Jeans, Part 5: Fly and Zipper

This past weekend I installed the zipper and completed the fly portion of my jeans.

At the rate I’m going, I will be lucky to complete this “muslin” by the end of the month for the PatternReview jeans contest. I certainly won’t have the sangria pair done by then. Currently, my professional life has entered a state of upheaval, so it’s put a damper on the amount of time I can devote to this project. Nevertheless, the contest did get me started on this project, and I will finish it. I’m looking forward to the result.

The notes I provided below aren’t strictly in the order I followed them, so apologies for any confusion.  The MPB sewalong makes the ordering pretty clear.

Initial zipper attachment

With my Crayola washable marker, I drew a line up the center front. The pattern instructions have you run a basting stitch up that center line, from below the zipper (at the dot) up to the waist.


Peter, in the jeans sewalong at the MPB blog, didn’t do this basting stitch. I did. I just set the stitch length to maximum and did a straight stitch along the center line, then pressed the fly and crotch seam open.


I pinned one side of the zipper, then taped down the other side with Wash-away Wonder Tape to baste the zipper in place and guarantee it wouldn’t shift around in funny ways while stitching.


This was my first time ever using the machine’s included zipper foot – woot! But it’s not first my time ever setting a zipper. I did that for my fun little earphone case.


After turning the inside zipper, I pressed it, using a presscloth to protect the iron plate from getting scratched by the zipper teeth. This set the crease on the right-hand side before I stitched the zipper tape to the left fly.

Why I hate stretch denim, #3

After sitting unattended for a few days, my stretch denim is curling, making fabric harder to work with. The fabric curls in on itself, and in one case the curled fabric got caught in a seam without me knowing it.


The Fly shield

For the sew-on fly shield piece, Peter at the MPB sewalong offers some sheer brilliance with his inside-out/turn/serge technique.


Fly shield pinned to right-hand zipper tape, ready to be stitched in place. Curved bottom where shield meets crotch seam was a problem.

I encountered some difficulty where the fly shield meets up with the crotch seam. The machine couldn’t quite get all the way to the crotch seam due to bulk getting in the way, so I did a bit of hand sewing to finish the last bit of the fly shield seam.


I also used the Wash-away Wonder Tape to hold down down the curved end of the fly shield before stitching it to the fly piece.



While topstitching the left front fly edge, the right fly inadvertently folded itself underneath and got caught into the topstitching on first attempt. Fortunately, I discovered that quickly. I then fixed everything down with blue painter’s tape to keep this from happening, also to ensure no puckers form when topstitching the left side.


I decided to use edgestitching foot to help topstitch along the left edge of the fly opening, guiding the foot along the center seam.  This was bad idea. The guide blade on the edgestitch foot kept getting caught in the “ditch” of the seam and impairing the feed of fabric. I moved the needle a little closer to edge to avoid the ditch.

For the double-line of topstitching outlining the zipper. I traced some chalk lines on outside to guide the double-topstitching around the fly. I also marked the zipper stop with a bit of chalk to avoid hitting it with the sewing machine needle.  The result turned out well, but not perfect (sorry I missed taking a photo of the finished topstitching).

IMG_1313_20130624203046543 IMG_1315_20130624203123303

I initially forgot to reset the stitch length when doing the fly topstitching. Again, I recovered from the boo-boo before I got too far into the topstitching.

The Crotch seam

For the crotch seam, I followed along with the sew-along when I should have read ahead. I should have finished the fabric edges on the crotch seam earlier in the constructed, right after clip is cut from the seam allowance right up to the stitching line.

I used the overcasting stitch and overcasting foot on my conventional sewing machine, rather than the serger.  It’s just easier to do that acute inside curve on the sewing machine.  I selected the overcast stitch the machine’s manual recommends for heavy fabrics.

I still need to double-topstitch the crotch seam and do the bartacks around the fly area, but the hard part is done.


7 thoughts on “Jeans, Part 5: Fly and Zipper

  1. Josie Huber

    Great job with the zipper. I can relate to the problems. Nothing venture…
    You inspire me to make a pair of jeans that I can really wear in public. Right now, I have no time to sew… Except for a few under there underwear.
    I think I will wait until you finish you jeans, post a picture before making another pair of jeans.
    One more thing, I am a short brazilian with curves aka ass. I need a good fit jeans pattern, low on the hip, and not too short. Any ideas?
    Thanks for sharing. I am confident you do well with this project. The pictures really demonstrate your hard work and skill.

  2. mportuesisf Post author


    Thanks for the positive feedback. I’ll definitely post pictures when it’s done. I’ve made no attempt at all to fit the pattern to my body; I’m not sure how it will come out. But I will learn.

    Have you seen the women’s jeans pattern posted by Kathleen Fasanella on the fashion-incubator blog?

    It’s a relatively high-waisted jeans pattern, and you said you wanted a lower waist, but maybe it can be modified. You have to email Kathleen to get the pattern, since it’s in a testing phase.

  3. Susan Partlan

    Very nice zipper work. You are brave to attempt jeans. How did you figure out the fit?

    I may try jeans someday but there are so many other things I want to sew first. Plus, the most accomplished sewist in my household is my husband so I may just wait for him to get to the trousers/jeans phase of his sewing odyssey and sew a pair for me then.

    Somehow I am not surprised that stretch denim is a pain to work with. Did you want stretch fabric for fit reasons?

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      I made no attempt at all to figure out fit. I’m just doing the size “Medium” from the Kwik Sew pattern with no alternations, not even the simple ones for length or waist height. We’ll see how well it fits when it’s done – it could be a total disaster. Since this blog post was published, I’ve got the fronts and backs together and I’m about to start work on the waistband.

      The stretch denim was a total accident. I bought it on sale at Fabric Outlet and didn’t figure out it was stretch denim till I got home. I’ve never worn jeans made with stretch denim and I’m really curious how it will all turn out.

  4. Matt C.

    I finally got my zipper done last night (only the second zipper I’ve ever sewn). I think you might have done yours a bit more precisely than mine. I just used the standard foot and zipper foot. But from the outside it looks fine.

    Also I decided to just skip the zipper bartacking because I have a lot of trouble with the thick denim and tight stitching.

    I think the zipper on this pattern is the most difficult part. After that it is a lot easier going IMO.

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      I think pressing edges during the zipper insertion helped me get things done more precise than otherwise. Also, using the double-sided Wash-away wonder tape helped keep the zipper firmly tacked while sewing it down.

      My machine was able to do its auto-bartack function through all the layers, even with topstitching thread. But I did mess up one of them a bit (blog post coming soon).

      I agree the zipper is the most difficult part, though I’m approaching the belt loops with a sense of trepidation!


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