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Forum > Sew Alongs > Jeans Tips and Tricks ( Moderated by Deepika, Jacqui315)

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Jeans Tips and Tricks
Condensed from the Jeans Sew Along thread
cabinbaby  Friend of PR
Alaska USA
Member since 4/8/07
Posts: 1196
Skill: Intermediate
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Date: 5/29/09 1:25 PM

The original Jeans Sew Along thread can be found here.

I read all 74 (!!!) pages of the Jeans Sew Along and condensed the information into one easy-to-read page. Most of the information is copy/pasted from that thread. If you do not want me to link directly to your blog, photos, review, etc. let me know and I'll get rid of the link. I don't think there is a way to directly link to a specific page in the Jeans Sew Along Thread. So, I added page numbers where tutorials can be found.

Basic Supplies -- Denim, pattern, large jean needles (110 or 120), topstitching thread, jeans-style snaps, rivets, interfacing, zipper, and pocket linings.

Patterns Used:

  • Peek-a-Boo Pattern Kid Jeans

  • Kwik Sew 3504 Mens Jeans
  • Vogue 8801 Mens Jeans
  • Burda 7138 Mens Jeans

  • 805 Jeans by Petite Plus Patterns
  • Jennifer Sterns 37w Womens Jeans

  • Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans
  • Vogue 8774
  • 117 by Sew Liberated
  • Named Jamie Jeans

  • McCalls 6610
  • Jalie 2908
  • Butterick 5682
  • Jennifer Stern 37 Misses Jeans
  • McCalls 5894
  • Kwik Sew 3193

  • Wyome Jeans by Named

  • Burda 7863
  • Butterick 5895

  • Vogue 1034 (discontinued)
  • Burda 8085 (Discontinued)
  • McCalls 5142 Classic Fit jean by Palmer & Pletsch (Discontinued)

  • Knip Mode 01-2009 #11a
  • BWOF 04-2009
  • Ottobre 05-2007

    • Stiffer denim can be easier to sew than washed “spongy” denim that has been washed mulitple times.
    • Starch can be used to stiffen the pants if you want them stiff while you sew them.
    • Emma One Sock
    • Fashion Fabrics Club
    • Denim will sometimes “crock” for several washings. This is when dye rubs off on hands, washer, legs, etc. There was quite a bit of discussion on whether vinegar helps. A dye catcher sheet will help "catch" the dye.
    • You should process your new denim with 1 to 3 wash/dry cycles on the fabric first and then 1 or 2 more before I hem them.
    • All denim is different. Beefier denim like 10.5-12oz is preferable for fitted jeans. Too thin and it shows any bump, bulge, and fabric wrinkle. Be sure to take stretchiness into account.

    • There are many kinds of thread that can be used. eBay sells larger quantities of topstitching thread for a cheaper price.
    • Try lots of different kinds of needles. It really does change the way the thread feeds. Try a topstitching needle or a jeans needle.
    • Commonly used thread used for topstitching: Coats and Clark Dual Duty XP Heavy Duty, Gutterman upolstery thread, regular weight Gutterman thread, and Gutterman topstitching thread.
    • Many people struggle when using the actual topstitching thread. Some found it was easier to use regular thread in the bobbin and heavy thread in the needle. Some gave up on the thick topstitching thread entirely and used something thinner.
    • Adjust your tensions when using topstitching thread and it you find the "magic" tension that works, write the settings down so you can do it again.
    • Emilie at Jalie used a triple straight stitch instead of topstitching thread. They didn't have to change spools of thread and the triple straight stitch lays down a thick line of stitches.
    • Some people tried using two regular weight threads through the needle.
    • Atlanta Threads 750y to 6000 yd spools.

    • Grommet Mart They sell by the 100 but they will send you samples.
    • Cast Bullet They will send you smaller lot sizes.
    • Stans Sewing Supplies Jeans-style buttons
    • Atlanta Thread Jean zippers
    • eBay Seller Wood N Stuff Sells smaller lots of rivets
    • You'll need between 4 and 10 rivets if you choose to put them on. The most common places were front pocket edges, coin pocket, and back pocket.
    • Coats All Purpose Zippers are commonly used for jeans. They work fine and are easy to find.
    • Both plastic and metal zippers are commonly used for jeans. They can both be shortened. Most people shorten the zipper from the top where they attach the waistband.

    Construction Tips
    • Use glue instead of pins to hold seams in place before you sew them.
    • Topstitching and edgestitching feet are somewhat expensive but worth it for precise topstitching.
    • Be sure to reinforce back pocket edges at the top with a bar tack or strong stitches.
    • Remember to "wash" your interfacing before you use them!! I use the downstairs tub and fill it with warm/hot water and dunk the interfacing. Then I let it dry on the curtain rod. You want it cool enough that the dot adhesives don't melt but warm enough to shrink it a bit. Try it on a little piece first to find the right temperature. If it feels slimy, it's too hot and all your fusible interfacing is now sew-in interfacing. Ask me how I learned that lesson. The Jalie jeans only require interfacing next to the zipper. Some of the other jeans require interfacing in the waistband.
    • Use templates for the pockets. I know there is a picture tutorial out there. In fact I think I've done one. I just can't find it right now.
    • Rocketboy's Waistband tutorial (p. 31 of Jeans Sew Along Thread)
    • Emilie's Gaposis Tutorial: For darts in the yoke, I left the actual darts in the yoke for the first pair. For subsequent pairs, I took a wedge out of the pattern piece so I didn't have to have a dart in my jeans.
    • Debbie Cook's Contour waistband with inside lining (p. 52 of Jeans Sew Along Thread)
    • Debbie Cook's Fly Tutorial
    • When using a serger, the 5-thread overlock is preferable. Use the standard needles (in a Viking that an 80 for the overlock and a 90 for the chainstitch)
    • About marking the back pockets for stitching the decorative design. I've tried several methods and found only one that worked for me. I have two cardboard templates, one for each line of stitching. The bottom edge of the template is the same shape as the bottom of the pocket. The top edge is the same shape as the line of stitching.
    • You can also embroidery a design on the pocket, cut it out, and apply it to the jeans.
    • Back pocket size and placement is really important. Too small of pockets and the butt looks big. Too low and it "drags" the bottom down.
    • Indio Denim gives good descriptions of pocket sizing compared to butt size.
    • Article on placement of pockets.
    • On RTW pants, the back pockets are centered relative to the topstitching, NOT the actual seams. You may want to measure and place your pockets relative to the topstitching.
    • For jeans, use your size but add really wide (like 1”) seams to the side so you can do a bit of tweaking. Each denim is different and will have a different fit and stretch.
    • Threads Article on fitting jeans.
    • Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics Tips for Cutting Out Stretch Fabrics

    Eyecandy (Pictures of finished pants, reviews, etc.)

    I'm sure I'll be adding more information for the next couple of days. Again, if you don't want me linking to your reviews, let me know.

    Patterns updated by Deepika on Feb 2015
    -- Edited on 2/11/15 at 5:26 PM --


  • blue mooney
    blue mooney
    Member since 12/21/02
    Posts: 2025
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    Date: 5/29/09 1:56 PM

    Wow! Thanks for putting this together! This PLUS your fantastic jeans output makes me think about giving jeans a try again. Your post will be a super-fantastic resource.

    sewing blog:
    other artwork blogged here:

    Elona  Friend of PR
    Member since 8/24/02
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    In reply to cabinbaby

    Date: 5/29/09 6:47 PM

    What a terrific assemblage of knowledge! Thanks, Dawn.


    Patti B
    Patti B  Friend of PR
    California USA
    Member since 9/29/02
    Posts: 2663
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    Date: 5/29/09 10:46 PM

    Much appreciated and will be appreciated even more when I get around to making jeans!


    R-r-r-ripping my way to fitting success

    MelissaB in WA
    MelissaB in WA
    Washington USA
    Member since 3/18/04
    Posts: 1768
    Skill: Intermediate
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    Date: 5/29/09 11:22 PM

    Thank you for doing this Dawn, this is super helpful!

    "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain." ~Dolly Parton

    Fabric sewn in 2015 ~ 54 yards
    Fabric sewn in 2014 ~ 55 yards

    Dilliander  Friend of PR
    New South Wales Australia
    Member since 11/28/08
    Posts: 559
    Skill: Intermediate
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    Date: 5/30/09 3:15 AM

    Wonderful, many thanks Dawn!


    Ontario CANADA
    Member since 11/14/08
    Posts: 49
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    Date: 5/30/09 7:23 AM

    Thank you so much-all I ever need to know about sewing jeans in one post.It is very much appreciated


    inspector  Friend of PR
    Illinois USA
    Member since 11/27/08
    Posts: 26
    Skill: Intermediate
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    Date: 5/30/09 8:18 AM

    Thank you so much! I can't tell you how many times I go searching through the thread for info. This is a great help!
    Peggy L
    Peggy L  Friend of PR
    Nevada USA
    Member since 4/8/02
    Posts: 5095
    Skill: Advanced
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    Date: 5/30/09 9:41 AM

    Dawn - thanks so much for doing this!! I am in the "gathering supplies" phase!!! Have the rivets, a lifetime supply of denim is on the way, son will be here in a month, and I just need to order a pattern and topstitching thread. It looks like the KS pattern is the only option for guys!!!


    Maggie Cat
    Maggie Cat
    Member since 2/18/06
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    In reply to cabinbaby

    Date: 5/30/09 12:00 PM

    That is a bunch of work! You are great for putting all this together. I am marking this for if I ever make jeans.

    And the jeans everyone made are really great, too.

    Dawn, I love the pink in the last pair of jeans.
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