Saturday, August 6, 2011

McCall's Pattern M5142: The Perfect Fit Jean

Many sewists not only shy away from making jeans, but from sewing pants in general.  I have been sewing for 30 years and I finally decided to give it a shot.  I picked McCall's pattern M5142, The Perfect Fit Jean.  This pattern was design by Palmer and Pletsch, two fitting experts who have written numerous books on fitting patterns and have put out several DVDs and other products on the subject.  I thought that would make it easier to really get the right fit.

I noticed that on the pattern pieces there were several fit markings that had no explanation.  For example, there were "flat back tuck" lines that I had no idea what to do with.  I knew from reading other books on fit that if you have a flat fanny and a round tummy you can cut a smaller size in the back, which is what I did based on my measurements. However, before I cut into the denim, I made a muslin to test the fit.

Thank goodness I did this before I cut the denim.  I learned that I needed to cut a smaller size, take in the yoke quite a bit, and did not like how much of a boot cut there was.  

I cut the denim according to the changes I wanted to make and I sew the first step, the front pocket.

Ooooo!  This was so exciting when the gold top stitching was all finished.  It looked like a jean pocket.  I hadn't screwed up so far.  I was off to a good start.  

Everything went fairly smoothly until I got to the fly.  This was the most difficult part and the instructions were not clear.  Especially for a person like me who has never set in a fly before.  I kept looking down at the jeans I was wearing until finally I just took them off so I could see how the fly was sewn.  I found that the instructions needed to have more pictures for me to understand.  When all was said and done, the left front zipper should have been set further back into the fly, but I didn't notice until I was much farther in the construction of the pants.  It would have taken too much seem ripping at that point to fix the problem.

The back pockets, back yoke and side seams were straight forward.  I  basted the side seams and tried on the pants so I knew that the crotch fit correctly, but both the yoke and side seams needed to be taken in.  My daughter said that the pockets sat too low on my hind end.  Again, I didn't know if I wanted to rip all that top stitching out to change the pockets.  I learned a lesson here.  I did not set the zipper in the fly or put the pockets on the muslin.  I should have done everything on the muslin and those two mistakes would have been avoided.  

Finally, the waist band.  It was a straight band and it went on easily.  Unfortunately, after all my work on the muslin, adjusting the side seams and yoke, it still gaped in the back.  This is a huge problem even with commercial jeans.  Unless you are wearing hip huggers, and nobody really should, pants need a contoured waist band. There are some tutorials on the web showing how to use elastic to fix that problem without looking like you have an elastic in your jeans.  That would just be uncool.

Overall, the jeans turned out really cute.  Sorry no skinny jeans for me.  I was disappointed that "The Perfect Fit" pattern didn't have more fitting explanations or tutorials.  When learning a new skill, I really need to practice everything on the muslin first.  The muslin did however, save me the frustration of cutting into a size that was too big for me.   I will wear them as soon as I get the jean button in place.  I even thought that they were nice enough to post a picture with me in the jeans--even from behind.

This picture looks a little baggy, but they are wide leg jeans.  Or maybe I should have taken them in a little more?


  1. Those are totally sweet Mom Jeans! Nice job, Foster.

  2. Yowza babe! Special ed teacher turned model!

  3. They turned out great!! That's me, flat butt with tummy. I always say I have more gut than butt.


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