Sewing Denim – Easy Tips And Tricks To Conquer This Fabric
There are so many different things you can make from denim than just jeans. For this material that never goes out of style, the sky is the limit. But because the fabric is so common, many sewists are limiting to the basic clothing pieces such as jeans, jackets, shorts, and skirts.
Why should there be boundaries? When you know how to saw denim the right way, you can make almost anything, way beyond the traditional and basic clothes. Take a look at these tips and tricks for sawing denim and open your mind to the endless possibility that this fabric is offering.
History of Denim And Jeans – How They Came To Our Lives
First of all, let’s cover some background. Term “jeans” that is used these days usually refers to a specific style of pants – Blue Jeans. Invented by Jacob W. Davis, along with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1871, these “rivet-reinforced” denim pants conquered the hearts of fashionistas all around the world. The trends might be changing, but the one thing is for sure – jeans will stay fashionable forever.
Since the blue jeans designed by Americans are a major culprit for the overall popularity of fabric, most people don’t know the real origin of this versatile fabric. It was actually invented in France during the Middle Ages, and the word “denim” comes from the French “de” which means from and “Nîmes” which the name of the town in the south of this country where the material was created.
The contemporary use of the word “jeans” also comes from the French language, originated from the word Gênes (Genoa), as sailors from this Italian town were known for wearing this type of trousers.
You might have heard the expression “dungarees” which is synonymous to jeans. It is one of the very few words from Hindi to make it into the English language and means coarse fabric.
In fact, archeologists have found cotton fabric in today’s West Pakistan and India that dates back over 5000 years. The beloved “jeans” have been around for a very long time, and they are here to stay.
Image credit: @Pixabay
Features of Denim
Those who wish to learn sewing denim have to get familiar with the main features of this fabric. It is a very strong, durable material that is extremely popular worldwide for quite some time. To make it softer, it is always advisable to pre-wash any denim piece of clothing. In fact, the more you wash this fabric, the softer if will become.
If the denim is to rough to sew, it is good to know that washing will make it more flexible. Just in case, always wash new denim alone since there’s a good chance that some color will run off and ruined your other clothes.
While denim is one of the longest-lasting fabrics on the market, it doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. Like most things, it won’t pass the test of time. However, comparing to other materials, the clothes made from denim could last you for decades if cared properly.
Image credit: @Pixabay
Tools For Sewing Denim
Tailoring, altering, or repairing of denim requires some specific tools. Something you can’t start without is a high-quality thread and very sharp, strong needles. For sewing denim clothing pieces from scrap, you will need the following tools:
- Sharp cutting tools – Cutting denim with blunt scissors is frustrating and gives poor results. You will need very sharp professional-grade sewing scissors, as well as sharp rotary cutters.
- Heavy-duty needles – Making stitches on such rough fabric will go much smoother if you have needles specially design for sewing denim like these from Shmetz. If you already have a universal needle that is at least size 90/14, it can serve you as well. For very thick denim, a 100/16 needle is required.
- Heavy-duty jeans thread – This is a precious tool, particularly used for the topstitching associated with flat felling. In the case you can find it, upholstery thread can work just fine.
First step – get a proper tool
We can’t emphasize enough how much the usage of sharp tools is important. It doesn’t only make sewing easier and faster, it also protects the fabric from tearing and uneven cutting. Even with the sharpest professional Kai shears, you might have to cut through the denim in layers, one layer at a time, when faced with very thick fabric. If this is the case, flip your pattern pieces as you go along.
Image credit: @Amazon
Practice makes it perfect
Denim is not the easiest material to work with, you might want to take small pieces and practice cutting; using a seam ripper and running a stitch test to determine how it looks, if the tension is correct and the best length for the stitch. You may want to use a longer stitch than normal which should be between 3 and 4.
Be careful when using a sewing machine
Denim should be no problem for your sewing machine if you use it properly. Take your time, hold the fabric as firmly as you can while feeding through the machine, don’t make sudden movements, and don’t pull or push. Be very careful since it’s pretty easy to break a needle when sewing denim.
If you plan to produce many denim pieces in the future, you might want to consider purchasing a Jeans Presser Foot if one is available for your sewing machine.
Even though your standard presser foot should be just fine, it will make your sewing much easier and faster, so it is a good investment in the long run.
Once again, sharp tools are an absolute necessity because while its firm, the denim can easily fray.
Another trick to keep the material from fraying is using a zig-zag stitch on the interior seems, just over the cut edge.
At the same time, a beautiful zig-zag stitch will make your homemade jeans look like a store-bought item. Also, it will make it much stronger, especially for stress and pressure areas.
This video demonstrate making of such stitches with sewing machine:
As you can see, sewing denim doesn’t have to be so hard if you have the right tips and tricks up your sleeve.