Guess what? The Ash sewalong is starting this week! As you can imagine, the constructions of jeans is a bit more detailed than the average garment. But we have broken down each step and made sure to go over every detail to help you through it! We’ll also be sharing a few tutorials to supplement the construction that we think might be helpful – like how to finish your jeans with flat felled seams, and how to distress you denim.
We know that for many of you who have ordered printed patterns, it may not have arrived yet. Please don’t worry if that is the case – we are starting the sewalong now so that whenever you begin sewing your jeans the tutorials will be available to you right away. You don’t need to follow along with us at the same time, please feel free to look back at these tutorials at your own pace :)
But before we get started, there are quite a few things to go over first. Lets talk notions, fabric, sizing, and preparation. Ok? And then I’ll outline the schedule for the sewalong so you can make a plan for yourself! Let’s goooooooo…
// SUPPLIES AND NOTIONS //
Notions you will need:
- denim zipper
- jean buttons
- leather patch (optional)
*Meg stocks a notions kit in the shop that includes a zipper, button (and posts), rivets (burrs and posts), leather patch, and label. It is available in 4 different colors – nickel, copper, gold, black, and you can find them here!
Supplies you will need:
- topstitching thread
- denim machine needle (very important!)
- tiny bit of fusible interfacing
- buttonhole cutter (optional, you could also use a seam ripper)
- awl or nail for poking holes through multiple layers of denim
- scrap piece of wood / cutting board for installing buttons
- something metal for installing the button and rivets, like a frying pan or an anvil. *Meg also stocks a small rivet anvil in the shop, and you can find that one here! It’s inexpensive and really comes in handy!
Don’t worry if that sounds a bit daunting – tomorrow we’ll be showing you exactly where you can buy everything you need.
// FABRIC //
All versions of Ash are very close fitting in the waist and hip. Therefore it is crucial to make sure that the denim fabric that you choose includes at least 2% spandex/elastane/lycra and has between 15-20% stretch. Spandex is the preferred name of spandex fibre in the USA, but it is often referred to as Elastane in Europe and as Lycra in the UK and Australia. Most fabric labels/website descriptions will include a fabric content percentage but not a stretch percentage. In our testing we found that stretch denims can vary wildly in their stretch percentage, even if they have the same fabric content. For this reason we recommend buying fabric with the appropriate fabric content (2% spandex/elastane/lycra), and also checking the stretch percentage (how much the fabric stretches when you tug it) before you begin sewing. Please do not skip this step! There is a stretch ruler provided in the pattern to help you with this, but if you want further help, you can find out how to calculate stretch in general here with a handy stretch ruler guide you can download.
If your denim has less than 10%, your jeans will end up fitting very very snug and you will likely need to size up. On the other end of the spectrum, if your denim is super stretchy and has a percentage of more than 20% , your jeans will end up being more relaxed and loose fitting. We’ll remind you at what stage in construction is a good time to try on your jeans and make minor adjustments to the fit.
The weight of the denim is less crucial for this pattern than for say a rigid jean, however you will find that thinner denims are often stretchier, softer and tend to feel more like jeggings, and some testers reported that thin denims showed panty lines more easily, so keep that in mind. Thicker denims are also less likely to stretch a lot, but it honestly varies between manufacturers.
Speaking of denim fabric, we’ll be sharing a big list of places where you can buy denim for your Ash jeans tomorrow!
// CHOOSING YOUR SIZE //
Like I mentioned before, this pattern is very close fitting in the waist and hip. Your jeans will most likely stretch over time though, so they should be especially tight right off the sewing machine to accommodate that.
It’s recommended you choose your size based on your waist and hip body measurements, not the finished garment measurements. If you are between sizes (your waist measurement falls in one size, and your hip measurement in another), you can easily grade/blend between sizes.
For example, say your waist measurement is a size 28, but your hip measurement is a 30. You would cut out the size 30 of the front and back pieces, and a size 28 waistband.
On all the relevant front and back pieces, use a curved tool to connect the size 28 waist down to the size 30 hip.
It’s that easy! We’ll be posting about making pattern adjustments in a few days and will show you in more detail how to blend between sizes.
// PREPARATION //
Now that you have you’re fabric picked out, supplies and notions ready, your sizing figured out, and your pattern pieces cut out, there are just a few prep steps that you need to cover before you dive into sewing!
You will definitely want to test out your topstitching, bar tacks and button holes through multiple layers of denim before doing it on your actual pair of jeans. Topstitching thread may need different settings on your machine than regular thread does. So play around to find the right setting for your machine. If you need somewhere to get started – we found that a longer than normal stitch length and slightly tighter tension worked best.
These are a few of our topstitch, bartack and buttonhole tests used while making the Ash jeans samples. A good tip to make your life easier is to sew all of your tests on the same folded over rectangle of denim and write directly on the fabric what settings you used. Keep these sewing samples, and you can easily refer back to them in the future and during sewing!
The notches on this pattern are especially crucial to construction. So make sure you mark all of them and mark them well. There are many ways to do this, so use your preferred method. But for this pattern I made small clips into the fabric at the notches. That way I didn’t have to worry about tailors chalk half rubbing off or pins falling out.
And the final prep step – stay stitching. Stay stitching prevents the waistline edges stretching during construction and fitting. So sew a line of stitching just under 5/8” from the edge, on the top edges of the front pattern pieces, the pocket facings, and the yokes.
// ASH SEWALONG AND TUTORIAL POSTS //
Woohoo! You’re all set to start construction! The sewalong starts soon, if you’d like to follow along.
Here’s the full list of posts and tutorials that will be included in the Ash sewalong:
- Pattern tester roundup
- Introduction to Ash sewalong and preparation (this post)
- Where to buy jeans making supplies
- Inspiration and ideas for customizing your jeans
- How to choose your size and grade between sizes
- How to adjust rise
- How to lengthen or shorten the inseam
- How to sew flat felled seams
- Fly front
- Front pockets
- Back pockets, yoke, and back seam
- Inseam and side seams
- Belt loops and waistband
- Buttonhole and hem
- How to install rivets and jeans buttons
- How to distress denim
Don’t have the Ash sewing pattern yet?! Order Ash today ! We absolutely love seeing what you make, so don’t forget to tag your creations with #MNash and @megannielsenpatterns when sharing on social media, and check out what everyone else is up to!