zippered jeans

Shibori Dyed Zippered Jeans


I’ve been sitting on this gray denim since January when I picked it up at Denver Fabrics’ New Years’ sale for all of $4 for the whole 2 yards.  It has a touch of lurex in it, so there’s a little bit of silvery sparkle running through it and it’s a nice weight with good stretch.  But I couldn’t leave it alone.  When I saw a blue breasted kingfisher like this one at the Denver Zoo with the kids and my friend and Noah’s bestie, I knew what I had to do.

zippered jeans
from Wikipedia

Aquamarine + grey =happy spring.  My jaw actually dropped when I saw the bird and now struck flat by inspiration, I almost ran out of the aviary right then and there.  I needed dye asap, and wouldn’t you know that Rit makes the perfect aquamarine.zippered jeans

I looked around on Rit dye’s website (which is really cool btw–who knew dyeing could be so hip?) and came across a tutorial for hand stitched shibori dyeing.  I fell in love with the texture of this effect–it’s tie dye for sure but not so Grateful Dead.  Basically you make long gathered stitches with strong thread (I used leftover Gutermann topstitching thread from another pair of jeans–not sad to use it up as my machine hates the weight of it) and pull them up and knot them before you put the fabric in the dye bath.

zippered jeans

This took a while, but it was a relaxing bit of reckless kind of hand sewing.  I sewed approximately parallel to the selvages in rows about 2″ apart.  It was really gratifying watching 2 yards of this crunchy denim get wadded up into perfect little gathered sections.  zippered jeans

I put the fabric in a foil roasting pan and applied a fairly strong solution of Rit Aquamarine in a squeeze bottle.  I applied a very weak solution of powdered Pearl Grey as well.  The grey didn’t show up very well, but I didn’t really want it to–it just adds little flecks here and there through the fabric.  I don’t have a microwave, so I baked the fabric at 200 for seriously 4 hours at which point it was dry enough and my patience was waning and dinner had to be made.  I rinsed it out in the washer and sent it through a warm cycle to finish it off.  Then I cut the threads and admired it for a while before I cut it up into a Jalie 2908 stretch jeans. I did a different design for the back pockets, just simply combining some curves from a heart template on my cutting mat.  I traced it onto some of the sewer cloth that I use to trace patterns.  I transferred it to each pocket by just tracing right on top of it with my red Frixion pen.  The ink bled right through and I had two pockets with no fuss.  I mirrored the image for good measure and after I topstitched in white C&C heavy thread, the iron took care of the marks. I’ve kicked around the idea of putting side zippers in jeans for decoration for a while, and I knew this pair would be a good match.

zippered jeans

The white zippers go perfectly with this light denim both in vibe and color.  I pressed back the seam allowances and stitched them with topstitching thread into place.  The first side of the first zipper went in without a hitch.  The second side…not so much.  I couldn’t get it to align with the other side no matter what.  It was a case of the denim having too much give and the zipper not having any and having to sew with the zipper down, so that extra ease in the denim can’t be dealt with by the feed dogs. Why it took me 3 times of sewing the same zipper badly and picking it out again to bring out the Steam-a-Seam, I will never know, but I did get there in the end.  I marked where the bottom of my zipper hit on the tape and ran a line of SAS on the far edge of the zipper tape.  Fused into place on the denim, it no longer slipped about and my zippers were aligned without a hitch.  Zipper #2 was an easy install after that.

zippered jeans

I put the zips in upside down because I figured if I wanted to make a little vent at the bottom I could.  I don’t think you’d want to vent your undies.  I did put thread stops right where I’d want the top of a vent to end.  The zips are for decoration, not function, but I didn’t want any possibility of a wardrobe malfunction.

zippered jeans

This denim had just a little more stretch and just a little more body than my last denim, so after I basted the inseams, I had some under booty wrinkles to contend with.  I remember an alteration from the Threads Fitting DVD series where you unpick the back at the inseam to the knee, slide it forward so that the raw edges of the fronts and backs no longer meet.  You want to mark your seamline on the front and sew everything back together.  Essentially what this is doing is cutting your back inseam a size smaller from the crotch to the knee which is one way to contend with a flat posterior (I also folded out a 1/2″ wedge in the inseam tapered to zero at the side seam seam line–I’ve found I get a better fit combining alterations).  I really like this alteration because it’s the only one you can do after you’ve cut the cloth.  I couldn’t get rid of all of the wrinkles, but I got as close as I could without a back princess seam.

zippered jeans

The upside of using zippers in the sides is that you can unzip the side seams and sew and topstitch the inseam in the flat!  Yay.  It’s not only a flattering detail, but the topstitching really helps keep the seams flat on the inside, which on a fitted jean makes for an even smoother appearance. I gathered my courage and gave Jalie’s bias waistband a chance.  I didn’t have much choice.  I cut a straight grain band and it was inches too short.  Now, I know that the bias is going to stretch, but 2.25″?  For the sake of science, I had to figure it out.  Just to be safe, I cut the edges of my bias band extra long.  Sure enough, even after I interfaced the band, it stretched that magic 2.25″ that I was short on the straight band.  Plus I wanted to see just how a bias band would behave on a real body. I basted the waistband and not unlike everyone else who has made these jeans with the bias band had to fix the gaposis at CB.  I sewed out a little 3/8″ dart and put everything back together.  I followed Velosewer‘s advice and centered my seam not at CB but where one of the belt loops would be placed.  It gives the illusion of a one-piece waistband which I liked.  The bias band does conform fairly well to my curves, but I can get a better fit the first time with a contoured waistband.  It makes sense right?  The extra seams allow for more fitting at each of those seams vs. one shot at perfect fit at CB with Jalie’s waistband.  Per the contest rules of PR’s Best Pattern contest, I had to stick to the pattern, but next time, I’m using my Burda waistbands–they just fit better even if they are more irritating to make because of the extra pieces.  I’m not going to lie; cutting 2 pieces for a waistband vs. 6-8 of very similar looking pieces is much much nicer.  But if you’re sacrificing better fit, I’ll go through the irritation next round.

The only other thing I did was to incorporate the selvage into the belt loops.  It had this pretty fluffy fringy white sprinkled with the lurex strands.  I folded the belt loops so that the raw edge of the selvage ran down the center of the strip and topstitched close to the fringe and on the sides as I usually do.  I’m glad I could use the selvage–it was too pretty to waste I thought.

zippered jeans

Overall, I’m loving these jeans.  They are what I had in my mind, and I’m happy and proud that I figured out how to make that vision a reality.  One last shot for MMM, day 14 with my Cabi Gather Tee 1.0.

zippered jeans

My full review is here, and I reckon I will be looking for your vote in the contest!

Elizabeth Made This

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  1. Wow. That’s a lot of effort and you wear these so well. Glad you finished them on time.

  2. kattheengineer Reply

    Those jeans look AMAZING. I love the dye, although normally tie-dye would cause me to run screaming. And the side zips make these really unique – love it!

  3. What a flattering pair of jeans! I love the fit, and the dyeing turned out gorgeous! How do you find the time? I’m always wondering what other moms’ tricks are.

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