12 Things I Learned While Sewing My First Denim Projects



Jenny Maker Denim Landers 1

Hello again, friends! Today, I have a post for you on a topic that strikes fear in the hearts of many sewists. (Cue scary music haha) The funny thing is, there’s nothing scary about denim at all. It’s a fabric many of us practically live in and it isn’t difficult to sew! It is just cotton, after all. The fiber most of us start with, and often turn back to for a break, due to its easy handling.

That said, it does have its quirks, so I thought I’d share the notes I took while working with it for the first time.

  1. The thickness and strength of the weave of denim can make it difficult to cut. Use high-quality sharp scissors (I like Kai) or a new blade in your rotary cutter.
  2. It’s very easy and stable to sew.
  3. But, it’s bulky, which can shift under the foot. Use Wash-away Wonder Tape for basting and a hump jumper when the seams are uneven. (Including while sewing on the pockets. Your machine will thank you.)Jenny Maker Denim Landers 6
  4. Clips are your friend, since pinning through the bulk can be tricky, and you can use them sparingly.
  5. Use the aforementioned Wonder Tape and baste back pockets on with the dart laid over a ham.Jenny Maker Denim Landers 7
  6. Pockets (particularly lined pockets) can shift and stretch, so always double-check symmetry before stitching down.
  7. To prep for fly buttonholes (if applicable), grade as suggested, steam, and while the seam allowances are still warm, hammer them flat (preferably with a soft-face hammer to avoid marring).
  8. When sewing the buttonholes, use stabilizer under the fly while stitching to help fabric move more easily, lower your foot’s pressure, stitch slowly, and if your machine has a one-step buttonhole foot, watch out for anything that may trigger the sensor and cause it to reverse prematurely.
  9. Fray-check buttonholes on both sides, before and after cutting, to help minimize wear-and-tear.
  10. If sewing jeans/shorts, do not skip the baste fitting. Denim can vary quite a bit, even among the same weight, so be sure you like how the pattern fits in your particular denim before finishing the project.
  11. Even if you’ve opted not to interface your waistband, make sure you apply interfacing to any areas that will have buttons or buttonholes to increase strength and help eliminate distortion.
  12. If using tack buttons (no-sew denim buttons), be sure to trim the tack with wire cutters before installing. This wasn’t listed on the package for my bronze buttons, but if the tack is too long, it can bend or even break through the front of the button.
  13. Bonus tip: you can muslin your denim project with muslin, rather than cutting right into your fashion fabric. However, tip 10 is essential if you’re using stretch denim! You’ll likely need to take in a little here and there to account for the added stretch.
Jenny Maker Denim Landers 2
I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have finally tackled denim and how excited I am about continuing to work with it. I tested both stretch and bull denim on these shorts and they were both easy to work with. And now that’s a whole new category of ready-to-wear I can avoid, if I choose! The more fabrics we conquer, the closest to an entirely handmade wardrobe we can get! (If that’s your goal.) In fact, both outfits in this post are entirely made by me and both garments in my second outfit are made from Cali Fabrics! They weren’t bought together, but the coral shorts just seemed to be calling out for a navy tank. Don’t you think they work well together? Cali always has a great selection of rayon challis, so be sure to check those out when you’re browsing the denim!
 Jenny Maker Denim Landers 3

Let me know below how your next denim project goes or if you have any tips of your own to add!

Happy sewing! x

Jennifer M, from Jenny Maker

Hi! I’m Jennifer, or Jenny if you’d like, and I blog at Jenny Homemaker. I currently reside in Atlanta with my fiancé/sounding-board/photographer, Brandon, and fur baby/supervisor/photobomber, CoCo.

I started sewing in 2009 after a long-distance move, when it became clear I needed a new hobby. I was fearless, choosing a fully-lined, polyester satin, bubble-hem party dress as my first garment. As you might expect, it was a bit of a disaster and was never worn (we dubbed it the “shiny trash bag” dress), but I saw potential in the idea of sewing my own dresses and didn’t hesitate to jump back in.

What started as a way to pass the time has turned into one of the things I’m most passionate about! I’m well on my way to having a fully handmade wardrobe, sewing everything from lounge clothes to silk dresses! When I’m not sewing, I’m learning. When I’m not learning, I’m planning.

Since fabric is such a great part of sewing (sometimes the best part, right!?), I’m really looking forward to being a part of the Cali Fabrics team, sharing some amazing fabrics and helpful tips with you!

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