This week is my first experience repairing jeans, creating a photo tutorial, AND blogging. Please leave comments, suggestions, questions.
Free-Arm Sewing Machine with Feed Dog Drop/Embroidery Foot
Pen/Disappearing Ink (optional)
Fabric Glue (optional)
Notes on Supplies -
Interfacing - I use lightweight interfacing because that's what I have in my apartment. If you're purchasing interfacing purposefully for this project, I recommend a heavier weight suitable for your denim (suggestions on packaging). Or, you could probably use any kind of fusible patch. I prefer the interfacing because it's so lightweight it won't be felt by the wearer.
Pressing Cloth - any light fabric (muslin, t-shirt, tissue paper) to cover the interfacing while ironing it
Tissue Paper - when you iron on the interfacing, put tissue paper inside the leg so that none of the adhesive sticks to the other side of the jeans.
Thread - Color matching and quality is key. I only use Gutermann, at the advice of so many sewers. To color match, bring the jeans with you to a sewing store. Unravel the spool and place the thread along your jeans. You may require two or three thread colors. There are only so many shades of blue available, so just do the best you can. Slightly darker is better than lighter. Also, I use polyester thread, which has a sheen. If you want to perfect the look, you might try all cotton thread instead.
Sewing Machine - Because a pant leg can be narrow, you will most likely need a free-arm sewing machine. In addition, you will need a feed dog drop function and/or a darning/embroidery foot - either is sufficient, both is ideal. With the feed dogs down, you can move your jeans left and right, not just front to back. An embroidery foot gives you more freedom to move the fabric.
Fabric Glue - I find this very helpful to secure the jean fray along its original grainline, which looks better than if the fibers were going in all different directions. Use sparingly and wait for a test patch to dry to see if the glue causes any fabric discoloration.
Pins - I use them to position and hold the jean frays where I want them.
Step 1: Interfacing
Drop the feed dogs. Set your stitch length to .2m or whatever the smallest setting is on your machine.
Load the appropriate color thread. You want the bobbin thread to be lighter blue color, but if you want to be perfect, change it with every upper thread color change; in case the thread tension is wrong, you won't be able to notice. This is not the kind of project for a seam ripper. (Note: I originally had white bobbin thread, and you can see some of the stitches due to bad thread tension. Halfway, I changed my bobbin thread and tried to go over the white spots to cover it up.)
Start slow. Take the smallest stitches possible. Go up and down the hole as straight as possible, matching the grainline. Make sure to stitch beyond the hole for stability and reinforcement. Stitching further beyond the hole might even help camouflage it better. I haven't repaired enough jeans to figure this out yet.
I turned my sewing machine at a 45-degree angle since that was most comfortable for me. You can stop frequently and adjust to find your best position.
Repeat the stitching with different thread colors as much as necessary until you achieve a satisfactorily result.
*If the tear is near a seam, like the crotch for example, you may have to undo the seam, repair the hole, and re-stitch the seam.
Step 4: Finishing
Take the jeans off the sewing machine, trim the threads, iron/press stitches on right and wrong sides of jeans.