from josh the sewer
Yes indeed, I have made some velveteen jeans. I am pretty damn excited about them (can you tell?), but will have to wait until the winter air blows through these here parts. As you can imagine they are a little bit on the warm side. A while back the Sewist and I were at Bolt buying something or other when under the main counter a shelf of 50% off pinstripe velveteen called to me. After spending a couple of days thinking about what kind of pants I wanted to make, we decided that jeans would be really cool. I choose this Kwik Sew 3504 pattern (really there aren’t a ton of choices, but I am taking a Burda break while I slog though the jacket).
Why velvet pants? When the Sewist and I were in graduate school in Ireland (yes sometimes it is important that you travel great distances to acquire knowledge that will be of little use to you in the future, oh, and I will avoid student loan whining, it is so passé) I used to walk by a shop everyday in the way to class that featured a Blue Velvet suit in the window. I was absolutely taken by these garments. There were two problems: the first was that I was a little bit broke at the time and the second was that there was nowhere that I would actually wear a velvet suit to. There were poshy bars that this suit would not have looked out of place in, but I would have. I was more of beer drinking good time guy (yes I was much thinner before I left for Dublin, still regretting too many beers).
I think I should step back and let you know more about the magnificence of the velvet suit. It rains a lot in Dublin and I know you have heard that all before. It rains in Portland, but nothing like it does on the Emerald Isle. When we were living in Dublin (1999-2000) they were in the midst of some serious economic expansion and to go hand in hand with that a housing shortage, especially for rentals. We took the first flat that we could find and afford, which was actually really nice in a brand new apartment block right near the Guinness Brewery (cool!), a really shitty part of town at the time (not cool!). Oh the things we saw, smelled and felt. Really kind of a depressing place to be. Plus, it turns out that the outside windows were installed backwards so they trapped moisture instead of letting it out; leading to a mushroom bloom under our “dresser” (cardboard, high quality). After walking along the River to get near downtown (before they banned commercial trucks) and cutting through the city building I passed Cuan Hanley’s Shop (thanks to the Sewist, for remembering this, I only recalled that he married the gal from Riverdance). This Blue Velvet suit was like some sort giant rhinestone on the gray wool that was Dublin (gotta love fabric metaphors). Seriously I loved thing, I still regret that I didn’t get it or even take a picture of it. It was just so cool to see something so incredibly bad assed and so (be prepared I am using this as word and not a prefix) ANTI to the smoggy rainyness.
As an aside, Dublin was really cool at the time featuring some great art, design, fashion and drunk soccer commentators; really we are missing something here in the US—a tumbler of whiskey should be a REQUIREMENT for all pre and post game tv shows. I am sure that some day the Sewist can put together a post how interesting the fashion was at this time. Since I am so far afield at the moment I have got to say that the Sewist was knitting some cool stuff at the time, third wave feminism and all (you weren’t alone Stitch n’ Bitch!) We have a really close friend, a photographer who at one time studied fashion in Manchester. She designed lingerie out of things like bicycle tire inner-tubes or the like (not sure exactly). She left fashion school, which is a shame because she was really far ahead of the curb; I believe that she would have dominated all of the recycled clothing fashion shows and competitions. Seriously, she too is bad-ass and a great photographer.
The idea of a velvet suit has stuck with me for quite some time; I remember that Samuel L. Jackson wore a maroon one to something or other (very impressed, but not enough to remember the occasion). Every morning, I drink out of my Elvis mug. Which features the King wearing some kick ass pinstriped pants, but also a really strange shirt and large belt, neither of which I would want to replicate. These pants are an homage to the velvet suit and my King mug. Could I see the King wearing these pants, hells yeah! Which again elevates them in my eyes, now I should mention that I believe the King would have to wear them while touring Alaska, Norway or Bemidji, Minnesota; and he would have to be alive (no conspiracy for me, anyone who mixed that much peanut butter with that many barbiturates is certainly dead).
Since this is a sewing blog and not me being boring at a party, I should talk about the pants coming together. The velveteen was really messy; I am still finding pills of it around the house, lurking in corners away from the Hoover. Sewing across the grain was really difficult and required lots of ironing to make things like the pockets lay flat. The Sewist did a blind hem for me on the legs that I really like. Still haven’t made the carriers yet, the first two attempts have featured me failing; I have got one more attempt in me to get it right.
The Pattern was great, except the waist was a little a long and the back pockets were too big and placed a little too low. I did do my first major pattern alteration (aside from length)—I lowered the rise by about an inch and a half—these are pretty high waisted as is. I did view “B” the boot cut version. The Sewist found the matching fabric in the scrap bag from which I made the pockets. The technique in making the fly was really common sense and the final product looked nicer than any fly that I have done previously. With some rivets we could probably make a more than reasonable facsimile of a ready-to-wear pair of jeans. All in all a very nice pattern and with nice results.
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