Dawn Jeans: Rigid Denim vs. Stretch (tips for making both)
I love making jeans! If you’ve been following me for the last year, you know this. Jeans always seem so daunting because of all the fancy stitching and hardware detailing, but they are actually quite straightforward. With a good pattern and the right fabric, you can make a custom-fit wardrobe staple.
The only jeans patterns I have tried so far have been Closetcase Patterns Ginger Jeans and Megan Nielsen’s Dawn Jeans. Both are really fantastic patterns and I’ve made several pair of jeans that far exceed any of my store-bought pairs when it comes to fit.
Today, I’m sharing three pair of Dawns that I made in the last month. You may remember my post on refashioning an oversized pair of thrifted jeans using the Dawn pattern (which I did twice, actually: once in rigid denim, and once in a stretch denim). In addition to getting that nice, worn denim in a handmade pair, I also learned a few things about sizing and detailing that might be helpful if you are thinking of making this pattern for yourself!
First up, non-stretch Dawn Jeans
I decided to batch sew two pair of jeans at once, after scoring some fantastic 9oz Brushed Bull Denim from Blackbird Fabrics, and a lightweight rigid denim from a Shop Well Fibre Instagram auction. I ran into a somewhat major snag during the basted fitting when both pairs would not even go past my thighs! I had sewn them BOTH a size too small. How, you ask? Well, I’d traced the pattern a size smaller for the last pair of STRETCH Dawns that I made, and totally forgot. And then used that pattern on my non-stretch denim. Oy!
BUT! I fixed them both by sewing a strip of fabric into the side seams to make up the difference in sizes. Since I sewed them one size too small, and since the grade between size 14 and size 16 (my size) is 2” for this pattern, I knew I needed to add an inch to both sides. So I cut my strips 2 1/4” wide (1” plus a seam allowance on either side of the strip of 5/8”). I also tapered the strips toward the calf, since I was short on length in my remaining fabric and I was making flares and didn’t need the extra width at the bottom.
To be honest, I really love how they turned out! I think this technique would be so cool with some vintage-y embroidered ribbon, or velvet ribbon down the side. Happy accident!
Now, the bull denim from Blackbird Fabrics is super soft and, although it is technically a rigid denim, it does have just a little give. These jeans are incredibly comfortable and hold their shape really well. I’ve worn them a TON since I made them. A++
The pair I made with the lightweight denim from Well Fibre is SUPER RIGID. Like, surprisingly rigid for something so lightweight. If I had to do it over again, I might have used this fabric for something with a looser, more casual fit, as it has been resistant to “wearing in”…I don’t think that stuff stretched out AT ALL, not even a little bit. And I wore them to a sushi lunch…I had to basically throw my body into the car afterward, because bending/sitting was…uncomfortable. And elicited loud, guttural groans anytime I had to get up/sit down. But damn, they cute! And are totally comfy if I am standing, haha. I also used the selvedge as a fun little detail on the back pocket and front coin pocket.
Okay, now on to the stretch Dawns!
These turned out GREAT! I sized down one size (back to that too-small size from before) and added a pocket stay for the front pockets. (You can see how I adapted a pocket stay for the Dawn Jeans from the Ginger Jeans pattern here).*
I used a 10oz Italian Stretch Popcorn Denim, again from Blackbird Fabrics. The stretch is just right, slightly stretchier than my favorite Ginger Jeans that I made with an 11 Oz Cone Mills S-Gene Denim. And they hold their shape really well and are so comfortable—I wore them while traveling and they held their own on a 2 hour bus ride and two flights (with a layover in between where I ate disappointing airport food) the last time I went home to Mississippi (and again on the way back to Michigan). If that’s not a true test of the droopy-drawers potential of a pair of pants, idunno what is!
I also used Gutterman Mara 70 thread for all three pairs, and man, that is some nice thread. THREAD MATTERS! It provides a really clean topstitching finish without making my sewing machine angry. Keeps my sewing rage at bay, and this is a good thing, because sewing should be therapeutic.
*I will note that I DO NOT recommend adding a pocket stay on rigid denim Dawns. I did this on my very first pair and it’s like having a vice grip on my belly, y’all. Rigid denim + pocket stays = torture pants. Learn from my mistakes. Ya welcome.