Sewing School // Tips for Sewing With Denim
I don't know about you, but I wear loads of denim. More often than not my outfit for the day has some denim in. Mostly so far this denim has not been handmade. I wear jeans and have never made myself some. So recently I decided this needed to change and I should try and make myself a pari. This project is well under way but long before I even cut my fabric I had to work out how to sew with denim. So today I am sharing these tips with you.
What is denim?
I am sure you all would know denim when you saw it, but could you describe what it is? Maybe but possibly not. Denim is simply a woven fabric, made from cotton, where the threads in one direction are blue and the threads in the other direction are white. At least in true form this is what denim is. You can find other denim-like fabrics out there that don't fill this requirement but they often call it denim any way. Chambray is one kind of denim but is just must lighter weight. The denim I am going to be talking about today is the heavy weight stuff that your jeans are made from. Some times it's stretchy (mine has 5% lycra) and sometimes it isn't (100% cotton).
Get the Right Equipment
When working with denim it's a good idea to use a thick cotton thread in your machine. Usually we match the material of the fabric with the thread, hence cotton, and thick because your fabric is heavyweight. Also you'll need a needle that is designed for heavy weight fabrics. A size 100-110 for european sizes or 16-18 in american sizes will work well. If you have had your fabric scissors for a while or someone 'accidentally' used them on paper you probably are going to need to get some new ones too, the denim needs an extra sharp blade.
When you have your fabric make sure you prewash it, especially if it's a stretchy one because its quite prone to shrinkage. (If your anything like me your jeans are tricky to do up after a wash and almost falling down by the end of the day, I think I should invest in a belt.) Also prewashing will help the fabric soften making it slightly easier to cut and sew with.
Prevent Fraying with Strong Seams
Sadly denim is also pretty prone to fraying. To help avoid this you can try using flat fell seams (come back next week for a tutorial for this) which is extra strong and keeps the raw edge inside. If you take a look at your jeans the inside leg seams are usually flat fell seams. On other seams make sure you finish the edge of the fabric with some zigzag stitching or pinking sheers (unless of course you have a Serger, no? Me neither). Also don't be afraid to use a really high heat when you press your seams, the denim can take it and the seams need it.
So there you go, my whistle stop tour of sewing with denim. It's much easier than it sounds so don't be too scared. If you pair your denim with a simple project (like this bag?) then it should be much easier than sewing some button-fly high waisted skinny jeans, which crazy person would try and do that?!? Oh yes, that would be me. I'll show you when I am done. Zoe x