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Any tips for sewing with thicker fabrics and denim? Do I need to change my needle size, use stronger thread, different stitches, etc?
Great list to follow. I would only add:
ZIG-ZAG over the raw cut edges. This means when you sew that straight seamline, turn right around, change your machine setting to the WIDEST ZIG and the LONGEST STITCH and sew back down the cut edge, overcasting the raw fabric in place. This way you won't have those stringy things hanging down from your seamlines when you wash it later. Some people will use an overlock machine for this step, but often denim is too thick for many home overlock machines. This is also a good way to finish the edge along a hem before you turn it up, saving you from sewing through that extra layer you would have if you turned over the edge first.
Denim is now being used in just about anything you can imagine. It can be used to make bags and wallets. Lighter weight denims can be used for shirts and dresses, and heavy weight for jackets, pants and skirts.
Here are some tips for sewing denim:
1. Use sharp cutting tools. Denim frays and can be very hard to cut through.
2. Use a denim needle, which is a strong thick needle with a very sharp point. It’s made to handle the challenge of sewing denim
3. Use the right machine accessories. Choose the foot and settings on your machine that are best suited to getting through thick fabrics. I have even used a walking foot.
4. Reduce bulk. Miter corners and press frequently to minimize bulk and keep seams smooth. Press on high heat with a steam iron.
5. Sew slowly. Rushing through your project is rarely a good idea and sewing denim is no exception. Firmly hold your fabric on either side of the presser foot without pushing or pulling.
6. Pre-wash!!!! Denim can shrink greatly. You don't want your stitches popping or your garment to fit a doll after spending time on making it.
7. Use a 3.0mm to 3.5mm stitch length on heavier denim and light weight denim a 2.5mm to 3.0mm is a good guide. Always test on a scrap piece of same denim for perfect results.
8. Thread can be a good quality cotton or polyester and for heavy weight denim use a denim weight thread for stress seams, and for top stitching and hems.
I think that covers it, but if I've missed something please ask.