Klaxon! Klaxon! Klaxon! It’s time for another Pattern Throwdown! Three jeans patterns enter…One jeans pattern reigns supreme!
My jeans-relevant stats are:
* waist: 37″
* hips: 44″
* inseam: 30″
* body type: short-waisted, long-legged, full tummy, proportionally flat butt, narrow-ish hips, slim-ish legs
Notes Before We Begin
All photos show the Liana jeans on the left, Ames jeans in the middle, & Ginger jeans on the right.
Each pattern is ostensibly a classic, five-pocket mid-rise jean with a straight leg. Each pattern includes a tummy-tucking pocket stay feature. I sewed all three pairs of jeans from the same bolt of indigo S-Gene Cone Mills stretch denim, which I purchased during the mill closure sale over the summer. I won the Liana jeans pattern in a sewing contest last summer. Both the Ames & Ginger jeans were purchased out of pocket, the Ames specifically for this review & the Gingers for more personal use.
Each pair of jeans was sewn with this post in mind. Therefore, my goal was to sew a wearable pair of jeans that could fit into my everyday wardrobe, but I also made an effort to stay true to the design specs & sizing, for the sake of an accurate & thorough review. For each pair, I chose the waist & hip sizes that corresponded best to my own measurements (grading between sizes when necessary). I did a 3/4″ full tummy adjustment & added 1.5″ of waistband contouring on both the Liana jeans & the Ginger jeans.
Pattern Options & Sizes
The Liana jeans are mid-rise with three leg options: skinny, straight, & boot-cut. Sizing is fairly typical, ranging from 00 (23 7/8″ waist & 34″ hips) to 20 (39″ waist & 48 3/4″ hips). It’s available in PDF format only, & comes with an option for large-scale copy shop printing.
The Ames jeans are mid-rise with options for either skinny or straight legs. The pattern is also available with two different fits through the pelvis. The apple pelvis is cut for a more prominent abdomen, slimmer hips, & a flatter butt. The pear pelvis is cut for wider hips & a more bodacious butt. Cashmerette designs specifically for curvy/plus bodies, which is reflected in the size range. This pattern is available is sizes 12 (32″ waist & 42″/43″ hips, depending on pelvis fit) to 23 (48″ waist, 58″/59″ hips). The pattern is available as a PDF (with copy shop printing options) or printed.
The Ginger jeans mid-rise option, which is the pattern I’m reviewing here, is a stand-alone separate from the original Ginger jeans pattern, which offered either a low or high rise. It offers either skinny or “stovepipe” legs. A person who sews a pair of Ginger jeans & likes the fit but wants other ready-made leg/rise options can get them from Closet Case, but not all contained within one single pattern. The size range is typical, from 0 (24″ waist, 33″ hips) to 20 (39″ waist, 48″ hips). This particular version of the Gingers is available only as a PDF. Copy shop printing is an option.
Winner: the Ames jeans. The Gingers offer more variety overall in terms of rise/leg options, but they are scattered across multiple patterns, each available for individual purchase. The Liana jeans could be a good choice for someone who is happy with the included rise (or prepared to make alterations) & just looking for the widest variety of leg options in a single pattern. But the Ames jeans obviously mop the floor with the competition as far as size goes, & the pelvis fit options are a stroke of genius, especially for those of us outside of or pushing the boundaries of the average pants draft.
I sewed each pair of jeans according to its included instructions. I followed the pattern’s recommended order of construction, I finished seams & topstitched when & how the pattern directed, etc. There are detailed sewalongs online from both Itch to Stitch & Closet Case Patterns on constructing these jeans patterns, & Cashmerette has a few video tutorials available on some of the trickier construction bits (like the fly installation). But to even the playing field, I stuck with the directions included with the patterns.
Winner: the Ames jeans. This is admittedly subjective. The Ginger jeans were a very close second, but the Ginger instructions include a certain degree of hand-holding & pep talk platitudes that I personally found off-putting. I prefer clear, concise instructions. Don’t make me read anything more than I have to in order to get the job done. In my personal opinion, the Ginger jeans instructions result in a slightly more professional & finished-looking pair of jeans, but the Ames instructions were just slightly easier to follow.
I struggled a bit with the instructions for the Liana jeans. I kept getting turned around as to which piece was the pocket facing & which was the pocket lining, & what was supposed to be pressed to the left versus the right. I felt that too much ink was spilled on how to distress jeans (obviously I didn’t distress mine at all, it’s just not my thing) & how to remove metal zipper teeth (for all of the jeans, I simply sewed slowly over the zippers so the needle would slide between the teeth, saving me the effort of pulling out teeth with pliers–this is how I always sew jeans zippers & I have yet to break a needle). I also felt that the Liana jeans have the least professional-looking interior finish, & the recommended bartack technique on the fly screams homemade to me (in a bad way).
Going into this throwdown, I had no plans to make basic drafting part of the competition. I assumed that all three patterns would be on equal footing, more or less–true to their stated sizes, accurate in their design specs, curves trued, notches matched, etc etc. You know, the basics.
This was laughably optimistic of me.
Winner: the Ames jeans. By a mile. They lapped the Gingers, & the Liana jeans never even made it to the race. Let’s get into it.
First we’ll talk basic design specs, because this is probably the thing that is most obvious, even to people who don’t sew. When you are looking to buy or make a pair of jeans, & you are specifically seeking out a straight leg, you have an idea of what that is going to look like & one of these “straight legs” is not like the others.
Reminder: All photos show the Liana jeans on the left, Ames jeans in the middle, & Ginger jeans on the right.
I simply would not classify the leg fit on the Liana jeans as straight. I don’t think it looks bad. The photo shows that it creates a nice proportion with the upper leg. It’s a perfectly serviceable & attractive jeans leg. But it’s not a straight leg, & so it fails a basic tenet of pattern drafting, which is to actually reflect the stated design vision.
Ditto on the rise.
The rise on the Liana jeans is considerably lower than the rise on the other two. Fitting my prominent abdomen is my biggest challenge when it comes to sewing pretty much anything with a waistband, & this is why I personally prefer a mid-rise fit. Being relatively short-waisted, I know a high-rise will basically devour my entire torso. & low-rise–forget it. Not only does it squeeze the biggest, squishiest part of my body, creating even more lumps & bumps than I have naturally, but it’s also physically uncomfortable! Granted, the Liana jeans specifically say that the rise is “3” below the belly button”. Maybe that is mid-rise on a person with a very different body from my own, but it absolutely doesn’t work for me. I sewed the rise unaltered to illustrate the differences that can pop up even in patterns that claim to feature identical design specs.
The rear view shows the same problem. While the Ames jeans & the Gingers are high enough in the back to nip in at the waist & smooth out the love handles up there, the Lianas terminate just below the waist curve. They squeeze is an uncomfortable spot & hello! They don’t even fully cover my (admittedly full-coverage, haha) underwear!
If I’m being charitable, I can acknowledge that this may not be a drafting FAIL, per se. The Ginger jeans are drafted to be fairly generous through the butt & hips. The Ames jeans are drafted with a full tummy in mind. It’s possible that the Liana jeans are drafted for more of a straight shape. But you know, that makes them probably not the best choice for anyone coming to a blog called the Curvy Sewing Collective for pattern recommendations.
The size charts themselves also expose some serious issues:
This is the Liana size chart. Take a look at the discrepancies between the body measurements & the finished garment measurements. Size 00 indicates 2 3/8″ of positive ease in the waist & 7/8″ negative ease in the hips. But size 20 indicates 1 3/4″ positive ease in the waist & a whopping 2.5″ negative ease in the hips! There’s no consistency in grading across the sizes. This is a huge red flag. Compare to the size charts for the Ames jeans & the Gingers:
The Ames jeans: nice even grading across the waist. Negative ease in the hips increases incrementally as the sizes go up, which is maybe not my all-time favorite thing, but it’s at least even, & consistent across both pelvis fits. Bonus points for including finished garment measurements for the thigh, knee, & calf!
Here’s a link to the Ginger chart. Nice consistent grading across the board.
However, I had the same problems with the Ginger jeans as a lot of other people who are at the larger end of the size range. The size I cut according to my measurements was just too damn big! I constructed the front pockets, fly, & back yoke, & then I basted both inseam & side seams to check the fit with all three pairs of jeans. The Liana jeans required no modifications to the side seams. I took the hips in just a smidge on the Ames jeans (I cut the pear pelvis because I tend to have issues with waistband gaping, but I took in just enough to make up the difference between the pear & apple pelvises in that size). But the Gingers were, for lack of a better word, a shitshow. Granted, I think the basic draft is for a body that is a bit more shapely in the butt/hips/thighs department than my own. But I don’t think that excuses the fact that I had to take the jeans in by multiple inches all around. The consequences are obvious in the photos. There’s a limit to how much you can take in a garment before you distort the grain of the fabric. All told, I probably took the jeans in about 8″ (!!!), & as a result, the grain through the pelvis is distorted, leading to the baggy, dumpy diaper look you see here. There was just no way to fix it. The wrinkled, baggy effect continues down the entire leg, leaving me at a loss as to how to assess the fit, as it’s obvious that I should have cut a smaller size from the jump. I know some people have tried to spin this problem as a feature rather than a bug: the sizing is generous, so it fits an even larger size range than the chart would lead you to believe! But that’s not very helpful if it means you don’t know what size to cut in the first place. Obviously flat pattern measurements can guide you. If I make this pattern again, I will measure the pattern & cut whatever size ends up corresponding to my measurements (aiming for waist measurement plus 1″, hip measurement minus 1″–that’s what seems to work for me with fitted stretch denim, YMMV), but you know. It’s irritating to work with such an unreliable size chart.
& one more note on the drafting before we move on: the curves on the Liana jeans were not trued. This is a photo of the crotch seam intersection I took for Instagram:
See how the fronts & backs come to a point? That’s not cool. The back yoke had the same issue. Armscyes are another place where these types of issues pop up. It’s important because a trued curve is a curve that is properly shaped to accommodate human anatomy. The crotch curve on a pair of pants should be U-shaped. Obviously everyone has their own unique crotch curve & might require a little more space front or back. Some people will need a shallower curve, & others will need a deeper curve. That’s the challenge with pants-fitting & why it’s important to note that no pattern is going to fit all people straight out of the envelope. But a pattern with a V-shaped crotch curve will fit exactly no one. It’s an elementary drafting mistake. It was immensely frustrating to have to deal with this. It’s simply not appropriate to sell patterns with mistakes this basic & fundamental.
Overall Fit & Comfort
This assessment is inherently subjective & limited by my experiences constructing each of these patterns from scratch for the first time. There are things I like & dislike about each pair of jeans.
Liana: I like the fit through the thighs a lot. The wider fit through the calf is…novel, I guess? It’s not a bad look, it’s just not the look I was going for. I added 5″ to the inseam (I’m only 5’5″, but I have proportionally long legs) for a pretty spot on length. I think the back pockets are a nice size. The rise is obviously too low & that is a huge problem for me & probably the thing that is going to keep me from wearing these jeans very often. I also don’t care for the fly. I think it’s too short & the bartack design is Becky Home-Ec-y. I also feel that the back yoke is too short & narrow.
Ames: I left the inseam as-is, which was probably my primary mistake. These jeans would be near-perfect if they were just 1″ longer at the hem. If I’m really being nitpicky, I don’t love the pieced waistband (I prefer an all-in-one with no seam, but that’s not necessarily an option for every size, depending on width of fabric) & I think the waistband could be just a hair wider. But these are otherwise pretty great, & the fit on the waistband is spectacular. No gaping, no squeezing…It’s like magic.
Ginger: It’s hard to judge the fit fairly because I had to take them in so much, thus distorting the grain & fall. They’re comfortable, at least? The waistband gapes a little in the back, even though I added an extra 1.5″ of contouring to the already contoured shape. I hate the fly. It’s longer than the trans-continental railroad, & it buckles at the bottom because I had to take the hips in so much. I don’t love the leg shape. It’s skinnier than I would prefer, again because I had to take the jeans in so much. The pocket stay was difficult enough to sew that I honestly don’t know if I did it right, so that was frustrating.
Winner: the Ames jeans.
Duh. The Ames jeans. & full disclosure: this is the first Cashmerette pattern I have ever sewn. I’m definitely not in the pocket of Big Cashmerette or anything. The Ames jeans are just the pattern that wound up working best for me, & I’m as surprised as anyone. Judging from the pattern envelope photos/samples, I expected the Gingers to win. I feel that both of the Ames samples on the Cashmerette website are grievously ill-fitting on their models, & that lowered my expectations considerably. Sample photos count! But I took a chance & I am pleased with the results I got. I will definitely make the Ames jeans again, & I confidently recommend them, especially for beginning jeans-makers &, of course, folks looking for an expanded size range & more curve-friendly shape.
I will also sew the Gingers again, with major modifications. They aren’t a bad choice for folks who fit into a smaller size range, or for people who are comfortable & confident about tackling fitting challenges.
The Liana jeans are just a straight up nope. I’ve heard tell that Itch to Stitch tops work well for people, especially for a lot of curvier people. I can’t speak to that. This pattern was not a reassuring introduction to the Itch to Stitch brand.