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.

3 thoughts on “Sewing Jeans: A Riveting Experience

  1. I wonder if it’s possible to get jeans to fit my oddly-shaped body. Everyone has had success with this Jalie pattern, I may just buy it and try it.

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