Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sewing Jeans

Sewing jeans isn't hard, but it is time consuming. There are many little steps along the way, lots of changing of thread, pressing and finishing. This is my first attempt at sewing jeans and I am quite happy with them.
I should point out that I always intended for these to be more trouser jeans than regular jeans. I never wanted to make jeans to replace my Levi's or Sass and Bides, but rather make a dressier, 70's vibe, high waisted, flare jeans and with that in mind, I think I've kind of succeeded.
I'm not 100% happy with my choice in denim though. I wish they were less dark and more blue. I also think they possibly have slightly too much stretch and I am worried about how they will wear over time. I purchased the denim on sale from Tessuti.
Before beginning this project there were a number of things about sewing jeans that I was quite intimidated by, but am happy to report that I didn't find any of them much of a problem at all. I was extremely concerned about my ability to top stitch neatly, so chose a black top stitching thread so it wouldn't be too much of a feature. The top stitching wasn't hard though. You just have to concentrate and stitch slowly. The thread wasn't difficult to work with, I just used regular thread in my bobbin and played around with the tension a bit. I was also quite concerned about breaking  needles, but only used two No.14 needles on  my machine and two on my over locker with no breaks.
I used a Burda pattern No. 127 from 8/2009. I made a number of modifications to the pattern, including omitting the front side pockets, as I wanted patch pockets, increasing the rise at the back, reducing the yoke size and flow on changes to the back pant from this and I also flared the pant leg from the knee down.  I made three muslins of these pants before I cut the denim, mostly to check sizing and the leg shape.
As I didn't have a jeans pattern to work from, I used a number of resources to pull these together including and old Calvin Klein Vogue sewing pattern for jeans V2442, which I'd picked up from the Op Shop. It wasn't in my size, but was handy to refer to. I also referred heavily to a pant sewing tutorial in Burda 9/2009, my vintage Readers Digest Guide to Sewing and this video tutorial for sewing a flat fly front, but I added a fly facing too. I also had about three pairs of jeans on hand to analyse before deciding what to top stitch or where to place pockets. I also read through a bunch of info on the Pattern Review forums about sewing jeans.
I drafted the pockets size and stitching detail myself and positioned them after basting the centre seam to ensure they were flattering.

The only thing I wasn't able to figure out during researching the jean sewing thing, was how to centre the back pockets. When you mock flat fell the centre seam, the top stitching appears more to one side of the jeans. How do you centre the pockets? Mine are a little off, but as the top stitching doesn't stand out you can't really see. I'd appreciate any tips, as I think I will make another pair.

17 comments:

  1. wow, they look fantastic! So professional. You should be very happy with them, no wonder you want to make more!

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  2. Hot hot hot!!!! They look amazing!

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  3. Wow! You have done a great job. I love my Sass and Bides too and have way too many pairs.

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  4. Great jeans! You must be super happy with them. I love the shape and pockets.

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  5. These are excellent jeans. They are a lovely shape on you, and fit beautifully.

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  6. They look fabulous!
    Well done...

    Really enjoy your blog.

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  7. I am super impressed with your jeans. If I could sew jeans like that, I would never buy another pair. Pants are not my strong point. The look fabulous on you.

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  8. Oooh, they look great! I love it when people make their own jeans :).

    I always construct my back fully, including topstitching, before putting the pockets on, and then centre them on the topstitching, not on the seam itself. Also if you're using stretch denim, the bit between the pocket and the back seam is an area of maximum stretch, so they will end up looking farther out from the centre when you wear them than when they're flat. It took me two or three pairs before I figured out just where to put mine---for me it's 3cm down from the yoke and 2cm out from the closest stitching, but YMMV depending on the stretch, fit, pocket size, etc.

    If they do bag out too much when wearing, you should be able to take the outseams in slightly over the hips and upper thigh without interfering with the waistband. This is something I had to do on my first couple of pairs before I had my pattern totally tweaked.

    They look AWESOME, congratulations! :)

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  11. WOW they look fantastic on you!! Well done! I'm very impressed! I've never tried jeans nor would I be confident enough to I don't think. They really look fab I'm sure you'll be wearing them a lot!

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  12. This look fantastic!
    After checking out commercially made jeans, I centre the back pockets on the centre back seam, unlike Tanit-isis... the pocket placement is a personal choice but should never fall on the widest part of your butt, and is more slimming when sitting slightly high.
    I think your choice of denim colour is fabulous, and I'm sure you will get a lot of wear out of these. Well done!

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  13. these look great on you and I love the dark denim. I'm about to delve into the epic jean making process so this is really helpful. Thanks a bunch

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  14. I think I'm also going to make another pair soon too. However I did just buy some today as well :)

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