Denim started as a workman’s textile and has now become a staple in the US and other countries alike. Made of a strong cotton fabric that is dependable and long-lasting, you’ll find that sewing with this twill weave is not a task for the faint of heart, but with a little prep work and patience, you’ll be equipped to conquer sewing with denim in no time. Pair it with the right hardware, and you’ll have pieces that are ready to withstand the test of time.
Download a free Sewing with Denim info sheet!
1. Selecting Fabric
- Thin denim is easiest to sew, while thicker denim takes a little more time and patience.
- Heavy denim is best for structured garments (ie. pants, shorts, dresses, and jackets).
- Lighter denim works for slightly more flowy garments.
- Preshrink fabric before sewing to prevent bleeding, soften it, and make it easier to work with when sewing.
- Straighten out the grain after washing if the selvage isn’t lining up properly before cutting your pattern pieces.
- Mark pattern pieces after being cut to avoid any confusion.
- Use sharp tools like shears to cut out the fabric.
- It’s okay to cut light-to-medium weight fabric in layers.
- Cut heavyweight denim one layer at a time.
- Use a fabric pen for marking to make cutting and sewing easy.
- Use a denim needle.
- Jeans thread or thick thread is best for sewing with denim fabric— They can withstand high stress and wear.
- Change your stitch length to 3-4, tension to above 4, and sew slowly.
- Test your speed and thread tension on a scrap piece of fabric being used.
- A roller foot works best when sewing with denim.
- When sewing several layers at once, use the handwheel for a slower and controlled stitch.
- Trim bulk once seams are sewn or consider grading your fabric to make the sewing process easier.
- Use lighter facings when possible to reduce bulk when sewing.
- Double up on all-purpose thread if you find that your bobbin thread is loose and looped.
- Use a topstitch— Don’t forget to buy several spools of your topstitching thread.
- Use high and heavy steam during construction to receive a polished finish.
- Finished seams that will last are imperative, so opt for seams like a flat felled seam or overlock stitch, or a Hong Kong seams.
- To prevent skipped stitches, hold denim tight.
- Once you’ve figured out the settings your machine works best with, write them down along with the project and denim swatch.
While all sewing projects take time and patience to navigate, be prepared to give a little extra for denim. Rest assured that once your project is complete, whether you opted for a dress, coat, pants, skirt, shirt, or any variation thereof, the effort that you put in, in conjunction with the helpful sewing sips above, you’ll end up with a garment you’re proud of.
Which one of our free sewing patterns are you going to tackle first?