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How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer

Raw denim is an investment, no doubt about it. Typically, they’re not cheap. Sure, you can get a pair of raw, selvedge denim for $20, and there’s a lot of raw jeans that cost less than $100, but many brands (especially the Japanese stuff) cost much more than that. But it’s not all about money. Denim heads usually put in a year or more of personal time into each pair of jeans.

That’s why we’d like to present the Heddels guide to making your raw jeans last longer (It sounds like a SPAM email headline, I know…). By occasionally checking your jeans and doing some preventive maintenance, you can keep your jeans in better shape and maximize your investment.

What we have here is not a guide on how to repair jeans, but instead, a few warning signs that you’ll soon be needing repairs done to your jeans. If you can catch upcoming problems beforehand, the repairs will be easier (and less expensive). Best of all, some of these repairs can be done at home with a needle & thread.

Crotch Blowouts

The arch-nemesis of every denim geek on the planet. Blowouts just plain suck. They’re bound to happen, but you can mitigate the imminent disaster by doing a few things.

Turn your jeans inside out and look at the crotch seam. See if you’re missing any stitching or have any thin patches in the denim. They don’t always show on the outside. They’ll look something like this.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Blowouts

Starting to wear thin.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Blowouts

If it looks like this from the outside, get it repaired sooner than later.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Blowouts

Warning signs of an upcoming crotch blowout.

The bad news is if your jeans are starting to look like this, you’ll be needing some repairs soon. The good news is, you now know it ahead of time. (And knowing’s half the battle!) For the areas where the denim is wearing through, you can patch the area to strengthen it a bit, or you can have someone repair it by darning.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Blowouts

See where the thread is broken? Easy fix!

If you look at the crotch seam in the above photo, you’ll notice that the seam itself has started to break. If it’s not fixed, each side of the jean will start splitting apart under stress and could lead to some embarrassing moments (don’t practice those flying ninja kicks until you’ve fixed it!).

Luckily, this is an easy fix. Anybody with working knowledge of a sewing machine can stitch over the gap a couple times to reinforce it. Don’t worry if you can only get it single stitched. The chain-stitching honestly doesn’t make much difference for such a small area.

Button Holes

If your jeans have a button fly, after a year or so you’ll probably notice that the lower button holes are starting to tear. If you let them tear completely through there are ways to fix it but they’re not too pretty, and it can get expensive. If you catch button tears early, you can spare yourself a lot of grief. Here’s what they look like.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Button Holes

Don’t let them tear through!

Most home sewing machines have button hole sewing functions, so anyone who sews for a hobby should be able to do the job. If need be, take them to a local tailor and tell them you want the button holes reinforced. It shouldn’t be a costly repair.

Other Stuff

If the cuff-stitches are starting to unravel, single-stitch will be fine to reinforce a small area. If you’re really keen for chain-stitch repairs, lots of places now offer hemming services done on a Union Special 43200G.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Cuffs

Single-stitch repairs are cheap and easy.

Other broken stitching shouldn’t give you any problems. Unless its in an area of high friction or stress, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If anything, it gives your jeans an extra ounce of character.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Other Stuff

I probably wouldn’t worry about repairing a coin pocket.

Don’t worry about belt loops, either. They’re designed to last forever, unless you tear them off completely.

How To Make Your Raw Denim Last Longer - Belt Loops

Forget about it.

Ultimately, no pair of jeans (raw or not) can last forever. Some people manage to make their jeans last a long time by patching everything, like Arie van den Berg’s pair of 8-year-old Levi’s, but at some point they stop looking like the original pair of jeans. It’s worth considering but its not for everyone.

Regardless, we hope this guide will help you keep your jeans in working order for a while to come. And as always, if you have any more tips or tricks let us know in the forum.

Stay Raw!

– Sean
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