A deep dive into what is chain stitch hemmingRead More →
In this brief social media video, we show how to hem jeans professionally, just like it’s actually done at denim factories. In our video, there is no need for work-around-sewing-techniques, which leave bulky seamlines over the hem or ragged fabric on the reverse side, which prevents cuffing or rolling the hem. We love denim at Williamsburg Garment Company and hemming jeans the right way is important to us.
Even the heaviest denim is no problem for our beast of a sewing machine, a customized Union Special 56300 that bores through multiple layers of folds and seams. Here, denim designer Maurice Malone demonstrates chain stitch hemming a pair of jeans in our Instagram and TikTok video. Make sure to stay tuned and follow us for more.
“Can you tailor denim jackets?” is a frequently asked question at Williamsburg Garment Company. Our answer, as with all denim products, is, of course, yes, but jackets and shirts are more complicated. They have armholes and shoulder widths that correspond to the width of the body. When you narrow the body width evenly, the armhole shrinks and the armpit curve is negatively affected. At the same time, the shoulder width remains constant, resulting in wide shoulders compared to the body width. The only way to avoid this is to remove the sleeves and, if possible, draft new armholes and sleeve shapes. Otherwise, you can leave the armhole alone and narrow the body unevenly from the chest/armholes down.
Nothing about modifying denim jackets is simple or easy. The body width is linked to the armhole and shoulders, whereas the sleeve length is linked to the button placket length and/or the armhole.
Can you tailor denim jackets on a home sewing machine?
When it comes to DIY denim jacket alterations, the short answer is that you can do it, but it is not recommended. If you’ve done any research on the subject, you’ve probably discovered that all of the videos and advice you’ve seen have had poor results on cheaply made garments.
Flat-felled seams on the sides, shoulders, and sleeves distinguish traditional jean jackets. This design eliminates the option of doing high-quality alterations on home sewing machines, at your local dry cleaners, or at the best, most reputable tailoring shops. Most denim alterations specialists lack the factory equipment (a Feed-off-the-Arm 3-Needle or Double Chainstitch Industrial Sewing Machine) to duplicate the double-needle flat-felled seam with chain stitching and must come up with an improvised method to sew them.
Most denim jackets and jeans are produced with fabric that is too thick for home machines. To tailor denim on a home sewing machine, you would need to avoid thick seams or deal with really thin, lightweight denim fabrics.
Thread size is also an issue with DIY and most tailoring shops. Denim is typically sewn with thicker thread sizes than most other garments, which contributes to its distinctively sturdy appearance. Home machines are not designed to handle the needle sizes required for thick threads. They also lack the ability to puncture through layers of denim using wide-diameter needles with large eye holes. Thin thread sizes and short stitch lengths are two of the reasons why denim does not look like denim when it is not sewn with the proper threads.
How altering a jean jacket professionally is done
The owner of this heavyweight Oni Denim jacket adored it, however, he had a small frame and required the chest and arms reduced. Here are the steps we used to customize his denim jacket:
1. Chain-stitched flat-felled seams close the sides and sleeves of traditional jean jackets. Because the band at the bottom is chain stitched to the jacket, our first step was to remove the chain stitching connecting the waistband to the body, just enough to remove excess fabric and resew the seams closed.
2. Following that, we split the waistband and removed the chain stitching that held the flat-felled seams together from the waistband to about 6 inches from the cuff seam. After narrowing the excess fabric around the bicep, just past the elbow, we could neatly flow into the sleeve.
3. We press flat the flat-felled seam folds in order to draw the new shape from the waistband up to the armpit and then fade out the shape before reaching the cuff.
4. The seams were then closed (as indicated in the image below) by stitching fresh double-needle chain-stitched flat-felled seams using the same thread size and color as the original. If you look closely at the yellow chain stitching, you can see where the new sewing blends in with the old.
6. After cutting away the extra fabric of the bottom band, we rejoined and resewed it to the body with single-needle chain stitching.
7. Finally, the band tabs along the side seams were reattached. Again, if you look very closely, a seamline where the waistband was split and resewn can be seen near the two yellow stitch lines that attach the tabs. Take note of the new chain stitching that joins the old one below the pocket bag.
Williamsburg Garment Company’s objective is to make alterations to improve fit while retaining the original style and construction. This entails matching thread colors and sizes and stitching seams back the same as the original factory sewing.
What is a “bar tack” (also spelled “bartack”)? This is a question we get almost every day because our denim service is one of the very few that offers bar tacking. The close-up image above shows two red bar tacks sewn onto the hem of a pair of Gustin blue jeans. When you choose to add bar tacking in the dropdown box of our chain stitch hemming service, this is the type of stitching that will be added.
First, an explanation for the majority of our customers who are interested in having their jeans hemmed. The close-up image above shows two red bar tacks sewn onto the hem of a pair of Gustin blue jeans. When you choose to add bar tacking in the dropdown box of our chain stitch hemming service, this is the type of stitching that will be added.
Brands like Gustin, Nudie, and Brave Star jeans have bar tacks sewn over the chain stitching on the hems, both as a branding identifier and to reinforce the sewing. Although they add a bit of extra security by preventing the chain stitch from unraveling, they are not found on the vast majority of jeans. We usually inform our customers that it is not necessary to add them.
A bar tack is a machine-made stitch with a zigzag pattern used to reinforce areas on clothing that experience high stress, such as where belt loops join, pocket corners and flaps, hip seams, and the fly of jeans.
bar tack | bär tak | noun a zigzag stitch made by industrial sewing machines to strengthen areas of a garment with potential weak spots or other sewn items.
bar tacking noun
Often with denim and fading terminology, things are called what they look like. As is the fading effect known as “train tracks.” To achieve this type of fading, the jeans must have either a selvedge inside construction or two overlocked seams (busted seams) pressed open at the outseams.
During wear, friction can cause fading along the high points of the pressed open seams or selvedge. See the image below for an example of the train track fading at the outseam.
There are two meanings when it comes to “tapered” as related to jeans, pants, and other garments designed to wear over the legs.
- Related to alterations or tailoring: The term “tapered jeans” and “tapered pants” refer to garment bottoms worn over the legs that have been altered to narrow the shape of the legs.
- Related to the design or style of a garment: It’s a jean or pant with a leg that narrows dramatically from the knee to the leg opening. Tapered clothing should not be confused with slim-fit or other jeans and pants with legs that gradually decrease in size from the knee to the leg opening.
Example of use (related to alterations): I had my jeans tapered because the legs were too baggy.
Example of use (related to design or style): I bought tapered jeans because I wanted the leg opening to be small enough that the hem wouldn’t cover my shoes.
Do you want to know what sets us apart from the competition when it comes to denim alterations? In our latest TikTok video, you can see how we professionally taper the legs of a pair of jeans while also taking in the waist to make them fit just right.
@williamsburggar Denim heaven. The art of taking in the waist with tapering alterations on jeans. We perfect your fit. #denimyourway #denimhead #denimtailor #taperingjeans #jeanswaist #jeanswaistgap #selvedgedenim ♬ MAMBO OVER THE MOUNTAIN – Rick Hirsch
Make sure to follow us on TikTok to see more informative and entertaining videos. @williamsburggar