Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Thoughts on making my first pair of jeans

It's great to have completed my first pair of jeans.  There are things I would do differently next time but I am pleased with how well they turned out for a first attempt.  

I used the Sandra Betzina Vogue jeans pattern and this has two sets of pockets on the front of the jean.  This can create a lot of bulk.  I like how the pattern fits me but next time I will use a really lightweight cotton for the pocket linings, which should make construction a lot easier.

Confession time - I didn't hammer any seams.  I don't know if that makes me a bad sewalong participant ;)  I used different sewing machines for different parts of the construction with a Jeans 100 needle and a 90 topstitch needle.  Having tested out the fabric on my machines this worked well for me.  I used my Singer 99 to sew most of the seams,  my Bernina 830 record for installing the zip and my Elna 3007 for the topstitching.  I was very nicely surprised how well the Elna did with the topstitching. I kept expecting to have to hammer but found that if I kept the speed down at the tricky points and occasionally used the hand wheel over the thickest areas it seemed OK.  I didn't expect this first attempt to work so well so I think I just had a "try it and see" attitude.  Perhaps next time I will hammer in any case to flatten the seams. (Tempted to put a fabricland style animated gif of hammering here but won't :) I don't want anyone to get a headache.)

I will do some more experiments with my machines and think about buying some presser feet to help with topstitching as I can see I am going to be making jeans for myself and DH from now on (we always have trouble getting jeans long enough for him). I will make a turquoise pair for me and several pairs in indigo denim.  I will now be looking out for different weight denims as I wear jeans so often it would be good to have jeans in different fabrics to suit the season.

I will have to re-read the pattern instructions about finishing the waistband (perhaps others who have made these Sandra Betzina jeans could comment ) - I think I followed her instructions but found it difficult to get a good finish at the ends of the waistband on the inside.  When it was all turned after stitching I couldn't work out how she had meant the very end where the pressed up seams from the body meet the serged edge of the waistband to be finished in a tidy way.  I ended up after pressing and pressing using little hand stitches.  I am sure I must have missed some point in the instructions but it is a mystery to me right now.  I think I will look at the other jeans pattern I bought to see if I can find a way that works better for me.

I used a Singer Buttonhole attachment http://www.ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/manuals/lowshank.pdf to make some lovely samples of keyhole buttonholes.  After making a few samples with regular sewing thread I tried topstitching thread and that was a disaster and I had to carefully untangle a nest of thread and vintage buttonhole attachment, so not one to try at home! :)

I found some turquoise sewing thread that was close to the colour of my turquoise topstitching thread and used that to create the buttonhole on the waistband with the Singer attachment.  Despite creating wonderful samples I only just managed to make it on the actual waistband as when the machine was coming back towards the starting point it was struggling to move the thickness of fabric to create the zigzag stitch.  Next time I will definitely hammer the waistband seams before attempting to create the buttonhole with this attachment.

At the start of this project I put the following as my reasons for wanting to join in:

I wanted to join the Jeans sew-a-long for various reasons:-

I thought it would be a fun challenge and a good opportunity to share a challenge with other sewists.
It would help me prioritise finding time to do some sewing for me and to extend my skills.
I haven't made any fitted trousers and as I seem to live in Jeans, this would be a great challenge to solve.
The choice of jeans in 34"-35" leg length is limited and after watching Kenneth D King's  "Jean-ius!" course on Craftsy I would love to be able to make some Jeans in patterned fabrics.
It would be great to have Jeans that fit properly!
This project has been great fun, a good challenge and I have learned some new skills and most importantly I have learned to make time for my sewing - so a big thank you to vivienz for running this sewalong.


  1. Love these! Jeans are my new favorite thing! Cheering you on, Vita

  2. Hi, I found your blog post now because I'm making a pair of jeans. I have an old Singer 201 and a 99, and have the same trouble with topstitch thread and the buttonholer too. The solution was turning the top thread tension to as tight as possible, and it made very fine stitching. I am struggeling to make the seams as nice and even as yours though, not sure how to get that right yet. Those double seams and overlapping joints are difficult.