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4/5/12: Jeans and T-Shirts on the Farm

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Farm life has been more on my mind as of late because of the change of season happening here in Michigan. Spring has arrived early (AND I MEAN EARLY!), so the farmer’s to do list has grown considerably.

Some of you might know it already, but I live on a fruit and vegetable farm called Magicland Farms. We kind of do farming differently as we sell what we grow at a market that is located right on the farm. And we have a unique policy: we only sell what we grow–nothing is shipped or trucked in. My father (better known around these parts as “Papa” or “Da Boss”), started this business 30+ years ago and we are busier than we have ever been! Go over to our website when you can.

So as we plunge into the month of April my mind has been preoccupied with two things: jeans and t-shirts. Farm work staples.

And I want to sew them myself.

Yeah, funny, I know. Jeans and t-shirts don’t sound like exciting sewing time but I’m looking at this in a different perspective. I’ve noticed that when you take a mundane, utilitarian thing (like a dish rag, pair of sneakers, socks, etc.), and redo it using a top notch design or material. . . Well, forgive the overused expression, but: it turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. 🙂 I just love when things just work and it is such an added bonus when it’s used almost every single day.

I’m envisioning a pair of jeans that are made of denim that is tough as nails (so they won’t get snagged by nails), and t-shirts that are breathable and don’t fade in the sun in a couple weeks. So I scoured the internet in search of the right fabrics for the job and found the denim on Ebay and the knits on fabric.com.

I tell you, denim is hard to buy! I wanted a 100% cotton denim in a 12 oz weight that came in a dark shade, and I wanted all of this around $6 a yard. $6 sounds cheap, but I know I would wear the jeans more if I knew they didn’t cost me a bundle. Most jeans only last one year for me, anyway!

I’ve seen a lot of denim that has lycra or spandex added and I really wanted to buy something 100% cotton. It is because of the stretch twill I bought a couple years ago. I noticed that the skirt I made out of this twill stretched nicely, but didn’t return to its original dimensions after repeated wearings. It zapped right back into place after a washing, but I don’t want extra baggy jeans after wearing them for three days! The problem with the twill could lie in lower quality. . . But I really didn’t want to take a chance on these jeans. My whole idea of stretch denim and twill might change once I find some great fabric, but until then, 100% for me!

So I found the denim at $4.50 a yard from this seller (who I think has an altering business called Clothworks. I need to learn more about them, sounds real interesting), and I bought 7-1/2 yards and received 8-1/4. I thought 7-1/2 yards would be enough to make two pairs of jeans, but after prewashing the fabric and laying out my pieces, I think I will be able to make a total of four! The fabric is much wider than I thought!

Finding the right knit fabric was much easier. I’ve been hearing here and there about a fiber called Modal (pronounced like “model” in “fashion model”). It is a subset of rayon and is extremely smooth and absorbent. It doesn’t pill (YAY!) and resists shrinking and fading with wash. I also heard that’s it breathable which is a real plus when working up a sweat when hoeing or harvesting.

So I bought this Modal Blend Jersey knit from fabric.com:

It is 70% Modal and 30% acrylic. Machine washable to boot. I bought it in two colors: pink and charcoal gray.

I also bought some real inexpensive polyester rib in royal blue. I really wanted to see if I can get away with making t-shirts with cheap poly and still be satisfied.

So what patterns have I selected for these projects? The jeans are going to be based off the pants pattern I perfected. I need to add front and back pockets to the pattern, which I have no idea how to do. I don’t even think I have a pants pattern that has front pockets. I really need to investigate that because jeans aren’t jeans without pockets.

The t-shirt pattern is kind of up in the air. I’m hoping to copy a ready-to-wear t-shirt I own, but I never really done that before. I’m biting my nails about this because to me, knits are kind of unpredictable. Never know how they will look once serged! We’ll see how this goes!

So my hope is to be prepared with Rebekah-made jeans and t-shirts for the summer and fall months. I will be one excited seamstress when that happens!

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