Updated: Jan 2
It's officially jeans-making season and you'll be surprised at how blue jeans came to be our most beloved garment.
Denim begins the story...much more than about the garment itself.
DENIM: The most quintessential American fabric worn by everyone. This is an eye-opening illustration of how denim came to be and how blue jeans became the garment that changed history consistently over decades.
A HISTORY OF DENIM
Before the 17th century........
used this course cloth for workers and eventually called them dungarees
trousers were made from a fabric called sandcloth
they called it "Serge De Nimes"
which is where we got the word "denim"
These cloths were most times dyed blue to hide dirt.
Africans have a long history and skill of how to extract the blue from the indigo plant and how to fix the blue to fibers/cloth and brought this skill with them as captives in the new worlds. This mysterious dyeing process was so exclusive, Indigo earned a status similar with that or tea, coffee, silk, gold and became presented as value tied to new economic possibilities along with manufacturing of tobacco, rice, cotton.
Denim dominated the rise in durable cotton goods and cotton manufacturing increases because of denim - sometimes called "negro cloth". When cotton was dyed with indigo, processes were used to dye various colors of cotton and when made into garments, the laborers would wear different colors indicating where their jobs were and their roles.
Levi Strauss DID NOT invent blue jean as we know them today. Mr. Strauss was a dry-goods seller with the funds and contacts to bring this garment to market...he made millions! A tailor named Jacob Davis approached him with an idea for work pants reinforced with rivets to reinforce the areas of stress. Seamstresses were complaining to retailers that their husbands were wearing through their work trousers too easily.
Today half the world's population are wearing denim, specifically jeans. The denim narrative is lead by numerous groups and events in our history:
Western Cowboys - up to 1/4 of the cowboy workforce were Indigenous and Black people and they wore jeans long before the movie industry highlighted the Lone Ranger and others riding horses in jeans.
World War II - many men had never wore jeans (dungarees) before fighting overseas...local communities noticed and followed suit. Rosie the Riveter was not the woman we thought she was. The American EveryWoman pitched in and did her part and found empowerment in wearing jeans going to work during the war.
Motorcycling - sometimes giving denim a bad name, but so what...
Hollywood had the best opportunity to immortalize denim garments (jeans) because they had audiences falling in love with James Dean, Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin and a new club was born: Club Leather jacket and Blue Jeans.
Hip Hop - artists grabbed denim and owned it on every stage
Today the sewing community makes custom jeans for the fashion streets.
What we know now...
Made from wool and raw silk, denim cloth was originally developed into twill cloth, made with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs, for which they used two different threads: warp yarn was dyed with indigo and the weft yarn was left white.
As "fast fashion" fills the internet streets and landfills a year later, home sewists have the unique opportunity to create quality garments, including jeans that will last for years.
The idea of upcycling was born as far back as the 1800s when the fabrics of haute couture gowns were reused to make them last for decades. Today denim, specifically jeans thrifted from second-hand stores are used as the DIY economy booms fueled by Instagram and TikTok.
JEANUARY 2023 is the official jeans making season so you'll have a denim wardrobe all year long. We will feature all things denim, especially jeans. If you have never sewn a pair of jeans, my hope is after reading this story you will have a special feeling while making your first pair. Yes, pants are a challenge for some so maybe jeans is even more intimidating. After making my own and teaching jeans-making for several years I can share with you that jeans are simply putting pockets together and the fit is easier than you think.
January 1-February, or until you stop!
Instagram, FaceBook, Clubhouse, TikTok),
Learn Specific techniques to get your jeans made
PERSONAL FIT SESSIONS
Learn initial techniques for fitting and determine which sewing pattern is best for you
Cashmerette Patterns : Ames use code JEANUARY to get 15% off the Cashmerette Ames Jeans pattern (printed or PDF) between January 1 and January 31, 2023
NOTE: if you can get your hands on the Kwik-Sew Men's Jeans Pattern, its an oldie/goodie!
LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN...
Start talking about Jeanuary 2023 and how you will add jeans-making to your sewing plans this year!
Order a Jeans Making Kit from SewingMyStyle.com and get your hands on 3yds of stretch denim, needles, zipper, thread, buttons and 1yd of cotton for pocket lining.
Take a look at the various patterns listed and determine which one is for you - Optional Personal Fit Sessions are being offered when purchasing a Kit to help with this decision.
If you've made jeans before, join the celebration by posting your jeans photos using the hashtags: #jeanuary2023 #jeanuary #denim #historyofdenim #sewingmystyle #historyofjeans #imademyownjeans #gingerjeans #amesjeans and feel free to tag our partners.
and finally...take a fun workshop in community with others
THE JEANUARY WORKSHOP $55
The workshop sessions are Jan 24, 26, 28
Tuesday Jan 24 7pm-8pm (est) - review of pattern pieces, review body measurements, adjusting the crotch lines and cutting muslin shorts
Thursday Jan 26 7pm-8pm (est) - review construction of the pockets and zipper
Saturday Jan 28 11am-1pm (est) - final review, Q&A, show/tell
Workshop includes: Jeans Making Kit
3yds stretch or stable denim, blue thread, top-stitch thread, 2 jeans needles size 16, 2 buttons, one 9" metal zipper, 1yd cotton fabric for lining.
all delivered in a custom
denim draw-string bag.
Prerecorded Video Tutorials Private link to view step-by-step tutorial on each step of sewing your jeans
Private Fit Session $95
Review your measurements in private and learn pant adjustments, then determine which jeans sewing pattern is right for you
This private session is 1-hr and includes the Jeans Making Kit and Workshop/Videos
We plan for Jeanuary 2023 to be the biggest celebration of a garment fabric and hope you find it fun and worthwhile. To learn more grab a glass of wine and watch Riveted: The History of Jeans - Discover the fascinating detailed stories of this iconic American garment. PBS.org and American Experience get all the credit for the timeline within this blog post and the original idea of our Jeanuary 2023 campaign.
Thanks for the love, Nikki