Japanese denim jeans

Hello everyone,

This will be my last post in 2014 - I would like to blog so much more than I do, but I'm always busy with work, and taking good indoor pictures is not easy for me (don't have empty walls or good lighting at home).

Today I'm blogging about my first experiment with japanese denim. Actually, I made those jeans 2 years ago, but it's only now that they are 'ripe' to blog about, meaning they have aged a bit and they're starting to show signs of wear. 

Japanese denim is possibly the best denim one can buy, and there is a whole culture around 'raw denim' - a denim that has not been washed or treated chemically. If you want to know all about it, I suggest this excellent post: Raw denim.

Now I'm not a purist: I've washed my jeans when they needed to, and I don't wear this pair very often (some people wear theirs everyday for months without a wash). In fact they're in low rotation in my jeans wardrobe; I like them but they're not stretch and I would like a little more give when I sit (maybe if I was 5 pounds lighter?).

Since my interest in japanese raw denim, I've noticed it's a quite hard to find fabric, even on line (if you know a good source please don't hesitate to leave a comment), so I was delighted when I saw the japanese denim offering (4 different colors) they had on Tessuti's website 2 years ago. I bought the dark blue and also the black, enough to make 1 pair of jeans with each. It was unclear wether it was stretch or not, as the description said it had elastane in it, but the tag mentioned cotton/polyurethane. When the denim arrived I could feel there was no elastane in it, it had just a wee bit of mechanical give widthwise.

I decided to use a pattern I drafted from a beloved pair of Guess jeans I've already made (two times). But as I said this denim has no stretch, so even if they technically fit they're a bit stiff when I sit. They have started to show slight signs of wear (pocket edges, front fly, knees, hem) and it would be more apparent if I'd wear them more, but I have a hard time not being comfortable in my clothes, so I only wear them from time to time. Despite the fact that I've searched the web high and low for techniques to make jeans look 'vintage', I've never seen anybody achieve the worn out look with techniques you can do at home. This look is achieved in industry with chemicals and abrasives and it cannot be replicated at home. So this is why I've decided to concentrate on dark denim jeans; I'd rather have a pair of sharp looking dark jeans than have a bad looking pair that fails to achieve a true worn out look.

This is my first try with japanese denim; it's a quality fabric and the color is deeply saturated. I made my jeans very classic, straight leg, low waist, 5 pockets, topstitched in contrasting yellow (Gütermann jeans topstitching thread in gold yellow), and I added real copper rivets bought from an Ebay seller. The denim was not especially harder to cut and sew, the only trouble I had was when I topstitched the belt carriers with heavy thread and a narrow zig zag - my Juki F600 had to give all it had to pierce all those layers - but it did it!

Anyhow, I consider those jeans more like an experiment with a new kind of denim, and I've saved the black (the one I prefer) for another pattern, now that I know how it behaves. Hopefully they'll be more comfortable than the blue ones.

Here are a couple of back shots, as well as a crappy pixelated shot that shows the front detailing:

One last shot for the road - this one is taken in my backyard, styled with my John Fluevog blue pointy shoes:

Happy New Year everyone, wishing you lots of sewing in 2015 and all the best!!


  1. You may not post often, but I always enjoy reading your posts. Great jeans and happy sewing / bloggging for 2015

    1. Thank you so much Katherine, that means a lot to me!

  2. I agree with Katherine - quality over quantity any day! Best jeans on the blogosphere in 2014

  3. Thank you Gail, it's very encouraging!

  4. Your jeans look so professional - like ready to wear. I agree with you. I like to have some give in my pants especially for when I sit. If I don't feel comfortable in my clothes, I won't wear them. Anyway, you look fabulous (like always)!

  5. Thank you so much for your kind comments - anyhow like I said those were more of an experiment with a new type of denim so I'm not too disappointed, but I hope my next japanese denim jeans will get more wear!

  6. Chapeau pour ce jean, je le trouve très réussi !
    Bonne année 2015 à toi !

  7. Merci beaucoup! Et Bonne Année à toi aussi!


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