tutorial: stayed jean pockets

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

So, a good jean or trouser pocket – especially a wide or deep one – may stretch out over time. This issue is compounded even more if the pocket is cut on a curve (as so many are) and if it’s made from a stretch fabric.

So in that light, for a few years now I generally use a stay to stabilize my front pockets. This is especially important for a work garment or something that may get really rugged use. I learned this technique from Kenneth D. King, although I can’t remember precisely in what class or tutorial.

This technique uses a very cool aspect of a plain weave cotton – the ability to steam-press a curve into a strip tore on the cross-grain. I am using a light black cotton lawn, but any light plain weave will work.

This step takes place immediately after you’ve sewn the pocket bag to the shell fabric (which I’ll call denim), and before you do any trimming, grading, understitching et cetera.

So first, tear a strip that is about 2″ longer than the pocket seam you will be reinforcing. I tear at about 5/8″ wide; anything between 1/2″ and 1″ will do:

tutorial: stayed jean pockets
Next, take this strip to the ironing board along with your jean. Using the curve of the seam, steam press the strip by really yanking and curving and pressing. It works beautifully! You don’t need the curve to be perfect, just close to the pocket curve:

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Now, pin the stay to the garment. It can be confusing at first to figure where this stay goes: but it is pinned to the wrong side of the jean fabric:

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Next, flip the work and stitch from the pocket bag side, right on top of the previous seam. Don’t worry if you’re not as accurate as I am. It’s better to stitch a bit into the seam allowance, than into the body of the jean. Stitch slowly and remove pins before you get to them.

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Here is the underside of the work. You can see the theory of the stay: the curved stitching line will be stitched over ONE thread in the weft direction! This makes for an incredibly stable curve. Pretty cool, no?

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Now, it’s time to notch or pink that seam allowance, to allow for a smooth curve.

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Flipping to the right-side of the garment, this is where you might typically understitch all layers towards the inside of the garment:

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Instead though, since I will be topstitching that pocket edge from the topside, I steam-press that pocket edge carefully, rolling about 1/16″ of denim to the backside. *chef’s kiss!*

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Finally – topstitch that pocket curve from the public side, with either one or two (or three!) rows:

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Perfection. You’ve got a pocket that won’t blow out, sag or droop!

tutorial: stayed jean pockets

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

bootstrap flannel shirt & (another pair of) vado jeans

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Shirt: Bootstrap Fashion’s free blouse (modified, details below) in Toasted Almond from Robert Kaufman’s “Mammoth” line.
Jeans: Vado custom block (from Jeanio) – boyfriend-style fit with fitted hip. Mid/heavyweight denim (very low stretch) from Pacific Blue.

One of the first intermediate garments I sewed, was a flannel shirt. Listen – I live in Aberdeen, Washington and while we didn’t invent the plaid flannel per se, we sure got it on the scene. In the early 90s – when I sewed my first shirt – the typical M.O. was to find them at thrift stores. I hadn’t filled out yet – I was still a relatively petite C-cup – so I’d buy what was available: the men’s flannels.

Of course, menswear doesn’t fit most women’s bodies in a comfortable or practical way. For me, the shoulders too broad and the arms were too long. The shirt hipline was too narrow yet the waist was baggy. I think that is what my fourteen year old self must have been chasing, when she purchased a lovely raspberry and green soft cotton flannel and embarked on the adventure.

I remember my mom and I squabbled every step of the way. A menswear-styled shirt isn’t exactly a beginner project: you have the cuff plackets and the front placket and fiddly collar and collarstand and pockets! Then there’s the narrow curved hem – ugh! We argued throughout the creation but 

These days I pretty much take menswear shirting to #levels. I am constantly pursuing better craftsmanship and new methods. Plaids are amazing because while they take a little extra work to match – the . For this reason, I don’t both using any flannel that isn’t pretty decent quality. And flannel can be tricky that way. It can look great on the bolt – but once you’ve prewashed, turned to rubbish! The “Mammoth” line has been very satisfactory so far and I picture myself sticking with it until I’ve chomped my way through several more of their lovely colorways!

Bias-cut pockets:

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans
(SUUUUPER cheap plastic buttons because they were the best color in my stash!) –

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

And yes, those are bias-cut cuff plackets, and a bias-cut cuff. I interface the cuff, but not the placket. While interfacing a placket can be very helpful at times, in general you want to use a very, very light interfacing. The medium/heavy weight of the flannel meant interfacing the plackets was not wise. The cuffs, collar, and collarstand interfacing made for a very rugged-feeling shirt.

The entire shirt is french-seamed and I achieved a perfect curved armscye:Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Curved baby hem – another potentially frustrating seam to pull off:

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Here’s my noir photo of my shirt. Being all mysterious ‘n’ shit:Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans
Finally: I modified the Bootstrap shirt in only two ways – the sleeves, and to add breast pockets. I modified the sleeves for a cuff placket, and to narrow the sleeves. I wanted to be able to wear the plackets open, but have them not flop! Two pleats at the cuff as per tradition.

Now let’s move onto the jeans!

I’ve hosted two jean sew-alongs so it hardly seems like I should keep telling y’all how I make them. I will say this denim was just wonderful to work with. It was mid-to heavyweight, which feels good for a fall/winter jean. It also had a very firm hand. And the blue/black indigo colorway is drool-worthy, especially when coupled with the traditional goldenrod thread work:

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Those who’ve been with me a while will remember my Miniature Giant Japanese Baby Bunting and the wonderful fabric I used. Well today I finally got to use the last little bit of this fabric! I used it for my pocketbags and waistband facing, and because I used a crossgrain facing and pieced this facing, I really did use the last bit of this fabric economically. SO SATISFYING!

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

While I am not totally averse to a curved waistband, steaming the curve into the crossgrain uses less fabric (therefore less bulk), and makes for a better performance and finish – IMO:

(Also note how fly my fly is!):

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Some more fly action – belt carrier made from the selvedge:Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Stitcwork meeting at the center back yoke:
Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans
My own little pocket graphic. I accidentally sewed the pockets on the wrong side – usually the larger curved motif is at the outseam! Brass rivets, zipper, and snap:

Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Here’s my butt. You’re welcome.Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans

Happy li’l #PNW lady!Bootstrap Flannel / Vado Jeans


dem jeans part 3: front pockets


OK, we are getting down to it for real this post. At this juncture, we should have all our jeans cut (except for belt carriers, waistband, and waistband facing – we’ll get to those!), our pieces marked, and our decisions about topstitching and needles all down pat. We covered all this material in our first and second posts.

Time to start on the front of the jeans with something nice and easy: the front pockets. We will be putting an optional stencil in the jean pocket, and will need to give the paint a moment to dry – so plan accordingly. We are also trying our hand at hammering rivets!

And in case you haven’t already figured this out:



Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim

Babies, my dem jeans sew-a-long is underway.  Posted here:

yellow Japanese selvedge denim with a monster-tentacle back pocket detail and articulated knees!

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim
Brass findings: rivets and buttons. Four-button button-fly. Crossgrain and steam-shaped waistband (i.e. the most comfortable, long-lasting, and great-looking jean waistband you’ll ever wear!).

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim
The interior of my button fly. You won’t find a better-looking button fly. I would invite you to look at the interior of your own designer jeans, but it might make you sad.

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim
My favorite bit: while designing these jeans I’d been watching kaiju films, so I had this sort of seaweed-tentacle motif banging around in my brain. By the way, denim pocket topstitching is really soothing.

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim
Uber-closeup of the back yoke at side seam, finished with triple-stitch. The waistband is finished by “stitching in the ditch” with an invisible-stitch result, as we see here.

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim
OK, maybe THIS is my favorite bit? Articulated knees as formed by small darts in the inseam and outseam of the front leg. If you haven’t worn jeans with this detail, you will be amazed how much more comfortable they are!

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim
And the selvedge outseam – Japanese selvedge denim, and people pay about $200 to $800 for a pair of jeans made with this detail.

Kai-Jeans! Selvedge Denim
I have come to realize that sewing is as much about design as it is technical savvy. One can master technical sewing skills far faster than develop a design sense and acumen. If you’re reading here, know that for most of us, it takes time, patience, blood, sweat, and tears to develop a design voice. Don’t let the amount of work, time, and yes – failures (or misfires) deter you from stepping on the path. It is a very special feeling to be able to create something – in my case, one-of-a-kind custom garments – that no one else has made, and that stands the test of time.

Happy stitching, lovelies!


dem jeans: craftsy discount!


I’ve made no bones about loving Kenneth D. King’s style and teaching works – and, as pertains to this sew-a-long, his jean cloning Craftsy course (but you don’t have to take my word for it!). In fact, the course was so good, that my very first pair turned out flawless! The class is not only fun, but it showcases cloning techniques that are non-destructive to the original garment – and that can be used for almost any garment, not just jeans.

Jeans (Jean-ius Class On Craftsy)

So here’s the good news, sew-a-long buddies. If you’re interested in this great cloning class to make jeans from your own favorite pair, Craftsy has agreed to partner with my students and offer a partial refund on tuition. The class is valued at $44.99 and is often on sale. But dem jeans students can take the class for $14.99! You can’t beat that!

If you want the refund, email me at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org and I’ll give you instructions to get going!

Remember, our sew-a-long starts in just a week. Please review your materials list – and don’t be shy about asking any questions.

Make sure to add a badge to your blog, and to subscribe to the sew-a-long updates!


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Forever In Blue Jeans: Back Pocket

save the date! DEM JEANS SEW-A-LONG, june 1 2015

DEM JEANS Sew-A-Longtop ten reasons you’re gonna want to join my

dem jeans sew-a-long

1. You can make better-fitting, better-looking, and longer-lasting jeans than you can buy. Yes, custom jeans for yourself. And yes, they look better than what you can buy retail. And after your first pair, you’ll realize it’s easier than you thought!

2. What’s your poison? Trendy raw denim, or selvedge denim? Looking to bring high-waisted acid wash into your life? Trying to emulate that awesome pair of white jeans you had in middle school? Want a pair of “boyfriend fit” in just the right dusky grey – or waxed deep indigo? Want to line your cuffs with your favorite old band t-shirt? Or stencil an awesome motif on the backside?

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

I can help you plan your jeans out, so you get exactly what you want. Send me an email – and be prepared to put aside some time and energy.

Now, if this sounds overwhelming or intimidating, start smaller: make a pair using a standard pattern. You will get used to construction methods, before trying your own custom-fit – and you can gift your first pair to a friend!

3. These jeans are ethically-produced. The vast amounts of retail jeans out there are made at the expense of workers in other countries, without regard for quality of life, and rely on pillaging environmental resources in other countries. These jeans will also last longer, further extending your clothing dollar. Use the money you save on retail jeans to buy ethically-produced retail jeans! Or make ethically-produced jeans for your friends, family, or clients!

4. Once you start shopping for good denim you will be hooked. I ain’t gonna lie. It’s like a drug. Denim, even good denim, is affordable, it feels great, it lasts a long time, it is beautiful to look at and dare I say, fondle! – and the scraps make beautiful quilts (or potholders, or teddy bears, or, or…).

5. I don’t like to compare prices – because custom-fit, ethically-made, perfect jeans with tailor-level detail simply aren’t available on the market at all –  but this is one case where a simple high-end home project is cheaper than high-end jeans. A lot cheaper. Even buying ethically- and organically-produced fabrics, you come out ahead.

6. My sew-a-long: you aren’t going to find better close-up photography and a more in-depth tutorial than mine (ask my previous students). My background in technical writing and knowledge of clothing construction means you will be rolling your eyes at the level I geek out on these! (all the while appreciating the meticulous detail!). And my photographs are important for jeans – the beauty is in the topstitching and technical detail, really.

7. Your jeans can be made for your body, as-is. Tired of jeans that don’t fit right, or too-long cuffs, or jeans too tight at the thigh? Yeah. And those high-end brands? Definitely not made in a diverse size range. Need I say more?

8. Once you’re finished, you’ll have a pattern made to perfection. It’s worth the time to create this template. Because forever after, all you need is a few yards of denim in your house, you can make up jeans whenever you’re feeling lonely. The jeans will be your friend. They won’t let you down.

9. You have a mentor the whole way. (That’s me!). I figure if Jalie Patterns (I’m not worthy!) thinks my sew-a-long is good enough for their professional site, you’ll probably be pretty pleased with my help too. You can ask questions via Skype, text (if we’re down like that), comments here, and email.

10. ASSES. Your ass looks great in jeans. Seriously. It’s true. A pair of well-fitting jeans, is a friend to asses everywhere. Look, someone had to say it!




If you’re a novice stitcher, you may be thinking There’s no way I can pull this off! 

But – you can.

You’re gonna need to invest a little bit of money – and a lot of time. And you will feel like a million bucks when you are through!

Here is what you will need for this sew-a-long. Please read carefully. Some items may need to be ordered online; for instance, Kenneth D. King’s class on cloning jeans requires a small tuition, requires supplies, and takes time to complete.

Feel free to post any questions to the comments – or email me:

a pattern
I strongly suggest you take the time to prepare and do one of the following:
trace your favorite non-stretch pair using the methods outlined in the Craftsy course Jean-ius! by Kenneth D. King; or
purchase any pattern and use this straight-size pattern, without alterations, as your first-run template – to get used to sewing jeans.
any kind of raw, selvedge, or cotton denim works. We are making non-stretch button-fly selvedge jeans for this course (I buy from Pacific Blue Denim). If you want to work with stretch denim, make sure your pattern is drafted and adjusted properly for this. Be sure to buy adequate yardage; I always buy enough for two pair of jeans.
contrast fabric, 1/2 yard
100% cotton or linen woven works best. We will be making the pocket bag, belt facing, and button-fly detail with this fabric. Consider something that looks good on both sides, for best pocket effect.
rivets and snaps &/or buttons (optional)
you will need four buttons and ten rivets; buy a few extra to be sure. I buy mine from castbullet.com.
stitch witchery or thin fusible web
this will help us get a perfect waistband
sewing equipment
sewing machine(s) – can handle buttonholes and perform a zig-zag stitch
thread: high-quality cotton-wrapped polyester, in both construction color and topstitching color
serger (optional)
denim and/or topstitching needles, in the size appropriate to the fabric
an awl, hammer, and wire cutters (for rivet- and button-setting)
steam iron and ironing board
beeswax & strong needle for button-sewing (if you use sew-on buttons, as opposed to hammer-set)
Make sure to add a badge to your blog, and to subscribe to the sew-a-long updates!

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Forever In Blue Jeans: Back Pocket

4ever in blue jeans

    Jeans, you bastards! (Excuse the wear wrinkles – Nels wore them all day.) Full disclosure – I acquired many of my current favorite jeans construction techniques from Kenneth D. King’s “Jean-ius!” class, which I purchased on sale some time ago and only recently took advantage of. I adored the class and learned quite a bit.

    Forever In Blue Jeans

    In this case, I created a custom pair for my tall, thin nine year old. I really enjoy making jeans. They are far simpler than your average non-sewist might think, but shhhhhh as I like to keep some of my mystique and perhaps impress a couple of you.

    Forever In Blue Jeans: Fly Topstitching

    Fly front! Aided with a chalk wheel for marking, and double-threaded double topstitching. All that means is that instead of hunting for denim or topstitching thread, I just threaded two threads of the same color through the jeans needle used for topstitching. And then I carefully stitched a row next to the first row. The two-thread method has advantages and disadvantages. When you live in the sticks, like me, and sew on a budget, like me, the two-threaded option is a nice trick to have.

    Forever In Blue Jeans: Outseam Finish

    Outseams: serge-finished before construction. It also helps to serge-finish everything involved in the pocket’s side seams. In this case, I was finishing the inseams with the welt-seam option, which means the outseams couldn’t also be finished that way.

    Forever In Blue Jeans: Belt Loop

    Belt loops, waistband, and front pocket. Not much to see here. All bartacks on these jeans are meticulously pulled to the back, tied, & threaded either into the seams or into the stitch itself, then clipped and Fray Check’d.

    Forever In Blue Jeans: Back Pocket

    Back pocket – my own design. Three parallel goldenrod lines of that double-threaded topstitching. If you look carefully you can see the top row has a pinkish tinge, from the wax paper I used to mark its position. This will wash out when the jeans are laundered, of course.

    Forever In Blue Jeans: Fly Shield (Inside)

    This is the pocket bag (left) and the inside of the fly shield (right). Go ahead and check your own storebought jeans’ fly shield and weep at how assy it looks in comparison.

    Forever In Blue Jeans: Pocket Stencil

    A pocket bag and a pocket stencil (a red star) – again, double-thread topstitched. This was done as many  jeans have this detail, and I knew Nels would appreciate it. Spoiler alert – he did.

    Forever In Blue Jeans

    Yes. Yes I do want to pinch his bottom. I have refrained for quite some time though. Be proud of me.

    Forever In Blue Jeans

    A modern, relaxed-thigh, slim fit!

    You know, and now that I’m thinking about it – really jeans aren’t even that simple to make either. They are simple for me because I’ve been sewing a long time. But even then, they take a lot of fairly meticulous detail. I also use three machines to make them: one machine threaded for construction seams, a serger, and one machine threaded for topstitching. Yes, you could easily make a pair with just one sewing machine – and a very old straight-stitch machine, at that! But having a few machines speeds things up quite a bit.

    My jeans also have better construction than anything I’ve seen ready-to-wear, and the methods employed mean they are more comfortable (hello! cross-grain waistband steam-fitted to a curve!). More comfortable construction means people really enjoy wearing the garment more – including children. If you look at RTW jeans construction you will see a lot of slip-shod details.

    Also – and many people don’t like to address this – the labor that goes into jeans and the very harmful practices employed in their production happens out of sight from most Western eyes, so many do not think about it.

    It’s pretty cool to make something that is more ethical, wears longer, feels better, and looks better than the typical fare.

    Yup. I’d love to teach a jean-sewing class… but alas, I fear my locale does not have many who are committed to the time it takes to learn the craft of home sewing.

    Forever In Blue Jeans

    You know here’s how my sewing works: I made the above hoodie – as in drafted the pattern and cut and sewed every bit of it – one day after buying the cowboy knit from Sew Now Studio in Shelton. I designed the round-hole kangaroo pocket, the double-athletic stripe hood and sleeves, cuffs et cetera. An organic grey knit to compliment the cowboy fabric. Finished it and, since I didn’t get a picture right away, immediately tired of the idea of documenting it. Any time someone wants to move in to help me document my sewing, please do. I sew too fast to do a thorough job, myself.

    In other sewing news a client told me the silk jacket I made her was “the best fit [she’s] ever had.” Now you know what? That makes a tailor feel GOOD.