Sewing jean-style pants that look like they came from the store demands the hardware that gives your sewn jeans an authentic look. While I am not a purist, certain detailing is important.
Denim Fabric – Fabric is important for sewing up authentic looking jeans. Denim comes in lots of different colors and weights; getting good fabric ensures that the labor of making these pants is worthwhile. Denims are sold by weight (ounces) per yard of fabric. These days, many also come with a percentage of spandex thread to make the fabric stretch. Pants that look like traditional jeans are sewn with 12-16 oz. weight denim. It is actually hard to find. I have used the 12 oz. and it makes a pair of pants that can be washed and worn time after time. It should be washed a couple times before you begin cutting and sewing as it is heavy and stiff. Fashion jeans are made from lighter weight denims, usually 8-10 oz. If the fabric is lighter than 8 oz., it can barely support the detailing that goes into jeans. For instance, the pockets don’t stay put. The higher the percentage of spandex for stretch, the closer a fit you can achieve, but the quicker the pants will wear out.
Topstitching Thread – Heavy duty top stitching thread, sometimes sold as jeans thread, provides the topstitching details that announce your pants as jeans. The traditional thread is a gold/brown cotton topstitch thread. You can buy small spools of this color thread in the topstitching section of your thread store. If you need an unusual color thread for your topstitching, consider 100% cotton quilting thread or buttonhole twist thread. You will need a needle with a large eye to help you sew with this thread. If you have a second sewing machine, it makes the process so much easier because you don’t have to keep threading and rethreading the machine for topstitching. For dressier jeans, I sometimes use a matching topstitch thread. The thread provides the support to the seams and pockets but does not show. Click here to read my blog post on pockets where you can see photos of a pair topstitched in the traditional gold thread and a pair topstitched in navy.
Zippers – A good jeans zipper will last a long time in your heavy weight denim pants. Because they are metal, it is best if you can get one that is the length you need. Plan your design around the length zipper that is right for you. A limited variety of colors are available in jeans zippers from 3” to 8” with one inch increments between sizes. Figure your size and order several in a variety of blue shades, black, brown, or other colors that might be central to your wardrobe. ( They are 20% off till the end of January at Wawak) If you have not fit your sporty Eureka! Pants too tight, you might be able to get away with a nylon coil zipper.
Buttons – A topstitched buttonhole and a button are the classic closure in a jeans waistband. The buttons are hammered on with a small nail so they can withstand a good deal of pressure when your snug jeans stretch to sit down. I never seem to get the button in the right place on the first try and permanent jeans buttons are hard to move. For that reason, I usually sew on a button to make sure I have the right placement; when it falls off the first time, I replace it with a permanent jean button. La Mode also makes a product called “Jeans Repair Kit”. It has buttons that attach with an easier pin that does not require a hammer. I find they stay in place well enough for me, but they are not as “western” looking as specialty jeans buttons.
Rivets – I have never gotten the hang of setting these little metal supports that are also hammered into place at the corners of front pockets on classic jeans. To me, this is one detail I can live without. If you prefer to put rivets on your pants, take a look at the materials you will need. The Eureka! Sporty Details instruction book suggests using tight zigzag topstitching at each location where you would typically set a rivet. I find it works fine for my fashion jeans.
Read more about all these topics in the Sporty Details Instruction Book.
What details do you like best and where do you get your supplies? Send us photos of your jeans!
Happy Sewing, RAE