As I started discussing in my last post, I’m all about the little details. I’m also learning how to sew and alter clothing, so it made sense to help cut my teeth on a modification detail that’s been bugging me for a while: The cuffs on Matt Smith’s S6/S7 jeans!
These are proper cuffs, not rolled hems. And it’s not a detail that the proper G-Star Raws in Blade Slim come with, either, meaning that it’s up to the owner of a genuine pair whether or not they want to alter their rare, long-discontinued $250 designer jeans. For a long time I’ve been putting it off, but I recently decided to undertake the project, confident that I could pull it off without ruining my pants. I also received this beauty for Christmas:
So I could do the mods at home and not burden or worry somebody else by using their machine!
I happen to own three pairs of G-Stars at this point, top left being the SA S6 G-Stars, top left being the dark navy pair I talked about last week, and the middle bottom being the S7b G-Stars. I only went to cuff the two accurate ones as the navy ones are actually slightly too short anyways (they’re mislabeled 33×32 when they’re actually 33×31). Under my OttLite, you can see the slight color variations between the denim styles.
The first thing to do was to turn the pant legs inside out and pin the cuff into place, so I took care of that. I then noticed that seam allowance on the inside was pretty sloppy – that would need to be ironed out in order to reduce bulk for later. It had actually spent so long folded over itself like that that separating the two allowances was a bit of trouble, and quite a bit of lint had collected inside (ew), so it took a little longer than I had anticipated to get it cleaned and pressed flat. It required me to unpin it so that I could iron it all the way up to the hem. So finally, I’d sorted out all of my seam trouble and had it repinned properly.
The actual cuffs are around 1″ wide, sometimes a little wider, so I pinned these with a bit of lee-way at around 1.5″ – the actual cuff length ends at the hem stitching because that’s where it’ll be sewn down.
Which was, of course, the next step!
The stitching needs to run along the already existing stitch line because the hem of the pants needs to fold under the cuff and out of sight on the inside of the jeans (it’s also a bit bulky to sew through the hem, and even more difficult to get it to press). Luckily, the leg opening is the perfect size to fit around the end of my machine if I pulled off the storage compartment in the front, so on I slid the first leg!
A little bit of back-stitching and off I went, sewing the hem to the pant-leg along the already existing stitch line in black thread. Piece of cake! You can barely even see where the new stitching was!
Once the leg is right-side out again, it looks done, but it’s not quite there yet. The last detail is to secure the cuff so that it doesn’t flip open while you’re wearing them. The best way to do this is, again, to simply stitch over the seam that already exists, to hide the the fact that there’s new stitching running up the cuff. I was careful to ensure that I lined my seams up (details and all that) and sewed it down.
This is actually trickier than it sounds because you’re sewing through what feels like a jillion layers of denim (yes, a jillion is a technical term). Not only do you have the three layers of fabric you’ve sewn on top of each other, you have the extra three folded layers at the opening from the hem that’s underneath plus, if you’re off-center a little, the extra seam allowance layer. It’s also a pain because it’s such a short area that sometimes the feed dogs don’t want to catch and move the fabric. So, with lots of jamming the fabric under the foot and pushing to get it to catch on the feed dogs, I finally had both sides of my cuff sewn to the pant leg, effectively securing it in place. I repeated all these steps for the second leg (which was already waiting for me, ironed and pinned).
The finished cuff measures about 1.25″ so I’m pleased. It really didn’t take very long either, maybe a half hour to an hour tops.
That is, until I got to the last cuff-securing seam.
Though very bulky, I hadn’t been having much issue getting the fold to sew. There was a little complaining from my machine but not much actual trouble. Naturally, that all waited until my last stitch to finally be a pain.
No matter how much I tried, I could neither get it to sew straight or keep it from bunching on bottom. I gave it maybe three or four goes before attempting to maybe change the tension. I figured it was probably a tension issue since the spot is so much bulkier than the rest of it but I hadn’t had any issues on the rest of the project, so I didn’t think much of it. After some unsuccessful attempts at fixing the tension, my machine clearly showed me what my problem was.
I had spent the entire project sewing on a needle that was not meant for denim at all, let alone such a bulky seam, and the needle finally gave up on me. I consulted my manual and changed needles to the PROPER strength needle and finished the cuff without much issue. I even had enough time left in the day to do some quick hand-stitching to help secure the old hem to the underside of the pants.
Immediately thereafter I went out to invest in a thimble – nevermore will I hand sew into denim without one! I even took some time to secure the buttonhole on my navy blue pair – I was on a roll with this DIY stuff!
I’m extremely happy with the results of my adventure and learned a lot about my machine and the importance of needle size! After some pressing, my G-Stars are now fully screen accurate and ready to go for Gallifrey One!
And don’t think for a second that this will be the extent of my adventures in sewing – on the contrary, I’m just whetting my appetite for creation! There’s plenty more to follow, some of which I’m already working on. Being able to say “I did it myself!” is so satisfying, there’s no way I could stop at just collar tabs and trouser cuffs. In fact…
…there may or may not be a few “cool” items showing up on my Etsy very soon! Keep checking in for updates!