Closet Case Ginger Jeans vs. Megan Nielsen Ash Jeans: Comparing Skinny Jeans Patterns

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Oh man, I had such a hard time trying decide how I wanted to organize this post. At first I thought I was going to have separate posts for each pattern and then another one comparing. But that way there was information that would be missed out on if you didn’t read all the posts and I didn’t like that. So here goes covering each pattern and how they compare and I believe it goes without saying that this will be a long post but I hope it has helpful and useful information!

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The Patterns

Ginger: The first pair I sewed was the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns. I chose the mid-rise option (which is a different pattern from the one that offers high rise or low rise). This option comes with two different leg options-skinny or stove pipe-and promises to be as flattering as possible. I chose the skinnies. I made a straight size 10.

Ash: The next pair is the Ash Jeans from Megan Nielsen Patterns. This pattern features a “comfortable rise” and 4 leg options-slim, skinny, flare and wide. I chose the skinny view. It also has 3 different cut lines for inseam. One is tall (drafted for someone who’s 5’9″), one is regular (5’5″-which is also the cut line for tall cropped), and then a regular cropped length. I cut mine at the regular crop length. On the inseam and waist, I cut a 31, but coming around on the hip I graded down to a 29.

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The Supporting Material

Ginger: I did a ton of searching before deciding on the Ginger Jeans and one of the main reasons I chose this pattern is because of the sheer number of tags it has on Instagram. Search #gingerjeans on Instagram and almost 18,000 posts will come up. Did you read that? 18,000! That is crazy! Now, I don’t believe 18,000 people have made these (maybe, who am I to say?). But I think people make them, love them, and make them again and again. Or maybe make them once but wear them all the time. Either way is good news, right? There are also tons of blog posts. I read many of those posts and, while not everyone had a great experience making these, the response from sewists is overwhelmingly positive. Closet Case offers a sew along that gives so much great information, before you even start sewing.

Ash: While the Ash Jeans don’t have nearly as many tags on Instagram or posts dedicated to them, they still have a good amount of information available. When I decided that I wanted to compare the Ginger pattern to another (seriously, I was just curious), I didn’t do nearly as much research. I can’t exactly recall what made me choose the Ash Jeans, but I just knew they were the ones. Maybe because they seem pretty flattering on most people? Megan Nielsen also offers a great sew along with lots of information to help ensure you have success in making their pattern.

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The Fabric

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Ginger: I recognize that this information is totally interchangeable but I also think it has a big influence on how successful your final product is. I also have to say that this was not at all a true scientific experiment because I used different fabrics for each pair of jeans. For the Gingers I used 9.5 oz Cone Mills S-Gene stretch denim in indigo from LA Finch Fabrics.

Ash: For the Ashes I used 9.5 oz Cone Mills S-Gene stretch Tencel blend denim in black from Raspberry Creek Fabric. The color of these jeans is kind of funky. The warp threads are black but the weft threads are white, so the denim is technically black…but it’s more of a light black and definitely not a true black (the above picture is pretty accurate for how the fabric comes across).

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Supplies & Cost Breakdown

Ginger: Denim(LAFinch Fabrics on super sale)-$22.38
Topstitching thread (Wawak)-$2.80 (used probably about a third of the spool)
Jeans Button (Threadbare Fabrics)-$1.00
Rivets (Threadbare Fabrics)-$2.50
Jeans zipper (Walmart)-about $1.00
Pattern (Closet Case)-$14.00
Total including pattern: $43.68/ Total not including pattern: $29.68

Ash: Denim (Raspberry Creek Fabrics) $25
PDF Pattern (Megan Nielsen Patterns) $15.79
Zipper (Walmart) $1
Jeans button-antique brass (Wawak) less than $1
Topstitching thread (Wawak) $2.80
Total including pattern: $45.59/Total not including pattern: $29.80

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The Cutting

Ginger: As was suggested, I cut out both patterns on a single layer of fabric rather than on the fold. I read some reviews that said the Gingers had a billion pattern pieces (it has 15 and the Ash jeans have 12) but I just think that’s kind of par for the course. It does require some interfacing (plus suggests some more if you’re doing a design on your back pocket. But overall the cutting is very straightforward. Oh, I also want to mention that even though I chose the pattern with only one rise option, there is a line indicating where you would lengthen or shorten the pattern to adjust the rise (as well as one indicating where to lengthen and shorten for inseam).

Ash: The cutting on this end was a little bit less straightforward, just because there isn’t a line indicating where to lengthen and shorten the inseam. It does talk about changing the length on the sew along, so if you need help with that, that’s where you should look. I’ve done it lots of times (I’m 5’3″ which is shorter than most patterns are drafted for) so I wasn’t worried about figuring that out but in the end I just decided to cut it to the regular cropped length, which ended up being a bit shorter than I expected, but it works. The pattern does mark the knee placement which can be pretty helpful in determining the best adjustments for your inseam. Other than that, cutting was totally fine. The pattern doesn’t require any pattern pieces to be cut out of interfacing-only small amounts are needed for button and buttonhole.

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The Instructions

Ginger: There are so many places where Heather Lou (the woman behind Closet Case Patterns) goes above and beyond in explaining how to do things. I still consider myself a beginner in the world of sewing, and especially so in sewing jeans, as this was my first time. Heather mentions things that might not otherwise occur to a newbie and I really appreciated that. It was mentioned right off that you should baste everything first to ensure fit. And when I made a muslin (that failed miserably because I had too low of a stretch percentage) that was the very first thing I did. I basted. I didn’t think doing it first made sense, but that’s what the pattern said! Ha! I don’t know what I’m doing…obviously. In that case, maybe the instructions were a little too gung-ho? Another problem is that the pattern occasionally refers to the left leg when it means the right and vice versa. When I sew up a pattern, I generally refer to the instructions included in the pattern and then if I get confused, I pull up the pattern’s sew along. For the Gingers, there were 2 or 3 times where I had to look at the sew along to figure out what I was supposed to do. But for the most part, the sew along helped me to figure out the next step.

Ash: Conversely, I never had to look at the sew along while constructing the Ash jeans. I don’t know if I should credit the great instructions or if it had more to do with the fact that I was getting familiar with the process of jeans making. But really, the instructions were very to-the-point and easy to follow. I will say that the Gingers give a lot more circumstantial information; for example, the instructions on the Gingers talk a lot about how everyone’s bum is different so when you get to putting on the back pockets, it’s recommended they’re just basted on so you can adjust to make them the most flattering to your bum. The Ash instructions are simple but effective and the Ginger instructions are much more in depth and explanatory.

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The Construction

Ginger: It was surprising to me how much the construction differed between the two patterns. Since I sewed the Gingers first, I just kind of did what the instructions said without thinking about if there was a better way to do it and was only able to judge the construction retrospectively. Both patterns result in pants and if you only ever sew one jeans pattern, you’ll never know what you’re missing out on (which, honestly, is totally fine). The construction of the fly is WAY better on the Gingers than the Ashes. And I know that’s a bold thing to say, but it’s true. It went together so much smoother. It was almost effortless (you know, as effortless as sewing flies and jeans zippers can get). I also like how things are laid out and the progress of it all. I feel like Heather has you get the finicky things out of the way first, and I liked that. I chose to do rivets on this pair and I learned that I am the world’s worst riveter. There are 5 rivets on my jeans…and I think I ruined upwards of 12 rivets in trying to get those darn things on.

Ash: Sewing the Ash fly was pretty tricky and resulted in a bit of permanent pulling  (I’m sure you can see it in many of the pictures). I’ve since searched #mnash on Instagram and noticed that others have the same pulling on their flies. I don’t think it’s necessarily something super noticeable unless you’ve got the same problem. It still works and results in an operable jean zipper, which is the goal, but again, the method from the Gingers was far and away my favorite. But the waistband and, specifically, the belt loop instructions, were more effective on the Ashes. I didn’t use rivets on these, but mostly just because I didn’t have ones that matched…and apparently I suck at installing rivets. Good thing they aren’t necessary for successful jeans. I can just use bar tacks instead.

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Ben kindly took pictures of my butt so I could figure out pocket placement. The placement here was too wide. So I removed the basting stitch and scooched the pockets inward less than half an inch. Little adjustments went a long way.

The Adjustments

Ginger: The only adjustment I made was to take out a small wedge (about 1/2 inch) at the back center yoke to adjust for a sway back (which is where the curve at your lower back is more pronounced than is normal). Oh, and shortening the length by half an inch I think (sorry, I always forget to mention that because it’s pretty standard for me).

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The top line is the original sew line on the yoke and the bottom is how I tapered it slightly inward to adjust for my sway back. 

Ash: I also took out a small wedge from center back here (sway back, yo!). I also graded from a 31 at the waist to a 29 at the hip (which I mentioned in the cutting section). Oh and for heaven’s sake, the back pockets on these are too small! I used a smaller seam allowance than indicated on the pockets to try to make them bigger. I also had to unpick the basted pockets like 3 times to get the placement right. Next time I make these, I’ll cut a bigger size of pocket for sure.

The Fit

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Ginger: The Gingers fit so well. I really love them. The rise on me is just about an inch below my belly button. I consider myself to have bigger calves, and I was worried that the calves wouldn’t fit and that I should’ve done a full calf adjustment in the cutting phase but I was really pleased that the pattern fit really well around my calves, no adjustments necessary. I do have a very mild case of The Old Twist Leg (that is the technical term) on my left leg of the jeans, but it really is very slight and not a huge deal. I’ve read about others having this problem with the Gingers and I don’t know if it has to do with cutting it off grain or if it has more to do with the fact that the front and back leg pieces have to be eased into each other. I think maybe a more experienced sewist would probably know the cause. Oh, I feel like I should mention the Classic Ginger Jean Pocket Stays. The pocket stays are basically a pocket that extends from your hip seam all the way over to where the fly is. It’s kind of a built-in tummy-tucker. I feel like I might have said that they really suck me in in a comfortable way, except I think my tummy feels flatter in the Ashes…so I don’t really know if they’re that crazy effective. But I do like them and I think they’re mostly comfortable unless you eat a TON and then you just want to rip those pants off…but that’s the case with all jeans, yeah? But they do create very substantial and useable pockets which is a big change from all the jeans I’ve owned in the last, what…10 years? I literally thought I lost my phone because I couldn’t find it in any of my pockets until I realized it was in my front pocket, the one that’s normally unusable. Bless you, Gingers, for your wonderful pockets.

Ash: The rise on the Ashes is higher than the Gingers. I’d say they hit right at my belly button (maybe just a touch above). As mentioned, I cut the regular cropped length. I thought that that would be about my normal height but really it hits about an inch and a half above my ankle, which is basically right where I want the hem to be. I felt like if I hemmed these, they would be too short, so I just left the hem raw, which I actually really love. If you know Lladybird, she has a bunch of great posts on jeans making, and one thing she mentions is that jeans tend to kind of lengthen a bit at first. So she leaves her hem raw for a couple months to let it settle before she hems them. I figure with these I can always hem them later, especially if they do grow. Or if I decide I want capris instead. Overall, I love the fit of these.

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Complaints

Ginger: These are overall, general complaints. For the Gingers, my main complaint is that there are errors in the instructions (which I talked about in the instructions section). I admit to being a Type A, rule-following personality and that those kinds of things bug me more than they would bug others. I also recognize that with 18k Ginger Jeans hashtags, obviously people are understanding the instructions regardless of the errors. But I just think that if your pattern is so wildly popular that you’d want it to be as perfect as possible in every way. And that if there were errors, that you’d take the time to fix them. And also, where were the pattern testers here? That is all. Thank you.

Oh wait, I actually have one more complaint specifically about the sew along. It really drives me crazy when the sew alongs use non directional fabric when the direction matters! If the directions are telling me to use wrong side, but I can’t tell what the wrong side is, there’s a problem. In this case, I was having a hard time with the pocket stays, but on the sew along, the pocket stay material is the same on the front and back so it didn’t help at all in orienting things. I just had to read more carefully and lay things out and I got it figured but it’s still kind of frustrating. For the record, this isn’t the only time where I’ve seen a sew alongs do that.

Okay, fine, just one more! I don’t know much about pattern drafting or selling patterns but I think it’s kind of dumb that the mid-rise is sold separately from the high and low rise. I wish it was all in one pattern, even if that raised the price a bit.

Ash: My biggest complaint for the Ash jeans is that the instructions (and pattern pieces) have you cut the waistband pieces on cross grain, which generally means the direction with the least amount of stretch. All other pieces are cut on grain and I’m sure the reason behind cutting the waistband on crossgrain is to keep it from stretching out (especially since it’s not interfaced). But it is incredibly uncomfortable. It’s not a big deal when I’m upright, but as soon as I sit down, the waistband really digs into my stomach. It’s super bad after I’ve eaten (okay so maybe I should just stop eating to fix problems on both these pants). It was honestly bad enough that I pulled out my extra fabric to re-cut the waistband on grain (and this was totally after I’d finished everything) but I didn’t have enough. The next time I make the pattern I will definitely cut the waistband on grain.

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Loves/Conclusions

I know there is supposed to be this huge reveal on which of these patterns I think is superior and the truth is that I have such a hard time choosing which was is best. I think they are both amazing patterns. They each had things I ended up preferring, but I never would have known had I just stuck to the one pattern. In terms of fit, for some reason I love my Ash jeans more. When I look at the pictures, I think both jeans look so similar. But when I put them on, the Ash jeans feel so much better. And it honestly might be due to the Tencel in the fabric-it makes the denim feel so much silkier-but I also just love how the Ashes shape my hips. I feel like they fit so well around my hips and are so flattering. They make my waist seem small and they seem to flatten out my tummy. I don’t love the color of the denim; I’ve found it’s kind of hard to pair. Even though I think the Ashes win in terms of fit, I have to admit that it is only by a hair that they win. The Gingers fit really well and are also very flattering. Maybe if I’d made the high-waisted Gingers, they would’ve won. Because they’re blue jeans and have classic finishing, they are a lot easier to wear and go with virtually everything.

As far as construction/instructions go, if you are a beginner, I would suggest the Ginger Jeans without hesitation. They are so thorough in their instructions. They explain things so well and definitely have a beginner in mind. If you are more comfortable with sewing and have made more complicated things I’d say that either pattern will do you good. With either pattern just remember that they have great online resources to help you and if you’re new to jeans making, it might be beneficial to read through the introductory sew alongs before beginning your project.

As for me, the next pair of jeans I make are going to be Ash jeans, but I will be making some adjustments including using a larger back pocket and following the Ginger jean instructions for the fly.

Yes, I will make jeans again. I honestly had so much fun making them. I also think that making jeans is a rare occurrence in the world of sewing, where you can make a pair of jeans for cheaper than that which you could buy. If I use a pattern more than once, I don’t include it in the cost of the garment. So in these cases (where I intend to use the pattern again), I made a pair of jeans for less than $30. I know I used high quality material, so I’d say I got a steal. And I’ll definitely be making more Ashes and more Gingers.

I feel like I was so intent on comparing these patterns that I forgot one of the most important details: I made jeans! I mean, whattt??? It’s so crazy but also so rewarding. Jeans are a huge staple in my wardrobe and I’ve already worn both of these pants a ton. I feel proud that made these jeans. Neither pair is perfect, but overall I love how they turned out.

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3 thoughts on “Closet Case Ginger Jeans vs. Megan Nielsen Ash Jeans: Comparing Skinny Jeans Patterns

  1. Thanks so much for this post. It’s incredibly full of details and very nice to read. I have made more than 10 pair of ginger jeans and I’m looking for information on the Ash to try something new.

    Like

  2. Thanks for this blog post!!!!
    And if you don’t like the color of your ash jeans (me neither) yo can always dye them. If you need to get out the color before you can decolorize them.
    I had some RTW trousers, thant had stains. So I dyed them, now they look brand new 🙂

    Like

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