Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Mid-Rise Ginger Jeans

Imma let you in on a little secret: you don't need to buy the Ginger Jeans pattern. Not the full one, anyway. You only need the mid-rise version. Confused about the versions? Let's review.

high rise skinny leg

Ginger Skinny Jeans Pattern: includes low-rise stovepipe leg, and high-rise skinny leg

Ginger Flared Jeans expansion: only includes legs for flared version, must also purchase full pattern

Ginger Mid-Rise Jeans pattern: mid-rise in stovepipe or skinny leg, do not need to purchase full pattern

low rise stovepipe leg

If you buy all three of these, your cost is a whopping $38 for the PDF versions (only the main pattern is available in a printed form). Compare that to the Megan Nielsen Ash Stretch Jeans pattern, which features only mid-rise, but four leg shapes and three inseams for $22. Ash debuted right after I bought Ginger, otherwise I would've definitely started my skinny jeans journey with Ash.

mid-rise skinny leg

Obviously, I'm a little salty about Ginger. I have a well-documented love/hate relationship with Closet Core Patterns. Hate the directions. Hate the price. Hate the dishonest hype in the sewing community. I keep coming back to them because the size chart fits me really well. In fact, the Kalle Shirtdress is on my Make 9 this year. What can I say, humans are inconsistent and unpredictable. 

Anyway. You probably didn't come here to read my ranting. Let's see some jeans!

My hip size is 38" and my waist is ideally 28". I say "ideally" because I have a typical three kids mom belly that I prefer to have my jeans suck in for me. I've learned to fit my waistbands smaller than my actual body measurement, otherwise they fall down in the front. I also have a swayback. I'm 5'4". These measurements put me in a size 10 hip and size 8 waist. 

This is my fourth pair of Ginger Jeans (low rise stovepipe here, high rise skinny here, low rise skinny unblogged but on IG here) and I've also made two pairs of Morgan Jeans. That's a lot of trial and error and not all of those pairs are successful. Each one taught me a little bit more about my body, a little bit more about my fit challenges. Most significant is my swayback. Without a lot of changes, I'm doomed to back waist gap. This pair feels the most successful of any jeans I've made, and here are my changes:

1. Yoke: The yoke on jeans functions in the same way as a back dart on a pair of dress pants, it shapes the seat of the pants above your butt. Just as you would take a deeper dart for more shaping, you can change the shape of the yoke. Here is a great illustration, from the fitting portion of the Ginger Jeans sewalong:

2. Waistband: As drafted, the waistband is cut on a fold at center back and is curved. I'm not sure what body that works for, but it's not mine. The gaping I've experienced can be fixed by taking darts all over the waistband, but the more you do that, the more off-grain the waistband becomes. As it becomes off-grain, it stretches out, in essence undoing the darts you just took! The only solution I've discovered is to chop the waistband into smaller pieces, changing the angle of the seams but keeping the pieces themselves on-grain. I have a seam at center back and at the side seams. I also interface my outer waistband and facing with knit interfacing. It lends more structure than no interfacing, but doesn't become uncomfortably stiff (ask me how I know). Here are my waistband pieces. Note the giant angle at center back that is not even close to 90 degrees. I also drafted a different left and right front piece.

3. Front pants piece: I can't exactly explain it, but the front of my body is closer to a size 8, while the back is a size 10. My hips are a 10. But I've always felt like the front of my me-made pants are too baggy (not just on this pattern either). For this pair, I decided to keep the hip line of a 10, but use the cut line for the 8 in some places. I can't tell you why or how I made these choices, except that it felt instinctual based on how my pants have been fitting. And it worked! My altered piece is below. Size 10 is in pink, and size 8 is in yellow.

4. Back pockets: I moved them up. Thigh pockets make me crazy.

5. Inseam: I removed 1" from the L/S line and 1" from the hem.

It's a lot of changes. Some of these translate to different rises of pants but some don't. I'm not sure my body shape can pull off low-rise anymore, I feel like my belly will push down my pants no matter what kind of fitting I do. My high-rise pair fit well but aren't comfortable. I dragged my feet on purchasing the mid-rise pattern, but now I'm glad I did. There was no mixing of leg styles, the rise works for my body, and the instructions were not garbage like my paper pattern.

Construction-wise, the only change I made was to sew the bottom of the belt loops into the outer waistband seam, and also to finish the bottom of the waistband facing with bias tape. I absolutely HATE stitching in the ditch and trying to catch a fold on the waistband facing. Hate it with a raging passion of a thousand suns. Bias tape finishing is way easier and then it doesn't matter how you catch the facing when you're topstitching.

I sewed all the seams with my main Brother PC-420, finished the seams with my serger, and topstitched with my vintage Singer 15-91. I'm lucky enough to have space for three machines at once, which allowed me to sew these up in a weekend. I use Guterman Mara 70 weight in color 444 for topstitching, with matching all-purpose thread in the bobbin.

Fabric choice also matters greatly for a successful pair of skinny jeans. Every now and then I get lucky with a random stretch denim, but I try to buy only Cone Mills denim. I've tried different weights and they all feel different (9.5oz used twice, and 9oz used once). This pair is 8oz and it's my favorite. My secret source for Cone Mills is LA Finch Fabric. She already has the best prices, and on top of that often has sales and remnants.

Finally, the little details are what take a pair of me-made jeans from homemade to handmade. You'll level up your jean sewing experience if you add belt loops, rivets, a jean button, a leather tag, and a pocket tag. Sometimes I add secret embroidery inside the waistband, but I didn't this time around. Wawak is a great source for these jean notions, and I highly recommend a hole and buttonhole punch set.

Next time, I may try to reduce those wrinkles under the butt, but some are needed for movement so they don't bother me too much. I'm resisting the urge to make another pair immediately, since I don't exactly need them, but it feels amazing to have what I would consider a TNT jeans pattern! 


  1. You are dialing in fit so well, I love how you style your makes, and most importantly - your honest reviews.

  2. Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... Rachel Rabbit White


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