pattern, but it did help me figure out sizing, especially since I had no idea of my pant size plus my denim was so stretchy. The shorts came out quite good actually, so I'm going to try to turn them into something wearable.

3. If you're unsure start with the skinny version (it comes in a stovepipe version as well) and a light stretchy denim. Stretchy things are easier to fit, in my limited experience. 

4. The pattern is easy to grade! I've only ever graded once before on my Gabriola Skirt, and messed it up in that I didn't grade the hips enough. But since it didn't look too scary, I graded my Gingers to my heart's content. I ended up tracing one size in the waist, then graded to TWO different sizes in the hips and thighs (one for inner seam and one for outer seam), then back to the waist size in the knee and below. I'm not giving you numbers in case she changes the sizing on the official release, but I am happy to tell you more in the comments.
5. The pattern is easy to modify! I couldn't figure out the fly front zipper, and when I finally did, I decided that I didn't like it. So I modified it slightly. I also changed the waistband closure and the amount of top stitching, and I removed the belt loops. After reading my critique, Heather told me she's actually changing the zipper since someone else mentioned that too. Btw I love how responsive, grateful, and not at all defensive she was in response to my 3-page critique of her pattern! I couldn't be more grateful to her for this experience! 

And my favorite addition: my insignia on the back pocket, a letter S with kitty ears because I'm obsessed with kitties. It was my first time doing a free hand design on my rickety Brother, so it's not quite right -- the ears are not perfectly symmetrical. But I am hoping my even double topstitching will distract viewers from the kitty ears. 
(Huh, now that's a sentence I don't get to utter every day).

6. But most of all, making the Ginger Jeans REALLY BUILDS UP YOUR CONFIDENCE! The fact that I would be arrogant enough to modify things on my first try just goes to show how much this pattern ends up building one's sewing self esteem. I feel unstoppable and so proud of myself. Ok may be be too proud. But but... in my defense... I made jeans! Jeans!!!! I made them! And they fit! And, and. I made them! 
*brain leaves skull*


10/22/2014 6:57am

Sena, these look AWESOME! I can't believe they're only like, the 8th thing you've ever made. Mind blown. Also, your butt looks amazing.

10/22/2014 6:27pm

Thank you, it means the world coming from you! But the credit should be entirely shared -- it's a great pattern with great instructions understandable to trully ALL levels. I can't wait to see it take over the indie sewing world!

10/23/2014 1:47pm

you deserve to be proud, because you did an excellent job. i totally support doing something insane and scary so early in your career - it is the ONLY way to feel confident and secure and successful and ready to take chances. (me, i did a tailored coatdress from a 1960s couture pattern, so i'm right there with you in crazy town!)

10/23/2014 10:19pm

Omg that sounds so hard! Good for you! Tailored anything sounds pretty much impossible to me (and so far BHL's Anna is proving exactly that! 5 muslins and I still can't get the bust fit right, and not even Fit For Real People has any suggestions for my problem :((((). I much prefer stretchy fabrics at this stage! I don't understand why they say beginners should avoid knits like the plague. I feel like wovens are so much harder if you like your clothes hugging your shape!

10/23/2014 1:49pm

Great looking pair of jeans! I totally understand why you are proud of them :)

10/23/2014 2:26pm

Yay! These look awesome! Glad to hear things went well, I'm also super nervous about jeans, so I'm glad to hear it went well for you!

10/23/2014 10:21pm

Thank you! Don't be nervous! These really are so easy, I swear! Make view B out of the stretchiest thing you can find and do trial shorts first for fit. You'll love it!

10/23/2014 3:05pm

One word. Wow!!! SSB https://facebook.com/sassysewingbees

10/23/2014 5:26pm

Wow! These look absolutely amazing! Well done, you should be super proud of yourself!

10/23/2014 5:43pm

1) That pocket! Love!!
2) Girl, you are a fox!
3) Pants are terrifying, especially when we have bodies that don't fit within one size and you rocked these!

You sold me. Now I need spending cash ;)

10/27/2014 9:27pm

*blush* Thank you! I love the pocket the most too because it's the one thing I cannot get from RTW jeans, it's my very own personalized thingy. Also, it proves I did make them myself (to some imaginary group of doubters lol!) :). I hope you get spending cash soon!

10/23/2014 8:57pm

These look amazing! You did a great job and the fit is awesome. So impressive after only 8 makes! I made them too and they are the bomb (-:

10/27/2014 9:29pm

Ohh ohh I want to see! Do you have them posted anywhere?

10/24/2014 4:36am

Wooohooooo !!! I am so inspired!!! Your excitement is infectious!
THanks :) And they do look AWESOME!

10/24/2014 7:12am

These look AMAZING! I'm a beginner too, and knowing that you made these inspired me to buy the kit!

10/27/2014 5:18pm

Weeeeeeeeeee I am SO excited for you! Feel free to email me at sewmanymistakes@gmail.com if you have any questions! Not that I am an expert but can try to help from my experience.

10/24/2014 9:46am

These are fabulous!! You did a super job!!!

10/26/2014 1:31pm

Really great job with these, the fit and finish look fabulous

10/26/2014 4:21pm

These look awesome! I love the inventive changes you made to the pattern. Also, I totally feel you on the whole wanting to stop strangers in the street and bask in your pride and accomplishment! Jeans, you made jeans!!! It really IS cause for some celebration! ;)

11/19/2014 6:18pm

Haha I'm so glad it's not just me suffering from such impulses! Crazy Cat Lady move along, here comes Crazy Sewing Lady :)

10/26/2014 11:42pm

So jealous!!! Would you mind me sharing these jeans on SSB in the future? I credit, link to your post and let you know when featured.

10/27/2014 5:11pm

Thank you and absolutely! I'd be delighted. Also, I will be posting more details on fit soon, as I will be making more jeans in the next couple of weeks with the sewalong and the final pattern version. I hope you make them too! I feel like those will work for everyone! :)

10/28/2014 2:39pm

Amazing job on the jeans! I think you should sew what you will wear. Can't wait to see what you tackle in the future!

11/19/2014 2:01am

To be featured on SSB tomorrow, thanks for permitting. https://facebook.com/sassysewingbees ❀


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