Monday, September 17, 2007

“We Can Rebuild It”

The Infamous Skirt of War

I’ll confess. The first thought which went racing through my head when my favorite pair of knock-around jeans got ripped isn’t exactly printable on a PG website. Well, PG-13. Let me make something very clear, at my size… I develop a deep rooted attachment to my clothes. If they have managed to deal with lanky legs, hips suited for any fertility deity you wish to name, a manageably sized waist, and… well, shall we say “the girls”, (IE – there’s normal, there’s Aida, and then there’s Good Grief, that’s Jenna! The first person who called me ‘blessed’ at 15 got punched in the face. Hard.) are items hard worn and well loved. Rarely do I find clothes that fit me well, and when faced with losing them I get testy. Alright. I might have hit the rampaging elf who ripped them with his own sword, pulled off his ear (and if you have ever tried to remove surgical grade spirit gum, that’s saying something) and said something bad about his mum. But after the rage bled back – and the elf brought me an offering of chocolate – I decided that I had other jeans and wanted to see if I could do something a little different. A plan to branch out of my pattern following ways.

Which means the first thing I did was desperately try to find a decent pattern. More fool I. The websites I found were sketchy at best, a few tried to give step by step pictures… but would attempt to fuse four steps into one in an effort to save space. Not helpful. So, in the end, I did what any nerd would do. I said to heck with it and starting cutting… a few cackles and a strangled off cry for Igor and I was off.

What follows is NOT going to be a step by step. The only pictures are of the finished product. Your options after reading this through as thus – do what I did and just jump in (if you follow this route, please be using OLD jeans. Better yet, wait until you can grab a few pair at a garage sale for a quarter. I take no responsibility if you try to cut up a $150 pair of designer jeans and are not happy with the result. In fact, first I will mock you for ever buying jeans that cost that much in the first place, THEN I will tell you to put on a pair of big girl panties and deal.) OR… I suppose if it all is going banana shape, drop me an email and I’ll see what I can do to help.

To begin. My skirt is the easiest way to go to start. By that I mean… long. If you desperately want a short skirt, there is a WHOLE lot more to measure, the issue of making each side match comes up as well. Doable, but I would suggest to new sewers out there to try the long version first. You need (obviously) a pair of blue jeans, about a yard of scrap fabric (I have two fabrics in my skirt. Some left over brocade for the front and back pleats, and some plain pink for the sides. Match each if you want, or go nuts and have four separate panels. This is all about your idea of a good looking skirt.), a sharp pair of scissors, thread, either a sewing machine or the knowledge of hand stitching, pins, a seam ripper, and a steam iron. Once everything is gathered up, you’re ready to roll.

For the long – Cut off the bottom of the jeans. Just chop off right where the hem is. Do this on both legs. (The reason longer is easier comes in here… short and you have to mark the length on both legs to match and make sure to keep everything even.)
Now comes the hardest part… and it isn’t hard. Just long and slightly tedious. You know all that sturdy stitching that defines a pair of jeans? Well, most of that has to come undone. Yup, just you and your seam ripper for the next couple of hours. On the sides of each leg, pull up the seams all the way up to the saddle – that’s the area where the pockets are placed in the sides of the jeans and the cross fabric that makes up the top is sewn on. (Here is were the shorter skirts start to look enviable.) Both side, up the center of each leg to the join. You want the jeans completely opened up the legs in the back and the seam ripped up the front, stopping about 2 inches shy of the bottom of the zipper.

Might I suggest taking a few moments and picking out a couple of DVD’s for the evening? This isn’t going to be hard work, but you can’t just cut up the seams (tried, failed. Trust me. You need the seam allowances.) so its gonna be a bit of a mindless slog for a few. Get something cheering on the screen and work away.

Go on. The rest will be here tomorrow when you’re done.


Annalivia said...

I found you through LawDog - congrats on handling the bully the way you did! Im writing to you to ask where you buy your jeans: I am a woman of your height and build, and I can NEVER find jeans that fit...

Jenna said...

To my everlasting shame and horror, I discovered that this particular pair (only after trying them on and loving them) happen to have the name....

Jessica Simpson sewed into them.

I'm so ashamed.

In my defense, the tag was only noticed AT the register, I would never have tried them on otherwise.

Its really hit or miss with me. My big problem is I'm pretty much the sterotype hourglass - big bust, small(ish) waist, and good "child-birthin" hips. Makes finding pants a bear. One of the main reasons once my last two pair die I'm changing over to wrap pants. Comfy, easy to work in, classy if I am going out... if you sew at all try Simplicity 5508 is a great go to pattern for these comfiest of pants. My email is on the site, drop me a line some time if you want any other info.