I wasn’t planning on posting about my Jalie 2908 jeans again, but it seems that there are a lot of questions from my last couple of jeans posts, so I’m going to try to answer them all here, rather than dig back through all the comments and answer respond to them one by one.
Disclaimer: I am not a jeans sewing expert. I have constructed two pairs of jeans, and the information I share here is from my experiences with them. It may not be indicative of the best way to do things, and certainly not indicative of the only way to do things, but it’s worked out pretty well for me so far. For tons more information, check out these two fantastic threads about sewing jeans on PatternReview.com, here and here. They are chock full of everything you’d ever want to know about sewing jeans at home.
Okay, let’s see what’s in the old Selfish Seamstress mailbag…
Q: What are your jeans made of and where did you get it?
The Holy Fecking Shet jeans are made out of a stretch denim (96% cotton, 4% lycra) that I would characterize as being light-medium weight. 9oz perhaps? I don’t know because it wasn’t labeled. It’s dark blue with white threads in the warp and the weft. I purchased it from Fabric.com. They no longer have that particular denim, but at the moment they have several others which appear to be about the same weight.
The Open Letter to Jalie jeans are made of a more substantial stretch denim (also 96% cotton, 4% lycra) that I picked up at my local Fabricland. I would guess it’s somewhere in the 10-12oz range (again, not labeled). It’s very dark blackish blue with no wash to it. You can purchase very similar denim online from Lura’s (more details in a previous post) - highly recommended for a great denim selection and wonderful, personal customer service.
If I could only have one pair (why would I stop at one though??) I would pick to go with the more substantial denim. The lightweight one is nice and the fabric was very easy to work with, but it feels more like a “fashion” or “novelty” jean. The heavier denim feels somehow more authentic- more like real jeans than jean-styled trousers.
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot the underpants pockets!
Q: How about washing and shrinking?
I washed my fabric in hot water and dried it in the dryer to pre-shrink before cutting. The fabric shrank a fair bit in the width and a little in the length. I then cut and sewed everything except the hem. I washed and dried them again to shrink them before finalizing the length, then trimmed off the fuzzy frayed raw edges and hemmed. As it turned out for me, the length after the second wash was perfect both times, so I guess I could probably hem them without a second wash, but I like to be careful. I have washed the HFS jeans subsequently and not had any problems with shrinkage. BUT I should mention that I never put my clothes through the dryer, with the exception of when I’m sewing and intentionally want to pre-shrink things. Otherwise I always air dry my clothes so they’re already less prone to shrinkage. If you routinely put your jeans through the dryer, it may be in your best interest to do more extensive pre-shrinking than I did.
Q. Tell me about topstitching?
For both pairs I used Gutermann topstitching thread. I used navy for the HFS jeans and dark non-metallic gold for the OLtJ jeans. The HFS topstitching is relatively subtle but the OLtJ topstitching is pretty aggressively in-your-face because the topstitching thread is heavier than what I see on most RTW jeans. I think this is a cool look with the super dark denim, but it’s rather stylized (think early 80′s Jordache), so I probably won’t go with this eye-popping contrast for all of my future jeans. I may try heavy duty thread for the next pair. If you use the Gutermann thread, buy two spools (or if you think you’ll mess up a lot, buy three!), as each spool only has about 33 meters.
When topstitching, I only used the topstitching thread on top, and I used regular all-purpose thread in the bobbin. I set the tension to the maximum for the topstitching. Even so it sometimes came out loopy and loose underneath. I didn’t figure out a better way to fix this than rethreading the top thread and seeing if it went better the next time. Oh, and I’m not using a double needle to topstitch. I’m just doing it in two rows. Practice a bit, go slowly, and have a good “landmark” on your presser foot against which to line it up, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how not-wonky it will look.
Q: How’d it go with the denim needle?
I’m still on my first denim needle. It has made it successfully through two pairs of jeans without any problem. And someone asked if the denim needle scars heavy denim if you have to rip out stitches- not that I’ve noticed. The fabric is very forgiving.
Q: Is it hard to sew denim?
Surprisingly, I am finding that the denim is very well behaved. It cuts easily, it doesn’t slip and slide under the presser foot (I’m not using a special foot), it stays where I put it with a minimum number of pins, and it doesn’t seem to be putting up much of a fight with my machine (Husqvarna Platinum 770). I was expecting struggles, but really haven’t run into any. The only thing is that it frays a lot after a wash (the heavier denim in particular), so definitely finish your edges. I don’t have a serger, so I’ve been doing this by running a zigzag over seam allowance edges after stitching but prior to topstitching.
Q. Where’d you get your rivets?
Ebay. I search on “jeans rivets” and have found several sellers who sell them in small quantities (a dozen sets or so.)
Q. How do you install your rivets?
Haha. It required a little resourcefulness. I now have three little “tools” that I keep with my rivets. They are: a small nail (like for hanging photographs on the wall), a larger nail (for more serious woodworking), and a small screw. I use the small nail to make a hole where I want the rivet, then I use the larger nail to make the hole bigger, and finally I use the screw to enlarge it even further. Then I do the same thing from the other side. I then insert the rivet bottom from the back (even with the screw hole, this can still be a bit fiddly), place the cap on from the front, and press them together until they click. Then I place the jeans face down against a hard surface and give it a couple of hammer thwacks on the back side of the rivet until the cap can no longer rotate. Ta-da!
Q. How have you veered from the pattern as written/drafted?
Several people have noted that the pattern gapes at the back waist for them. A common solution is to make two little darts in the back yoke, which fixes the problem and results in a slight ‘V’ shape to the back waist. I didn’t really want darts in my jeans so I’ve taken a bit out from the sides of the back yoke, removing about a half an inch from either side at the top of the yoke tapering down to nothing at the bottom.
I’ve also found that the jeans in size R (the smallest adult size) are still a bit too wide in the leg. I took about a half inch from each of the front inseam, back inseam, front outseam, and back outseam at the knee, tapering to nothing at the hip and the hem. So in total, that removes about 2″ from the circumference of each leg at the knee. If you are very small you could just try to go with one of the kids’ sizes, but I understand that the proportions of the kid’s jeans are different, most notably that the waist is higher because the good folks at Jalie aren’t keen on little girls wearing pants with too low a rise. Makes sense :)
I took an inch of length out of the thigh, after which the jeans fit me perfectly with the knee in the right place and without me having to cut off any more at the hem. So if you go for the size R and are not ridiculously short, check the length to make sure they aren’t too short for you.
Finally, I cut the waistband on the cross grain rather than on the bias, as several people have said the bias waistband is just too big. Honestly, with both pairs I’m finding that the stretch in the cross grain is making the waistband too big also. I will probably do a curved waistband on the next pair, or cut the band lengthwise to eliminate stretch.
Another change that I have not yet made but will make in the future is to make the fly extensions wider. I’ve been using the fly interfacing piece as the template for the topstitching (as suggested by the pattern) and I like the subsequent shape of the fly topstitching. But it’s also too far to catch the fly extension, which is making the fly a little unstable and causing the zipper to want to peek out from behind the fly front.
Okay, I think that answers all the questions I remember. Did I miss anyone or anything? If so, post a comment because I’m not going to dig back and look for them all in the old posts :D