One of the best things about making your own jeans is the endless ways you can make them uniquely you. Having fun with the details of your Ginger Jeans makes them even more personal and exciting to wear. Here are a few suggestions.
WAX ON, WAX OFF
Image source: Get Plenty
Waxed jeans were all the rage last year, and since you are making your own, you don’t need to pay $200 to get your hands on a pair (lucky you). It’s a very simple process that creates a waterproof, leather-like finish to denim. You’ll need a large bar of Otter Wax (also available at Thread Theory) and a hair dryer. Once your jeans have been sewn, use light to medium pressure while rubbing the wax on the entire surface of the front of your jeans. They’ll feel pretty sticky until you use a hair dryer to melt the wax and let it soak into the denim. Repeat for the back side. Once your jeans have gotten the full Brazilian, hang them to cure for 24 hours; you can also rapid-cure them in the freezer. One thing to note is that regular laundry soap will strip the wax right off. You’ll want to minimize washing (throw ’em in the freezer to kill the stink) or turn them inside out and wash on the gentle cycle in cold water with Dr. Bronner’s or another gentle castile soap to protect teh finish. If you have any wax left, hang on to it if you need to do touch-ups down the road.
ADD A FLY FRONT
The zipper hadn’t been invented when Levi Strauss invented jeans, and for denim purists, a button fly is the only way to go. If you want to add a classic vintage touch to your Gingers (or if you can’t find a metal zipper), check out Peter’s button fly post on Male Pattern Boldness for a great DIY tutorial.
PLAY WITH BACK POCKET EMBROIDERY
I like my back pockets like I like my make-up routine: uncomplicated. That said, there is a whole wide world of options out there if you want to embroider something fun on your bum. A google or Pinterest search will give you a million ideas, but I also love the Jean Pocket Project. They have photos of pocket designs for dozens of cult denim brands. A great place to find inspiration! Just make sure you interface the pocket where your design will go – otherwise your stitching will stretch out and not look very pretty.
ADD AN ANKLE ZIP
For my next pair of jeans, I want to do a waxed, cropped, super skinny mid-rise using black denim with ankle zippers, for all the obvious reasons. Adding zips at the ankle is actually quite easy. Before you sew your side seams, figure out where your zipper will start at the ankle and, if you’re serging your seams, stop a few inches above the start of the zipper. You’ll still need to finish the raw edges, but you want to be able to fold your side seams flat to properly install the zip. There is a good DIY tutorial here if you need a little more help.
FUN WITH THE GUTS
One super easy way to make your jeans a true extension of yourself is to have fun with the insides. You’ll need a little bit of cotton lining for your pockets (and possibly your waistband) so why not choose something pretty? This is a great way to use up scraps, and they’ll make you smile every time you put them on (Suzy used donut print quilting cotton and I just about died). I’m also partial to contrasting serger thread. Since you’re sewing a straight seam on your sewing machine first, the thread won’t peak through. You can also choose to use some contrast bias tape around the fly shield and pockets, like Reana did on her pair of Maritime shorts.
DISTRESS YOUR DENIM
Full disclosure: I am way too emotionally attached to my me-made jeans to take a razor or cheesegrater to them, and I like the way jeans age organically. But, if you want to take some shortcuts and like your jeans to look a little more weathered, you can totally DIY it. There are zillions of online tutorials: see here, here, here and here.
Some basic rules:
- Test before you distress! Each denim will respond differently to being manipulated, so sew a sample seam and experiment before you go at your Gingers.
- Distress before you topstitch. You will destroy your topstitching if you sand them after the seam has been finished.
- For a faded, worn in look, use medium grit sandpaper (150-220) on a block and gently rub it on the locations where you want to create a little dimension (center of thighs, calves, bum). Use the edge of the block to sand your seams and pocket edges before you’ve topstitched them.
- For a “whiskering” effect, crumple the fabric and sand it. This is kind of risky so I would definitely test the effect first!
- If you want to create a really distressed, ripped up look, you’ll be working with sandpaper, an exacto knife and a cheesegrater. See any of the tutorials I linked to above for help getting the torn-up “I AM rock n’ roll” look.
Finally, why not embroider a kind message to yourself in your jeans? If your sewing machine can stitch letters, it would be pretty rad to write something only you can see on the waistband facing – like a positive affirmation but not lame. For my next pair, I’m sewing “BABY GOT BACK” on the insides.
There we have it – a lot of interesting ways you can play and have fun with this pattern. I’m super excited to see what you guys come up with. Any other possible denim modifications I left out? Let me know in the comments!
For a more indepth and easy to read jeans-making course, try our Sewing Your Own Jeans ebook: