Just a disclaimer: this is not a tutorial, more like a guide for experienced sewers or just so you can see how obsessed I am about getting the perfect pair of jeans :)
These were the things I wanted: elasticated cuffs, knee darts, fitted legs (skinny-ish), a good fit around the waist. I was a long way off, but here's what I had at home to help me get there: an unpicker, jeans sewing machine needle, topstitching thread (very close colour match, score!), some other dark upholstery sewing thread, elastic and a lot of patience. Here's my plan for what I wanted to do:
For the knee darts, I unpicked the outer leg from the knee down so that I could access the knee area on the sewing machine. I also unpicked about 20cm around the knee on the inner leg. I created 4 small darts on each knee (using a pair of jeans I already own as a guide). The best place for darts is a little below where your knee is when you're standing up in your jeans. I first just sewed the pleats down on the outer edges and later top-stitched the darts down with triangles. I wasn't sure it was going to look so good in orange top-stitch thread, so I used a grey thread. A good move, I think.
As you will see in the 1st photo above, when I created the darts, the back of the legs were longer than the front. I cut the back of the leg in two right behind the darts, then created a seam to shorten that part and top-stitched it.
When the darts and back seams were done, I sewed up the inner leg, then overlocked and top-stitched it. I did the outer leg last (no top-stitching).
The first part of my project was done!
Next, I took in the legs and created a casing for the elastic. I ended up taking the legs in (on the outer leg) quite a bit, all the way down from the bottom of the side pockets. I created a fitted leg, but kept it quite straight from the calf down. After overlocking the raw edges, I created a casing using the same dark thread I used on the darts. I used a 1.5cm elastic.
Now I was two-thirds there and I could have stopped, but thought while I was having such a great time sewing, I'd try a technique I've seen on Pinterest. Because these jeans were a size bigger than normal, I wanted to get a more flattering fit, so I took in the sides and waistband a bit. It was really easy, although it took quite a while to unpick all the stitches. Here is the link on Freshly Picked.
And there you have it, my pimped-up jeans. The most comfortable jeans in my wardrobe! But looking a bit like I'm off to the army with my new leather hi-tops in this photo :)
And here they are before I took in the waist: