Thursday 9 June 2016

Rules are for Breaking - my Birkin Flares

I've always said I wouldn't make jeans. I didn't see the point - I hardly wear jeans, and have spent time selling them in a professional capacity and understood how much work went into them, something I wasn't really interested in. I have plenty of pairs already (many of them gifts from when I worked in denim, which mostly go unworn), and I don't have any particular fit issues with this garment and so don't have a need for making them.

But then I saw the Birkin Flare by Baste + Gather (I can't remember where) and they intrigued me. 

birkin flares-8.jpg
Birkin Flares from Baste + Gather

If I do wear jeans, I like them either black and slim, or retro and wide. But I think I'd been looking at a lot of fashion gumph about how the 70's was back in fashion, and this was a shape I didn't have. Rules broken!

It is a PDF pattern, which is not my favourite method, but I did like the way you could choose what size(s) to print. I didn't print the instructions as they're 48 pages and I don't have a home printer - just had to sew with the lap-top on! But they are VERY well written - if you do make these trousers, read through the instructions before you start as there are little tips on printing, needles, thread tension, and stitch size.

I messed up when it came to choosing my size. I have a tendency to make things a bit too big and I wanted these to fit pretty closely. After comparing the pattern measurements to a favourite pair of high waisted J-Brand jeans, I opted for the size 29

Finished measurements
Luckily I made a toile, because this was most definitely not my size! It was way too small especially in the waist, so I ultimately went for the size 30. I think I made the mistake of comparing this waist, which is about 1" below the natural waist, to my high wasited J-Brands, which because they sit higher are naturally a smaller measurement.

Sizing issues over, I found some really cool black stretch twill on Walthamstow Market at only £3 per metre that was a denim weight. I stocked up on denim weight needles, got several spools of topstitching thread, and ripped a zip out of some worn out jeans which were being disposed of. 

And off I went! There is a fair bit of work in jeans - nearly every seam is stitched twice for strength, little bar tacks are sprinkled about, and you have to jump from top stitching and normal thread all the time. But the instructions with this pattern are really clear and well illustrated - if you follow them exactly, you won't make a mistake!

So here they are:

I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter, and everything went pretty well. All the guidance in regards to the stitching of the pockets, the order in which to assemble, and so on, is excellent. 

Construction of the back leg - ignore all the creasing and chalk marks

The only time I took my eye off the ball - when I was putting in the zip - was when I made a mistake. I think I got distracted, and ended up putting the zip on the wrong side as according to the pattern. But no big deal - they still work!

I know a lot of people are going to see the creases in the picture above and say it's a fitting issue, but I had been sitting down for some time before I took these pictures. They fit fine! They fit 'closely' over the hips and thighs, but I don't feel they are too small. Anyway, my experience with jeans is that they loosen up with time.

And here's the back view:

The only thing I'd change if I made these again would be to change the belt loop placing. Instead of the one belt loop at the center back, I'd prefer two placed just to the left and right of the center back.

I also didn't bother with the rivets at the corners of the pockets because I wanted to keep the trousers as 'plain' and simple as possible. And these are fashion trousers - they aren't going to be worn every day and I don't think the pockets will actually get that much use.

I noticed in many of the reviews these trousers have been styled in a sort of boho, hippy, gypsy-esque style. What drew me to the pattern was the late 60's/70's feel of the shape; I see it more as something you'd see on a go-go dancer in the background of nightclub scenes:

Love Ann Margret's polka dot flares!

Plus, I've been watching the series 'Aquarius', which besides exploring the Manson Family, also depicts the clash of generations in the late 60's. The costumes aren't always accurate, but there are lots of great bell bottoms!

But I think the biggest inspiration for making these trousers has been this photo of Bruce Lee which I randomly came across. I immediately became obsessed with his trousers:

If you like this, just Google image Bruce Lee - he was so f***ing cool! I don't really have any interest in martial arts, but I can confirm that these trousers are suitable for dramatic karate kicks:

See you soon!


  1. these are brilliant nicole - you really nailed the fit!

  2. these are brilliant nicole - you really nailed the fit!

  3. Definitely cool, and love the way you've styled them!

  4. You look amazing in those jeans Nicole, ace work! x

  5. These look fab. Nice to meet you in person at the fabric swap last Saturday!

  6. You look ridiculously chic in this outfit! Amazing. Love the seventies poses

  7. These look wonderful on you!

    I have never worn jeans (I only started to wear trousers just over 2 years ago) but this style would make me consider my stance. I tried on some skinnies once but they didn't suit me and retro styles are so expensive

  8. Oh my goodness, these are brilliant! Right up my street. What's not to love about flared jeans?!


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