Thursday, September 27, 2018

Vogue 2442 -- Vintage Calvin Klein Jeans

Nope, haven't perfected the fit yet!

I've been working on these jeans on and off for too many weeks... with a couple vacations in between... and they are finally done! Before I get to all the details, I'll just say that if you can find this pattern in a thrift store or on Etsy, eBay, etc., and if you're a jeans-making or pattern-drafting nerd like me, it's worth buying.

Fabric Selection
I've made a lot of jeans and currently have about 6 pairs of me-made jeans in various stages of wearability and honestly I didn't need another pair. I decided to shake things up this time with colored denim. Ha, yes, I'm so daring! Anyway, I thought it would give me a little bit dressier option than regular blue denim jeans.

This pattern pre-dates widely available stretch denim so I wanted to make it in non-stretch fabric. Ultimately I decided on wine-colored bull denim from  Bull denim is thick like regular denim, sometimes even thicker, but it's not quite as stiff so it can be easier to sew and more comfortable to wear. The only drawback to the denim I found -- it was intended for home dec use and was labeled dry clean only.

Not one to religiously follow care instructions, I bought the fabric anyway and decided to see what would happen if I washed it. It's 100% cotton so what could go wrong?

There are two things I always (ok, usually) test for before I sew up a fabric, crocking and bleeding. Crocking is when the dye rubs off when the fabric is dry. Washing the fabric may or may not stop the crocking. I've had some denim that crocks so badly I can't sit on light colored furniture, even after several washes. I think it's actually fairly common in darker blue denims (or maybe I tend to buy poor-quality denim) and I'm ok with a small degree of crocking, but if it turns my hands, my sewing machine, or the inside of my dryer an obvious color then I don't want to work with it or wear it because if I do I'll eventually end up with permanent dye someplace I didn't want it. I check for this by rubbing a scrap of light cloth fairly hard on an edge of the fabric. (Not the middle in case it removes dye and leaves a light spot.) This dark wine-colored denim didn't crock at all! Yay! I thought I was home free!

I washed the fabric once by itself in hot water to get as much shrinkage and excess dye out of the way as possible. I dried it on hot, again to encourage shrinkage, then I repeated the whole process. I hate to waste so much hot water and electricity on pretreating fabric, but better that than a surprise shrinkage after I've put hours into a project (been there, done that). Then I washed it a 3rd time with a load of dark towels and one white washcloth. The dark brown towels weren't affected, the medium blue towel came out of the laundry with a distinct periwinkle cast, and the white washcloth was VERY pink. Obviously this fabric has a bleeding problem, which is when the dye transfers to another fabric when the fabric is wet. I would mostly be washing these jeans with other dark colors, but what about my husband's navy shirts with small white logos? I really can't have those turning pink!

Lucky I happened to have some Retayne dye fixative on hand. I think RIT makes a fixative as well. The treatment involved hand agitating the fabric and fixative in a large bucket of hot water for 30 minutes (not fun!) but one more wash with another white washcloth showed only the slightest amount of bleeding. As long as I'm careful with the laundry I shouldn't have any more problems.

The Pattern
I've seen a few blog posts by other people who made this pattern and it seemed to run a little big. It's pretty typical for Vogue patterns to have a lot of ease so I thought the size 12 should fit me perfectly even though my measurements put me in a 14. It was close, a 14 might have been too big, but I was VERY glad I added extra wide seam allowances on the side seams.

The pattern has a couple quirks, namely the position of the inseam and side seam. Compared to other jeans patterns I have, and to RTW jeans, these seams on this pattern sit farther back. I don't know if that was typical in 80's jeans, but I decided to move them to make them more like what I'm used to. On the jeans front piece I moved the inseam stitching line in by 1/2".  On the back piece I moved the inseam out by 1/2" and added 1" in width to the entire length of the piece, as well as to the back yoke. This gave me extra seam allowance to work with on the sides.

Besides that it's a pretty good pattern, better than any other I've made. The back yoke has no dart shaping which I thought was strange, but it works incredibly well on me. The notches are all numbered in order of assembly. Do Vogue patterns still do that? I forgot it was a thing, and I love it. The best feature may be the pocket stay. The innermost pocket piece extends into the fly at center front, which gives a flatter-looking front...

Front Pocket Stay

Also, the jeans front piece is 1/4" wider than the stay, meaning there is more fabric in the outer layer to make a smooth curve around the body, AND it gives a tiny bit of ease in the pocket opening so you can actually uses your pockets! I've seen directions for this, and I've included it in my own self-drafted jeans, but I've never seen it in another pattern. Not that I've used a lot of jeans patterns, but feel free to recommend any that do this because to me it's a mark of a well-drafted pattern.

The pattern has a contoured waistband, which I didn't use because it was VERY curved. I may actually have a 4" difference between my waist and 1.5" below my waist, but I don't want to emphasize it. Instead I cut a straight waistband, stabilized the upper edge with narrow twill tape, and stretched/steamed the lower edge of the waistband into a curve.

The fly instructions are really good. I don't think a jeans fly is hard, the main difference is in the quality of instructions. These instructions don't even mention a serger (hello 1980!) which I think is great, because jeans-making shouldn't be limited to serger owners.

And the best/worst part of the pattern -- the stitching guide for Calvin Klein's back pocket design. Is it right for me to put the Calvin Klein stitching on jeans I made? It kind of feels like I'm being dishonest. But then is it right to use Calvin Klein's pattern and put my own stitching on the pockets? That doesn't feel right either. I did the CK stitch pattern in matching thread so it's not too obvious. I'll have to see how I feel after I wear them a few times.

A final quick summary of this pattern:


  • Pocket stay
  • Roomy front pockets
  • Great fly instructions
  • Calvin Klein back pocket stitch design
  • Looks nearly identical to high-waist, straight-leg jeans currently on Calvin Klein website
  • Overly contoured waistband
  • Inseam and side seams are set too far back
  • Front and back inseam are the same length, leaving too much length in back thigh
Would I make these again?  Umm, probably not. The fit still needs a lot of work for me, and the style seems a little frumpy on my short legs. But I'll use some of the features I like in my self-drafted jeans pattern just because it already fits me, and I'll keep trying to create the perfect pair of jeans!

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