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Mar 31, 2012

Jeans: The Dramatic Conclusion



Readers, the jeans are done and I have pants without holes at the knees.  Jeans are work but these came together without too much drama.

I recognize that men's jeans are much easier to make than women's since (most) men aren't curvy.  I am grateful for being, essentially, a rectangle.



Let's talk back pockets -- one of my favorite parts of making jeans.  I always use white school glue (like Elmer's) to make them and have good results.  I make mine side by side, and once one pocket is done I use it as the model for the other.  What matters most is that they be symmetrical.

If you haven't tried glue and are having problems with patch pockets, I highly recommend it.





I pin the second pocket to the first (finished) pocket to make sure they end up the same size.



I always think I'm going to try some fancy back pocket free motion embroidery but I never do.  By the time I get to my pockets (I do them last) I'm already running out of steam.



Readers, is your plastic sewing machine giving you grief when you're sewing multiple layers of denim?  If so, get yourself an old Singer straight stitch machine (or even a Japanese clone equivalent).  I know you've heard this before, but those old Singers have the piercing power to sink a needle into many layers of thick denim, and straight stitchers are great for topstitching (without the aid of special feet).





As I mentioned earlier, I used my treadle (a Singer 66) for some of the seams and my Singer 201 for topstitching (and my buttonhole).  I always serge my inside pocket edges and use the serger for the outer leg seams (which don't get flat-felled).

I like to wait a few washes before hemming jeans, but I don't think I'm ever going to put these in the dryer (even through I wash and dried the denim twice, there could be additional shrinkage) -- why take the risk?  I've heard of some people never washing their jeans at all, but that sounds a little icky, don't you think?

About an inch or so below the belly button is about as low as I want my pants to sit.

In conclusion, I am happy to have a new pair of pants.  I may even have enough denim to make another pair, but that will have to wait.  Right now I must vacuum up the little threads all over the living room rug.  (At a certain point I stop reaching for the wastepaper basket and just toss them on the floor.)

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Anybody interested in a sewing machine?  (Just a little rusty...)

40 comments:

  1. Nicely done--your new jeans look great! Thanks for the white glue tip. You just may have inspired me to stop procrastinating and make my own jeans. I am a lady with curves, but I saved my good fitting, worn out jeans to use as a pattern. And I already have a pretty, teal colored straight stitch Singer clone to work with.

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  2. You know I'm going to make those Jalie jeans again - and next time I'm using the freakin Singer 185.

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  3. Nice jeans! By the way, when I was growing up and sewing we washed and machine-dried 100% cotton three times before making the garment or hemming a purchased garment as it was thought to be the magic number in which shrinkage would occur. Just a thought, because using the dryer is so handy! And sometimes stuff ends up in there by mistake at my house - oops. Have a great weekend!

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    1. I've heard even more than that -- like 5 or more dryings!

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  4. Wow, that topstitch sure looks gr8!

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  5. Well done on the jeans!

    And of course that was THE Barbra. There's only one, you know. ;-)

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  6. Good heavens - those jeans fit so well they look like they were custom made!

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  7. I made a pair of Jalie stretch jeans. You could tell my religion just by looking at me they are so tight....I never finished them. Next up not stretch. Where do I get a terrific old metal Singer and which one do I want? Wish I had the one my parents gave me when I was in college :(

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  8. Wow - so much going on at MPB since I've been on the road for work! Great jeans and great tip with the glue - whowuddathunkit?

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  9. I had a pair of jeans that I did not wash for weeks on end - raw denim thing, I'm over it now - and I found that keeping a spray bottle of VODKA was very handy. Cheap and no obnoxious scents to deal with. I heard theatrical costume departments do this with items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned.

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    1. I wonder if the alcohol in the vodka affects the color of the denim though....

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    2. I never saw any discoloration; what I did was spray vodka on the inside of the jeans, pat lightly and let dry. Maybe a light spray or two on the outside but you can test this on a scrap of denim.

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    3. I think I could actually sell that one . . . "Hey honey, I'm just keeping this 5th of Vodka handy for my jeans." ;)

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  10. The jeans look fantastic! I'm convinced the best fit only comes when you can make them yourself. Hopefully, I'll sew in my next life.

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  11. Great looking jeans. Beautiful top stitching.

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  12. Yes, great jeans! Apparently jean fabric shrinks mostly in length, so just be sure to leave a generous hem, and after you have washed them 5 to 7 times they should be done shrinking and you can reduce the size of the hem.

    Oh, and if you go to craft stores look for "temporary basting glue"; Aleene's, I think. They got glues for EVERYTHING now! There is also a spray glue that you use for positioning fabric, and then it DISAPPEARS. I think it's called "505" or something like that. I used it to make a "surcote" for a friend; he wanted a "gyronny" applique pattern which was difficult because there was an angled edge that too much fiddling with would have caused to stretch and ripple. I used that 505 repositionable spray glue to "tack" the one fabric to the other and keep it from shifting as I sewed it and that applique, angled edge and all, came out PERFECT.

    I tell you: glue makes a LOT of sewing tasks much easier, and having all these specialized glues that spray on, wash out, disappear, flex, hold embellishments securely, etc. are a BOON!

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    1. I've often wondered: does fabric shrink in the washing or just in the drying (in a dryer)?

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    2. Yes--it's called 505 Basting Spray. Quilters also use it to baste all three layers of a quilt together instead of using pins--very handy for free motion work. It's re-positionable, and washes out with soap and water.

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    3. In reply to Peter's question ("does fabric shrink in the washing or just in the drying (in a dryer)?"), I think that the bulk of shrinking is in the dryer, but not quite all.

      I grew up without a dryer, and clothes would shrink, but not a lot. I find that I can reduce the amount of shrinkage from dryers by getting clothes out when they are JUST BARELY dry - I think getting them baking hot results in the most shrinkage. With jeans, I give them 10 minutes in the dryer to soften them up and then hang them on a drying rack to finish drying (takes 24-30 hours). I do this more for the green/energy-saving factor than for avoiding shrinkage.

      Interestingly, in college, I found that the clothes I dried in the dryers at school were much less likely to get puckers along seams if they had been washed (and line dried) at home a good number of times before first hitting a dryer. I think the modest shrinkage of a washer alone is more even than what a dryer will do to a new garment.

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  13. Great job! You're so fast, too!

    Once I started living on my own, I always hung my jeans to dry. My mother STILL managed to shrink several pairs on me when I came to visit. I eventually had to insist on doing my own laundry while "home" :P There's nothing more annoying than having your jeans go from skintight to "OH CRAP!"

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  14. You make the making of jeans appear so simple...and yet i'm still frozen with fright at the prospect of making them
    #just a chicken at heart.

    I love using glue when sewing too....i must be truthful though, apart from using spray glue for quilting, using a fabric glue stick for clothes during construction is fairly new to me. I am totally sold and go through glue sticks like nobodies business.

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    1. I've tried glue sticks but I find the liquid glue easier to control somehow.

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  15. your jeans look great. I must try and sew for myself....and soon!

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  16. They look great! I hope to get up the courage to make ANY kind of pants some day. I've never put in a zipper so I'm terrified. I'll be sure to refer back to your sew-along when that day finally comes.

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    Replies
    1. Mainelydad, look up Sandra Betzina's instructions for a fly zipper. Easy Peasy and it looks great.

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  17. Great looking jeans / topstitching Peter. I just converted my pants pattern into a jeans pattern and working on that right now. I will be happy if my topstitching comes out anywhere close to yours. I plan on washing/drying my denim 5 times.

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  18. Your jeans are fabulous! I love how you just get to DECIDE how low to make the waistline. What crazy fashion dictator decided that we should all have to get radical bikini waxes to wear JEANS?!

    I would have so much embroidering the pockets of jeans, but the chances of me even making a pair of jeans that fit my lumpy self and flattered enough for me to want to wear them afterwards is so slim. No way could I attempt jeans until I've had success on some simpler garments.

    Congratulations on another great finish!

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  19. Here's a fun video showing how factory jeans are made. Don't you wish you could complete a pair in under 13 minutes?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNERrtN3FfQ

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  20. Great job, Peter! Wish I could do that -- or at least had the patience to try.

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  21. These look fabulous Peter. Sigh, you are so much further along than I am with mine. Of course I pin fit and baste before I sew. My curvy body is not so easy to fit! I am using a vintage Viking for the topstitching and the zig zag doesnt' make a nice sating stitch for the top of pockets, etc and my newer Viking does not like heavy topstitch thread. How do you handle those parts that rtw uses a narrow satin stitch for?

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    1. I just don't use a satin stitch. I use my straight stitch machine and go back and forth a few times. It's not as clean as a satin stitch but I'm not sure even my old metal Kenmore zigzaggers could handle things like thick (six layers when folded over) belt loops being stitched onto a thick waistband. So I improvise.

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  22. Apparently the DRYER is the villain when it comes to shrinkage! I let my jeans dry naturally (easy in the winter when the air is DRY)and then throw them in the dryer on "no heat" for about 15 mins. to soften them up. Of course this requires advance planning, your own machines, and assumes a place to hang them up wet! Otherwise you will have to dry them on 'very low heat" or "no heat" and NOT till they are "bone-dry"; take them out while still slightly damp and hang them to finish drying.

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  23. Terrific top stitching and I love the squared front pocket. I've never sewn jeans, but just bought a pattern. Going to work up the gumption soon.

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  24. Brilliant job Pete! Terrific fit and very professional looking job :D.
    Cheers,
    Robyn

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  25. All these comments convince me to try a dab of glue next time I set in a sleeve. I pin carefully, or even tack (that's Aussie for basting) and the sleeve seam and side seam still slide away from each other. Maybe glue will fix it. Thanks for yet another really helpful post Peter.

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  26. I just finished my second pair of jeans, and now you have made me afraid to wash them. Thanks for the glue tip and the idea of doing the pockets last. I have been doing my topstitching on a vintage Viking using the low gear and find it works amazingly well. Have you engaged your Viking's low gear lately?

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  27. Just a word about glue and sewing pockets last: White glue, in my experience, does not gum up a needle. It dries fast and there's no sticky residue (which I've sometimes experienced in those gummy glue sticks).

    The reason I do the pockets last is that it isn't until the pants are finished that I can figure out exactly where I want them to sit. I don't follow the pattern directions but rather my own eye.

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  28. They look wonderful and what a fit! I admire the hell out of your guts in taking on jeans, and I know you've made them before, but you are my hero!

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  29. Don't worry, Sigrid; just leave LOTS of hem and avoid drying them with heat. Denim should ALWAYS be prewashed (preferably in hot water)a couple of times (even as many as 3 times) BEFORE sewing with it to kickstart the inevitable shrinking process and get past "the worst" of it! This also gets rid of any excess dye in the fabric. If you want to start it fading then add bleach. If not, then just soap.

    It's also a good idea to run a line of stitch across the cut edges of denim beforehand, as it frays like h-e-l-l.

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