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May 7, 2011

Jeans Sew-Along 6 -- The Bodacious Backside

Friends, believe it or not, we're past the mid-point in our jeans construction!  We've completed our front pockets and front fly.  It's time to do the ass backside.

Pick up any pair of RTW jeans and you'll notice that the back and back yokes are attached pretty much the same way: with flat-felled seams that fold up onto the yoke, and a center seam that folds to the right.   That's how we're going to do it now.

Our goals for today are:

1. Attach yokes to back and stitch back sides together

2. Create and attach back pockets

3. Sew inseam  


1. We'll attach our back yokes with flat-felled seams (or double-topstitched seams if that's your preference).

If you're flat-felling, stitch one back piece and one yoke piece together, WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, since we want the bulky side (or topstitched side) of the seam to end up on top.  Make sure you match notches as these pieces can be easily confused/reversed.

Since we're folding this seam up, we want to trim the upper seam allowance and fold the lower one over it, encasing it:

You can press this seam with an iron or finger press it, whichever you prefer.  Now topstitch along the edge.  It should end up looking like this:

Now do the same thing on the other side:

We now have two back pieces with yokes attached.  It's time to sew them together, and we're going to do this using the same method we used above, joining the two pieces WRONG SIDES TOGETHER.

Trim the right seam allowance and fold the left over the right, encasing the right.

That lump, where the two back-and-yoke seams intersect, can be difficult to match and to stitch through.  We want the seams lined up as accurately as possible.

If this lump is too high for the clearance under your sewing machine foot, press or even hammer it down.  Some people use something called a Jean-a-ma-jig to help their presser foot climb over the thick seams, or they improvise with rolled up cloth or cardboard.  Do what works for you.  I find it helps if I walk the machine over this bump by turning the hand wheel myself.

Mine ended up looking like this, which I can live with:

2.  Now let's make our back patch pockets.  Nothing unusual about this, and the Kwik Sew instructions are clear.

I always use white glue to help hold down the folded edges.  What's most important here is that the two pockets end up identical.   I work on them side-by-side and match them up every step along the way.

First, fold the top edge over twice and double topstitch.

Next, fold in the sides at 5/8".  Remember: what's most important is that the two pockets look the same.  Again, I use white glue to hold down the edges and press with my iron.  If you're using stretch denim, try not to stretch these pieces out of shape.  Some people like using templates; I just eyeball it.

Now, place the two pockets on the back of the jeans in the position you prefer.  Some people like high pockets and some people like low pockets, others like fancy embroidery -- it's your call.  I just copy what my RTW jeans look like.  Measure carefully: the pockets generally do not line up with any of the other seams, but are slightly diagonal to them.

Double-topstitch the pockets in place (I use pins to secure their positions first; if this doesn't work for you, try a double-faced tape like Wonder Tape, which washes out and won't gum up your needle).

Here are my two pockets (I did these after I attached my waistband).  The top corners are good places for bartacks.

3. Now it's time to sew our inseams together with one long flat-felled seam.  Lay out your fronts and backs and pin first.  We'll be stitching with WRONG SIDES TOGETHER.

We're going to fold this seam toward the back side of the pants, so trim the further-back seam allowance (to approx. 1/4") and fold the longer seam allowance over the shorter, encasing it.  Pin, press, and stitch.

I found it easier to work my way out from the center inseam point and down each leg.  This is another place where a Jean-a-ma-jig could be helpful.  You're sewing through multiple flat-felled seams so it's a tricky area.  Don't sweat it if it isn't perfect.  Who's looking down there?

Friends, we can now try on our jeans by pinning the outside seams!  How's it looking?

That's it for today, folks.  We're nearing the end, can you believe it?

Don't forget to post your photos in our Jeans Sew-Along Flickr group, along with any questions or comments you may have.

Happy sewing, everybody!


  1. I really want to make a butt joke right now.

    Nice denim.

  2. Peter, I'm not sewing along but just want to thank you for your extensive step by step instructions of how to sew jeans. I want to copy a pair of RTW jeans soon and then I will read every post on this again. It's a wonderful resource, THANK YOU.

  3. HI Peter - I gave you the Stylish Blogger Award - which I normally don't do - but you are one of my favorite bloggers! Pam

  4. I like your donkey - he's cute. Your instructions are awesome. Even though I've been sewing for many years, I don't like to make jeans - I'm inspired to try it again!

  5. i love your donkey - he's super-cute and is going to look fabulous in those jeans you are making for him! Seriously though, your tutorials are amazing, very clear - you are making it look, almost, easy to whip up a pair of cool looking jeans.

  6. Peter, you make it seam/seem so easy. I can't thank you enough for the excellent instructions. I am starting my jeans on Monday.

  7. looking great, can't wait to start my jeans!!! I want to follow you with the button fly!

  8. You're just inspired me to sew a pair of jeans! I'm not too sure if my machine has the guts to sew flat-felled denim seams - I might have to buy a jean-a-ma-jig :)

  9. Hopefully I will start on monday. My table has been invaded by more than 100 first communion certificates (I'm the "official calligrapher" for my church). I think I need a sewing room...! Great pictures Peter, you are the best teacher ever!

  10. OMG - you make this look so easy! Great tutorial - I may have to start a pair...I have been to chicken...I love the white jeans btw.

  11. Looking good, Peter! If you want to know what to line your back pockets up with: it's the grain line. That's why they're on an angle to the seams, which are all off grain at that point.

  12. Just catching your blog and LOVING your sew alongs and instruction/sharing. I am always wanting to improve my skill set and polish things up, and appreciate your shares!
    Lovely work, Peter! TY!


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