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How-to

The Mesh Butterfly Challenge: Sheer Jeans

Threads magazine - 162 - Aug./Sept. 2012
Black pocket lining and seam finishes, shown on a white background, make the interior details invisible when the jeans are worn over black leggings.

When I saw the fabric for this challenge, my first thought was to make jeans, an unexpected use of such a fabric.

The fabric has the same amount of stretch on the cross-grain as stretch denim (a little more on the lengthwise grain), so I expected them to wear somewhat like stretch denim. I made a sample to see if the fabric would work well, but I didn’t like the seam allowances that showed through. I wanted the seam allowances to disappear, and that became my personal challenge.

I planned to wear black leggings underneath (like long johns). I interfaced the pockets and back yoke with black twill. I then underlined just the seam allowances to match the leggings.

sheer jeans with black leggings underneath
The color of the sheer mesh jeans is determined by what is worn underneath. In this case, the underlayer was dark leggings.

I cut 2-inch-wide bias strips of black organza (silk or synthetic). If you are wearing a sheer garment over bare flesh, use a bias strip that matches your skin tone.

When pinning the seam together, pin the bias strip on the seam side that will lie against the pants after the allowance is pressed. In the jeans, inseam and outseam are pressed toward the trouser back, so the bias strips are positioned on the back when sewing the seams.

Stitch the seam with a super-stretch stitch (if the machine has one) or with a zigzag stitch that is 0.75 mm wide and 2.0 mm long. The seam allowance in the sample is the standard 5/8 inch wide. Press the bias strip toward the seam allowance. Then serge off the seam allowance to 3/8 inch wide. Be sure to use thread that matches the bias strip. Press the seam as stitched and then so the bias strip is against the garment’s wrong side. Topstitch, stretching the seam slightly, to build in stretch using the super-stretch straight stitch and press. The seam allowances will disappear.

bias strip sewn onto seem allowance
Sew a 2-inch-wide bias strip on the seam allowance that will lie against the jeans when topstitched.

Press the bias strip toward the seam allowance
Press the bias strip toward the seam allowance

Serge off the seam allowance
Serge off the seam allowance to 3⁄8-inch wide, using thread that matches the bias strip.
Press the seam allowance
Press the seam allowance so the bias strip is against the garment’s wrong side. Topstitch, stretching the seam slightly, to build in stretch.

Kenneth D. King teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology, wrote Cool Couture (Creative Publishing International, 2008) and more than a dozen e-books, and is a private couture designer.
KennethDKing.com.

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  1. User avater
    LuvThreadsMagazine | | #1

    Senor King,

    Daring, visionary, boundless - you are dragging menswear into this century.

    Awaiting your next foray into the future.

    On behalf of the men in the late 2040s, thanks.

  2. user-7164793 | | #2

    Great thinking outside the box. I'd love to be brave enough to wear something like that, than you for your tips

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