These Jeans, You Guys: Simplicity 8222 Pattern Review

Dudes, let’s talk about these jeans.

I know I’m late to the “OMG I can actually sew jeans” bandwagon. But that makes it NO LESS TRIUMPHANT.

I started sewing in the pre-online-fabric-store era, where you were pretty much stuck with whatever denim you could source locally, and the only denim you could source locally was rough, zero-stretch, super thick, sandpapery shit in an ugly-ass wash. I never imagined that I’d be able to make jeans that were actually cool and comfortable, so maybe that’s why it took me so long to try.

I had all sorts of reasons in my head not to make jeans. I already have a pair I love, and a bunch of other pairs that are okay. My body is in flux and I’m assuming I’m going to put on a few pounds once I stop nursing. Blah blah, excuses. But then April 30 rolled around and I just decided I wanted to make some damn jeans for Me Made May. (Yes, this post is about 3 months late.) I packed Baby JuJu into her stroller and picked up Simplicity 8222 (99 cent sale, baby!), the nicest denim I could find at Joann’s, some denim thread and needles, and even the right kind of button. I was going to make this happen!

Mean muggin’ at the library

TL; DR — I totally did. I love the way these turned out!

Okay, so the pattern: I really enjoyed using this pattern and the Mimi G video tutorial. I didn’t expect to use the YouTube portion much, since I’m a reader and printed instructions are what I prefer, but I’m rethinking everything right now. I LOVED the video tutorials, and was shocked at how I really didn’t need the printed instructions at all. In fact, the only times I stumbled were when I used the printed instructions instead of just going with the next step in the video. It was such a fun way to sew! I’ve ignored the video component on my other Mimi G makes, but no more. I’m sold, and I’m taking a second look at her line to find more gems because it was just a lovely change of pace.

The pattern has three different back pieces for each size (slim, average, curvy), and I went with slim. (I lost my booty somewhere during pregnancy and suffer from severe Concave Butt Syndrome at the moment.) I also saw a few other reviews that noted they cut a size smaller than usual, so I went with the smaller of the sizes I fell between (8 vs my usual 10). I can’t speak for anything beyond my own experience, but these jeans fit great with almost zero alterations.

3% stretch content ACTIVATE!

  1. Caveat 1: I did take out a smidge extra from the back yoke.
  2. Caveat 2: I’m not a super fit-freak, so I’m not talking about having zero wrinkles, just about having jeans that fit my waist, hips, and body as well as I would expect from RTW.
  3. Caveat 3: They’re stretchy skinny jeans, so fit isn’t super hard. Right? Because if not, these are miracle jeans!
  4. I was SWEATING when it came time to baste everything together and try them on. After looking at the waistband pieces, I was sure I was courting disaster with my reckless decision to size down. Nope! They fit better than I could’ve hoped. So, if your body type is similar to mine, consider trying these and going with the slim fit.

    The entire process was just so much more fun than I anticipated! Of course, I was anticipating hell on earth, so there’s that. But really, the attention to detail, the precision, the constant changing of thread from regular to topstitching — it all felt fun and purposeful, and not nearly as bad as I thought. Yes, jeans take some extra work. But honestly, it didn’t feel like that much extra. Just more topstitching. Which, surprisingly to me, I kind of nailed.

    Topstitching (mostly) on point

    My machine has really taken a shit lately, and I was afraid the topstitching would be super wonky. But apparently, it’s just lighter fabrics that I’m struggling with, because my old Kenmore handled this denim like a champ! I did unpick a good deal of stitching, but it wasn’t that bad — at least it felt purposeful, and it was a choice each time to aim for a better end result instead of sticking with something slightly crooked or wavy.

    Here’s a lesson: 3 months later, I don’t even remember if this is photo is of topstitching I took out and reworked or left in and moved on. Seemed very important at the time…

    The only big change I made was to the fly. I read through reviews — be sure to check out That Black Chic’s review of 8222 — and knew that the zipper placement could be problematic. And yeah, it was. If I hadn’t made any edits, the zipper teeth would probably be visible constantly. So instead of placing the zipper tape 1/4″ over from the seamline as directed, I placed it 5/8″ over, based on how my RTW jeans are designed. That almost solved the problem. My zipper stop is sticking out at the very top — which probably has to do with the button/buttonhole placement. If I’d overlapped those a smidge more, I might be fine. Either way, I’m going to bump up that distance a bit more if I can next time, or at least be super-cautious about the button placement.

    Questionable button placement + FOX POCKETS

    This is one of those fixes that I couldn’t make sense of until I was in the thick of it. I read the reviews, I read the instructions, but I couldn’t figure it out until I was doing it, and then it made more sense. So if you’re scratching your head, maybe give it a go anyway, and trust yourself to figure it out. Also, next time, I’m going to add about an inch to the front edges of the waistband to make sure I have enough leeway to make up for the added segment to the fly. Since any excess will just be cut off in the seam allowance (provided I line up all my other edges and notches first), it shouldn’t affect the fit, but will ensure that I’ve got enough waistband to work with — it was a close call on this pair!

    I also took the opportunity to finally have the ankle length I always wish for — yay! It’s so hard to find shorter jeans, but they’re my true love.

    I will say that the biggest hurdle of making jeans is that the first third flies by and it seems like, “Hey, this is great! Let’s make all the jeans!” The second third is like, “Still going strong. Let’s knock these out, already.” And the final third is like, “Make jeans, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.” I definitely felt my enthusiasm wane in the last few steps.

    So much excitement in the first few steps when they start looking like REAL JEANS!

    Of course, my machine also gave up on me. I left the buttonhole for last, knowing that my Kenmore was going to suck at it. Don’t do that — get that buttonhole sewn in before installing the belt loops or your buttonhole foot may get stuck. And you may end up having your machine eat your jeans. In the front. Very noticeably. On the very last step. And you may have to call your mom in (who is thankfully on hand, watching your baby) and have her help you dig your almost-complete jeans out and then advise on how to create a buttonhole without a functional zig-zag stitch. Just saying.

    And let’s talk about the fabric for a second. This stretch denim is from Joann, and it has performed beautifully. I’m not 100% positive, but I think it’s an 11 oz 61% Cotton/31% Modal Rayon/6% Polyester/2% Spandex blend. It has great stretch, and more importantly, great recovery. I have crawled all over the floor, done a ton of bending and reaching, and these jeans haven’t bagged out. I mean, they’re also a pretty tight fit, but still. I’m a fan. This denim was $19.99/yd, but you can wait for a 40% off denim sale and get it for $11.99, which is super reasonable. The wash is nice and dark, but still reads as blue. I can’t advise on how it wears in the long run, but I’m hoping it gets some nice natural wear patterns so that these will age gracefully, even with the low cotton content.

    Okay — this is getting too long. Love the pattern, love the jeans, they were a fun project, and I’m going to get so much use out of them.

    Welcome to the closet, my denim darlings!

Athleisure Mini-Suite — or, How I Started Living in Pajamas

I didn’t intend to make a sort of suite, it just kind of happened, but I’m excited about the end result!

I’ve been wishing for more athleisure-y pieces — things that go from “Oh shit, the baby’s up at 4:30 and wants to start the day” to “Let’s go out in public and try not to look dead,” with all the requisite crawling, reaching, stretching, and bending that comes in between.

This little collection is just four pieces, and all of them were super-easy to sew up. First up, the leggings:

I made these using a Simplicity pattern (Simplicity 1280, which I bought for the top and sewed up here), and I’ve got to say, stick with the top on this one. The leggings come out super long and pretty baggy. Granted, I have chicken legs, so don’t take my word for it if you are buff or have curvy legs. But if you have a body type like mine, go for a different pattern, or you’ll end up recutting the whole thing, like I did.

I also added a yoga-style waistband that’s just folded over. I love this style of construction, because everything comes together so easily on the serger, with no casing or visible topstitching. I only used my regular machine for the hem of the pants — generic zig-zag since my busted machine can’t handle a twin needle stitch without repairs.

These have a definite “athletic wear” vibe since the fabric is pretty synthetic and has a bit of a sheen. The spandex knit is super light and comfy and feels great for warmer weather. I took a number of inches off the bottom, and am happy with these overall.

Next, I needed another top to match with the leggings, so I snagged some tissue-weight rayon jersey knit in navy. I used McCall’s 6435, which is one of my most-used patterns.

Unnecessarily Skeptical is the new Blue Steel

Tissue knits can be fussy to work with, so I wanted a clean finish on the neckline instead of a narrow hem where the stitching would be visible. I cut an extra piece for both front and back yokes (barely squeaked this out in a yard of fabric!) and fully lined the yoke portions. With the exception of the extra cutting (front and back pieces in this pattern are cut in a single layer, so the tissue knit is even more wriggly), this fix was as easy as it gets, and I’ll probably do the same thing if (when) I make this again.

Next up, the funnel-neck sweatshirt.

I made a prototype of this funnel-neck style previously and just tweaked it here. I edited out the thumbholes, shortened the bottom band and cuffs, widened the sleeves, and reshaped the kangaroo pocket.

Baby JuJu gives this garment a drooly thumbs-up, because she loves to chew the drawstrings at the neck. Seriously, the cording was JuJu’d the second it was off the cutting table at the store. I’m happy with all of the adjustments I made — it’s comfy without being clingy or baggy.

This sweatshirt and my brocade jacket somehow became my default morning outfit. /shrug

I was super stoked about this orange French terry when it arrived. I remember when everyone in the sewing blog world starting freaking out about French terry and I was like, “Um, I already know what this and am not impressed,” like the snotty piece of work that I am. But dudes. I was ignorant. I just didn’t realize. This French terry is not like your 10-year-old-but-still-wearing-it-because-reasons Gap sweatshirt. This fabric is so so so soft! It’s delicious! I finally understand all the aforementioned freaking out. That said, I’ve only worn this sweatshirt a few times and it’s already pilling a bit in places (all the tears and weeping!!), so I’m reserving my final judgement.

The shorts are also made from this French terry, and they were also super easy.

I used McCall’s 7610. I was hoping to squeeze out the longer length of pant, but alas, it was not to be despite my best fabric-Tetris efforts. (And probably for the best, because I would’ve looked like a walking Creamsicle if I wore these two together…) I added the curve to the sides of these shorts for a little more interest.

Improvised curved hem does not diminish the Creamsicle Factor

And let me tell you — these are short, dudes. I know inseams have gotten shorter since I was a wee lass of 20, but damn, these are some short-ass shorts. Not sure I can wear these comfortably outside, and I definitely cannot rough-and-tumble at the park in these.

That said, they’re perfect PJs and loungewear (my code word for pajamas that I don’t change out of in the morning).

There you have it! None of these pieces is really exciting on their own, but together, they’re a fun little set that lets me go from bed to playtime to pretending I work out.

Welcome to the closet, my Affable Athleisure Suite!

Unselfish Sewing + Dude Sewing: Simplicity 8427 Men’s Shirt Pattern Review

FACT: I am a selfish seamstress.

I hate sewing for other people. I love being able to pick and choose where to cut corners, where to fudge things, what details to add or omit, and all that. When I sew for someone else, I feel obligated to sew in a textbook fashion, lest they think the item is too obviously homemade. Also: too much pressure.

Still, since I’ve had a bit more sewing time (shockingly to me, having a baby eats up less free time than a long-ass commute), I’ve found it in my cold, dead heart to make a couple of things for others. And I literally mean a couple — just a sleepsack for JuJu (unblogged and unworn at this point), and this shirt for my husband. Oh wait, and a couple of pairs of boxers, but those are so easy that I’ve already forgotten about them.

Another reason why I hate unselfish sewing? Because other people always want details or features that are actually a huge pain in the ass, and they have no way of knowing this when they make the request. They’re not actually trying to torture you, it just kind of turns out that way. For me, men’s shirts epitomize this. Oh, you want me to whip you up a quick garment with a bunch of pieces, fiddly details AND a need for exactitude and perfection in order to look good? Sure thing.

I decided to switch from McCall’s 6613, which is a little boxy, to Simplicity 8427 on a whim, and it was the right decision! (Anecdote: I hate unselfish sewing so much that I made a version of 6613 for my husband YEARS ago — like, before we were married — and I still haven’t sewn the buttons on to give it to him!) Thankfully, this pattern solves my shirt problems and I’m in love!

I am not one to fangirl, but Mimi G has been hitting it out of the park for me lately!

Note 1: This version is kind of a wearable muslin, since the fabric is not ideal shirt fabric — quilting cotton, and not super high-quality at that — so I’m going to focus on the pattern here instead.

Not the most wearable, but definitely the foxiest fabric around!

Note 2: Part of this being “selfless” involves me not even hinting to the recipient that I would want to take a modeled photo. So you’re stuck with me instead, because I have no shame.

Here’s the quick and dirty: this is a men’s shirt pattern that turns out a quality shirt while using modern methods to make the process easier and more fun. There might be other patterns out there like this, but it was new to me to see these methods included as the main instructions in a Big 4 pattern. What am I talking about?

  1. Yoke constructed using the burrito method (which I have never been able to really *get* from tutorials before this)
  2. Sleeves set in the flat
  3. Buttonholes marked on separate pattern piece to be marked after construction
  4. Self-fabric facing and interfacing for the front button/buttonhole zones — simple as fold and fold!
  5. Itty bitty loops that don’t require turning (loop-turning is my current nemesis)
  6. Minimal hand-stitching and mostly optional top-stitching

The first loop I’ve made in months that didn’t make me swear!

There’s nothing revolutionary here, but put together, it made for an awesome sewing experience. So much of the fiddliness was taken out! There was also a tower placket that came together relatively easily. I’ve never done a tower placket before, so I can’t compare if the method was typical or streamlined in any way. But the fact that I made it correctly (and pretty damn neatly) on the first try is a good sign!

Loving the placket — even if he usually cuffs his shirts.

And while fit is personal and YMMV, I cut a straight size and it fits my husband much better than I hoped. I was worried it would be too form-fitting and that the sleeves would be too wide and long, but nope! It’s a really nice fit. (My above-average-height husband typically wears a shirt size small because he’s super lean, and I cut a straight 38.)

The only thing I might change is to add collar buttonholes to make this a true “button-down” shirt. Most of my husband’s favorite shirts have this feature, and it goes an extra step to keep things from looking homemade. Also, I might consider adding a sleeve tab if I made this in a casual fabric that was yarn-dyed instead of printed.

Totally goes with the vest I made him! He looks way better in this than I do…

Bottom line? I totally recommend this pattern. If you loathe sewing men’s shirts, but feel bad that you never make anything for a dude in your life (or you are a dude in your life or just like this style), consider trying this one. Yes, you’ll spend a bunch of time cutting out a million pattern pieces compared to making a cute something for yourself, but because this is well-drafted and the instructions are clear, you might be surprised at enjoyable it can be.

Welcome to… someone else’s closet, my Foxy Fabric Selfless Shirt!