Test Fit Japanese Jeans

meinjeansHey Everyone,

I’m Happy…and not happy with my test fit.  The good news is that the test fit is excellent…very happy.  The bad news is that I don’t like the position of the coin pocket.  It looks like it’s sticking up way too high.

So, I’m going to reposition it so that it’s barely peeking out of the deep front pocket opening.  (I’ll show you tomorrow.)

Another thing I’m considering is taking in the flare so that I have straight leg jeans.  I’m usually not a fan of straight legs… but I really want to take advantage of the selvage edges by cuffing them up.  SO, I’m going to take in the inseam.

Stay tuned, I’ll show you my finished Japanese Denim Jeans tomorrow, along with some front fly zipper tips :)  … Off to the pressure cooker and chocolate chip cooking baking :)))))

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How to Sew Jeans: Topstitching off the Edge

Hi Everyone,

I finished the front pockets… After spending a day and fighting with my machine to get a good stitch using YLI Jean Stitch Thread.  My straight stitch machine wasn’t having it… I kept getting skipped stitches and frayed thread :(   But, I did get a nice stitch by using a size 14 Topstitch needle and hiking up the needle tension to 6.  I also used the dual feed on my Pfaff… I think the dual feed really helped… so if you’re having trouble with topstitching thread and you have the right needle, tension and stitch length (I used 4.0 mm)–Try using a walking foot (if you don’t have a Pfaff).

Let’s get a creative with our Topstitching  by sitching off the edge of the front pocket… What I mean by that is Not following the edge of the front pocket opening as you stitch.  Topstitching adds a ton of personality and character to your jeans, so before you stitch a double row of evenly spaced lines that echo the front pocket opening, think about changing the curve.

I’m going to treat the front pockets of my Japanese denim jeans some designer details.  Here I’m using my French curve to draw the start and finish curve.  (This is just one example of how you can add shape to your topstitching)  I don’t have to draw the entire design because as I reach the front pocket opening, I’ll topstitch along the edge evenly until I reach the base of the finishing curve at the waistline edge. Note:  If you want to stitch evenly along the front pocket opening between the two curved guidelines it important that the curved lines end an equal distance from the front pocket opening.  For example, if you are going to stitch 1/4″ away from the pocket edge, both curved guidelines must end 1/4″ away from the pocket opening.


If you create a unique topstitch detail on one pocket… You need to mirror image the design for the other pocket opening… Here’s an easy way to do that.  Use a Chalk-O-Liner to darken the curved guidelines.  Then position the other front leg right sides together…Aligning the front pocket openings.   If you rub the wrong side of the fabric… (Or I like to smack it with my hand) the chalk guideline will be visible on the opposite leg.


Here’s how it looks.  Use the Chalk-O-Liner to darken in the guideline.


How to create a smooth transition from the curved guideline to stitching along the edge of the front pocket opening.

Because I didn’t draw a guideline all the way across the front pocket opening, I am going to use the side of my presser foot… and the needle position to ensure that I make a smooth transition from the curve to the edge of the pocket opening.

Before you start topstitching, position the presser foot at the end of the curved line so that the side of the foot is aligned with the first row of topstitching.  Then move the needle position over until it is directly on the chalk guideline.


Then (without adjusting the position of the needle) start topstitching at the side seam edge of the pocket. Topstitch directly on the chalk guideline.


When you get to the end of the curved guideline, the side of the presser foot will be aligned with the first row of topstitching.  Use the side of the presser foot as a guide to continue topstitching evenly along the edge of the front pocket opening until you get to the base of the curved guideline near the waistline edge.  You will be able to smoothly transition from the pocket edge on to the curved guideline.


Here’s how the pocket opening looks when the topstitching is complete.


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How I used the Selvages as I cut out my jean pieces

Hey Everyone,

I’ve finally cut into my Japanese Denim, and I’m ready to sew.  Obviously I cut the front and back leg pieces with the side seam edges aligned with the selvages.  To keep things neat, I also aligned the side seam edge of the yoke with the selvage edge too.


So, in addition to not having to finish the side seam edge, the selvages create guide to sewing the yoke on to the top of the back leg. …I’ve made  a lot of jeans, and every now and then, I’ve sewn the yoke on with the side seam edge aligned with the center back seam (by accident).  The selvage edges along the side seam edges will prevent me from doing it with this pair :).

I like to keep it real simple when I’m constructing the front fly… The right and left fly pieces are rectangles that are 1/4″ longer than the zipper seam allowance.  I aligned the selvage edge with the outside edges of the fly pieces.

photo 2-2

When I got to the pocket pieces, I decided to cut out the denim facing with the side seam edge aligned with the selvage as well.   When all the denim pieces were cut out, I pulled out my printed cotton that I’m going to use for the pocket bags and waistline facing.

photo 1-2This fabric is black batik…and the selvage edges seem to melt right into  the rest of the fabric…So I cut out the front pocket facing and pocket bag with the side seam edges aligned with the selvage too!  Having all the pocket pieces cut out like this will cut down on the bulk along the side seam when the jeans are constructed.

Today, I’m going to construct the front pockets and fly.  One concern that I have is how the edge of the front pocket opening will behave when I try to press the facing to the wrong side. (because the fabric is not prewashed…it’s very stiff).

Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted!



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Draft a front pocket design right on the Front Leg

Hey Everyone,

Now that I’ve finished shooting my Bias Skirt Class for Patternreview.com, I want to show my Japanese Denim Jeans project some love (I feel like I was neglecting it!!!)   The great news is that I have finally fitted my pattern…I actually like the fit better than my original jean pattern.   I decided that I’m going to produce it into a new Jean Pattern…. After I finish jeans.

Now that I have a great fit, I have to draft to rest of the pattern pieces that make up a complete jean pattern.   I have the front leg, back leg and the back yoke.  Today I’m going to work on the front pocket pieces.  To start, I’m going to make a clean copy of my fitted front leg pattern piece.   I also made note of the seam allowances along the waistline and side seam edges.  The front pocket is constructed from 4 pieces–The front leg, the front pocket facing, the denim facing and the front pocket bag.  Let me show you how to draft the last three pieces directly on the front leg.

photo 5The next step is to design the shape of the front pocket opening.  The easiest way to get a nice smooth curve is to dash it in first.  Dashes are easy to erase if you change your mind as you work.  Creating the front pocket opening actually completes the front leg pattern piece.

photo 4Draft the Front Pocket Facing– The front pocket facing finishes the edge of the front pocket opening.  Trace over the dashed line and decide the overall shape of the pocket bag.  Here’s what my front pocket facing looks like (color coded orange)

photo 3I like trouser style pocket bags because they are secured to the jean on three sides…waistline, center front and side seam.   Keep in mind, if you want a functional pocket, you may want a much deeper pocket bag.  The back side of the front pocket is called the Pocket Bag.   Basically it’s the same shape as the Front Pocket Facing, except that it defines the pattern where the side seam and waistline meet (Instead of the front pocket opening). (color coded dark blue)  It’s important that the lower edge of the pocket bag is exactly aligned with the front pocket facing.

photo 2

The last piece that you want to draft is the denim facing.  The purpose of the denim facing is to hide the pocket bag fabric.  It is sewn onto the front pocket bag like a patch.  The lower edge of the denim facing should be a similar shape to the bottom edge of the pocket bag.  The lower edge of the denim facing should also overlap the front pocket opening at least an inch.  (color coded yellow)  Here’s what mine looks like.

photo 1To help position all the pieces correctly when you put the pocket together, mark a notch along the waist and side seam that is positioned on all three pieces.  Then you can trace each piece.  Here is the pocket facing and the pocket bag.  These pieces are cut out of cotton fabric… I like to use pretty cotton prints.

photo 1-1photo 2-1

And here’s the denim facing.  This piece is cut out of the same denim the leg pieces are cut out of.  Because the side seams are straight (so they can be cut out of the Japanese denim with the selvage edges aligned with the side seam edges) I cannot add some ease into the pocket like I would normally do…  We’ll see how that turns out…


photo 3-1

…I may add a coin pocket to one of the front pockets…we’ll see.    Now I’m off to draft the front fly zipper pieces so I can get these jean cut out already!!!!


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Q & A …What’s the best way to take out a serged seam?

Hey everyone,

I starting something new a J Stern Designs… Video Q & A.  I have been talking about video blogging (vlogging?) for a long time now…  Bolstered by the completion of my new class “Put it on the Bias” on patternreview.com, I’m feel like I want to video everything!  I get some really great questions either on my blog or via email… so I decided that I would start answering some of them in a little video tut :)  Plus, my husband and I designed a snappy new  j stern designs intro… hope you like it!

To kick it off, I’m answering a question I received a couple of days ago… how to take out a serged seam :)

Please post a comment if you have questions.  Or, If you’ve go a questions for j stern designs, feel free to post it below… or send me an email.  Happy Sewing.

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Jean Pattern Video Tutorial–How to Straighten the Side Seams

Hey Everyone, Here’s my first video tutorial showing how to straighten the side seams on my jean pattern.  Extra excited because I really like the results!!  Please post all your questions as comments and I’ll answer them all. Hope you enjoy.

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Japanese Denim Jean Pattern Nirvana!

…Almost :)  Hey Everyone, I spent the last day or two adjusting my jean pattern to take advantage of the selvage edges by straightening the side seam edges. I screwed up the first times because I was  trying to make identical adjustments on the front and back leg…  Then I realized that doing that didn’t work because of the hip curve in the back is bigger… and because the front crotch curve is smaller.    Here’s how my muslin looks.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get enough shape… But, I think I’m happy …

frontview1 backview2

Having said that, Let me tell you what’s not good.  The winkles you see are sadly caused by the fact that I’ve gained a little weight since the last time I fitted my pattern :(  It’s really obvious when you look at the muslin from the side view, the side seam is pulling to the front through the thighs.  To fix this, I’m going to extend the back crotch point and add to the inseam from the crotch point to the knee.  sideviewNext up is the fun part…I’m going to restyle my pattern pieces.  I think I want to make the front pocket openings bigger  and I’m going to play with a new front fly design.   I’m also going to add extra to the inseam to accommodate 1/2″ wide topstitching.  This is such a great opportunity to spend some time being creative…I can’t pass it up.

If you want a sneak peak at the adjusted front and back pattern pieces, visit the salon at sawyerbrook.com.  And, if I’ve tempted you to try working with this yummy fabric, you can order Japanese Denim in Dark Blue or Black while you’re there!

Stay Tuned for a video tutorial showing how to adjust a jean pattern to straighten the side seams!  My daughter Abby and I shot it a couple of days ago…but I didn’t want to upload it until I was sure that the pattern would work out!  Yay…I’m so happy that it did!!

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Day 3 …Ready, Set, Shoot!


Hey Everyone,  It’s been an excellent week!   We are almost done shooting my bias skirt class.   Raise your hand if you ever thought you could get something done in 1 day… but in reality it took 3 (hopefully).  Of course if I was shooting by myself it would have taken much longer.  As we have worked along, I’ve been adding lessons… I want to make sure that I cover everything bias!  I chose some nice linen, soft denim and knit fabrics to work with.  The cool thing is, when I finish this class I will have a whole new wardrobe of ribbon skirts to wear!

I’m spending so much time shooting, I want to share a tip with you.  I’m looking at one of the skirts that I’m working on in the video class… Beautifully matched stripes and inserted invisible zipper.   Now it’s time to finish the waistline edge with a lining.  Notice that the waistline edge has stretched out some…

stretchedwlWhen I went to pin the lining too the waistline, the skirt was too big!   This is a common challenge when you’re working on the bias.  To keep the waistline edge from stretching out of shape, I should have stay stitched it before I started working with it.  To tame it now I’m going to run two or three rows of gathering stitches around.  Then after I pin the lining on at the vertical seams, I’ll gather the skirt in to fit :)  …The entire class will be available at Patternreview.com in March!

Moving on to showing you how to adjust a jean pattern to cut out Japanese Denim this weekend!!  Stay tuned.

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Put it on the Bias gets a camera (man) upgrade


Happy Snow Day… again!   It’s the perfect day for a video shoot.   I may have mentioned that I’m learning how to produce my own videos… so I can work on them when it fits into my schedule.  I’ve been making good progress.  Today I’m in for a special treat…  My husband is snowed in with me…with his new video camera.   He dying to try it… so lucky me, it’s going to spend the day shooting Me!   I have to admit, as much as I like doing it myself… it’s much easier when I’m not trying to be behind the camera as well as in front of it…

I’m also excited to see how this footage looks … apparently this video camera is very professional :)

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Japanese Denim Shrink Test Results are In

Hey Everyone,
I’ve finally washed my Japanese Denim sample three times… and the results are in… It really doesn’t shrink across the width a measurable amount. Let’s compare the sample washed once, twice and three times.

Here’s the swatch after the first washing.  No shrinkage across the width … and remember it grew in length approximately 3/16″.
1washsmHere’s a close-up of the swatch after the first washing.  Notice that there is very subtle differences in color.  If the fabric gets creased, there is a noticeable amount of fading along the crease. You can also see that the fabric is starting to become more blue.

closeup1smHere’s the swatch after the second washing.  Because there was no shrinkage after the first washing, I decided to kill it in the “whitest white” cycle on my machine… which means hot water.  (I washed it in warm water the first time).   Again, there is no shrinkage across the width of the fabric.  The length measurement grew another 1/16″ … making it 1/4″ longer in length than before it was washed.

2washsmHere is a close-up of the swatch after the second washing. Notice that the fading along creases is more pronounce… and there is more blue color coming through.

closeup2smHere’s the swatch after the third wash.  There is no change in the width or lengthwise measurements when compare to before the third washing.  But you can really start to see changes in the appearance of the denim.  Even before I show you the close-up view of this swatch, you can see the color changes in the denim.

3washsmHere’s a close-up of the third washing.  Notice that the blue color is really starting to come through.

closeup3smSo, what does that mean???   It means that I do not have to do a lot to adjust my pattern for future shrinkage.   That’s kinda cool… so different from other denims I’ve worked with. I do, however, have to make a muslin of my jean pattern before I get going because I want to try adjusting the pattern to take advantage of the selvage edges.

If you want to see more, check out my post in the Salon at sawyerbrook.com

Not sure how I feel about that because it requires me to get rid of all the shaping along the side seam. I may be able to pull this off on my personal pattern because I have “boy legs”… meaning I do not have any hip curves…  I’m going to test it and show you how I adjusted the pattern and how the muslin looks… stay tuned!



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