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making jeans

Sounds crazy right, but making jeans is NOT as difficult as you think!

I’m a true newbie and only started sewing at the beginning of the first Lockdown. I needed something I could get totally lost in so I signed up for an online sewing course I found on Facebook.

Little did I know a year later I would be embarking on making jeans! I have a basic knowledge of machine sewing and have made the usual beginners pieces such as a cushion, tote bag, make-up bag, and a jersey Bretton top. So when Layla @oldfashionedway my sewing teacher mentioned she was teaching a course on Making Jeans and I should sign up, I was intrigued and terrified at the same time. Layla assured me I could do it and she’d be there to help me when I got stuck, and she was!

Following is a mix of information I received from the course, pattern, and my own experience of jeans making I have learned and would like to pass on.

#1: CHOSING A JEANS PATTERN:

There are quite a lot of patterns out there. I was given links to 5 styles to chose from Layla had tried and tested. I decided I wanted to make a classic straight leg jean and chose a Megan Nielsen Pattern called Dawn which had a selection of 4 styles of jeans. Size 0 to 20 with a skillset of 3 needed.

I chose fit B – Straight leg jeans ( see below).

For more information on jeans patterns The Last Stitch a great sewing blog has an extensive list of available jean patterns here to choose from.

Megan Nielsen Pattern called Dawn
These are the jeans I chose to make as I love the exposed fly customization & raw hem.

#2: JEANS MAKING SHOPPING LIST:

  • Denim fabric – the amount will be specified in the pattern.
  • Top stitch thread 2 spools – Think about if you want a warm or cool stitch colour. A copper thread is a true classic.
  • Fabric for pockets & inside the wasitband – this is where you can get funky with a pattern. I chose a bandana print.
  • Fusible interfacing – This makes fabric thicker, needed for fly, pocket & waistband.
  • Hardware – Zip, 4 jeans buttons, rivets & posts – should match it to your topstitch thread, warm or cold.
  • Denim Needle – Needed to sew through thick fabric 90/14, 100/16 and 110/18.
  • Bulky Seam Aid – I’m adding in this one myself as I found it difficult sewing over belt loops & thick seams.


#3: PICKING YOUR DENIM FABRIC

I actually didn’t think much about the fabric until I got to the shop and then was totally taken back with the number of denim options. Here are things to think about before you buy fabric.

  • Colour of fabric, Dark denim with or without texture. Verses Mid to light- blue denim. White or black.
  • Thickness of fabric depends on your pattern. Don’t go too thick as it will be tricky to sew.
  • Organic 100% cotton denim maybe better for vintage styles like my straight leg jeans.
  • Lycra mix denim fabric better for skinny jean patterns.
  • The pattern will recommend fabric choices.

#4: CUTTING OUT YOUR PATTERN

This is the point you will need to measure yourself as you’ll be cutting your pattern to your size. I was quite nervous not to mess this bit up. I had already measured the smallest part of my waist and hips. The pattern I chose was a high rise 11.1/4 inch which is too high for me but Layla said we can change the rise measurement to fit ( 10″).

TIP: I found this part really interesting as I would normally measure the front rise from the crotch seam of the jean up to the belly button to decide on the best rise. When making jeans/ bottoms Layla said to sit on a chair and measure from the seat upwards to where I would want the waistband to sit. This will be your rise measurement.

Also if you have a curvy body shape, for example, your waist is a size 8 and your hips are a size 12 you can blend the sizes and cut the pattern larger on the hips. This is the beauty of making jeans tailored to your size!

Next time I think I will add extra fabric across the pockets to hold in my tummy!

Plus you can use this pattern again for another make if all goes well!


A Visual Story Of My Making Jeans Journey

Just a collection of pictures I snapped during this project to give an idea of how much went into the making. The jeans-making course was a full two days and I finished off the over stitching & belt loops at home. I am still tweaking them at the moment.


THE RESULT:

To be honest I’m quite chuffed & truly pleased with the outcome of making my own jeans. It really was like a sewing assort course (without the mud), as it was challenging at times for sure.

Below you can see the final result of the jeans that were tailored to my apple body shape, customized with an exposed button fly and frayed hem.


Here are the finished jeans my sewing buddies Jo & Kathy made at the jeans course!

Thank you for sharing!


I can’t recommend making jeans enough, especially if you find it difficult to find jeans for your body shape.

It really is so satisfying and really makes you think about how much work goes into making the everyday item we love to wear.

If you live in the UK and are interested in signing up for the course email Layla Totah [email protected]

A book I found really helpful is available on Amazon Sewing Jeans by Johanna Lundstrom. Watch The Last Stitch

sam denim stylist
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