Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Jeans-sewing Routine & Settings

I've developed a routine to sewing jeans and it seems to work well for me.

1. Pre-shrink the denim

I wash and dry my denim three times before cutting. I do this to encourage shrinking, remove sizing/finishing agents, and remove extra dye in the fabric. Usually, I use a warm-water wash and hot air dry. Sometimes I am amazed at how blue the water is during the rinse cycle. That's a lot of dye! Once the jeans are completed, I wash them in cold water and hang to dry. I never put finished jeans in the dryer.

2. Pre-shrink cotton lining

I also wash and dry my pocket cotton lining. I don't want the pocket bags to shrink once the jeans are complete.

3. Make the design for the back pockets

Since I can be a bit indecisive with creative designs, this usually takes me longer than it would someone else. Plus since I want the designs to be symmetric, I tend to get all mathematical, which means out come the compass, ruler, pencil and eraser! This time, I've been paying close attention to back pocket designs on RTW jeans and have a design that I will certainly use on one pair.

4. Gather Materials

As mentioned before, I use three machines to sew my jeans: two sewing machines and a serger. I sew the seams on one machine, serge the seams together, and topstitch using the second machine. Most RTW jeans are sewn with a flat-fell or mock flat-felled seam. Yeah. I'm too lazy for all of that. Serging the seams together and topstitching works just fine for me.

I usually use a size 80/12 needle for the seams, 100/16 for topstitching, and universal needles (90/14) for my serger.

To do the topstitching, I like to use my blindhem foot because it has a little bar in the center. I use this little bar as a way to maintain an equal distance from the seam when sewing the first line of topstitching. Then, I switch to my regular foot (zigzag) and move the needle over a bit so that the space between the first and second lines isn't too large. I also lengthen the stitch to 4.0 and use regular thread in the bobbin.

4. Finish edges

Although the instructions for Jalie 2908 are fabulous, there is no mention of finishing the edges of the pocket lining, upper back pocket edge, belt loops etc. I didn't do any of this on my first pair of jeans and it shows. The jeans are still wearable, but I am constantly cutting random threads and who knows how long that's going to last! So, I make a point to finish all edges as I sew. I'll post progress photos of these steps in later posts.

5. Press while sewing

I spend as much time at the iron as I do at the sewing machine! After each seam, I press the seam to set the stitches and then press the seam to one side for serging. This may seem like a lot of work, but it is so worth it in the end. Everything is nice and crisp!

6. Trim bulk away before serging

Lately, my serger has been giving me fits with bulk. So, I trim the seam down in these areas so that my serger blade doesn't fuss when it encounters this area.

Hmm... I probably do a couple more things, but can't think of them right now. As we progress through the sew-along, I'll discuss more.

Do you have any routines or suggestions? Please share!


1 comment:

  1. I pretty much do the same things. I definitely press every seam as I go and serge the edges of everything. The only thing I skip is pocket designs. The jeans I used to buy before making my own didn't have pocket designs and I think I prefer my clothes unembelished. I often use matching thread for my top stitching as well as sewing the seams. When I do this I don't have to set up the second machine for top stitching.