Since it’s been getting slightly cooler here in Kuwait I am moving towards wearing jeans more often; thus the reason for my recent reviews in pants. I was quite interested in how I could move my standard home designed jeans into designer quality and appearance. This is the aim of Sewing Designer Jeans.
Lesson 1 – Meet Angela Wolf and Get Started
The introduction has a great little blurb about what this class covers right at the beginning.
Supplies and Patterns
Topstitching is the most important part of designer jeans. Angela shows you exactly how the wrong stitch in combination with the right top stitch can turn a gorgeous pair of jeans into looking horrendous.
She suggests what patterns you can use for this class, however you will need to refer to the course materials to get specifics.
I really liked how Angela shows you quite a number of jeans and the differences between them all that make them unique; different colours, top stitching, material, pocket variations, length, bling and even embroidery.
The lower the denim number, the lighter the weight of the material. 6 to 8 ounce cotton with 4% lycra is a great place to consider starting – it’s Angela’s favourite.
If you are thinking of distressing your denim it’s best to purchase a bit extra as test pieces. Angela sews two pieces together, distresses the seam and then throw it in the wash and dryer. When you wash the jeans the dye can come out and cause discolouration on the distressed area.
Tips for Distressing
Tools you will need:
- sandpaper; and
Using sandpaper just very lightly stroke across the seams. The other technique is to just slide the sandpaper along the jeans in long swipes – excellent for distressing the material along the thigh.
To continue with the class you should wash and dry your denim at least once, sometimes more.
Lesson 2 – The Perfect Fit
If you’ve ever made alterations onto patterns before, you should check out the pattern sizes that are often pretend somewhere on the pattern themselves
It’s important to decide if you will wear your jeans with heels or flats as this will be one of the biggest factors of length. Adjusting the length is pretty easy once you know how to do it, in fact if you do know how to do it chances are you can skip this part of the lesson.
Crotch and Bum Wrinkles
I love the little sketches they include to highlight exactly what Angela is talking about. Yet they go a step further and actually show the examples on a mannequin.
Angela shows you how to correct wrinkles at the front of the crotch, at the back of the crotch and even underneath the bum cheeks.
It can be common to get wrinkles all the way down the back of your thighs, and in this part of the lesson you will see the fix for that.
Modifying Front Pockets
The pockets can have various design elements. Angela shows you how to just simple sketch out any shape changes to your pattern piece.
Changing the Rise
Angela’s pattern has marks showing where you can adjust your jeans near the back and front crotch curves so that any alterations won’t affect the fit.
She suggests that you leave the yoke alone and merely adjust the front and back pattern pieces – and any other sections (such as the zipper) that might be effected by these changes.
Assembling the Muslin
The muslin fitting should be fast and easy. You will need to include the grain lines – these are very important to stop leg twisting. Cut and use two backs, two fronts, waistband and yokes.
Fitted at the Knees
This is best done at the muslin stage, simply wearing and then pinning the in and out seams to get the ideal fitting.
Gaping the Waist
This involves altering the yoke and waistband. It’s similar to adding darts, only you will be subtracting that space.
Aligning Fabric on the Grain
It’s absolutely vital that you line up the grain line when pinning and cutting your fabric.
If you need to, straighten the grain.
Lesson 3 – Back Pockets
Angela shows you how the basic steps to making back pockets. There is also a neat little tip on how to copy across a design from one pocket to the other by simply using chalk.
Flap Pockets and Distressing
Distress your fabric. Attach some stabilizer before embroidering; otherwise you may get dimples in the fabric and worse.
Measure twice and cut once… Or should I also say measure twice and sew once? If you are going to be sewing any decorative features such as logos, please check that they are centred first.
Using the sand paper, distress the edges and the centre.
Hammer all the edges of your jeans so that it top stitches much easier. If you don’t want a distressed look to your jeans, consider doing this to the wrong side of the fabric.
Use a triple stitch with your thread – any colour; it will sew it thick enough to look just like top stitching or embroidery thread.
If you don’t have a triple stitch option on your sewing machine you can always double thread with two spools to create the same effect.
Sewing the Pocket Flap
Angela marks the bottom centre point and the two lower corners as guides for sewing. She uses a 1/2″ seam allowance to stitch around the outside of the pocket, with the fabric facing right sides together.
Topstitching the Pocket Flap
Using the same technique as earlier, distress the seams and edges of pocket flap. Again mark the bottom corners in chalk as guides for sewing evenly.
Angela uses an electronic Brother machine, so she has the ability to sew a one-step buttonhole. If you haven’t got a one-step buttonhole feature, it might be an idea to look up how to sew buttonholes for your specific machine.
Lesson 4 – Sewing the Back
Attaching the Yoke
Do you get your yoke’s mixed up, and can’t remember which bit goes where? Well the smaller corner should go to the outer seams whilst the larger section should go to the centre back, and then the slope should curve in.
Sew your yoke to the back of the pants, and serge the ends. Remember if you plan to distress the fabric you should do this before top stitching.
Sewing the Centre Back
Make sure the back seams match up perfectly. Sew, serge, distress and finally topstitch.
Sewing the Back Pockets
Make sure that the pockets are placed equally from the centre of the top stitching, not the seam. Angela shows you how to sew the back pocket down, and if you desire a pocket flap as well.
Adding Embellishments and Buttons
Adding embellishments are quite easy, and there are numerous options available. Just some are little gems with glue on the back, rhinestones, silver sterling metal decorations, grommets, beads and much more.
You can use specialised tools to open your buttonholes, or a thread picker. Do consider something like fray check to stop any loose or cut threads from creating a mess.
Depending upon whether your back pockets are decorative or functional, determine location of buttons and sew through the appropriate layers of material.
It’s not hard to sew a flat-felled seam once you know how. In a sense you are shifting your seam allowance across so that whilst your stitching lines still line up, there is a “flap” of the seam allowance. Then you fold the seam allowance over the other side and top stitch it down.
Lesson 5 – Front Pockets
Angela points out that she makes pockets out of the uncommon materials such as silk charmeuse, however the bottom of her pocket is folded rather than serged, and the sides of the pockets are french seams instead; thus the pocket seams are extra secure from fraying or falling apart.
Distressing the Fabric
Just like all the previous examples Angela shows you how to distress the fabric.
She also shows you how to prep the coin pocket, including the topstitching at the top.
Sewing the Pocket
Topstitch the coin pocket to the appliqué. Serge the raw edges of the appliqué.
Attaching the Rivets
Angela walks you step by step through attaching a rivet to your joins, assuming that you have no tools designed specifically for this task.
Attaching the Pockets
Sew the lining to the jean leg front with right sides together. Press, favouring the denim. Distress and topstitch. Line up the appliqué to the front legs and stitch the side seam and top seams.
Lesson 6 – The Front Fly
Start off by sewing the seams closed on your fly facing with right sides together, before flipping right side out.
Joining Front Pieces and Fly Facing
You will stitch the back pieces together, then the front pieces together, and finally join them.
Stitch the crotch curve, under the fly. Press. Stitch on the fly facing.
Inserting the Zipper
Attach the fly facing. Line up the zipper, lining the base of the fly with the bottom of the fly front. Stitch the left side of the zipper to the material using two rows of top stitching. Stitch the right side of the zipper and the shield using two rows of top stitching.
Folding the shield out of the way, top stitch two rows on the front of the jeans to join the zipper and the left leg together.
Lesson 7 – Joining Front and Back
Sewing the Inseams
Match your top stitching at the crotch. Sew along the inseam. Distress, and then top stitch.
If you struggled with skipped stitches at the extra layers of the crotch seam, Angela provides a little helpful tip on how to avoid this.
Pinning and Sewing the Outer Seams
If you are going to sew any embroidery, do it now. Line up the side seams. If one leg is slightly longer on one side than the other, just make sure that you match your grain line – otherwise the leg risk twisting.
Finishing the Outer Seams
Distress your seams. Top stitch the outer seam – for some jeans the top stitch only goes down to the hips rather than the hem.
Making Belt Loops
Sew your belt loops in one long piece of fabric, and then cut each to length after sewing and pressing.
Serge one side. Fold the other side inwards (wrong side to wrong side), and then overlap the serged edge over that. You should have a one side of the belt loop completely clean material, and the other will have a serged line intersecting the middle.
Determine the location of the belt loops.
Baste the belt loops on; we will secure them properly when sewing on the waistband.
Lesson 8 – The Waistband
Angela likes curved waistbands since they can be higher at the back whilst lower at the front; so when you sit down they don’t bunch up into your rib cage.
Angela shows you some tips on how to stop plumber’s crack – I think a lot of us can be grateful for that tip.
Press your seams under.
Attaching the waistband.
Lay waist band to the pants, right side to right side. Start at the centre back, and pin outwards on each side, moving towards the side seams and then the back. Stitch the waistband to the pants, following some of Angela’s tips on easily stitching the curve and what to do when you come to the zipper.
As you sew the waistband, you should also add one end of the belt loops.
Lesson 9 – Finishing and Hemming
Get to know what button options that you have, such as whether they will be hammered to the jeans with a shank or sew on buttons. It’s best to avoid buttons that have a shank without any grooves on it; there is a high risk of the button not being fully secure and falling apart.
Measure where you will place your buttons; try to avoid areas with several layers of thick fabric.
Sewing the Buttonholes
Use a keyhole buttonhole if possible.
Angela uses a one-step buttonhole, so I advise that you know/learn how to sew buttonholes with your specific machine. Use fray check if you have it.
Finishing the Belt Loops
Since one end of the belt loop has been stitched into the waistband, you only need to secure the tops. Fold over the very top of the belt loop, and then stitch through two layers to secure to the waistband. You can also topstitch the bottom end of the belt loop so that it lays flat as well.
Angela also uses a button foot for her sewing machine that sews the button directly to the jeans.
Marking the Hem
It’s a great idea to wash your jeans at least once before hemming, as they may shrink. Angela shows you how she hems her own pants; she sits down and guesses where the hem might be. She stands to see the hem, and if it needs adjusting once again she sits and repeats.
Sewing the Hem
Mark your fold lines and cutting lines. Cut your jeans to length. Fold your hem twice so that the raw edges are hidden.
Distress your thigh, shin, upper back thigh and calf. Do a couple of long strokes across the whole jean legs to even everything out a bit.
- Metric Conversion Chart PDF – provided with all Craftsy classes.
- Supplies and Resources PDF – covering Supplies, Jeans Patterns and Resources.
Angela is a great teacher; she teaches content in a clear and precise manner that’s easy to follow along.
If you want to know how to distress your jeans – just the faded areas along seams and thighs – this class will cover this. However see cons for more on this.
Is she saying “zigzig” stitch rather than “zigzag”? I think it’s just her accent.
This isn’t a step by step class on how to sew jeans; it is assumed that you know the basics of sewing jeans or pants.
The class doesn’t cover all the distressing techniques like rips, which can be a very popular feature to many jeans. I also think that the same single distressing technique was shown too many times.
What can I say about Sewing Designer Jeans? Well for a starter I think that Angela Wolf is a pretty good teacher; she’s clear and teaches in easy to follow steps.
I was a bit disappointed in the content of this class; I was hoping for a bit more information that might separate average home made jeans into more designer appearance and quality; apparently the main difference from what I have been doing in the past is the distressing. I would have liked to have been taught tips for ripping my jeans at the very least. Also I would have loved any tips for sewing simple logos, especially for people who don’t have an embroidery machine.
Having said this, I have recently watched One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants (read my review) and Jean-ius: Reverse Engineer Your favourite Fit (read my review). I found that much of the same content is repeated in both of these classes as well. I found Jean-ius: Reverse Engineer Your Favourite Fit best of all three classes; it taught you step by step how to replicate your favourite jeans, but also step-by-step how to sew jeans.
I don’t think this class is for beginners, at least not those looking for step-by-step instructions on how to sew your jeans. I would advise only advanced beginners and above to undertake the class – at least those who know the basics of sewing pants. I would assume that advanced sewers may already know all of the techniques taught in Sewing Designer Jeans.
I don’t want to discourage you however, as Sewing Designer Jeans was pretty decent and worth checking out. I would love to know what anyone else thought of the class.