Here at TÉLIO, we have introduced a few new qualities in the denim department that are perfect in their weight and hand. I just couldn’t resist getting the ball rolling on making some new jeans once I saw these!
I am no expert when it comes to making jeans but, I have been making my own pants since I could put the (sewing) petal to the metal. Technique is very important here, so let me help guide you through the basics of working with denim!
Fabric: approximately 2 meters of bottom weight fabric with a bit of stretch (such as twill or denim)
- Contrast top-stitching thread
- Matching thread (match to your denim fabric)
- Lightweight fusible interfacing
- Denim sewing machine needle
It’s important to prewash all of your fabric to take our any excess dyes, and in case the fabric will shrink. Télio’s denims are typically pre-shrunk/washed… bonus! But even if your denim is pre-washed and pre-shrunk, it’s always a good idea to wash your jeans alone to avoid staining other garments.
I have experimented with contrast thread, and it can be difficult to find the right color, and sometimes thicker “denim” threads can cause a machine to skip stitches, or it can affect the tension. Test your fabric with your thread of choice. I have found that just buying regular thread that is a contrasting colour can avoid issues. Experiment with your thread tension to get the correct effect; my thread tension is usually at 4 for most garments but I had to set the tension dial on the machine to a 6 or 8 to get the right effect.
REWORKING YOUR PATTERN
After re-using my commercial patterns again and again, I have found that tracing patterns onto kraft paper can make them last longer. If you adjust or tweak your patterns, you’ll always be able to go back and reference the original. It’s a great way to keep the pattern intact in all available sizes, in case you go up or down a size over the years.
For this project, I reworked a Vogue pattern that I had in my current collection. Since high waisted skinny pants are on trend, this is the look I’m going for. I adjusted my pattern by adding a couple of inches to the waistline at the top. If you do this, you will likely have to take in the waistline at the center back and the side seams. But leave that adjustment until your first fitting! Different fabrics can heavily affect the fit, so I like to wait until I try on the pants to make any major adjustments.
CUTTING YOUR FABRIC
Grainline is one of the most important parts of cutting a garment. Match up your marked grainline on the pattern piece to the grainline of the fabric by using a measuring tape or ruler.
Fun fact: In the industry, fabric is laid up in layers and cut by machine. When this machine pushes through the layers, the fabric can sometimes shift which can cause your leg(s) to be off grain and the leg seam to shift.
Lay out everything to go with the stretch of the fabric/denim (across the body) and follow the directions as per the pattern instructions when cutting and sewing together.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Study a pair of store bought jeans. Note where the contrast top-stitching is located. Note the different types of reinforced stitching, and decide how you will achieve those at home. Sew slowly and carefully! When you are dealing with lots of thick layers of fabric, the sewing needle could break or the thread may get bunched up.
Before you put on the waistband and do all your contrast top-stitching along the legs, be sure to do a fitting in case any adjustment need to be made. You might see a lot of fabric gaping at the center back, especially if you raised the waistline. Start by pining from around the biggest part of your hip and work your way up to the waist. Do the same at the side seam if needed.
If you had to take in a lot of fabric at the center back, you might have to readjust your patch pockets as well as they may now look too close together. You can make new marks on your pattern piece for the new pocket location in case you want to remake these pants in the future.
Once you are content with your fit and leg taper you can serge your seams and do your contrast top-stitching.
The fit will also need to be readjusted with your waistband. I like to just take the excess fabric off the center back of the waistband. I started by pinning it in place at the center front and continuing along the waistline until it connects with the other side of your waistband at the center back.
Sew closed the waistband at center back and then sew the waistband to your pants. Continue instructions as followed by your pattern instructions for finishing your garment. Voila!
Do you have any great tips on fit and technique with pants/jeans? Feel free to share with us!