Celebrate Veteran’s Day — Use Military Style Buttons on your Jeans

My Grandpa's Honorable Discharge Paper from the Army

My Grandpa’s Honorable Discharge Paper from the Army

Hey Eveyrone,

Happy Veteran’s Day.  I was thinking about my grandpa as I worked on my jeans this morning.  He served in the Army during World War II… when it came time to add buttons to my J Jeans, I decided to search my stash for metal military style buttons instead of tradition jean tac buttons.  I found four metal military style buttons that were my grandpa’s–From an old coat, not his uniform.  Perfect for my jeans… Something to remember my grandpa by.

Metal metal military style buttons

Metal metal military style buttons

Before we get to my Grandpa’s buttons, let me show you how to place and sew on back jean pockets with flaps.

1The first step is to decided they are going to look attractive and enhance your back view.  Pin them on and try your jeans on to fine-tune the position of them.  It helps if you can ask a sewing friend (or you husband) how your butt looks :)

2My flaps look good when they are spaced approximately 2″ from the center of the topstitching along the back crotch seam.

Tip:  Don’t use the actual seam to center your pockets… the topstitching will make them look unevenly spaced.  Instead measure from the center of the topstitching…. even though they will actually be a little uneven, they will look even…trick of the eye!

In addition to centering the pockets, you want to play with the angle that you place them.   My pockets look better if they are slightly straighter across my butt than the back yoke seam.  You can see that the top inside corner of the guideline is 3/4″ from the back yoke…and the outer corner is 1 1/4″ away.    Definitely take a minute to check this, sometimes pockets look better if they are parallel to the back yoke seam (they may need to be higher or lower too).

3My flaps are already constructed and I’ve pressed the top edge under 1/2″.  Line the folded edge of the top of the flap with the guideline.   Flip the pocket up and pin the fold along the guideline.

6Then sew the flat to the back leg along the guideline.  Before you start stitching check to make sure that you’re not catching the front leg into the stitching.

5When the flap is topstitched in place, the raw edges will be encased in the stitching.  Trim the 1/2″ seam allowance to 1/8″.

7Press the flap down.  Here’s a peek underneath…You can see that the seam allowance is very short and it will be easy to encase into the topstitching.

8Here’s how the flap looks after it’s been anchored in place with topstitching.  You can see that I stitched close to the folded top edge of the flap, and then about 1/2″ away too.  I was trying to be consistent with the topstitching detail around the edge of the flap.

10Here’s what the underside of the flap looks like after it’s been topstitched in place.  While I have the flap up, I’m going to draw a guideline to position the top edge of the back pocket.  I like my pockets to be pretty close the base of the flap.  In this case, I drew a line 1/4″ away from the base of the flap.

9The next step is to position the back pocket under the flap, along the guideline.  Pin in place and lay the flap down to make sure that they are properly aligned with each other.  Then topstitch the back pocket in place.    Note how my back pocket design looks before it’s topstitched in place…

11And, how it looks different now that I’ve added topstitching to attach it to the back leg.  This is a good example of how topstitching really adds a lot of character to your jeans.

12Here’s how the pocket looks when the flap is laying down.   Notice, I did not sew a button onto the back pocket before I topstitched it into place.   I’ve decided to sew the button directly into the buttonhole in the flap instead.  I’m doing this because I never button my back pockets… So, I’m not going to take the time to make sure the button is position on the pocket perfectly so that it lines up with the buttonhole on the flap :)  Quick and easy!!

15In the front I added a button on the flap of the coin pocket (again, I attached it right to the flap).  But, don’t worry, I can keep my jeans closed, the button on the waistband is fully functional!





What to when you run out of Denim… How to piece the waistband

Hey everyone,


w8I’m working on my new jeans… Love them!  I’m using the Selvage denim that I found in NYC a few weeks ago, and I’m trying to be very frugal with it… So of course, I did not cut a long enough piece to get my bias waistband out of it :(   This is especially disturbing because I brought this denim to the Sewing Tree for the Jean Fit Workshop I did there a few weeks ago… Where I cut pieces that were too short for a couple of the ladies who were ready to cut their jeans out!   I really feel like that should have been a “live and learn” moment…  (I guess I needed some reinforcement :)   I really didn’t want to cut more denim and spend time washing and washing and washing it…. So I walked away and slept on it.  I’m glad I did… when I starting working this morning,  I realized that I could piece the waistband.

w1I had two good size pieces of denim that were left over after I cut out the leg pieces.  After measuring the width of one of the pieces, I decided that I needed three bias strips to make a waistband that would fit around my waist.  This will work out well because there will not be a seam at the CB after the waistband is pieced together.

w2I lucked out, the 45° angle was lined up perfectly with the side cut edges of the piece of denim… So the ends of my strip are already cut at a perfect 45° angle…All I had to do is align the raw edges and sew the strips together.


After the seams are sewn, I pressed them open to reduce the bulk.


Because the denim is cut on the bias, and the seam is also sewn in the bias direction, it will blend in nicely and be barely noticeable.

w5The theme of these jeans is going to be “getting creative with fabric scraps”.  I used a piece of striped cotton for the pocket bags, but I didn’t have enough for the waistband facing.  So I cut the facing out of a piece of soft twill.  Then I pieced together the scraps of striped cotton so I could use it to finish the raw edge of the facing.  Here’s what the facing looks like after it’s been sewn to the waistband.  Notice that I trimmed the denim seam allowances that were poking up above the edge of the waistband.

w6Now it’s all ready to attach to the top of my jeans :)  …So happy I figured out how to use the denim scraps to make a waistband… Otherwise, I’d have to spend a day washing and drying another piece!



How to adjust a straight side seam Jean pattern

Hey everyone… Super exciting week for me!  I’m finally launching my J Jean Pattern, which is for women with a straight (my) shape <3.    Basically, if your hip and thighs measure the same, or almost the same, this may be an amazing pattern for you!   You can see from the photo below that I’m fairly straight… I never acquired a curvy hip.   I’m wearing my first pair of J jeans.  I did make a few adjustments to the original pattern to get them to fit me… but I need a few more, like the excess length pinned out across the center front rise).   Let me show you how I manage my pattern adjustments, and how working with a straight side seam jean  pattern is a little different from working with one that has a hip curve.1The first thing that I do is make a “to do” list right on the pattern pieces that I’m going to work with.   I NEVER adjust my master pattern.  So that means making a copy of the pattern before I start adjusting anything.  Note that it’s important to include the date… that way it’s easy to keep track of what’s what.

In this post I want to show you how to lower the front rise.  In my case, I have to lower the CF rise 1 1/2″. Because I’m working with a straight side seam, this is going to cause my side seam to pitch toward the center front (I’ll show you how to deal with the side seam later).  If I were working with a conventional jean pattern that had a curved side seam, it would be a simple matter of truing up the curve after making the rise adjustment.

The first step is to make multiple slash lines to remove the excess length at CF.   By removing it a little at a time, the side seam (grainline) will be less affected.  The total that I need to remove is 1 1/2″… so in this case, I’m going to remove 3/8″ in four places.   Below you can see the first two slashes that I made.

3You can see below, that I got rid of most of the excess length in the zipper seam allowance by removing 3/8″ x 3.  I also decided to shorten the CF crotch below the zipper allowance, removing the last 3/8″ just below the base of the zipper seam allowance.

4After adjusting the front rise, there is a second step that’s necessary to complete this pattern adjustment. The side seam needs to be straightened.  You can see from the photo below that the side seam above the adjustment is actually pitching toward the CF. To help show this, I aligned my 60″ ruler along the straight portion of the side seam, making it easy to see how the top of the side seam is curved.


To fix this, I’ll adjust the CF front edge an equal amount.   The side seam flares out a total of 1/2″ at the waistline edge.

So, I’ll take away 1/2″ from the CF edge of the pattern to compensate for this shift.  Here’s a close-up of the center front edge.  I’m making a mark 1/2″ from the edge of the pattern.  Then, I’ll use this mark as a guideline when I true up the zipper seam allowance.

8Below you can see that I reshaped the zipper seam allowance to accommodate the 1/2″ that needed to be trimmed from the CF.

9Here’s a look at the completed “lower the front rise” adjustment.  You can see that the amount that was added to the side edge was trimmed from the center front edge.

10Stay tuned for more pattern adjustments on this straight side seam jean pattern :)






Sometimes you can take that patch off

Hey Everyone,

I just got home from our Mother/Daughter’s weekend in Vermont.  We normally go in the Summer… see a play, eat and shop ourselves silly.  This summer we were so busy, that we could not agree on a weekend.  So we went now.  It was really fun.  Of course because of the cooler weather, shopping had a different focus.  My mother was bend on getting me a winter coat.   I don’t wear coats… but I tried to humor her.  I almost picked out a real, quilted coat.  But in the end I couldn’t do it.  We almost lost hope until I spied a Navy coat/jacket that was made from “tech-wool”… I put it on and I was instantly happy.  I love it, except for the fact it had two big white patches on it.  One was sewn on the front and the other was on the sleeve.  (I think that some may think this is cool because it’s a ski jacket.  The company’s logo was proudly displayed in two places!  …I’m not a skier and I really didn’t like the patches so I decided to see if I could take them off.

fribtI used a seam ripper to carefully pick out the stitching the held the patch in place.  At this point if the patch had been glued in place, as well as stitched,  I would not have been able to take it off.  Happily it was just stitched on.

photo 5After I got the patch off, I thought that I would have to sew it right back on.  There was in indentation where the patch had been. In the photo below it looks like dirt, but really it was just matted down wool where the stitching had been.  I tried rubbing it away, that didn’t work.  I put it back on the dressform and stood away from it to see if you could see it from a few feet away.  It was very noticeable.  I almost resigned myself to stitching the patches back on.  then I decided to heat up my iron and give it some steam.  I didn’t press down with the iron because I didn’t want to burn the wool… I just hovered the iron over the indentation and applied steam.

photo 4

I was so happy, the indentation when away!  … I thought I would share this with you, just in case you have something in your closet that can use a little “unembellishment” :)



Make IT…Take IT at ASE

Hi Everyone,

Last year at the American Sewing Expo I had a Make It-Take It project in my booth… It was a not so exciting Back Jean Pocket…  I thought I would be fun because I included instructions to add it to a simple tote bag… Let be honest, it was boring!!!!   This year I decided to do something fun.   So I came up with this silk bead bracelet.   It’s made from twisting a strip of silk and stitching over it with a zig zag stitch.   Then it’s folded in half and twisted again to create a loop for a button closure.  Before the button gets sewn on,  you can pick out a “pandora” style bead and slide it onto the twisted fabric silk cord.  Two tight knots hold it place.    I had fun testing a few different fabrics, and I think this will be a cool project.

MakeitTakeit…It may seem like this project has nothing to do with what I do :)….  But, there is a small amount of fitting to get it to be a comfortable length :)

There is motivation behind coming up with something fun…  I’m participating in a Charity Cycle Challenge in March 2015.  I decided that this project can help kick off my fundraising.  I’m going to be spinning (Cycling on a stationary bike) for 8 hours to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Association.  This a a charity that’s near and dear to my heart because Alzheimer’s is a health concern in my family.    I’ll be giving more information about the Cycle Challenge as the date gets a little closer… but it’s never too early to start!!!!

See you at the Expo!!


Getting Ready for the American Sewing Expo in Novi MI

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Hey Everyone,

It’s an exciting week for me… I’m getting ready for the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI.   I’m teaching my jean fit workshop on Thursday’s pre-show class day and and Updated Professional Construction Techniques Class on Saturday.  I’m also doing a daily seminar on how to do an FBA for D+Cups… very fun!!   If you’ve never had the chance to attend this show, let me tell you what you’ve been missing.   All sewing expos have a lot to offer, but I love the American Sewing Expo because it has lots of inspiration and a special energy.  This family run show has a lot to offer.  In addition to all the excellent venders on the floor, there are contests and fashion shows.  The Passion for Fashion  Sewing Challenge is both… participants have the opportunity to create a fantasy garment right on the show floor.  This event is sponsored by baby lock, Fashion Supplies and McCall’s… so the prizes are amazing!!!   (Actually I can’t get over how generous these companies are… They really support the sewing industry!   Here’s a photo of last year’s winner :)


This year there is a half-scale challenge… Fashion Designer, Joi Mahon inspired us last year with her black and white striped sundress…. so cool.    I entered this contest before I left the show last year.  I love my half scale dressform… sadly, it’s staring at me right now… completely nude :(   The deadline came up too quick for me… But, I can’t wait to see what everyone came up with.


There is also a special event for young sewers… Innovation Generation.  This is my favorite because I’m always so amazed by what they come up with… So much talent at such a young age… It’s the best!!!

If you are not attending this year, stay tuned because I’ll be posted updates on what’s going on…  Sneak peeks at what my students are doing in class and juicy details from some of the events and the vendor floor!!! Maybe you’ll be tempted to come next year!!!    Happy Day

Japanese Denim after the Wash…

photo 3Hey everyone,

Hope all is well.   I wanted to take a minute to update you on my Japanese Denim Jeans…  I wore them when I was at the ASG Conference in St. Louis.  They got pretty gross because I was staying at a different hotel than the one the conference was being held at.  The 5 block walk back to the hotel after dinner… in the super heat… did them in.  By the time I got to my room they were sticking to my legs.

So, I decided that I couldn’t stand wearing them again without washing them.  I put them in a dark wash with some other jeans.  Then I did them a second time.   When I took them out of the dryer, they were really crinkled up… I had to steam them really well with the iron to get them to flatten out.  (I wish I had thought to take a photo before I ironed them.)  The first thing I noticed when I put them on was that the denim was much softer and more comfortable to wear.  The did not feel tight like other jeans feel right out of the dryer, so they stayed pretty true to size… (Remember, the swatches that I test washed didn’t shrink either.)

Here’s what they look like.

photo 2The overall color of the denim got a little more blue.  Anywhere the denim folded up on itself, or wrinkled, there is an obvious fade mark.  I have them running down the side and inseams and in random places.  There are also a couple of places where the denim actually distressed like it had been cut.  They look like little frayed spots.   I really don’t recall catching or snipping the denim there, but maybe I did.

photoThey also faded along the pintucks that I stitched under the front pocket and along any folded edge, like the front pocket openings and the edges of the flat fell seam between the top of the back leg and back yoke.

photo 1My plan is to wear them, wear them, wear them as much as possible before I wash them again.  We’ll see what happens… I think that in the end they will look cool.   Not thrilled with all the streaks of fading along wrinkles, but I think that will work itself out as I wear, wear wear and wash!

Updated Front Fly Zipper Instructions

Hey Everyone,

I can’t believe it’s September 1!!!!!  …Between you and me, I’m glad it’s still warm out, I haven’t had enough float in the pool time :)   I’ve been working on a few things that are very fun and exciting.  First I’ve been fine tuning the fit of  my shorts, and I hope to get a second pair finished before the warm weather disappears.  The bonus will be that once the shorts are perfect, the pants will be too!  I have some yummy gray tropical weight wool that I’m dying to cut into!  While I was working on fitting my shorts, I revamped my front fly zipper instructions. I promised a copy to everyone who took my Professional Construction Techniques at the ASG Conference in July.  After emailing them off to everyone on my list, I got a few mail returns :(…. If you’ve be waiting for these instructions, please email me so I can send them to you!!!


I’m also going to start offering detailed pdf lessons  on my website for a tiny fee.  Techniques like the front fly zipper have a lot of step, and I think it may be helpful to some to have color photos of all the steps at your finger tips while you’re sewing.  To kick off this new venture, I’m going to offer the Front Fly Technique pdf for free for the whole month of September. Look for it in the next couple of days…. As soon as I figure out how to upload the pdf, so you can download it :)

Another thing I’m working on is a new class for Patternreview… The fitted shirt.  I’m really excited about this class because it’s giving me an opportunity to work with some sweet fit models… Like my Mom!

Hope you all are enjoying your Labor Day!  Jen


Kissing Fish Finale :)

Hi Everyone,

Last week was amazing for me.  I realized that I love quilting, I had so much fun making these baby quilts.  My time got crunched up at the end, so I apologize for not posted a completed project, but I do have some more steps I can show  you.  Here’s a snap of Abby organizing the half triangles into kissing fish squares.  I ended up with 32 different color combinations.  Each double strip of fabrics made 4 squares… 2 for each quilt.

photo 2After all the squares where sewn together, we spread out king size sheets on the driveway and played with the overall layout of the quilt…7 squares across x 9 rows.  (7 and 9 were my grandmother’s lucky numbers…)        I’m not going to lie, trying to decide how to position those square was probably the hardest part of making these quilts…After several revisions and trying different color combinations, we piled them up and I started sewing them into strips.  To keep everything in order, we pinned labels to the first square of each row.

photo 3When pinning the rows together, the challenge was making sure that the points lined up with each other…

photo 5Here’s a close-up of matching up the points.

Remember when I started sewing the quarter triangles, I pressed the seam allowances to the darker fabric.  That was a bad idea because it created extra bulk along the seams where all the triangle points meet.  So I decided to use one of my jean making tips to soften the bulk.  I used a small hammer to gently pound down the bulky seam allowances.

photo 1-1Here’s the last picture I remembered to take… it got a little hairy at the end… I was sewing binding onto the edges of the quilts an hour before we had to leave for the family reunion… Totally forgot to take a  pic of the completed quilts :)  Thank goodness Abby was helping me with this project… she did an amazing job pressing the seams for me!  Not sure I could have finished on time otherwise.

photo 4Had a wonderful time at the family reunion… Plus I got my “baby fix”… Now it’s back to garment construction and fitting.   I’m working a new shirt fitting class for Patternreview... Very exciting, stay tuned!

Kissing Fish Part 2–Cut Triangles

Lots of half triangle fishies

Lots of quarter triangle fish pieces

Hey Everyone,   Today was cutting, and cutting and cutting day.   I used the Creative Grid 4 1/2″ Non-Slip Quarter-Square Triangle Ruler.   I love this ruler because it makes short work of cutting triangles.  Basically all you have to do is line up the base of the triangles on the ruler with the raw edge of the strip of fabric.  Then cut along the side edges of the triangles.    If I had a lot of time to work on this project, I probably would have cut one or two pieces strips at a time…. But since I’m on a tight deadline, I stacked 4 or 5 strips on top of each other before I cut triangles.  Most of my strips lined up almost perfectly with each other… Happy Dance :).  But, there were a few sets that I may have to fudge… we’ll see.   Using this ruler, you cut 3 full triangles and one side of a fourth.

Using ruler to cut triangles

Using ruler to cut triangles

When you line up the ruler to cut the next set of triangles, you have to space the ruler so that you’re leaving a 1/4″ straight edge.

Space the ruler 1/4" away from the cut edge

Space the ruler 1/4″ away from the cut edgeHere’s a close-up of the ruler placement


photo 5So in the end, I could make 8 triangles across the entire strip… Sorry for the bad color correction (it is the same project!)

photo 1-1I am a little disappointed that my daughter does not think that these triangles look like kissing fish…  We’ll have to work on her imagination when she gets home from vacation tomorrow!

photo 3I also managed to cut out an equal number of white triangles which will serve as the background for my fish.  I prewashed all these fabrics to make sure the bright colors would not bleed onto the while after the quilt was finished.  I was really impressed with the white tone-on-tone fabric I picked out.  It’s really soft and has some body to it… I was surprised.  I guess they make some pretty great fabric in the UK!

photo 1…I’ve already started to sew sets of a colored triangle paired with a white triangle…Stay tuned for an update tomorrow.   :)