Fashion School – Sewing a pair of calico jeans


I have a confession.

I have an addiction to education.

It isn’t much of an addiction to be sure but ever since leaving school I can only think of a single two year period where I haven’t been in some form of formal learning. One of the downsides about becoming a scientist is the level of training you need just to be entry level on a career track that goes somewhere. I have spent eight years in university (five of them part-time in a sort of apprenticeship arrangement) and since leaving I have pursued every sort of course I could get my hands on learning to sew clothes and spin yarn.

My latest course is a pattern making and garment construction certificate at the Melbourne Fashion Institute.  I LOVE this class! The teacher is wonderful and my class is diverse and friendly. For once going to school has become my favourite two days of the week.

Look at how baggy they look in the back, I had to add a whole 8cm rise to accommodate my bum!

Look at how baggy they look in the back, I had to add a whole 8cm rise to accommodate my bum!

The first term was dedicated to the basics of pattern making and getting to know the industrial machines while working on skirts. We then graduated skirts and have been working on trousers, which has been fascinating as I struggle to find ready to wear pants that give a flattering fit.

Jeans Muslin

Test jeans in calico – final fit

For one of my assessments I drafted and sewed a pair of jeans to my own measurements. It took about three test samples in calico to get the fit right and find any errors in the pattern but I’m happy with my finished pair. I also learnt a lot about construction and diligently examined all of my own and my partners jeans to look for clues about how they are put together.

My Assessment Calico Jeans

My Assessment Calico Jeans

The gathering you can see in the front is 1cm fitting ease drafted into the jeans that is eliminated in the waistband, but I’m not sure I like the look. They are a lot less visible once the jeans are pressed but I’m still not convinced. Anyway, I’m happy enough with the fit to commit the pattern to cardboard for easy of use in the future.

I also have a wide leg trouser block that I am quite enthused about now that culottes are on trend. Check out these trousers from Topshop. A pair of these are going on my to sew list for summer!


Topshop wide-leg trousers

What do you think, can you see this pattern as some nice summer pants when I eliminate that slight extra fabric I’ve pinned out of the side seam?

Tailored pant toile



  1. says

    Well, if that isn’t the best addiction I’ve ever heard of! I also recently did a pattern making course in Cape Town, and I loved every minute of it.

    I’m happy to have stumbled across your blog, it’s lovely to hear from fellow stitchers in the southern hemisphere! Keep it going!

    • Joanne says

      Hi jen, thanks for your comment. How did you find the course and has it changed the way you sew? I look forward to seeing what you get up to on your blog.

      • says

        The course was wonderful! It was a Saturday morning affair over a couple of weeks, so it was relatively simple. But I’ve found that knowing that little bit more about garment construction has made me much braver in tackling new projects and alterations.


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