Pattern Testing – Helene Selvedge Jeans
The Helene Selvedge Jeans pattern has been a long awaited one. Over lockdown I watched Anna Allen’s Instagram posts closely as she shared pair after pair of amazing jeans, she was making herself. I knew she was planning to release them, but as usual wanted the pattern to be perfect. I have sort of made jeans before using the Anna Allen Philippa pattern and adding my own jeans style pockets – You can see my version here.
The Helene Selvedge Jeans have 3 different leg views, slim, straight and wide leg as well as a shorts version. So much research into traditional denim and jeans making has been done by Anna, and I can see this reflected in the pattern. With topstitching, jeans hardware and styling.
I have again taken part in the testing process. If you’ve read my blog before you will have seen I’m no stranger to testing patterns. You can read some of my other testing blogs:
Testing patterns is my favourite; I think it really improves my sewing and pattern reading no end. I can be a bit of a sloppy sewer and I know it. As I skim over instructions and just guess the steps. This often works but sometimes leads to disaster. When you pattern test, you need to carefully read all the instructions and follow the pattern to the letter. This helps when looking for typos, instructions that don’t make sense or fit issues.
It also means you get to see the patten first which always makes me feel like I’m in a special club.
Helene Jeans Process
I decided to go for the shorts version for a couple of reasons. With a new baby I didn’t have a lot of time or space to work and thought shorts would work well. Also, with my ever-changing post baby body, I thought fitting the shorts would be a great first step. Finally, it’s very hot in the UK at the moment and everyone knows I love wearing shorts.
I love shopping in real bricks and mortar fabric shops, I really enjoy that part of the process. It helps me to be able to touch all the fabrics. Less denim is stocked in my local shops so I visited Ditto in Brighton and picked up this lovely black denim. They didn’t know the weight but it feels quite heavy to me. Anna suggests 10-15oz for this pattern and I like heavier denim. I have also found some lovely Mind the Maker denims online at Minerva.
Anna spent a long time developing this pattern to get it perfect, it really shows. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Perfect if you are new to sewing jeans.
I cut out all the pieces and managed to save quite a lot of fabric, so hopefully I can make something else with the denim scraps.
Firstly I constructed the fly front, so I took my time getting it perfect. I could adjust the topstitching as I went. I used a grey/black top stitching thread, so it was less obvious than the traditional golden yellow. That way any mistakes wouldn’t show up. But actually, it went through the machine beautifully so no unpicking was necessary. I decided to add a zip fly, Anna included instructions and patterns for both zip or button. A lovely added extra with the Helene Selvedge Jeans Pattern.
The front pockets and pocket bags are added in next; the pocket bag is one piece folded in half with an added pocket bearer of denim sewn top. This bit can be a bit of a fiddle, making sure you’ve sewn it to the correct side and folded it correctly. I suggest pinning all the pieces, then pinning to the jeans front before sewing. To avoid unpicking, like I had to!
I constructed the back of the jeans next, I added the patch pockets, as well as the yoke and top stitching. A tip I found helpful throughout the construction of the Helene Jeans. Read ahead in the pattern so you can try and group the topstitching and general stitching together as much as possible. This saves time, as you don’t have to keep swapping between topstitching thread and regular thread. Obviously, some lucky people have two separate machines, but most don’t ha.
Once the front and back are fully constructed I sewed the side seams next which and then made my fitting adjustments. I ended up taking mine in a bit at the waist. The waistband is also longer than needed to account for fitting, which is a nice touch.
The final touches are adding the belt loops and jeans hardware. The belt loops were the trickiest part for my machine. I folded them up and topstitched, they ended up being about 6 layers of denim thick. My machine couldn’t handle this well and I ended up breaking at least 5 needles. Another tip here is to bash the denim with a mallet or hammer, or anything you have to hand, this loosens the threads and makes it easier to sew.
After this I put on the shorts and didn’t take them off for about a week. I loved the unfinished edges and have kept them like this rather than hemming. Helene Jeans shorts of the summer.
Helene Selvedge Jeans Adjustments
I toiled the Helene Shorts first to get the fit right, starting with a size 10, as that is the correct fit for my hips and bum, and then took it in at the waist to a size 6. I toiled, I using a medium weight calico, although it is recommended to use fabric of a similar weight.
When I made the final pair once I tried them on at a size 10, they fitted really well, so I decided to not taken them in to a size 6 at the waist. The thicker denim was already tighter. But with wearing they have stretched out again, so now they are quite loose at the waist – luckily, I’m wearing a belt.
Would I make them again?
Anna spent a long time developing this pattern to get it perfect, it really shows. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Perfect if you are new to sewing jeans. The main reason I sewed the Helene Shorts was as a wearable toile for the Helene Selvedge Jeans. I have checked and adjusted the fit and ordered so denim ready to make my first pair of jeans.
The pattern is available now, you can purchase it on Anna Allen’s Website
I’d love to hear if any of you make the Helene Jeans or Shorts – send me links in the comments
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