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
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)
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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.