Denim tips by Norma
Cut your jeans up the side of the legs up and through the waistband. you can use a razor blade to open up the inside of the legs to get the maximum amount of usable denim for your projects.remember any projects you do can be done out of denim if there is enough of the denim usable. if knees are blown cut around it. if you frequently have to cut off 2 to 4" off to hem your jeans you can use the bottoms for matching earrings and co-ordinated!
get your own hammer yes hammer. if the flat felled seams are too thick for your machine give it a couple of goo whacks with the hammer. not too hard because you can cut the fabric. this flattens the thick seam enough you can sew right through and not break your needles.
still on the topic of recycled material I buy old used leather coats to use as well.

remember those ugly 70's styles? quick cut it up! I check out the inside and turn the leather around and use the suede side. sometimes there are bad spots but by and large you will have enough to use as embellishment material. make appliques and fringe with it also if it is thin enough I make earrings and bows too. use pinking shears to cut for interest. you can also use the hammer to flatten the leather but cover it first because you don't want to leave the hammer dents in it. a razor blade works well for taking leather apart too and it's much faster than using a stitch ripper.
use your serger to gather for a uniform finish. just tighten the two needle tensions, leave the looper tensions at normal, and start serging. if you don't have a serger just use your longest stitch on the sewing machine..
Denim instructions by Norma Lacey

using self covering buttons cut the denim as the size indicated on package back. I wet denim because it's more controllable and easier to smooth finished product. remove shank from button with pliers you just have to pinch and it falls right out.take the white rubber holder and put the wet denim in right side down. place button over the material and push inside. I now take my sewing machine screw driver and pry the fabric over the teeth. try to get even all the way around and make as tight as possible. put the button back over the whole assembly and use the metal pusher cup to push it all into the rubber cup. I use the hammer to push really hard and be sure I have it as tight as possible. remove the whole thing from rubber cup and repeat for other one. when denim is dry use E6000 glue to attach the earring post or clip on to the button. I found this the best glue for these projects.done!

Any bib pattern will work here. I cut two pieces out slightly larger than the pattern to self line. I just like it better. take one piece and embellish with labels, paint, applique`s of your choice. take the second pc. and sew together wrong sides together about 3/4 " from edge of bib. this allows you to use a stiff pin and pick at threads to fray all the way around the bib. take some double fold bias tape to make tie and stitch it in the neckline. done!

Bow Barrette
take a rectangle of denim and fray all four sides evenly.accordion fold the center of denim and tie with thick thread. glue on a concho to cover the thread. turn over and glue on the barrette clip. done!

again any pattern will work.I used Butterick 3055 but McCalls has a good one too. choose a nice contrasting or matching fabric.this can be recycled too. I've used neat curtain fabric. then follow the pattern directions. if you have the main part out of denim then cut the top and brim out of the fabric or vise versa .it works out really well.

you don't need a pattern here and one pr jeans will make two aprons. cut the jeans across about 3" below zipper and about the same across the back. cut up the side seams through the waistband, take your contrasting fabric and serge or zigzag all four sides. turn one long side under and topstitch this will be your hemmed edge. gather the other side to fit the denim from waistband around to waistband. and sew on with right sides together. now take the same fabric and make the waistband tie finished on all four sides as the ruffle. thread through the belt loops and stitch at the side seams and the ruffled part too. I also stitch a couple of times through the waistb and contrast tie to keep it from bunching up. repeat for the back side of the jeans. done!

Fanny pack
I use McCall's Crafts 5279 for these but there are several patterns to choose from. cut out of denim and you can keep it simple or for interest sew on several clothing tags before assembling it. to keep costs down use a one piece clip that you thread through the clasp and flip to close but you may also use parachute clips. be sure to use a candle on the webbing to melt your cut edge. no one told me this and I had to replace about six bags that I sold. this didn't impress me but I did investigate everything I bought after that. I like to add a D ring to these bags to give me somewhere to clip my keys to so I never lock 'em in the car again! done!

Saddle bags
I make these from the same pattern as above. I named them saddlebags myself just because I had signs made up for all my project on my table and didn't have one for these. these are just a more elaborate fanny pack but with 2 bags one bigger than the other that hang from a nylon webbing belt and the same clip as the ones above. I use the recycled leather to cut out stars or cowboy boots applique`s to fancy them up and I usually sew on some fringe around the outside edge of the front flap. i finish these denim edges by fraying it like the bibs before adding the fringe. sometime I use a concho to embellish these but you could paint or use stones etc.. I finish off with a D ring here too. done!

Bum Bags
another of my fancy names. I line mine and put in a zipper. these are a little more involved but it does go well. start by cutting your jeans off about 4" below the zipper on front and equal distance on the back. use one of the legs to make straps and I like to add handles too. open the waistband and start cutting around the inside of the waistband as close the stitching as possible. this is where the zipper will go. now you will have a break where the button is and on the other side where the button hole is. cut as close to them as you can and if it reaches sew them together. most of the time you will have to add a small square to cover this hole. I hand sew it on because it's not always easy to get it under the needle. this gives you a complete circle found the inside waistband. put in zipper on the two sides leaving the two ends at the sides of the jeans where the thick flat felled seams. these hole will be filled in now putting on the shoulder strap. now sew in the lining with the right side onto the zipper tape. leave the sides of the lining open here and pull up the bottom of the bag through the lining and sew the bottom edge of the denim right sides together. now push through and sew up the sides of the lining and you are done!

if the jeans are in good shape above the butt and crotch make it into a skirt. this is as simple as taking your contrasting fabric and sewing it into a tube. make sure the width of your fabric is the length you want your finished hem at. I like longer skirts so I make mine ankle length. finish the two long sides of contrast edges with serger or zig zag to finish. turn up one side and hem. now join the two short sides with right sides together. this forms the back seam of the skirt. gather the unhemmed edge. put aside for now. going back to the jeans now that are cut off at approx. the length of the pockets. do not cut pockets off. there will be a funny flare at the front where the felled seam is at the crotch. if you leave this in it will look and feel funny. cut up the one side of the felled seam only about an inch or inch and half.

take this piece and tuck under the felled seam and top stitch over the stitching lines. repeat on the bag but it will not be as much. now the jean part is straighter and looks in perspective with the side seams instead of a little flare. take the contrast piece and line the stitched seam up with the back of the jeans and sew together with right sides together keeping the gathering as uniform as you can. remember to use the hammer to flatten the seams. once the skirt is finished if you have some more of your contrasting fabric left over you can take about a 4" width and finish all four sides to make a belt. thread through the belt loops and tie in front. done!

I like to buy old used jean jackets and embellish them. if there is a stain or tear it won't matter because you can just cover it with a nice tapestry or velvet. I usually cover the yolks shoulders collar cuffs and elbows with my fabric. just zig zag the fabric pieces on because you will cover the stitching line with a nice upholstery trip such as gimp. you can uses much or little of the fabric as you want. it's pretty effective and I like this because it's different than the jackets made out of jeans. a little less work too.

Now your are completely co-ordinated and weigh about twenty pounds heavier but boy does it look great and wasn't it cheap? that's my buzz word. My husband is afraid if I ever won a lottery I would come home with fifty bags of denim instead of the two I do now. he's probably right! Have fun and if these are not clear enough directions e mail me and I'll try and clarify. but now you probably have a head ache from reading this novel. get some sleep and start in the morning Norma

© by Norma Lacey, September 16, 1999

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