Is Denim Easy to Sew? How to Sew Denim Shorts, Skirt, By Hand

Different qualities, different levels. Those four words sum up what it is like to sew with denim and other fabrics. Your sewing experience depends a lot on the quality of the fabric and its thickness. Thinner fabrics sew easier than thicker ones

Denim can be easy to sew if the material is not too thick. Sewing by hand is tricky as you will still need to use a special denim needle and not a universal one to get the job done right. Make sure to have a thimble on hand to protect your finger when pushing the needle through the fabric.

To learn more about sewing denim and doing it by hand just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know so your denim sewing projects are a lot easier to do and complete.

Is Denim Easy To Sew?


This will depend on the thickness of the denim. Thin denim material is a lot easier to sew than thicker denim fabrics. The former is like sewing normal lightweight cotton fabrics. You may even enjoy working with lightweight denim.

Thicker or heavier weight denim is a little harder and may take some of that joy out of sewing. No matter what thickness or weight you chose to work with, you need a special denim needle to handle your project.

Other needles are not made for this thicker fabric and will become dull faster, bend out of shape or break on you. It is a good idea to have several denim needles on hand when you sew this material. The best size is #16 but you can use a #18 if your sewing machine allows that large of a needle.

Sometimes, your sewing machine will only allow a #14 needle so you need to go with the size that fits your machine. Also, a good top stitch thread is perfect for this kind of sewing.

What Thread To Sew Denim

As we have previously mentioned a good top stitch thread is the best to use when sewing denim, no matter the weight or thickness. You want a tough, thick thread to handle the physical activity most denim wearers put their clothing through.

If you do not have top stitch thread, then try using two threads at the same time. That is if your sewing machine has an extra spool pin to hold the extra spool of thread. You thread the machine using the two spools as one putting both threads through the same guides, etc., at the same time.

Then what color of thread you use is up to you and your project. Normally, contrasting colors are used to sew denim but you re free to choose any color you want to use. You need to make sure your project looks good when finished.

Just using contrasting colors is not enough to make any project look perfect. There is no law stating you have to use contrasting colors so let your creativity and innovating style shine at this time.

Can all Sewing Machines Sew Denim?


The simple fact of the matter is no they can’t. There are several reasons why they all can’t sew denim and the main one is that the denim fabric doesn't come in only one weight or thickness.

A lot of the regular sewing machines are not powerful enough to handle those factors nor can they handle a project that sews many layers together at the same time. Especially if you saved a few bucks and bought a very cheap sewing machine.

What you need is a heavy-duty machine or an industrial one that is designed to handle heavier fabrics or layers. These machines come with powerful motors that can drive the needle through the material with ease and without harming the needle.

Plus, you need to be able to go slowly when sewing denim. This is not a material that can handle speed sewing. Use a foot walking or rolling foot when you sew denim. Add in the right thread and needle and you should be able to handle the workout denim brings to sewing.

Sewing Denim Machine Settings

One of the most important settings you need to have ready for your sewing project is the stitch length. That should be set to about 3 1/2 to 4 on the dial and sometimes you have to handle the stitch by using the handwheel when the seams appear.

Using a 100/16 denim needle is ideal but you can get away with using a 90/14 if the denim is not that thick or heavy. Then change your thread to a heavy-duty denim thread and while you can use two threads at once, this is not always recommended. Play that by ear.

The speed should be on slow and you should practice on scrap denim first to get the right speed for the project you are working on. If you need something to gauge your speed, the ideal is about 800 to 1000 stitches per minute.

For tension, you want to go to the higher end of the dial and above 4 and the foot you should use is a roller foot but any foot made for denim will work. Finally, the type of stitch is usually the top stitch but you can use a decorative one when not doing the seams.

How To Sew Denim By Hand


You will need patience when sewing denim by hand. It is not a task for the weak nor those who get frustrated easily. Thinner denim material should be easier to sew than thicker fabrics but you still need that patience.

To begin, you will need a long, sharp big eye needle to work with. Then you are going to need a tough thick thread to sew those seams and hems. Jeans are put through a lot of tough activities and the thread has to be placed just right and be at the right strength to handle that test of strength.

Don’t go cheap on the thread or the needle as the cheaper versions are not that strong and do not do a good job. Then sewing the denim will be like using a sewing machine, only slower.

Follow the pattern, use the right stitch pattern, and take your time. Again, speed is not important here. Quality is the goal. So slow down and be prepared to watch several of your daytime shows as you work.

How Do You Sew Thick Jean Seams Together?

This is not something you want to try by hand. Sewing multiple layers by hand is not easy and you will need strong fingers as well as good protection for those fingers as you sew. Needles are not easy to push through thick fabric.

But if you are using your machine, it is best to use your hand wheel when sewing thick seams together. This slows the needle down and helps get the stitch just right and where it should be.

If you think you can use your foot pedal, go slowly and listen to your machine. If it acts like it can’t handle the task, go back to using the hand wheel. The key is to make sure you do not get the needle stuck in the down position and that you do not overheat your machine or break a part or two.

Try to reduce the bulk as much as possible. This will make sewing easier for you and your machine. If possible, try using different sewing techniques as this will cut down on the layers you have to sew at the same time.

How To Sew Denim Patches


The first step in this process is to pick the right size of patch. You can always trim one that is too large but you can’t add material to one that is too small. Then you need to select the right method. Some methods will work for most activities but they have to be strong to endure that treatment.

You can use needle and thread but the wearer of the patched jeans may not want the stitches to show. Then in that situation, you need a good fabric glue to hold the patches in place. We say good because not all fabric glues have the same holding power.

Next, turn the jeans or jacket, etc., inside out and clear away the fray. Cut your patch to the right size and either sew or glue it in place. You can trace the size of the hole on some paper first then add a 1/2 inch all the way around to provide the extra material you will need to cover the patch. Keep the stitches as tight as possible.

Sewing Denim Jacket

The good news here is that you will have no shortage of jean jacket patterns to work with. There is a large selection just on the internet alone. This will allow all your children to have their own style even though they are wearing the same material and garment.

Then the key to sewing a denim jacket is making it right for the person wearing it. For a mans’ jacket, you may want to add button pockets as well as zippered ones. Or you may just want to have a couple of open pockets just in case he needs quick access to his things.

You have to do a lot of pre-planning to make sure you have the design just right and still remain in current fashion trends. Here is a link to a very detailed pattern and instructions.

How To Sew Denim Shorts


Sewing denim shorts may be one of the easier sewing projects you can do with the denim material. Everything is very straight forward and the seams are not in awkward places. Especially if you are turning your old jeans into shorts for the warmer weather.

The first step is to cut the jean legs tat the same time to make sure you get the same length. The second step would be to iron the jeans so that they are easier to work with. Jeans will fray so you may want to add a piece of strip fabric to cut that danger down and add a decorative touch.

Or just use a zig-zag stitch or a stitch line to make the frayed end there or make the fringe decorative look. If you are using the strip fabric, you can use different fabrics, different colors and designs to make sure your denim shorts look attractive and fashionable.

How To Sew a Denim Skirt

All you will need denim wise is a yard of the material. Then with your other supplies, measure your hips, waist, and length. Now mark your fabric and cut the material with pinking shears. The pinking shears are used to reduce any fray that may appear as you work.

Pin your seam and give yourself about a 3/8 inch allowance. Sew with a 3.0 stitch length where the pins are but do not go all the way to the end. For the waist do a 1 1/2 inch allowance for the top band and pin in place.

Leave room for your elastic and sew your waist seam creating a loop for the elastic. Now insert your elastic and take it all the way around, sewing the two ends together when they meet. Close the opening when that is done.

Now hem your skirt, leaving enough seam allowance to sew properly. Those are the basic instructions, you can get all the details here.

Some Final Words

Denim is a long-lasting and good looking fabric to wear. It makes sense to have some clothing made from this fabric so you are ready for all activities that come your way. Just be prepared for some hard work when creating a sewing project needing this material.

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