11. Gabby’s Fitting Series — A Denim Exploration in Three Parts. Part One!

Hi Sewcialists!

Are you curious about denim? It is a world unto itself, to be sure. I love nerding out on denim fits, washes, fabrics, and figuring out how to utilize each of those things in concert to make a great pair of denim. I’ve never sewn my own pair, however, only worked on it from a manufacturing standpoint — it’s definitely on my list of Wish to Makes!

This is the first in a three part mini-series, each divided into thirds, where we will explore some trivia, common fit issues, and things to watch out for when working with denim.

Twill Trivia!

Front pocket bags as a fit solution? Yup!
Ah… Gloria Vanderbilt. This commercial is so glorious in so many ways.

Common fit problem:

Waist gapping. Ugh!

Top three things to check for if you have back waist gapping. Please note! In the video I state that the CB of the waistband should be cut on the cross grain — however it should be cut on the length grain, with the width of the waistband on the cross. Sorry, not that great at video editing 🙂

Here’s a quickie sketch to show you waistband grainlines. They should be cut the same as the circumference of your leg panel, so the circumferences throughout the whole pant have the same shrinkage and the shapes of the pieces don’t get warped when washing.

Hand-drawn diagram showing a cutting plan for jeans. The waistband and yoke are cut across the fabric, just like the legs, so that all the pieces have the same relationship to the weave of the fabric, and will behave the same with washing.
Sketch shows that waistband, yoke, and leg panels are all cut so the circumferences are on the same grain. You’ll also notice the back hip shows where to slash and spread if you need to increase your rise. You may also do this at the top of the panel if you blend your lines, and you may also do this at a two or three points along the rise, if you want to split the amount for a smoother shape.

And here’s an excellent tutorial from In the Folds on how to draft a contour waistband from a straight waistband!

Something to watch out for:

Stress points! When you construct a new pair of denim, you may wish to add reinforcements at your stress points. The most common of these are: front knees, inner thighs at the crotch, back beltloops where they are sewn onto the back yoke (from tugging the jeans on), and back pockets at the top corners.

To reinforce, you can purchase ready-made fusible patches to press in, or you can (in the case of beltloops), add a small self patch in the interior of the garment for extra stability when tacking the beltloop on. There’s also a product called Bondaweb that allows you to create your own fusible patches — it’s a double sided adhesive, commonly used for repairs and applique.

If you need to repair after the fact, hand-sewing patches is a tried and true method. Some denim-heads recommend *not* using denim as patches, because the weave is too abrasive rubbing on itself; you might try lighter weight cottons. And if you want to get really fancy, check out the work of the incredible Indigo Proof. They are located in Portland, Oregon in the US, and I hesitate to call what they offer “repair” — more like magically restoring the denim fibers itself. Check it out!

Have questions? @ me in the comments!

xo gabby

Gabby is a technical fashion designer, fit specialist, and prolific googler. She lives in Denver, raises tiny littles, reads, embroiders, makes, experiments, fails, learns, tries again. See her on instagram @ladygrift.