Debate rages over what fabric should be used in jeans - the purists will say that it has to be raw or dry denim but personally, I've never fancied having to sit in a bath and shrink my jeans till both they and I squeak, so I'll be washing my fabric before it gets made into a garment.

When you choose your fabric, you need to think about how fitted your finished garment is going to be.  Jeans are close fitted pretty much everywhere as far as below the crotch or the knee.  This means that your fabric needs to be strong enough to put up with more strain and stretching, unlike in a pair of trousers.  So whilst you can use linen, for example, you would probably need to aim for trousers with jeans styling rather than jeans, per se, otherwise they would fall apart pretty quickly.

So here are some fabrics to start you off:

  • denim (obviously!)
    • without lycra and, therefore no stretch;
    • with lycra - but how much lycra?  Some have more than others, details on fabric ease later;
  • cotton twill or drill, the latter is generally heavier than the former
    • comes in a wide range of colours and finishes
    • again, with/without lycra
    • can be poly cotton, usually finer than 100% cotton
    • can be brushed to give a slightly fluffier and warmer finish.
  • moleskin
    • nice and toasty for cooler months
  • faux suede or leather (or real if you can afford it)
    • note that this requires different construction methods to the ones we will be covering in the sewalong, but you can still get the fit right for a future pair if your inner rock chick is struggling to get out!
To give you an idea, here are a couple of pictures of my jeans fabric stash, to date.  I will choose my fabric out of this lot, and at the moment I'm inclined towards the mid brown fabric, mainly because I have quite a few things that will go with some jeans this colour and also, the fabric wasn't very expensive so it won't be the end of the earth if it turns out that I don't like them. 

The middle one of the blue selection is what I think of as my 'good denim'.  This is some lovely Italian fabric that I bought a couple of years ago now, when I first had the urge to make some jeans but was too intimidated to go any further.  This stuff is on the list after the sewalong pair have been fine tuned and completed.


  1. There seems to be quite a lot of stretch denim around. Having tried a coupld of pairs of jeans with stretch denim, I've concluded I'm not a fan other than for jeggings. Even denim or other fabric with only 2% stretch fit for the first hour or so and then just seem to keep stretching.
    I think a bit of stretch can be useful with RTW jeans to help with the getting a reasonable-ish, wearable-ish fitting issue.

    Vivien, I I hope you go with either the brown or the red. They're both nice shades. Where could you buy a really nice pair of brown jeans that fit perfectly?

  2. I'm going to go with the brown which has a fair amount of stretch in it, but I've also decided to do another pair in non-stretch black cotton twill that I got at the weekend. When I saw the black twill I remembered that I used to have a similar pair of jeans-styled trousers and wore them to death - time for reincarnation!