Saturday, June 9, 2012

Denim Preparation

before note: if you used an old pair of jeans as a pattern- when purchasing the denim, shoot for fabric that's close to the same thickness and stretch as the origional jeans.

The basis for any and every piece of clothing lies in the fabric- the maker or breaker and ultimately the identity of the article. And, therefore, is important! Before this project, I was a very unruly and defiant seamstress. I never ever prewashed fabric. Turns out, it's actually important!

For those like me, who don't really know what to do to prepare the denim, I am happy to report a great finding! Back in the back of my mind, I just knew I'd seen an article about this very thing, and so I searched through all of my magazines 'till I finally found it!
The following information was learned from an article in the Q&A section of the March 2011 issue of Threads magazine, contributed by Jennifer Hasemann):

Denim is a very important fabric to prewash, as many changes occur in the fabric that need to be handled before construction begins. Dyes and chemicals are added to the fabric during manufacturing that become affected by the initial washings, which can result in a lighter and softer denim. (The extent of these changes depend on the individual denim. Mine didn't lighten very much after washing. Jennifer noted that some detergents can be harsher to the color that other detergents.) The denim will also shrink after washing. (Knowing this, I got a little bit more yardage than I thought I'd need, hoping to counteract the shrinkage).

The way to wash the denim depends on the composition of the fabric. 100% cotton denim (what I used) can be washed and then dried in the dryer. If the denim contains over 8% Lycra/Spandex, DO NOT use the dryer. The heat will kill the elasticity of the denim. (If the percentage is only 1-3 percent, a cool dryer setting is still recommended). To achieve the goal of prewashing denim, it should be washed about 3 times.
Something weird that can happen when washing denim for the first times are random markings caused by the dye fading abnormally in the creases of denim that wrinkled in the wash. This occurrence is random and uncontrollable when it happens, but using fabric softener is a possible preventative measure. (I used fabric softener, and I saw none of these markings. However, my fabric didn't fade very much in the first place).

Last note: Before prewashing, zig-zag stitch the raw edge of the denim to prevent unraveling in the wash. After prewashing, iron.

Happy Washing!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pattern Making and Cutting

Welcome to session 2 of the Jeans Anatomy course! If you're done dismantling an old pair of still-fitting jeans, it's time to make new patterns from the pieces!

              note: if you decided to use a commercial pattern, then you are just going to skip this step!

Confession: I am a cheap person. That being said, I make my pattern paper by taping sheets of printer paper together until it is the size I need to trace on. If you have your own ways of patternmaking, use them!
Something that I noticed in my jeans, which may or may not be true for all, was that the seams were a bit wonky. Often, the seam width would waver, and would prove to be difficult to replicate in my own sewing. So, what I decided to to to remedy the problem was to trace the pieces with the seams folded in, and then add more precise seam allowances on top of that.
Again, taking notes is important! Write down on the pattern your seam allowances, special instructions for different types of seams, locations of added items, etc. The more help you give yourself, the easier it'll be!