Sewing Indie Month is upon us, and I am really pleased to welcome Taylor from Blueprints for Sewing to share a truly epic Ginger Jeans hack on the blog today. Taylor designs patterns inspired by architectural styles (check out her Cabin Dress and A-frame skirt) and being the former interior designer that I am, I was positively gleeful when I saw that her sewing patterns look like actual blueprints! That font and me go waayyy back.
Taylor did a really clever hack job on Ginger, turning her into the denim skirt of your dreams. She also prepared step by step pics for creating a sort of reverse back pocket in lieu of the regular one. I was super impressed when I saw how thorough this tutorial was! Thank you Taylor!
Taylor: For my Sewing Indie Month guest tutorial, I decided to develop a hack for the Ginger jeans pattern. I’ve been intrigued by Ginger since it was released. I’m a lifetime member of the can’t-find-jeans-that-fit-club, so much so that I didn’t wear/own any blue jeans between the ages of 13-26. I recently succumbed to the power of the stretch pant - a concept I’d previously found appalling - when I was able to get an acceptable fit from a pair of high waisted jeans infused with lycra. And they were comfortable too! The obvious next step, now that I have discovered I actually like jeans, is to make my own.
Ginger is an excellent pattern. I love the pocket stay on the high waist version. It makes for such a smooth silhouette yet remains comfy! I’ve got a pair of Ginger shorts and jeans on my self sewing roster, but I wanted to play around with the pattern for my SIM contribution. I toyed with a few shorts hacks, but they didn’t quite work out. Coming up with tutorials for a pattern that is already a pretty complete package is a challenge. But eventually, inspiration struck.
I used to live in high waisted denim skirts in college - both self made and RTW. Numerous bike rides and parties all but destroyed them and I’ve been thinking about another one ever since. I figured this tutorial would be the perfect opportunity to create a go-to jean skirt pattern. The picture above shows my ‘uniform’ at 20, as well as my preoccupation with antiquated media.
Here I am in my new jean skirt, still preoccupied with antiques, though I’ve traded video for sewing.
Transforming a pair of pants into a skirt is pretty straightforward. Sure, it can be done with finesse, but most of the time it’s quick and dirty: rip the inseam, cut away the curve, and sew it back together. I remember doing this as a tween, complete with patchwork. However, when starting with a flat pattern - as opposed to refashioning a pair of blue jeans with ripped knees - one can be be a bit more sophisticated and a bit less bohemian.
Since the jeans-to-skirt concept is pretty simple, I decided to create a unique back pocket similar to the welt pocket technique on Cabin as an option. I’m calling it a reverse pocket. I also include instructions for eliminating the back yoke and replacing it with darts. An optional step, it gives the skirt a bit more formal of a look. I think in future versions I’ll keep the yoke (it helps balance out pockets visually on a high waisted skirt) but if you decided to eliminate pockets or replace with a welt pocket, darts might look nicer. (In this tutorial I’ve redrawn some of the lines to make them clearer. In each step, red lines are what you need to draw and blue lines are what has previously been drawn )
This pattern hack uses view B, the high waisted version, but should also work for view A.
Start by tracing the Ginger front piece, beginning at the end of the crotch seam curve and ending somewhere along the side seam (we’ll fine tune this in a later step, so for now just draw in 12” or so of the side seam.)
Draw in a guideline connecting the notch at the waistline near the fly extension to the dot near the beginning of the crotch seam. This is your center front seam.
Since this is the sewing line, rather than the cutting line, we’ll want to add back the 5/8” seam allowance.
Measure from your waistline down to where you’d like your skirt to end. I measured 18”. There’s a waistband and seam allowance and hem allowance to consider here, but for the most part they will all cancel each other out. You can take the time to do the calculations to get an exact hem length (Skirt length + 5/8 SA + hem allowance - waistband height), but just measuring from the waistline will get you pretty close if you want a 1” hem. You can always start long and hem once you have the skirt finished. Since this skirt is quite snug and has no kick pleat, it will definitely work best as an above the knee skirt.
Starting at the waistline, extend the line you’ve just drawn so that it equals your desired skirt length.
Using a square ruler (L shaped or large gridded rulers work, but you can use any right angle paired with a ruler in a pinch) draw in the skirt hem, ending just past the side seam you’ve drawn in.
Flip the square around and align it with the skirt hem. Slide the ruler over until it just matches up with the widest part of the side seam before it curves back in again. Unless you want a really wiggly skirt, you’ll want to have the side seam run straight down after the widest part of the hip, rather than curving back in again.
Your finished skirt front should look like this! All pocket lining pieces can be used as is. Make sure to transfer all your notches!
Now, onto the back! Trace the Ginger back leg piece onto paper starting with the double notch at the crotch seam and ending along the outer leg seam (just estimate how far down the leg to draw, we’ll be determining the skirt length like we did for the skirt front.)
If you plan on sewing the back yoke, skip down to drawing in the center back seam. You can use the existing yoke pattern as is.
Draw in the 5/8” seam allowance along the top seam of the back leg and the bottom seam of the yoke (both feature a double notch.) Overlap the two pieces so that the drawn in seam lines match up. They won’t match up all the way across - this is how the shaping magic of the yoke works - so align them starting with the center back seam.
Find the place where the back leg and yoke seam separate and mark this spot with a pin. If you’re using a cutting mat, push the pin in slightly to hold the paper in place. Otherwise, hold the pin lightly with your finger.
Trace along the center back seam of the yoke, then trace along the waistline, ending at a spot that is slightly closer to the center back then the location of the pin. The taped seam of the PDF pattern was in just the right spot and I suspect this guideline could work for other sizes as well.
Next, pivot the yoke piece using the pin to hold it in place, aligning the 2nd half of the seam line and the side seam. Draw in the rest of the yoke piece, ending at the same spot on the waistline seam where you ended while drawing the first part of the yoke. There should be a gap between the two sections of the traced yoke at the waistline.
Your drawing should look like this:
Draw in the dart by connecting the two open ends of the drawn in yoke with the pin point you used to draw it.
Starting at the back waistline, extend the center back line to the length of your skirt front +1” (The pattern has a higher rise in back to avoid that dreaded waistband gap!)
Align your square ruler with the center back seam and draw in the hemline, extending just past the side seam.
Flip the square around and align it with the bottom hem, sliding it over to meet the widest part of the side seam. Connect the side seam to the hem.
Re-draw a new grain line parallel to the center back seam.
Cut out both pattern pieces and proceed with cutting the rest of your Ginger pieces. You can follow the exact same sewing instruction steps: treat the now straight CF and CB seams as though they were the curved crotch seam and skip sewing the inseam.
ADDING REVERSE BACK POCKETS
If you’d like to step your sewing game up a notch and try out some reverse back pockets, here’s how to do it:
Trace an additional pocket piece and trim away the seam allowances, including the 3/4” allowance at the top of the pocket.
Draw out your pocket location by lining up the SA-less pocket piece with the pocket markings on the back piece and tracing around it. Check to make sure that you like the placement of your pocket, because once we start on the reverse pocket, there’s no going back! Heather has a great post on back pocket placement here.
Once you’re satisfied with your pocket placement, grab both back skirt pieces and pair them with the corresponding pocket. The curved side of the pocket should be closest to the center back seam.
Put one pair aside so the pocket and back piece don’t get mixed up. Starting with the first pair, mark the 5/8” seam allowance on both sides of the pocket piece, but not the top and bottom. Trim the seam allowance down to 3/8” on both sides, leaving top and bottom as is.Finish the edges of your pocket. If you are finishing your pocket edges with a serger, simply trim the two side seams while serging the pocket.
On the top of the pocket, measure 3/4” from the edge and mark this line. Draw a parallel line 1/4” below the 3/4” line. This rectangle is the sewing guideline for the pocket opening.
On the corresponding skirt back, use a pin to mark each corner of the pocket placement. Flip over the skirt back and use the pins to position the back pocket interfacing piece where the pocket opening will be. Remove the guide pins after tacking down the interfacing lightly with your iron, then fuse to the fabric. (You can use the back pocket interfacing pattern piece provided.)
With the pocket positioned upside down with the right sides together, pin through the top left corner of the rectangle marking and then through the pocket marking on the skirt back. Then, pull down on the pocket so that the pin is going straight through both pieces. Pin the right corner this way as well and add additional pins if necessary.
Sew around the rectangular pocket marking. Use a small stitch length when sewing around the corners. This will give you more precise control AND provide more reinforcement at the corners.
Here’s the moment of truth: cut into and across the middle of the stitched rectangle, then cut in a diagonal line to each corner. You’ll want to cut as close to the corner as possible without cutting the stitching.
Turn the pocket piece to the inside of the skirt back. Press the pocket piece flat to create a nice rectangular window. If the corners are puckering, try pulling and stretching the fabric a bit at these points while pressing. You may also want to try clipping closer to the stitching line at each corner.
Sew around the pocket opening, about 1/16” to 1/8” away from the opening edge. Since you’re using a stretch denim, it may get a bit wavy. Using a larger stitch length will reduce this effect and pressing afterwards will help flatten it out.
Flip the skirt back over and press the back of the pocket, pulling down lightly on the pocket piece to eliminate any fold over at the top edge where it is sewn down.
On the right side, align the seam allowance-less pocket piece with the window. If your chalk has already worn off from testing the placement, draw this pocket line in again. It may be slightly bigger/smaller so just estimate as you draw.
Starting at the corner of the pocket opening, sew along the chalk line ending at the opposite corner. Before sewing, you may want to flip the skirt over to ensure you’ll sew through the pocket piece underneath, otherwise you’ll end up with a hole. Pin it in place before sewing if necessary. Sew a second line of stitching 1/4” away from the first. If you like, you can do a special curved detail here.
There you have it! A reverse pocket! If you’d like a pocket embellishment, you’d want to topstitch this on before creating the pocket, after tracing the pocket outline.
I’m overall pretty pleased with this skirt as a wearable muslin (the fabric was from the bargain bin at one of my favorite fabric dives, with a pretty high polyester content). I think for the next version I’ll try to find some brown denim and cream topstitching thread to try and recreate one of my favorite college skirts.
I’m looking forward to bringing my favorite college look into the next decade. Pairing it with a t-shirt from Everlane and my recently made Laurelhurst Wrap is a good start!
Wasn't that an epic pattern hack? Thanks again Taylor! I clearly need to get my butt in gear and make a Ginger skirt now....