White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic
Sewing Projects

The Perfect Outfit: White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Tunic

They said it couldn’t be done, and frankly, I’m just astonished as everyone who doubted me: it is an absolute miracle that I was actually able to take pictures of these jeans after all they’ve been through this summer. For all of you afraid of white denim out there,  I’m here to tell you: if I can make them last this long without permanent stains, SO CAN YOU.

I’m kind of embarrassed it’s taken me this long to document these Ginger Jeans. I made them back in April at my Pintuck & Purl workshop in New Hampshire and have been wearing them at least once a week since then. I’ve just been plain old bad about photographing my makes this year. Jaime helped me take a few pictures after our Fancy Tiger retreat a few weeks ago but they were taken on an iphone at dusk and were way too grainy, so I finally just asked Alex to snap some pics this week before something terrible happened and the legend of these jeans haunted me forever.

I love white jeans. I had a RTW pair for a long time, but I stopped wearing them after I designed Ginger. They never fit very well and it’s hard to go back to ill-fitting jeans after making your own for so many years. I really missed having a pair in my closet; they make me feel like I’m in an 80’s movie in a good way, and scream effortless summer even if I will sometimes sneak them out in the middle of November, just because. Pulling on a clean pair makes me feel like I’m not the clutzy, clumsy, stain magnet that I really am.

White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic

You may be asking why I tempt fate like I do in these white beacons of purity. If not a single day has gone that I haven’t gotten tea, wine or olive oil on myself, why am I arrogantly strutting around in white pants practically begging to be splashed with the vivid stains of hubris?

Because life is too short and I discovered the magic of savon de Marseille.

White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/TunicWhite Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic

Let me explain. When I packed for our trip to France this year, I tried to pack as light and tight as possible. I thought it was going to be hotter than that Serge Gainsbourg song with all the moaning, not realizing that Guillaume’s mom’s place is high up a mountain and quite chilly all year round. I ended up wearing these jeans a lot since they were the only pair I brought, and I quickly gained a reputation in the family as The Tache Monster (tache = stain). Every day I got something on myself. Every. Single. Day. The pinnacle of this stain streak resulted in G’s 3-year-old niece spilling scalding hot coffee all over my white jeans while we were out visiting. I had no other pants and we had an entire day planned out in the world, and I am ashamed to say I actually started crying in front of the entire extended family. They were my only “warm” pants and they now looked like I had been murdered and buried in them, even after 20 minutes of earnest scrubbing. I was also wet and cold and (I later realized) PMSing intensely hard, but surely crying over spilled coffee while you’re on your dream vacation in France is a slight overreaction.

This is where the magic of French soap comes in. My mother in law promised that they’d be good as new after rubbing the stains with her bar of Marseille (which I saw in literally every kitchen in France) and letting it soak. After throwing them in the wash the next day, it was like the whole coffee/niece/crying spectacle never happened. Did I buy 6 bars of savon de Marseille to circumvent more white denim disasters in the future? What do you think? (ps you can get the same stuff I stocked up on here. It really is the best).

Stains aside, let’s talk about these puppies. They are the high-rise Ginger with a few modifications. Lately, I’ve been liking a slightly shorter yoke, so I transferred a half inch of height from the yoke to the back leg. I also wanted a slightly less skinny leg. so around mid-thigh I changed my seam allowance from 5/8″ to 3/8″. This is an easy way to create a straighter leg without tracing off the stovepipe legs from View A. I also cut a cropped,  raw hem on purpose; I wanted some casual fraying action happening around my ankles.

White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic

The denim is Cone Mills and I’ve had it for a few years. Originally I thought it was too lightweight for jeans (nothing worse than seeing cellulite through skintight white denim I always say!) but it’s actually kind of perfect, and now I regret not using it in one of our kits. The only issue with white denim (besides having to be very careful around grass and wine glasses) is how it also shows every single little drag line, since it casts shadows so easily. I’d suggest not freaking out and overfitting if you notice some horizontal lines you don’t see ordinarily. You can’t be stressed in white jeans; you have to let the river of life have it’s way with you while you’re wearing them. Call it Zen and the Art of White Denim.

The button and rivet are from our copper fly-front kit and I have to say, I love the patina our hardware gets after being washed a million times. I also added a white leather patch on the waistband just for kicks.

White Ginger Jeans pattern with Closet Case Patterns Jeans Hardware White Ginger Jeans pattern with Closet Case Patterns Jeans Hardware

Worn with my Unstainable jeans is another older make, a Kalle tunic. This was actually one of my very early samples when I was developing the pattern. I believe this was from the iteration with the comically large neck opening, so I have to wear it undone because otherwise, my head looks like it got hit with a shrink ray. That said, this is probably one of my most worn garments this year. I used a deep indigo Cone shirting from my stash, and I love how it’s faded with lots of washing.

White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic

The tunic variation is hands down my favorite thing to wear with skinny jeans and leggings, and when I discovered how much I loved it knotted with high waisted jeans it was like discovering a whole new garment. Because of the deep curves at the hip, it looks great tied up – you don’t have all that volume you would have with a normal shirt.

White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic \ White Ginger Jeans + Denim Kalle Shirt/Tunic

This was definitely a high rotation outfit this year, and as long as I have my Marseille soap I foresee many more years with these Gingers in my closet.

Would you ever throw caution to the wind for a pair of white jeans? Any other hot tips for keeping them as white as possible for as long as possible?

Outfit details: Ginger Jeans (View B), Kalle Shirtdress (View B),  Dr. Scholls mules (sadly sold out!), Lipstick: Glossier Generation G in Poppy Red

  • Opportune

    I laugh so bad when reading the breakout in front your in laws !!! I’m french, and love your look on France and french people. Seems you found a great sample with Guillaume’s family !

    • They took it well 🙂 I have ingratiated myself with them by cooking all the time so I think I can cry every once in a while and get a way with it, haha

  • Hilde

    Lovely outfit with a great story!
    Being a SAHM of 3 kids age 2, 4, 8, no I’m not going to wear white clothes. I like the look though 😊

    • Yeah, I think you need to wait till they’re in college hahahahaha

  • Love the whole outfit, the top and jeans look great together. I felt for you when I read the bit about you crying! I can so relate – I never see the PMS for what it is until way too late, usually after I’ve been incredibly rude to someone or honked loudly in a fit of PMS induced road rage 😂 Anyway glad you got those stains out, gotta get me some of that soap.

    • I am an absolute monster two days a month and only ever realize when its over too, haha. “Why am I filled with boiling hot rage? Oh, wait a minute….” I hate being such a prisoner to my hormones, but such is life.

  • Tara

    These are great! Thank you so much for the soap link, I made a pair of white Morgan’s this summer and love them, but hesitate to wear them bc…. three kids at home 5 and under! I haven’t found a great soap yet to keep them looking clean so will try this.

  • Lauren

    I love love love this outfit! Your fit on the jeans is spot on! I really need to make some white Gingers.

    • Thanks Lauren! Get on it lady – they’re worth the effort (nothing looks better with a striped tee!)

  • I do love those jeans. It’s a great example of why people make their own clothes and how they look super confident in them (because you do). I have to tell you the Oxyclean story: my MIL’s brother would use Oxy each time he wore his jeans. One day, he dressed, went to work in said jeans, and the seams failed. The cleaner dissolved the threads as they crossed in the seams (so that the thread was intact on the sides but separated neatly along the seam).
    Nothing lasts forever.

    • OMG! I am having a mental image of his pants literally peeling away in layers. I love Oxi but I only save it for the real tough jobs. Even oxygen bleach will eat your fabric eventually.

  • Haldun

    Crying over stained pants? Snowflake problems. There are refugees in need of so much right now. Think about them.

    • kellicousins

      For real you’re gonna read a whole blog post, then sign in here to say something dismissive? Look at your life, look at your choices.

    • Caroline

      Congrats, Heather! Weirdo trolls mean you’ve really made it on the internet. I’m not entirely sure, but there may be some sort of plaque in the mail, or maybe a sash/tiara combo?

      • Ah ha, I just saw this! The irony is that I am wracked with crippling anxiety everyday about what is happening in the world, along with donating money whenever I can to various organizations, but tell that to my hormones when a 3 year old spills coffee on me.

        • Caroline

          You know, I think that’s basically everyone (or at least everyone I know). I do the same thing, too–my boyfriend and I were news junkies before, and now we’re amped up to the max struggling to keep on top of everything while simultaneously freaking out about it and throwing whatever money we can at organizations that need it/seem important. Like, I get that there are important world issues out there. But HEAVEN HELP ME if, during my monster PMS times (unflatteringly referred to as “Kaiju Watch” by said boyfriend) I burn dinner or something and then all of a sudden it’s INCONSOLABLE TEARS mixed with yelling at the food and then more INCONSOLABLE TEARS. And afterwards, when the hormones have subsided and the memories wash over me (and the boyfriend and dog are still possibly looking at me reproachfully), extreme embarrassment.

          Being a lady is fun!

          • Haldun

            Please list all the organizations you have helped via donation. What is worse, being a “troll” or a hypocrite?

          • I’m on a bit of a news boycott just for sanity reasons; I have a few magazine subscriptions that give more deep dive stuff but day to day it’s just not helpful for me. I also use an app that replaces you know how’s face with pictures of kittens. Also, regarding the PMS thing; it always makes me laugh when the moment passes and you’re like, oh god, this is what all these sitcom jokes are referring to.

          • Caroline

            Wait, that app is a real thing? Because that sounds kind of awesome and like I need it in my life.

            Unrelated: I am using one of your patterns (with the help of my awesome sewing teacher) to craft the perfect Halloween costume. All I’m going to say is that it’s outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous.

          • Its totally a thing! Its a chrome extension. And please keep me posted on your Halloween costume! Sounds super awesome.

          • Caroline

            Hee, I tagged you on Instagram. It turned out pretty good!

    • Lmaoooo there’s also refugees who don’t have internet or the energy to troll blogs anonymously ಥ‿ಥ

      • Haldun

        So happy you posted your photo – it is the quintessential example of a real live snowflake. Perhaps your organic oatmeal wasn’t hot enough this morning?

        • Lol you are committed to this 😂

          • Haldun

            As are you!

  • Rebekah

    Gorgeous outfit! I think I would fear threat the indigo would run off on the white jeans. That’s not a problem here. Did you treat the indigo shirting a special way when you pre-washed it?

    • Nah. I just washed it once as per usual, although I had probably washed it ten times before I wore it with these jeans….

  • Boudica Andred

    Love white jeans for summer. I don’t do shorts at my age, and have had a hard time finding dresses (I do have a chambray Kalle cut out and mocking me), plus navy denim looks so hot in our ~110 degree summers, so I wear mine a lot. Spray and wash works, plus I try to wash them quickly if they get stained.
    Yours are gorgeous, such an amazing fit. And I love the tunic. If I ever get the dress sewn up, I need to try that as well.

    • Boudica Andred

      PS, crying when PMSing is totally understandable and forgivable! I always had nightmarish PMS. Blah!

  • Well, your clothes are amazing, but I pretty much clicked away immediately as soon as you linked to the soap! I NEED THAT! I also kind of need a dark chambray shirt/tunic exactly like this one, but not as much as that soap.

    • Ah ha! Its such great soap! I ought enough to last the year and its the only thing I use for handwashing in the kitchen and bathroom now, although the ones I got are scented and more “bar of soap” sized.

  • I still haven’t made your jeans yet Heather Lou! I’m ashamed to admit that and sad too seeing how beautifully yours fit you! I have your pattern, ebook AND online course – now there is a confession for you 🙂 I have some gorgeous stretch Liberty blue denim with faint light flowers in background just for these perfect jeans – now I just need the hardware and gumption 🙂 I’ll have to order the hardware from your site – I love the copper you’ve shown here.

    • What are you waiting for Kathleen?! If you’re nervous to cut into your lIberty just use something less stressful your first time around.

  • layer_make

    Vivid stains of hubris! I laughed out loud through this whole post at work. Got my fabric and notions for my first pair of Gingers, read through the sew along and am feeling pretty good! I am so ready to never go back to the fit of RTW jeans.

    • Ah ha, glad to make you giggle. That joke made me laugh too. You can totally do it! Let me know how it goes!

  • Teri

    This is such at outfit! I bought some white (well, technically it’s very slightly off white) Cone Mills denim to make Gingers from this Summer but then time got away from me. They will be top priority next Spring! I have 3 little kids so stuff is always getting all over me. My very best stain fighting weapon is just regular old liquid dish soap. I blob it on my stains, smear it around, let it sit until the next day, and then wash in the machine. So far it’s never failed me!

    • Those will be great! If its the denim I’m thinking of its the undyed stuff – if you don’t like the natural colour, you can dye it whatever colour you want! Just be sure to use the colour thread you want when you sew them up since poly thread doesn’t dye well.

  • Quinn May

    Well… I’ve never considered white jeans for myself before… but you make them look SO good, and I’m really digging the cropped raw hem! You have such a good eye.

    • Thanks Quinn! I really think they’re a wardrobe staple (if you don’t have kids under 8 or so 😉

  • Just Lovely. Am gunna have to investigate that soap thought! I too am a white jeans addict – i wear them with EVERYTHING. Love them with your Kalle, it’s a gorgeous pairing xx

    • I’m sure you could find something similar in Oz- its basically a vegetable oil/lye soap. Pretty classic.

  • Anna Rootes

    Gorgeous jeans! I used to buy that soap like it was going out of fashion and I can’t think why I stopped. I do remember getting annoyed with having to chop the blocks up to make them a better size for the shower. If you chop them the wrong way they crumble like no ones business. Great for your skin as well as your laundry. I must try to find some again as having a toddler in the house means there’s some serious staining going on–although thankfully not with red wine! Thanks for reminding me of this stuff again 🙂

    • I bought 6 bars in France and they are normal bar of soap sizes. However most of them are scented, so I may still find one of the big blocks for just laundry/strains next time I’m in France/

  • Oh this post was so amazing ahha. I’ve just sewn my very first cropped kalle and I’m excited to sew more esp now you have that cute tie front thing happening but NOW I NEED WHITE JEANS TOO I am so good at getting lightly peer pressured ^_^

  • Casey Schacher Gibbons

    Zen and the Art of White Denim… I do believe this will be my favorite mantra from now on. I’ll be wearing white jeans with you, if only in spirit!