Jeans are my favourite thing to sew. They take ages but I get tremendous satisfaction from the slow process. I want them to look tailor-made and not homemade, so adding authentic detail is key. Yes I changed my thread a gazillion times in the process of making these jeans, yes I had to do some hand stitching and yes I had to use some unconventional sewing tools (like a hammer and snips), but it was totally worth the effort.
As you can see my 9 year old daughter is slim and has exceptionally long legs, so buying ready-to-wear jeans is not an option. They never fit, not ever. If they fit in length then they would most definitely not fit around the waist hips and thighs. Handmade jeans is the only option and I’m so glad that I can sew them myself.
For jeans top stitching is a must in my eyes and I was very happy with the overall result of my topstitching for these dungarees. But topstitching takes time and patience. I used top stitch thread (which is thicker than standard thread) and a standard needle.
- Use topstitching thread in your bobbin and normal thread in your spool. It means you are sewing blind but there are tricks to help you out. I sewed using regular thread first, using the longest stitch length on my Bernina from the front side of my fabric. I then used this as a guide to follow when I changed my bobbin to the top stitching thread. I then had to unpick the guide thread. Yep, I know, it’s really time consuming but it works.
- You do not need a special jeans needle, a standard needle works just fine.
- Use a longer stitch length. I upped mine to 3.5 on my Bernina 350.
- Sometimes you may need to use the handwheel at the start and end and especially going over bulky seams.
- Check the fit before you start topstitching. This will avoid tears, you wouldn’t want to put in all that extra topstitching effort only to find you need to make fit adjustments and have to start all over again.
- DO NOT BACKSTITCH. It is inevitable that your thread will tangled up into a nasty birds nest if you do and that is to be avoided at all costs.
- Make sure you leave a long thread tail at the start and end of your stitching because you need to secure the ends by hand (I know, sorry!). Use a hand sewing needle to pull the threads to the wrong side of your fabric and secure with a knot (or a few little stitches back and forth being careful that it does not show from the front side).
See, I told you you need patience.
Rivets on pockets
I really wanted my jeans to look authentic, so I added rivets to the pockets, not only does this help to make them look authentic, it also helps reinforce the stress points which otherwise may have a tendency to tear.
And for added detail and a more tailored finish I used a tight zig zag stitch (width 3) to create a decorative yet functional yellow and white stitching detail to one corner of the coin pocket.
Did you know that traditionally, the small pocket within a pocket that you find on jeans was intended as a place to hold your pocket watch. But as we now wear watches on our wrists, it is more commonly used as a coin pocket. Though I don’t actually think many people use it at all, but it looks good never the less.
I put a lot of love into making these dungarees, with meticulous attention to detail. Constant thread changing from white to yellow to blue and back again became routine.
The other little details I added were:
- Back pockets cut so that the lines ran diagonal to the lines in the leg
- Yellow piping added to the pockets and yoke
- A small tab from colourful bias tape to the right back pocket and the same detail for the bib pocket.
- Jeans hardware, not only rivets, but also dungaree clips, jeans buttons, snaps.
- Colourful bias tape detail carried through to the turn up
- A tight zig-zag stitch to neaten the inner leg seam
- An off centred pocket at an angle on the bib
- Piping through the pocket, as a nod to the piping at the back
- A small pocket within a pocket on the bib (a necessity of course, people always need pencils)
- A decorative yet functional yellow and white stitching detail to the pocket corners of the bib (as I had already done for the coin pocket)
I tried to make the inside as beautiful as the outside by binding seams, although it wasn’t always possible. But I’m really please with the bias bound the pocket bags.
With these dungarees I think I’ve taking my sewing to the next level. But like I said, they took FOREEEEEEEEEEVER!!!!!!