Denim is a great fabric, mainly because it looks very good but also because it’s somewhere in-between casual and formal wear, with the ability to be either one when necessary. You can wear it in the summer or in the winter, it fits nicely with a wide variety of clothing combinations, and it’s appropriate for both young folk and the more serious adults.
When it comes to working with it, it can be a real pain in the you know what. It’s very tough and rigid, so it isn’t exactly the most forgiving and cooperative type of material. And it requires fairly powerful sewing machines to sew with it.
So the fact that sewing with denim stresses out a lot of sewing enthusiasts doesn’t really come as a surprise. Some people don’t even want to try sewing with denim because of that.
Well, not anymore, because from now on, you’ll know you’ll see a couple of simple hints that will help you enjoy sewing with denim without a shred of stress. Having said that, here’s a few tips and trick on how to sew denim.
Tip #1: Prepare your fabric properly
Skipping the pre sewing washing of the fabric is never a smart idea really, but especially not when you plan to work with denim. In fact, it’s best if you wash denim twice before you star
sewing with it. There are two reasons for this. Obviously, first reason for that is the fact that washing softens denim up. The second reason isn’t as apparent but is equally important. Washing removes the excessive dye layer that remained on the surface of the fabric. So always wash your new fabrics!
Tip #2: Set your sewing machine to adequate settings
Unlike the basic sewing machines, heavy duty sewing machines can sew denim with ease. If you plan to do these kinds of projects often or you are going to sew through multiple layers, you should probably consider upgrading to a good denim sewing machine. According to Hellosewing it has a much more powerful motor than the regular home sewing machines, so it can easily pierce denim and keep it under control. If you don’t have it yet, don’t despair, you can buy one for a relatively small amount of cash, and since it can sew with various fabrics, it will definitely pay out.
Denim is much tougher and thicker than cotton, so increasing the stitch length to about three or four is a smart thing to do. If your denim is a bit thicker than normal, increase the stitch length even further in order to sew without problems. You should probably use a scrap of the fabric you chose in order to test your sewing machine settings and if you adjusted them appropriately.
Tip #3: Use the right needle
Thick and tough material is very hard to pierce with your plain old normal sewing needles. So you need to use a needle that’s specifically designed for sewing denim. Use 100/16 needle for heavyweight denim and 90/14 needle for light- and medium-weight denim. You can find them in any shop that sells sewing supplies, or online, either way, they’re not difficult to find.
Tip #4: Use a strong thread
Your best bet would be an all-purpose thread for lighter denim and heavy-duty denim thread for the thicker kinds of denim. Regular thread might also work but it might not as well, so it’s better to use go with the aforementioned options.
Tip #5: Make sure that your tools are as sharp as possible
Scissors, shears and rotary cutters have to be sharpened properly if you plan to cut denim with them. Denim is prone to fraying, so you should first strengthen the edges by serging or zig zag stitching them before you start cutting out patterns. This will make your work much easier and less frustrating.
Final tip: Keep the seams flat
You don’t need any bulk standing in your way, so always try to keep the seams as flat as possible by using an iron, cutting off seam allowances, mitering corners and clipping curves.
There you have it, now you can enjoy sewing or even quilting with denim as much as you would enjoy sewing with any other kind of fabric. Just follow our tips and you’ll be good to go.