Denim & Chambray Fabrics - All you need to know

We're passionate about fabric at Sew Me Sunshine. Here's our guide to everything denim & chambray, and tips on how to sew with this type of dressmaking fabric.


  • Denim fabric varies in colour, weight and elasticity
  • An indigo dyed fabric most commonly used to make jeans. It originated during the 'gold rush' in 1873 as workwear fabric 
  • It is woven with a coloured yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft, it is constructed by passing the warp thread over two threads in the weft before going under one, this produces the well known denim twill texture and look
  • It has a coarse texture due to its diagonal surface 
  • It is sturdy and durable due to how it has been woven
  • It softens with washing and wear 
  • It is prone to fraying at the edges 
  • It is a structured fabric that holds a garment's shape 
  • Most commonly made out of cotton and polyester fibres, and it can have added elastane which will give the denim some crosswise stretch 
  • Types:
    • Raw Denim - stiff with a deep blue colour which is unwashed 
    • Selvedge Denim - known to be a premium denim, where the selvedges are specially woven with one or two colour warn yarns
    • Colour Dyed Denim - officially only indigo dyed fabric can be referred to as denim, but you will come across black, undyed and lots of different colours of 'denim'. Bull Denim is when the denim is dyed after it has been woven
  • Projects:



  • Pre-wash your denim separately to prevent bleeding and shrinking. We would recommend washing your denim on a cold cycle, and you can add a cup of white vinegar to your wash which will help to preserve the dye
  • Choose the right denim for your project, remember the weight of the denim will impact on how structured it is 
  • Make sure you have a new jeans sewing machine needle (90/14 for light to medium weight denim and 100/16 for heavy weight denim)
  • As mentioned above, denim can fray, so make sure you finish your seams. You could choose to finish them with your overlocker, but flat felled seams and Hong Kong seams are popular choices when sewing with denim 
  • Programme your sewing machine to have a longer stitch length, 3mm is a good option 
  • Hold the denim taut when sewing to prevent skipped stitches
  • Reinforce those seams with topstitching (you can use regular thread in your bobbin to save time)
  • Denim is bulky, so choose lightweight interfacing where possible, for example for facings 
  • You can use a bulky seam aid to help you sew over those bulky seams. Don't have one of these? Then no fear - you can use a folded piece of cardboard under your sewing machine foot when sewing over thick denim seams
  • Grade seam allowances to help reduce bulk 
  • Sew slowly when sewing over those bulky seams
  • You can make thick seams thinner by using a hammer
  • Make sure your iron is set to a high heat and the steam is on (always practice on a scrap first)
  • Use a clapper - this will help you to flatten out your seams 
  • Make sure your grainlines are aligned when cutting your project out. If you cut out your project off grain you can encounter twisting 
  • For Light-medium weight denim then your project can be cut out on the fold, however for heavier weight denim you will want to cut your project out on the flat. A top tip when sewing jeans is to make sure you cut the leg pieces on the flat to avoid leg twist 
  • Use rivets on high stress areas i.e. pockets & use bar tacks on high areas of stress


If you have any questions or want to learn more, you can contact Team Sunshine at

You can find all of our denim & chambray fabrics on our website

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