Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Top Jeans Sewing Tips

I'd first like to say that I am by no means a god of jeans making but I have made either written or mental notes as I've made four pairs of jeans that I absolutely love. I'm sure I'll never buy jeans again. These tips are in no particular order so read through them all and decide whether or not any or all are of use to you.
  1. Always prewash/shrink your fabric at least twice before starting. Doing so will help to ensure that your jeans still fit after washing. Also with stretch denim it gets lots of the excess dye out. Don't forget to prewash the pocket fabric as well.
  2. Hem your jeans 1-2" longer than you normally would. I didn't and two pair can only be worn with flats while one pair is just plain 'ol too short! Learn from my mistakes.
  3. While a size 18 needle is ideal, satsifactory results can be obtained with a size 16.
  4. Topstitching makes all the difference in how your final project will look. Set your topstitching length to 3-3.5 mm.
  5. Using three sewing machines saves lots of time--one for construction, one for topstitching, and one for serging.
  6. If you choose not to use topstitching thread, try using one of your machine's decorative stitches instead. If you topstitch in matching fabric color you won't need a separate machine for topstitching. I've had great success with this stitch but be warned--it uses lots of bobbin thread.
  7. If you do use topstitching thread don't use it in the bobbin. Adjust machine tension as needed.
  8. Another good topstitching trick is to use two strands of regular thread. So as not of have to buy two spools of thread, use a fully wound bobbin as one of your spools! Thread both threads through the needle.
  9. Make sure you have enough thread in the bobbin before you began any topstitching. Nothing looks worse than the point where you have to restart sewing after either cutting the thread or winding a bobbin.
  10. Sewing jeans is a wonderful way to use up all those half wound bobbins. When using flat felled seams, the bobbin thread almost never shows. Be sure the half wound bobbin is in the machine you are using for construction, not topstitching.
  11. Attach the back pockets as the final step and use the placement markings for reference only. The pockets should be placed relative to the back flat felled seam. If you sew your center back seam with flat felling and apply the pockets where the markings are at, the pockets will appear misplaced. One pocket should be about 1/4" farther away from the center back then the other.
  12. While stetch jeans may be all the rage and super comfortable, for us plus size ladies we need to be aware that as they day goes on they will loosen up and more than likely hug us in all the places we'd most like to camouflage.
  13. To secure the coin and back pockets, trying using a narrow closely stitched zigzag stitch.
  14. If you don't plan on wearing a belt, omit the belt carriers.
  15. Try jeans on before adding waistband fastener.
  16. On the buttonhole side of the waistband, trim excess seam allowance away from buttonhole area before stitching.
  17. If using a jean fastener, do not trim the excess seam allowance. I actually leave about three extra inches of fabric on the fastener side. I fold it inside and stitch closed. The extra layers of fabric give the fastener something to adhere to.
I will admit that on three pairs of my jeans the fasteners fell off either before or after washing. I followed the directions to the letter but to no avail.
 Then I had a flash of genius...
I picked this up at an estate sale last year. It was only $1. Boy did it come in handy. I just place a towel over my fastener as not to damage it and haven't lost a fastener since.

Til next time!


  1. Awesome tips and so timely!! I'm putting together some jeans right now.

  2. No you're are the jeans goddess really you are. Great tips.

  3. What great tips!!! I don't make jeans for myself yet, but I do for my grands on occasion.

  4. Thanks for the tips! My jeans fabric just arrived from today. I will be prewashing them like you suggested, as well as looking at the other tips once my Jalie pattern arrives from PR.

  5. Good tips! I totally agree about stretch jeans.

  6. Great tips - I'd love to make a pair of jeans myself soon, and these tips will come in handy... Are you suggesting that a non-stretch fabric is best? Do you have a recommendation? Thanks!

  7. As always thanks for sharing your tips it's just in time:) I'm preparing to sew some jeans in a few weeks and had begun gathering my info. I agree with you, I don't think I'll ever buy jeans again once I make my own!

  8. These are all great tips :) Your jeans look wonderful.

  9. These are great jeans tips. I'll need to bookmark them for when I sew my first pair... hopefully sometime this calendar year. :) Thanks!

  10. I'm learning how to make pants and it is taking forever just to get the fitting right. I'm a very late beginner (not counting sewing done in my 20s for my two daughters) and love wearing jeans. My trouble is finding ones that fit! Do you think my eventual pants pattern will be okay for jeans?

  11. I'm working on a denim skirt and I'm confused about thread. Of the special denim threads I've seen, none seem to match today's darker washes. Can I use regular sewing thread for construction or should I buy heavy duty thread? For topstitching, could I use two strands of embroidery thread?