Pattern Review: Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

When I first started sewing, I remember being in awe of people who had made a pair of jeans. To me, this seemed liked the gold standard of sewing. Jeans-making encompasses a number of fiddly techniques so, in my eyes, when you’re donning your DIY denims, you know you’ve truly got some skills under your, er, belt? Now this isn’t a cry for applause since I actually managed to make a pair of jeans but it is kinda funny to me that I made a garment I wasn’t sure I could, and had to make alterations, something I really wasn’t sure I could. Ironically, if I hadn’t erred on the side of caution so much with the sizing I may have achieved a better fit first time round – but then where would the fun be in that?!

Thoughts on the Pattern

So let’s start with the pattern. First and foremost I should say that I would 100% use the Dawn Jeans pattern again. It made the whole process of jeans-making a lot less scary and there was even a sewalong online to refer to for extra hints and tips. I decided to go for the straight leg version (View B) . I usually opt for skinny jeans day-to-day but having seen so many sewists rocking the straight-leg version online I was swayed. All in all these took just over a week for me to complete, including alterations. Admittedly, I’m not the speediest of makers so you may find you’d be able to whip these up in a number of days.

Sizing

One of the main changes I’d make next time is to judge my size better by referring to the finished garment measurements instead of the body measurements in the pattern booklet. I was working with stiff denim fabric so didn’t want to risk them being too small. Looking at the body measurements I measured a size 10 but I sized up to a 12, just in case. However, on the finished garment measurements I was a size 6 at the waist and 10 at the hip so I can see now what the root of the problem was. Plus , when I altered the jeans I found I needed to take the leg seam in by about an inch so I would definitely advise thinking about how fitted you want these jeans to be and go from there. The pictures below show the jeans before any alterations.

Changes I would make next time

Aside from following the size guide more closely, there were a couple of other elements I would change next time. Firstly, pockets. I used the same heavy denim for the pockets and actually since you don’t see them you can use any fabric you want – great for stash busting! Although the pockets look fine, they are still quite stiff so instead, I would add a soft cotton just to make the jeans slightly easier to move in. Additionally, I couldn’t decide what length I wanted my jeans to be. You have three options with this pattern, cropped, regular or tall. I went for tall at first as I’m just under 5ft8 but then decided to cut off the bottom between the cropped and regular hem line. I would perhaps be tempted to make these a touch longer so I can roll up the hem a couple of times to the outside.

The fabric

Typical moi spent a few hours searching for fabric (too.much.fun!) The pattern advises bottom-weight fabrics so I went for a Lady McElroy 14oz heavy bull denim from Minerva. I also purchased denim sewing machine needles which were brilliant at getting through the fabric. Additionally, I decided on a buttom-front closure and used these Prym Bachelor jeans buttons which were really simple to install.

Final thoughts

This turned out to be a really good skill-building project for me. I’ve always shied away from making alterations but actually, this pushed me to have a go and it’s given me confidence to alter the fit of my garments going forward. I had to downsize these jeans at the waist and leg so I’m not really sure if these even reflect the true style on the pattern anymore but I’m so much happier with the fit and they’re so comfy too! My best piece of advice should you give the Dawn Jeans pattern a try, make sure you get denim sewing needles for your machine, my Singer wouldn’t have managed without them, and if you can/want to, make a toile to ensure you’re going to be happy with the fit.

Thanks for reading – à bientôt!

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