Learn About the Cutting and Sewing Steps of Making Jeans (… and the Discussion of 3 Key Aspects)
The clothing industry will probably be one of the last to see robots replace humans. Although there is some automation in garment manufacturing, robots still can’t sew clothes from start to finish.
That’s why jeans makers still rely on good ol’ hand-eye coordination, which means people of flesh and blood. It doesn’t matter how (in)expensive a pair of jeans are; they’re all made by hand. Whether you pay $20 or $200 (or more) for a pair of jeans, someone somewhere in the world has cut and sewn them.
Often it’s the more tangible features of jeans that make us perceive them as valuable. The denim fabric, the design, the brand, or the pre-distressed look. But even for the finest fabric, the coolest design, the hippest brand or the most badass wash, it all depends on the quality of the cutting and sewing.
With the ever-growing demand for jeans, the making of them has long been converted into assembly line production, with workers dedicated to a single task to maximise productivity. Nevertheless, the quality of the cutting and sewing still depends on the skills of the sewer.
In this second episode in the series about how jeans are made, I’m looking at the construction of jeans; how they’re sewn, what techniques are used, and which machines. I would argue that this step in the process of making jeans is the least valued, the most underestimated.
The three parts in the series about how jeans are made are:
Design Informs Construction
Design is the starting point, and the point to return to to check if you’re still on the right track. You need to consider and determine all the aspects that go into making the jeans.”
A very important aspect that’s determined by the design is the construction. That is how the jeans are cut and sewn. But before we get to that, let’s look at the components you need to make a pair of jeans:
- For wide-loom denim, you need around 1.6 metres of fabric. For selvedge denim, that number is around 2.5 metres (3-3.5 metres if you also use selvedge for the fly and waistband).
- You also need several hundred metres of thread in various thicknesses and colour, depending on the design.
- You need six rivets for most contemporary designs, ten if the jeans have hidden rivets, eleven if they’ve also got one at the base of the fly.
- You need at least one button, and four or five if they’ve got a button fly—if not, you need a zipper.
- Lining material for the front pockets.
- Add to that a handful of labels, and you’re ready to go.
That’s the list of ingredients sorted. Now let’s dive deeper into some of the key cutting and sewing steps you need to turn it all into a pair of jeans.
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