Ah, jeans making. Every sewist’s dream and probably our biggest fear too. This for me is another step on the road to making a “proper” pair of jeans. Because they look like them but are in fact a total cheat.

Yep, these are elastic waisted, pull-on jeans!

I’ve had my eye on the Jalie Éléonore Pull-On Jeans ever since the pattern was released and I’m so glad I finally got around to making them. Like most Jalie patterns it comes in 27 sizes from 2 years up to plus size adult, so it’s great value. These “jeans” have a mock fly, mock front pockets, topstitching, real back pockets and a wide elastic waistband. There are two length options: regular and cropped. Initially I planned to make the regular length, and hoped I might get some shorts too if my toile worked out.

Jalie patterns come printed on thick paper so you need to trace them out and this particular pattern has the instructions printed on some of the pattern pieces so I was really glad of the option to download the pdf of the instructions and print it out. Even if you buy the patterns at a retailer like Minerva you can still download the instructions on the Jalie site, which I think is a really nice touch as it allows you to either print on more convenient sheets of paper or view on a tablet if that’s what you prefer. It also lets you have a look at what’s involved in making a pattern before you purchase it, if that’s something you want to do.

Jalie also sell an optional working front pocket pattern add-on for these jeans which I seriously considered buying. However, I don’t tend to use front pockets on jeans so I didn’t go for it this time around. If I really miss them I might for next time, though.

You need “light/medium weight stretch twill or denim with at least 20% stretch in the width” for this pattern. That’s pretty stretchy for a woven! Luckily Minerva stock this Stretch Denim Fabric which comes in three different shades of blue, this one being the darkest. It’s not a really dark indigo—more of a good mid blue. It does stretch 20% but only just. More on that in a moment.

These jeans also require some 1” elastic (I used this one) but other than your thread and needles, that’s it! Gotta love a jeans project that doesn’t require tracking down matching hardware.

For my toile I cut a pair of shorts and quickly basted them together to check the fit. Hmmm. I’d cut a V as my measurements suggested and I usually find Jalie patterns run true to size. This time it looked like I’d been squeezed into my clothes and there was some rather unsightly muffin top going on.

Partly this was because the pattern has too short a rise for me, so the waist was hitting much lower than it should have, where my hips are wider. But I think as well that because this denim is only just stretchy enough you need to size up. I traced the pattern out again, this time going for a size W and adding length to the rise.

There are no lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern so I added the extra in above the pockets but below the yokes. I’d figured out how much to add by putting on a pair of jeans with the perfect rise and drawing where that came to directly onto my skin with biro. Then I put on the toile and worked out the difference, which was only 3cm at the front but 6cm at the hips and 7cm at the centre back.

My only other adjustment was to add a little (6mm?) to lengthen the front inseam and reduce some creasing at the front crotch. This worked a treat and there’s much less wrinkling in the finished jeans. It was definitely well worth making the toile, although I won’t be getting a wearable pair of shorts like I’d hoped. Ah well.

I wouldn’t say the Éléonore jeans are particularly difficult to make as there are none of the more challenging jeans-making processes, like putting in a fly or rivets. That said, there is an awful lot of topstitching to be done! I’ve had a fair bit of experience with topstitching now so I wasn’t afraid to go high contrast with this pale thread on the darker denim but for newbies I’d recommend getting lots of practice on scraps first and perhaps choosing a thread colour that will help disguise any wobbles.

I changed the order of sewing to minimise the number of times I needed to change between my regular thread and my topstitching. It wasn’t too many times, so as much as I’d like to have a second machine just for topstitching, having only one machine isn’t a problem for this pattern.

To maximise my topstitching success I’ve found I get on best with Gutermann Topstitching Thread and a proper Topstitching Needle (size 90). I also lower the tension on my machine and use my blind hemming foot as an edgestitching foot (they’re pretty similar!) for the first line of stitching and my quarter inch quilters foot for the second line. With those two feet I manage to get pretty much perfectly aligned rows of topstitching, although there was a slight wobble when negotiating the curve on the front yoke. Oh well. I think only I am ever going to notice.

My only real issue with the instructions for the Éléonore jeans is that Jalie don’t give any guidance on finishing your seam allowances. As denim and twills tend to fray like crazy, you definitely need to give them a robust seam finish. I chose to make mock flat felled seams by overlocking one side of the seam allowance, trimming the other and then pressing the overlocked side over it before topstitching it down. This helped to reduce bulk and give a much stronger seam. You could do something similar using a zig-zag stitch to finish the seam allowance instead.

One word of warning, though: don’t do what I did and finish your inseam without first basting the side seams to check fit. I realised that these are definitely not drafted for the skinny fit I was after and I ended up having to trim the excess off the side seam only as there was no way I was unpicking all that topstitching! I think I got away with it just about but I’m pretty sure the legs wouldn’t be quite so wrinkled at the back if I’d been able to divide the amount I was trimming down between the two seams. Ah well, you live and learn.

Overall I’m absolutely delighted with these “jeans”. They are super comfy at the waist and look just like regular jeans under a long top. Okay, so I’m never going to wear them with a top tucked in or a crop top but that’s no big loss. For what it’s worth, with a less contrasty topstitch and perhaps a fabric other than denim, these would look fine with something tucked in. I think you only notice the strangeness of the waistband when they look like jeans below that.

I can tell how much of a success this make is as I haven’t wanted to take these off since I made them. They’ve been worn for clearing out my dad’s garage and for a night out with friends, so they’re super versatile! And as we all know, jeans go with pretty much anything, so I’m never going to be short of tops to wear them with.

If I’m being hypercritical then I’d say the back pockets are a little low for me and that might be because I added all that extra length to the rise above them. Honestly though, it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of these pedal pushers. I’ll probably either make the pockets taller or put them in a centimetre or so higher next time, though.

I would recommend the Éléonore jeans pattern for any sewists thinking of tackling trousers for the first time as it’s a really easy sew what with the elasticated waist meaning you can simply pull them on. I’m definitely going to make use of this pattern again to make jeans for my daughters but my next jeans-making escapade for myself is going to be a proper pair with a fly and rivets and all that fancy stuff. However, I definitely plan to to make stretch skinny Éléonore trousers again. I fancy some in a black twill and perhaps some patterned ones too. Maybe houndstooth or a plaid for a funky retro look. Yeah, baby!

What would you make the Éléonore jeans out of?

Anna-Jo x

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All materials for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!