Sewing Jeans: A Riveting Experience

Several months ago I sewed my first ever pair of jeans from the very popular Jalie 2908 pattern.  Made from a remnant of Ralph Lauren stretch denim from London Textiles, this was my first foray into the world of jeans.  Surprisingly the project took only a week – for the sewing part, that is.  The rivets were another story.

The thrill was in getting a pair of jeans that didn’t bag at the back of the leg as well as being perfectly rounded for my perfectly round belly.  They were not too big, not too tight, but just right.  Most gratifying was the look of the pockets.  A huge thank you to Quixotic Pixels for the design idea.  It worked beautifully.

Melt-away stabilizer was used for embroidering the pocket

For top-stitching and pocket embroidery using several of the few design stitches on my sewing machine, I used upholstery thread which is available in many more colors than “jeans” thread.

Cut away the excess stabilizer and then soaked in water for a few minutes

Ever since I saw this “Mom Jeans” post, I’ve hoped that I got the pockets in the right place so I’m not the butt of anyone’s “Mom Jeans” joke.

As for the Rivets

As I wrote above, I finished sewing the jeans in about a week.  The rivets were far more complicated than constructing the jeans.  Naively I purchased 12 rivets (Pacific Trims in NYC), which would give me 2 to spare if setting them didn’t go well.  Let me tell you, setting the rivets didn’t go well at all.  Out of the first dozen, 2 looked pretty good, 2 fell out on the first wearing and the remainder looked something like this.

Despite the partially riveted jeans I proudly wore them during the holiday season and got lots of compliments.  My family and friends were kind enough to not mention that I only had one front and one back pocket rivet.

Since Kevin and I had a NYC trip planned, I returned to Pacific Trims and purchased more rivets only to get the same result.  It was time for a new plan so I purchased the minimum order of 100 similar rivets from an unnamed mail order source.  They lost my order for a few weeks.  Meanwhile I proudly wore my jeans, which now had 4 or 5 rivets.  Still, no one seemed to notice or if they did, kindness prevailed and there was no mention of the incomplete jeans.

I tried……

  • Reading the “Brian Sews” blog and watching  his YouTube video on applying rivets
  • Using a rivet die I purchased from an Ebay seller – the result was marginal.
  • A heavy hammer, a medium weight hammer and a lightweight hammer, none of which made no difference
  • Using both a wood block and the basement cement floor as a hard surface
  • Adding extra fabric to adjust for the shank length.
Rivet setter - a metal die with a concave surface at one end

This worked…..

  • Using a hammer and nail to put the hole in the fabric as opposed to punching a hole with an awl.
  • Buying a lot more rivets than required for a single pair of jeans

Finally with the mail order rivets which are similar but not identical to the original Pacific Trim rivets, I used the Ebay acquired rivet setter and was able to set the remaining rivets.  Only then did I realize that I didn’t center several of the rivets and that in one case, I placed the hole right over the topstitching, thus loosening the top-stitching.

Not too loose, not too tight - just right

In the end I had a great pair of jeans with 10 rivets in  2 different styles, several of which are not in the correct position on the pocket corner.  Despite the rivets, I love these custom-made jeans because they fit well.  As for the rivets, I think this was a matter of not having the right tool for the job however I still don’t know what that tool is.

In the future I’ll give it another try, will try to find the right tool and will then let you know if I learn anything more about how to place these necessary adornments on jeans.

If you’re experienced, please share your knowledge on how to make this easier.

Life is Moving Rapidly

Life is moving fast – literally.  After an endless number of home showing and a year on the market our home is under contract.  We’ll be settling/closing (on the east coast it’s called a “settlement” and in the midwest it’s a “closing”) in the next several weeks and then will take off for Wisconsin.  As you can imagine, this life change translates into spending a huge amount of time packing, sorting, etc.

Since we’ll be living in temporary housing until we find a home, the majority of my sewing supplies will be in storage for a while.  This means I need to plan for all of my spring sewing projects and assemble all that is needed for each project.  While I have great admiration for those who can sew with a plan (SWAP), that’s a foreign concept for me.  Spontaneity is my preferred mode and it allows me to be more creative.

As you can see by six year-old  Cate’s recent writing exercise, she is very excited that we are moving near her.

During the next several weeks, blog posts will likely take a back seat to life’s changes.  As with sewing projects, I have many more blog post ideas that don’t come to fruition than those which are completed.  That’s just how it is.

Now that I’ve given Cate some air time, I need to tell you about Mira, the nine-year old budding fashion designer.  She’s always had an eye for design.  To nurture that talent, one of her Christmas gifts was “My Fabulous Look Book”, where she can create her own fashion designs.   She may be on the path to Project Runway.  Here is one of her recent designs:

It will be so wonderful to live near these two adorable and talented girls.

More on Sewing with Fur

One faux fur vest for the big girl and one for the little girls.

Because I just finished a faux fur vest for my DD, Megan and one to be shared by my GD, it seems appropriate to spend a little more time talking about how much fun it is to sew with fur.

When I saw my sister Liz at Christmas, she had just completed a faux fur vest for my niece.  The fabric from is a 1-1/2″ long animal look-alike that’s soft as cashmere and it so fashionable on my niece.  Liz was kind enough to give me the left over fur so I could make a vest for Megan.  Always trying to get one more garment from a piece of fabric, I was barely able to squeeze out a vest for my GD.

While faux fur vests are fashionable, very cute and inexpensive compared to RTW, you really need to love someone to sew a garment made from fur.  We were selling our home and preparing for an open house and there were nasty fur fibers everywhere.   Not just for one day but for days after the vests were finished – just like when we had a German Shepherd!  Made me realize that we need a new vacuum too.  Now I’ll stop whining.

Tips for Making a Fur Vest

  • Use a pattern with minimal design elements, buttonholes, etc.  Megan’s was made from Burda 7289 which is a fur vest pattern.  It has a front dart however I skipped it.  The little girl’s pattern was self-drafted from a shrug pattern.  For both vests, the back and lining is a mid-weight poly.  Both are fully lined.
  • When cutting, use pointed scissors and cut only the fabric backing – the fur will separate easily after the backing is cut.
  • To control the effects of shedding, store everything in a plastic bag before and during sewing.
  • Just like the fur collar, clip the fur from the backing of the seam allowance to reduce bulk and to make it look professional.  If your seam allowance is 5/8″, clip the fur for 5/8″ of the seam allowance.
  • Sew the seams as you would sew any other seam.  Hold of on trimming the seams…..
  • Before  trimming and clipping the seams, on the right side of the fabric, use a needle or leather punch to pull the fur fibers out of the seam.

Oops – when I sewed the bottom of Megan’s vest to the lining, I trimmed the seams before pulling out the fur fibers.  Because some of the long fibers had been cut short,  the vest hemline looked like my mother used dull scissors to hack off my bangs.  To fix the problem I sewed a new seam which resulted in a vest that was 1″ shorter than I intended.  The second time I pulled the fibers out of the seam and then trimmed it.  Sorry, I forgot to take photos so you could learn from my error.

  • Clip the corners like any other fabric.  Despite this there may be some bulk.
  • Use hooks or ribbon to fasten the vest – it’s nearly impossible to make buttonholes, especially when working with long fur.
  • When pressing, avoid steam and protect the fur fibers from the iron with a pressing cloth as the heat will melt the fibers or make them curl as if singed.  Yes, I learned this by experience too.
  • Step back and enjoy your accomplishment.  You deserve it.