Look, ma, real jeans! Skinny Thurlows strike again

Well, it only took me four years of sewing, but I finally made a real pair of jeans. And, as previewed in my last post, they are – gasp – skinny jeans! Which weren’t even on my radar when I first started to consider making real jeans, but now with my daily bike commuting (not to mention current trends), I didn’t really consider making any other kind.

skinny jeans front

They are, of course, based off my skinny Thurlow mod. I had a pretty good fit there, so I just jeansed them up a little. I started by converting the back darts to a yoke. The internets actually don’t have a lot to say on this matter, so I just sort of winged it. I drew a horizontalish/diagonal line on the back pattern piece that juuuust touched the bottom point of the dart, and was at an angle that seemed yoke-y to me. I traced the pattern above the line I drew, cut out the dart, and closed it up. Ta da! Yoke piece. Luckily I remembered to add a seam allowance to both new edges (and I added a note to the pattern piece for future me also).

dart to yoke conversionWhile I feel like maybe the depth of the Thurlow dart makes a larger yoke than you’d see on most jeans, it’s what I need to get them to curve nicely around the ol’ giant bum!

skinny jean thurlows back

The back pockets I traced off a pair of RTW jeans forever ago (and have used them on all pants makes so far), and the front pockets I sort of traced, sort of winged off that same pair of jeans. I even made a tiny useless coin pocket, because, jeans. I have also, on these and the last few Thurlows I’ve made, omitted the front pocket facing (the piece of self fabric you’re supposed to sew to the pocket lining on the side that faces your body). I have been topstitching my pockets, which prevents the lining from peeking out at all, obviating the need for a facing piece that just adds bulk.

skinny jeans front pockets

skinny jeans back closeup

I kept the topstitching pretty simple on these, but I took more care with it than is my wont and I’m mostly happy with it. (But please ignore the wonky off-center back belt loop… after several attempts to sew it on top of the center back seam, my machine cried uncle and I settled for an askew belt loop. No one but you will ever see it, as I haven’t worn a tucked in shirt in… ever.) I topstitched in light blue quilting thread, because I had it, and I think it works well with the dark denim. I also didn’t have jeans rivets, so I made bar tacks in all the places that should rightly have rivets.

The fabric is a really nice stretch denim that I got at Mood last time I was in LA. The stretch combined with the fact that I sewed these with a 1/2 inch seam allowance rather than 5/8 means I finally have a pair of jeans I can ride a bike in!

skinny jean thurlows side

Overall I’m happy with the fit, but I do find that the front rise is a little high for my liking. In the side view you can see (in addition to seeing clearly why all my dresses get hung up on my thighs) that the front rise is substantially higher than the back… I’m not sure why this is. Does it have to do with my yoke creation? My front pocket modification? I’ve noticed a tendency of the Thurlows I’ve made to have a little extra fabric up-down-wise across the stomach, but this is the first time it’s translated to super-high front rise. I’m trying to figure out how to take this excess out for next time. Do I just slash horizontally across the front piece and pivot the top down a little at center front? I would much prefer a lower rise in front (but keep the high back – mullet pants rule!)

I mulled over the hem length of these for a long time. I can’t tell you how many articles on skinny jeans length and styling I read… But in the end I just pinned them up at a bunch of lengths and tried them on with all my shoes and settled in the end on longish. After some amount of wearing, I’ve decided that I like them unrolled with heels or long skinny ballet flats only, but cuffed with more casual flats or sneakers. I have puny ankles for the size of my thighs and knees, so I think the cuffs help balance that and I’ll wear them cuffed unless the situation calls for a dressier look.

skinny jean thurlows cuffed

I actually made these jeans a couple months ago and (obviously) procrastinated the blogging of them until now. The weather in our area has moved pretty much past long pants season now, but they did get a lot of wear in the early spring. I’ve already moved on to shorts sewing, but I’m really glad I managed to eke these out in time to actually wear them a bit. I can see making another pair or two come fall, as my need for pants-that-fit skyrockets upwards again with the (slightly) cooler weather.

Oh, and the top I’m wearing? I just threw on a top from my closet for the pictures, and realised later that it was an unblogged top I made probably a year ago now. It’s a slight mod of the awesome Cation Dolman top in a sweater knit from Girl Charlee. (If you’re interested, the sleeve mod is as follows: Cut sleeves 1 1/2 inches shorter than pattern, and cut 2 sleeve pieces in a trapezoid shape, with the top edge matching the cut-on sleeve circumference plus seam allowance, and the bottom edge 3 inches smaller.) This sweater knit was a bit fiddly, and the neckband turned out rather wobbly. I was really mad about it at the time and I let the finished top get buried in one of the massive fabric piles lying around at our old place, and I didn’t discover it again until months later after we moved and I was unpacking the stash into my new fabric shelves… boom! New shirt! And I was so not mad about the neckline any more. That’s maybe my best piece of sewing advice: let your stuff stew. If you leave it alone in the closet (or, you know, a random pile of fabric) for a few weeks, you’ll forget all the little things that drove you crazy about it and you will just wear it and love it. I’m sure there were a million little things about these jeans that I was mad about while I was sewing them, but now? I’m just stoked I have real jeans that fit. Sewing is pretty awesome.


  1. Sewing is indeed awesome – just like these jeans! They’re gorgeous 🙂 And great fit!! With regards to the front rise… if it were me, I would put them on, then chalk a line across the front where I wanted the seam between jeans and waistband to actually sit. Then I’d just adjust the jeans and waistband pieces accordingly. Then test it, of course! Regardless, these are pretty darn fabulous 🙂

    • aleah said:

      That’s a great idea, I’ll try that when I make jean shorts this summer!

  2. Yep, the magic closet works nearly every time. 🙂 Great jeans, glad that the magic closet saved them and the blouse, because it comes together in a really cute outfit. 🙂

  3. Amy said:

    Love the outfit! I still need to make a pair of Thurlows. That pattern has been on my sewing to-do list forever. And, I love the dolman top modification here. Another to inspire me back to my machine!

  4. Eileen said:

    I’ve been thinking of buying the Thurlow pattern to make some wool dress pants. I’ve also been thinking about making jeans one day. I think you just sold me on the Thurlow pattern!

  5. Lovely! I love the color of the denim – how is it holding up? I have a terrible problem with denim bagging out on me.

    I have to get a look at those thurlow fly front instructions, yours turned out great and I’m always looking for different procedures. You might now be the only dart to yoke tutorial on the internet – why aren’t there more posts on that? It seems like such a useful mod!?

    I’m with PoppyKettle on the change in the front, I wouldn’t slash and pivot, I would just chop the excess off the top of the front piece to wherever you want. The shaping looks good, so you don’t want to change the fit, just have it stop sooner.

    Love the glasses too! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

    • aleah said:

      The denim is great, actually, no bagging at all. It’s nice and stretchy and seems to be staying that way. And you were the one who explained to me originally how to convert a dart to a yoke!

  6. lisa g said:

    yay jeans!!! obviously i’m a thurlow fan, so great job here on modifying the dart/yoke! and i would totally just lower the line in the front to fix where the waistband sits. love your top also!

  7. piarve said:

    Wow cool jeans…they look good on too!

  8. Ooh, love the thought of adding a yolk! Really helps to make them more jean-like 🙂

  9. Ruthie said:

    Nice work. I’m following your blog on the strength of your topstitched-lining-facing-eliminating tip.

  10. Meigan said:

    These look fantastic! Great mod! 🙂

  11. Wow, you have got the fit of these just right haven’t you? Great choice on the length and I love the subtle topstitching!

  12. These are so nice and well done! Your topstitching looks so good. I had to modify my Thurlow front piece to bring it down lower as well.

  13. Diane said:

    The back pockets are just the right size, and your topstitching looks really good. I can’t stand pockets that sit way down under my butt…feels like I’wearing sagging pants. The pocket placement/size on rtw is why I just made my first pair of jeans. My jeans had the same high rise in the front as you. Thank goodness for untucked shirts! I hope to fix that next time.

  14. Ernie K said:

    Ditto on the front alteration for these: I have the same ‘fullness’ issue. Strip back the waistband from the front center to the sides and trim VERY SLIGHTLY, then resew. While this is all fresh in your mind, make alterations on the pattern pieces now (bring down the front, bring up the back between the yoke and the back derriere). And try them on before you attach the waistband. Jeans are addicting…..

    • aleah said:

      Hmmm, it never occurred to me that I could alter this pair… something to consider. It’s a lot of unpicking, but if it drives me too batty it might be worth it!

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