Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Testing, testing: Birkin Flares

This is latest pattern from Lauren at Baste + Gather, the Birkin Flares. The Birkin Flares are described as "high-waisted, flare-leg, classic jeans that are equally perfect with your comfiest tee or a flowy, silk blouse." You can read about the pattern release here on Lauren's blog.

I helped out with her second round of pattern testing. I sewed the largest size (35). Lauren says, though, that she is considering expanding the size range in the future if there is demand. I think there certainly will be!

There were a few changes made between this tester version and the final, but it sounds like most of them were to the instructions. You can read the details from Lauren here.

I am super happy with how these turned out! I had my doubts about how flare jeans would look on a curvy, bottom-heavy gal like me, but I am pleasantly surprised at how much I love them! I particularly like the high, but not-too-high waist, which has a smoothing effect on the love handles. Also the butt. is. fabulous.

I was absolutely delighted to discover that, after a quick baste fitting that the fit was pretty spot on! I went ahead and sewed up the pattern straight out of the envelope (err, printer?). I expected gaping at the back waistband, which I typically experience with RTW jeans and had to make alterations for on my Ginger jeans, but the Birkin's curved yoke seems to have taken care of that... no gaping here! Woo! I am super happy with how my butt is looking in these jeans. I am never happy with how my butt looks in photos, but damn, dat ass!:

My fabric is some lightweight black denim that I bought here in Bangkok. I think it's a bit lighter weight than Lauren called for, but I went with it and found it works (although the dark color did make photos hard to take)! I do find that, at least with this weight denim, that I need a little more structure in the belly area. Maybe a pocket stay/tummy stay in my next pair?

Unlike the last pair of jeans I made, I went with contrasting gold top-stitching. My stitching is not perfect- still working on finding the ideal setting on my machine- but it's still so satisfying for some reason to see those little, brightly colored stitches pop up! My bar tacks are a bit janky, although they got better with practice. My machine has a bar tack mode, but I didn't like it, so I opted for a short, narrow zig-zag stitch.

I couldn't get my machine to do a button hole because the fabric was too thick to get it under the presser foot, so I decided to *gasp* hand stitch it (I hate handstitching) with my topstitching thread. It seems ok, but I have no idea how long it will hold up. We shall see.

The Birkin Flares pattern instructions are pretty great. This is the easiest and best zip fly I've sewn thus far in my sewing career! Also, the waistband insertion method is awesome. I've always struggled to get evenly stitched waistbands using the method where you sew the outside waistband and then fold the facing inwards and try to topstitch, catching the facing in the stitching. It always looks a bit sloppy. But Lauren's method, attaching both sides of the waistband to the jeans, pressing them upwards and then turning the top seam allowances inwards and topstitching, got me the neatest waistband I've ever sewn!

You'll see I accidentally put the coin pocket wrong side... oops! Note: this is not the first time I've done this. No fault of the instructions, just a momentary space-out on my part. I also skipped rivets because I didn't have any in my stash. I might add them later if I find some.

I cut 1" off the hem to pair these with the heel height I normally wear, 3-3.5". Although I'm taller than the height for which the pattern is designed (I'm 5'7.5"), I was unfortunately not blessed with particularly long legs!

After making and deciding I loved the Birkin Flares, I suddenly had some doubts about how they would fit into my wardrobe. What exactly does one wear with flare jeans? And lemme tell you, these things flare!:

T-shirts obviously work. Lauren has shown that the True Bias Roscoe's '70s style is perfect. But with some research in my own closet, I figured out that pretty much everything works with flares! For example, it works well with all of these me-mades from my wardrobe (plus more, I just got tired of changing and taking photos!):

From top left, clockwise:

 * Anna Maria Horner Painted Portrait Blouse * Marilla Walker Maya Top *

If the Birkin Flares strike your fancy, Lauren is offering a $2 discount off the pattern (use the code: birkinrelease) now through Sunday, December 13 at 11:59 PST!