Many of us like to modify our denim clothing, and sewing is a big part of that. However, sewing with denim is not always easy. Because denim is thick, heavy and prone to fraying, sewing with it requires some special skills. Here are some tips to help you become an expert in denim sewing.
Pre-Wash. Make sure to wash your jeans before you begin working with them. Pre-washing will help to soften the fabric, making it much more manageable to work with. Denim is thick and a little rough, so any softening beforehand will make a big difference and save you a lot of frustration. You can even wash it multiple times before beginning to sew with it, for maximum softness.
Use sharp everything. Unfortunately, denim likes to fray. This means it’s extra important to ensure that all your tools are sharp. These tools include scissors (use good-quality fabric scissors if possible), as well as your sewing needle. Put a brand new needle in your sewing machine before starting any denim project. Speaking of which…
Use the correct needle. You can buy special jeans needles, or just make sure you are using at least a 90/14 universal needle. If your denim is especially thick, go up to a 100/16 needle. Needles that are too thin will break on you!
Use the correct thread. Some jeans will do just fine with regular thread, but for thicker jeans, use Heavy Duty thread to be safe. This will save you the frustration of your machine eating up thinner threads.
Serge your edges. Serging is a type of overlocking stitch–that nice stitch you see on the seams of high-quality clothing items. Serging your edges goes a long way to prevent fraying, and makes the seams look professional. You can buy a serger, a special type of sewing machine, but they are expensive. If you don’t want to invest in a serger, check out this tutorial on how to serge without a serger, using just thread and a coffee mug.
Go slowly. This advice should go without saying, but we’ve all been there: a sewing project is taking forever, and you just want to get it over with. Resist this urge! Going too quickly is a fast track to ripped jeans or uneven seams. Sew slowly and take your time, and you’ll be much happier with the end result.
Optional but helpful: Invest in a heavy-duty sewing machine. Depending how often you’re sewing jeans or other heavy-duty fabrics, a heavy-duty sewing machine might be a worthwhile investment for you. Because this type of machine is specifically designed for what you’re doing, it can make your life a lot easier. However, a heavy-duty sewing machine will cost you anywhere from $150-350, so make sure you really need one before purchasing it.
Now that you know how to sew with denim, get out there and sew a perfect pair of jeans today. Just kidding, go easy on yourself–even with this knowledge, being able to sew denim well takes experience. Start with something simple, like this fun denim potholder project. Work your way up from there, and you’ll be sewing jeans in no time!