We love denim! Jeans and denim items are – and have been for ages – a staple item in our wardrobes. A faithful fallback style, we can use in almost every situation.
While jeans and denim can be bought in almost every shop, you might want something more. Create something different.
A home-sewn pair of jeans, for example, that fit like a glove. Or that denim jacket you’ve been dreaming about but can’t find anywhere.
Sewing with Denim is the stuff of nightmares – or is it?
Denim fabric is strong, durable, doesn’t snag, and isn’t difficult to cut.
Nonetheless, denim has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to sewing. But it really isn’t as hard as you might think.
Denim tools are crucial to success
No doubt you’re going to find it difficult if not near impossible to sew denim or jeans with the same tools you use for other sewing projects. So, what do you need to do differently?
#1 Use sharp tools
#2 Use jeans needles
You need a heavy-duty needle for sewing denim. Use, for example, a jeans needle. A jeans needle really does what it says on the tin, as it’s undoubtedly the best needle for sewing denim.
Jeans needles are longer, sharper, and have a bigger eye to accommodate thicker, sturdier sewing thread.
If you don’t have a jeans needle, you might use a heavy-duty universal needle of at least size 90/14. You might even need a 100/16 needle, particularly for thick denim or multiple fabric layers.
Using the correct needle reduces the risk of broken needles or skipped stitches.
Whichever needle you use, sewing denim will wear out your needles. So, make sure you buy a few needles, so you can replace the blunt needle with a fresh one occasionally.
#4 Keep an eye on those grain lines
When cutting your denim fabric, ensure that your grainlines are aligned correctly. Your finished style will likely twist and deform if you cut your fabric off-grain.
#5 Use long, sturdy pins or wonder clips
If you use regular pins on your denim, you risk bending or even breaking them – if they can penetrate the fabric at all. So instead, we recommend using sturdier, thicker pins with a broad glass head.
Alternatively, you can use wonder clips to hold your fabric layers together. They’re often easier to work with, especially when you sew with sturdy fabrics like denim.
#6 Cut the bulk
The more layers you force your sewing machine to plough through, the harder it gets. Therefore, make sure you trim as much bulk from your seams while you work and mitre the corners.
And remember, sharp fabric scissors are key to your denim success.
#7 Use the right seams
We recommend using a flat-felled seam for your denim styles, as they are incredibly durable and sturdy.
A flat felled seam is an overlapping seam sewn flat. This is the go-to seam for most jeans and denim styles.
Denim can fray something awful. So, make sure to finish your seams!
#8 Longer stitches – and topstitching
Sturdy fabric like denim needs a longer stitch than regular fabric. Use a stitch length of 3-4 mm for the best results. Denim fabric also requires high thread tension.
Trousers and jeans alike need to be durable. The fabric is usually under stress, especially in the crotch area.
#9 Press and Clobber
Pre-heat your iron and press your seams as flat as possible, with lots of steam.
Use a hammer to clobber your seams as this will soften them, making them easier to work with. This is especially important for ensuring a neat topstitch.
#10 Use sturdy zips and closures
Make sure you use zips and buttons that are suitable for the job. For example, heavy-duty snap buttons, jeans buttons and heavy-duty zips all go well with denim styles, such as jeans, denim trousers and denim skirts.
Go slow. Hold the fabric firmly while you sew, and do not push or pull the fabric.
The faster you sew, the quicker you need to replace your needles. While this might be frustrating for sewers who are used to sewing without the handbrake on, you must accept that denims aren’t like other fabrics.
You can sew jeans on a regular sewing machine. Still, you might need to use the handwheel occasionally, especially if your machine is having difficulties with a particularly bulky seam.
Some sewing machines come with a jeans foot, which is not required but will make things easier.
Have fun sewing denim and share your style
Denim is a beautiful, versatile fabric. As denim is so timeless, it means you’ll invest your time sewing a garment you can use for years!
Would you like to inspire others or just show off the fantastic denim garment that just flew off your sewing machine? Then share your style on Instagram and tag us!
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