Hey y’all, it’s jeans sewalong week! All week Sabra and I will be trading tips and tutorials to get you sewing your own jeans. First up for me are tips to sew denim.
Denim is one of those fabrics people avoid because it’s thick, which means that when you fold it or sew two pieces together it just gets thicker. But if you handle it correctly, sewing your own jeans is not that hard. Really. I promise – I sewed mine in an afternoon.
So here are my
Top 5 Tips to Sew Denim
- Cut with sharp scissors
- Use the right needle
- Use the right thread
- Use a bumper or a leveling foot (J foot)
- Go slow
Really that’s all there is to it. But let’s delve into each a little more in depth.
Really, this one is kind of obvious. I mean, I’m not sure when, in sewing, you’d want dull scissors. So let’s move on.
Use the right needle.
There are jeans needles that you can buy especially for sewing jeans. But I don’t use them. I just make sure to have at least a size 90/14 universal needle (100/16 for thicker denim) and all is well. Needles should be matched to the thickness of the fabric you’re sewing. Denim is at least a size 90. Voile? Well for that you’re going to want to go 80/12 or 70/11. Not so hard, right?
Use the right thread
For the regular seams, I use all purpose thread. But for the topstitching that comes with flat felling, I switch to Heavy Duty thread. Tip: some sewing machines (my vintage one) hate the cotton thread that is marketed as jeans thread. My machine shreds this stuff. Upholstery thread can be a great substitute – it looks thicker like the topstitching thread you’re used to seeing on jeans, but it’s smoother than the cotton jeans thread, and so it is less prone to making your machine anger and shred it.
Use a bumper or a leveling foot
I don’t actually even know that this is what it’s properly called, this is just what I call it. Basically a bumper is a scrap of denim you keep near your machine while sewing. When you’re sewing over thick areas, like the place where the two seams cross at the back yoke, your machine might want to stall because of the presser foot being unbalanced. Bumper to the rescue! Fold it up, place it behind or in front of the presser foot to level the foot out and allow you to continue sewing.
If you have a newer machine, it might have come with a J foot, also known as a leveling foot (affiliate link). The video below shows how to use that, and if you can’t watch it below you can also watch it on YouTube here.
This, like sharp scissors, is kind of an obvious one. There are lots of places on the jeans where you might even want to handcrank the flywheel to get through. And that’s perfectly fine – it’s easier to slow down and do it right than to have to pull out the seam ripper and take out stitches.
Head on over to Sew a Straight Line to find out her best tips for cutting out your pattern and transferring markings.