Ginger Jeans Pattern usinG Italian denim // Closet Case Files
Sewing Projects


I wasn’t sure if I should share this recent make. I mean, at this point I’ve sewn, photographed and blogged so many Ginger Jeans (hacked, flared, zipped, you name it) that it I worry it’s redundant. While this current iteration is pretty classic as far as jeans go, they’re special to me because I made them during a workshop while teaching other ladies how to make their own jeans too. I am always particularly fond of workshop samples for that reason; they’re a tool that keeps giving back (to my booty).

Ginger Jeans Pattern usinG Italian denim // Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans Pattern usinG Italian denim // Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans Pattern usinG Italian denim // Closet Case Files

And look at all that long hair! I don’t miss you AT ALL. I highly suggest hacking it all off if you’re bored with your look. It will grow back, promise.

These Ginger babies are made from the same Italian denim I used to make my recent flares. Turns out the recovery isn’t so great (which makes me very glad I didn’t use them in any of our kits) but the finish/wash is exceptional so I don’t mind getting them back into fighting shape by washing them every 2 wears or so. It’s been a while since I made a true high-waisted pair, so I returned to this old favourite. The only change I made was to narrow the yoke by about 1/2″ (transferring the 1/2″ to the top of the back leg). Lately the height of the yoke has been bugging me so this was a simple, proportional fix. I also went up a size since it’s been many moons since I could comfortably wear any of the many size tens I made in the past. The nice thing about sewing is that a little weight gain is only ever an excuse to sew more stuff.

Ginger Jeans Pattern usinG Italian denim // Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans Pattern usinG Italian denim // Closet Case Files

As I mentioned. these were made during a recent Ginger workshop I taught at Fabrications in Ottawa. I love these weekends. It’s so much fun to hole up for a few days with like-minded people and crank out jeans in my version of a friendly sweatshop.

I’ve discovered how much I love teaching; for a control freak, it’s kind of the perfect gig, and it’s always nice to be given the opportunity to deliver a Friday Night Lights-esque pep talk at the beginning to try to release some of the nerves and tension people have about tackling more complicated sewing projects. I’ve been teaching enough lately that I thought I’d share some of the top tips that come up again and again in class…

Ginger Jeans workshop

Class photo from Camp Workroom Social

  1. Put down your seam ripper. Seriously, PUT IT DOWN. Unless you sewed the crotch of your jeans to the hem of your pants, methodically ripping out slightly less than perfect topstitching is a waste of time. Don’t get mired in chasing the perfection dragon. Just move on to the next step.
  2. If topstitching scares you, choose a matching thread. No one will ever see your first time wonky stitching.
  3. Be mindful of your tension settings. If you’re switching back and forth with regular and topstitching thread, you’ll have to adjust your tension accordingly. Get in the habit of adjusting it each time you switch spools.
  4. I see you with that seam ripper! You can’t hide from me! Let it go!
  5. If you need to stop stitching halfway through a topstitched line (like at the waistband for example) don’t fret! Just pull the thread through to the back and knot it securely. If you start your next stitch precisely next to the last one and pull that thread through as well, no one will ever know it’s not a continuous stitch line!
  6. Don’t have a pint of beer on your lunch break. Trust me on this one.
  7. Use a nice sturdy fabric for your pocket linings. Silk and rayon are not great choices for your first pair.
  8. There is no amount of donuts that a pocket stay won’t help hide.
  9. Donuts make a great sewing companion in the afternoon when you start getting sleepy.
  10. Before topstitching your waistband, stitch a little bit of thread into the corner so you have something to pull on to help feed it through your machine.
  11. If you can’t get the tension right with your bar tack, thread the bobbin thread through the little hole in the bobbin arm.
  12. Switch to regular thread for your buttonhole. I’ll probably end up sewing it for you in class since we’ll be in a rush to finish, but read this post and practice at home.
  13. The finished result will be far more meaningful than any of its minor flaws. Jeans are the sum of their parts so PUT THE SEAM RIPPER DOWN AND FINISH THEM!
Ginger Jeans workshop 2

Jeans babes at Fabrications

Do you have any jeans making tips I can share with my students this weekend?

  • I love that denim! Want to come back to Seattle to teach a class? I’d love to take your Ginger class.

    • Hi Meg! Lemme work on that 😉

      ps. Hope you’re doing well lady!! xo

  • cookie

    any chance you’ll be teaching a class in Vancouver soon?

    • I’ve got nothing on the books but I am headed that way this summer so maybe I’ll chat up some of the sewing spots!

      • cookie

        Excellent. The West Coast needs more Heather Lou in our lives.


    I’m naking my first pair of jeans using your instructions but I decided to do the topstitching in 2 different colours….great plan but it’s taking forever! I probably should have saved that idea for my second or third pair!

    Moral of the story: start simple

    • Sarah Curtis

      I did the same thing. It took longer, but it was certainly worth it.


        O yeah, it’s totally worth it, it’s just taking FOREVER, 🙂

    • It’s going to look amazing!!!

  • Sarah Curtis

    Do you maintain a list of the classes you are teaching somewhere that we can see? I’d love to one of your workshops.

    • kellicousins

      Me too!

    • Honestly, most of the time they sell out when the shop owner sends out a newsletter so I haven’t needed to mention on the blog. I’m sorry Sarah!

      • Sarah Curtis

        No worries. I’ll just keep my eyes peeled. I’m sure I am not the only person willing to travel a bit to get a workshop with you. I just made my first pair of Ginger Jeans and I was shaking during the last step I was so excited and proud of myself. That hasn’t happened since I made my first Bombshell. You really are amazing at guiding people through their fears.

  • catherine from canada

    Had so much fun at the Ottawa class! I’m loving my jeans and yeah, I’ll second that one about beer…

    • At least I never regretted bringing home a suitcase full of beer!

  • I have had this pattern for ages I must really make a pair of Ginger’s. I think I have spent far too long looking for reasonably priced great denim in Australia and just need to bite the bullet and buy something.

    • Do it! Look for a bit of polyester – it helps prevent baggy knees 😉

  • LOL…too bad about number six….

    Number nine? We’ll be at the ready with Lee’s Donuts from Granville Island should you return to Vancouver!

    Aaaand…no such thing as too many Ginger Jeans posts. Just sayin’.

  • Jessica

    But I neeeed my seam ripper!
    –that girl from camp workroom social who surreptitiously tried to unpick everything

  • When topstitch ing steady pace wins the race. There is no hurry! No one said thst there have to be two parallel rows of it 😉 Also – special topstitch ing presser foot! I love mine so and I don’t only use them for jeans 😉
    But when it comes to seam ripping…one of the first things I was taught in tailoring school – – they don’t pay you for seam ripping. You either will try to avoid it or learn how to do it super fast.

    • I love that philosophy ;)I should get a topstitching foot …. I don’t have one!

      • :O you should buy one like…. yesterday!

  • Jeans are easy once you get the fit (and addictive when you do) but they have a lot of steps that are better done in order. Your instructions are wonderful, and it’s hard to go wrong with them.
    Unless sleepy donuts. I recommend the Coffee Bomb at Mighty O in Seattle.

    • NOTED. Take me there the next time I’m in town 😉

  • Oh my goodness, I nearly choked on my tea at the bit about the stitch ripper!! I’m nearly finished my first pair of Gingers (the flares), and they are fabulous, even if I say so myself! But I seriously needed to step away from the stitch ripper on the top stitching. Perfection is so over rated!! A good tip I read was to use normal thread instead of top stitching thread for the belt loops, it worked like a charm. Lynne

    • That’s a good tip! The belt loops can be a pain the arse to nail down. So happy you love your Flares!!

  • Francesca Amodeo

    Wow. Totally hot – even that adorable cat who looks just like my long gone Lucyfer thinks so! But like I already told you – love the new haircut:)

  • Margo Bergman

    Another great pair of jeans! Thanks for the tips, I just finished my first pair and followed your philosophy about not seeking perfection and I truly enjoyed making them this way. I love wearing them even more!

    • Amazing! That is wonderful to hear. Welcome to the jeans-making club 😉

  • Vanessa

    Great tips, thanks for sharing.
    Here is a tip I like to use for top-stitching. I like using the triple stitch for topstitching because it doesn’t require you to buy special thread, it’s stronger than a regular stitch and you can use a matching color or any contrasting color you want.

    • Yes! This is a great tip. I haven’t done it yet but I have recommended this before. do you find its tricky to do teh triple stitch around corners or is it easier since you’re moving a little slower?

      • Vanessa

        It’s not tricky at all, it just needs to pay some attention to be sure that the last triple stitch is entirely done before turning. So sewing slowly is the only way to succeed.

  • Alexandria, VA?! You mean 15 minutes away from me?!
    Why you no say these things earlier?! It’s my bday weekend! if you have free time, maybe you can come by and have some cake!

    • Stop by the shop if you have a minute Tasha! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! xoxox

  • sallieforrer

    Gorgeous jeans, and great tips!! I heartily second letting those small imperfections go. Seriously. No one will EVER know!

    • Except we LOVE to point at them and see “See this tiny flaw? LOOK AT IT!”

  • I am a known topstitching seam ripping offender, but after the jeans go through the wash a few times, it’s like you say – I forget all about mismatched stitch lengths or imperfect fly stitching. That said, I topstitch more slowly than I used to – it’s takes just a few minutes more time and it yields beautiful results!

    Pretty sure I picked this tip up from Sallieoh – use a hammer to flatten out areas where a lot of seams converge. Your sewing machine will thank you with beautiful stitching (and less groaning).

  • Marianne

    I would LOOOOOVE to take one of your classes! Got any projects to give one in Quebec City??!

  • Andrea Flory

    So excited for the class this weekend! Already packed my seam ripper…

  • Susan Buchanan

    An awl to push things through, and Jonathan Embroidery to make my buttonhole 🙂

  • K_Line

    What an awesome post! Excellent advice.

  • CheriseDesign

    Oh man, so true about the seam ripper! I just finished my first pair of Gingers and there’s a few spots where I wish I would have just ripped off the whole top stitching instead of ripping off where it went wrong and then continuing the top-stitch from there.

    Also my denim was quite stretchy and having the interfacing on the back pockets resulted in the pocket edges digging in to my bum, because of course they didn’t stretch the same way as the fabric underneath (yes I had to stitch them on before putting the front and back together, because I’m lazy). So I ended up adjusting them after stitching them on. And this is one of top-stitching ordeals that keeps bugging me. I try to tell myself “they’re fine, no one will notice, breathe in, breathe out, let it go” 😀 Next time I’m a little wiser.

  • Amy

    Good advice! Thankfully I don’t love my seam ripper. But in reading this all I could hear is “stop frogging that project!” Knitting obsessive-ness… And hey, is that a street kitty? He/she is really handsome…

  • I love the pic with all the class participants showing off their finished jeans!!! And these tips, just like every other tips you give, are brilliant.