topstitching side seams and adding bar tack


We are getting close to the finish line; today we’ll be sewing our side seams. Can you taste the sweet, sweet victory?

In our last post we assembled our back legs and basted the pockets so everything should be ready to be joined together.

Starting at the inseam, pin the front legs to the back legs, right sides together. Make sure your topstitching is matching at the crotch junction, and then match the notches at the knees, pinning to the ankle. I like to start from the ankle and sew to the crotch for each side. If you’ve dropped the back saddle like I explained in my pants fitting post, you’ll need to ease in the back leg to the front between knee and crotch.

sewing jeans inseamsewing inseamsewing inseam

Finish the seam using your preferred finish. If you are zigzagging or serging, you will need to secure this seam down. Press the seam allowance to the front, and sew one line of 1/8″ topstitching along the entire length of the front legs.

topstitching inseam

Now sew your side seams, matching your notches. Finish the seam using your preferred finish. If you haven’t tested that the waistband fits, baste it on now before topstitching, just to make sure all is well.

sewing side seamssewing side seams

Once you’re confident that the fit is good, press each side seam towards the back. To keep this seam in place, and to help strengthen your pockets, we need to topstitch one line of thread here like we did for the inseam. Using a marking tool, locate the bottom of the pocket lining and indicate how long you’d like your bar tack to be. You will sew a line of topstitching and then switch to your bar tack to secure the lining in the seam. Use your hump jumper or a piece of cardboard to stitch over the raised yoke seams.

topstitching side seams and adding bar tacktopstitching side seams and adding bar tacktopstitching side seams and adding bar tack

And that’s it for today – I was going to go over securing the back pockets but I think it makes more sense to do that once we’ve sewn the waistband and can properly assess the fit.

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  • Amanda

    Maybe this is obvious, but when you instruct: Press the seam allowance to the front, and sew one line of 1/8″ topstitching along the entire length of the front legs. Should that be sewn cuff-to-cuff, or cuff-to-crotch and then the second leg cuff-to-crotch? Also, should you top stitch the side seams (at the pockets) before basting the waist band for fit? This is my first pair of pants and I have this thought that I’ll top stitch like crazy and then be picking it all out when the darn things need adjustments;-)

    • Once the first seam has been sewn, you can topstitch cuff to cuff. As for the waistband – forgot about that! Yes, test the waistband before you do your side seam topstitching. I will amend the post to state that.

      • Amanda

        Thanks for the clarification on both accounts! I wondered about the waistband in part because you can sort of see it in some of the photos where you’ve unseamed it to do the topstitching. A bit of a hint on your part (grin).

  • Sena

    Hi Heather, I’m sewing my second Gingers and noticed something that in retrospect happened last time too (and I dealt with it poorly). The inner seams of the front and back legs matches perfectly. But somehow the back leg outer seam is substantially longer than the front leg outer seam, almost 3in worth so easing won’t do. I traced very carefully so I am not sure where this is coming from. Last time it was the same but I assumed I measured it wrong, so I just matched the front and back at the top of the legs (where the waistband would have been attached) and cut off the extra inches at the bottom, but that caused the front and back legs to be misaligned relative to the inner seams and as a result I have serious diagonal wrinkles as the back of the knee (I now realize that’s the cause of those). I did flatten the hip curve on both front and back legs so I don’t think that’s it either. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Sena

      Quick correction. I won’t name any names but *someone* attached her back yoke pieces with their wide part towards the outer seam instead of the CB. After correcting this issue, the discrepancy was reduced to only 5/8in which while still weird, seems much more reasonable. I did notice that the length matches up perfectly starting from the hip outer notch down to the ankle, so the discrepany seems to be arising from the areas between the hip notch and the top edge *that attaches to the waistband). Any thoughts? Could it be due to me flattening the hip curves somehow? Should I fix it but just cutting off the extra length the at top or by matching up the top and trying to ease the entire length down even if it means misaligning the hip notches. (Hope this makes SOME sense!).

      • Hahahha glad you figured that out. I was like, there is no way a seam is 3″ off. What you are referring to is the hip notches not meeting up in the original draft. It was fixed in the corrected pattern. The excess just needs to be eased in. Unless you changed the curve of the hip on the pattern? You have to make sure you’re taking equal amounts from front or back or you will have issues with them not lining up. Also remember that you are lining up the side seams on the seam ALLOWANCE, not the very edges of the fabric. If I remember correctly, you will have a little extra wedge at the top of the yoke but the actual stitch line should line up perfectly for the front and back.

  • I’m fairly certain that you didn’t mean to say “wrong sides together” when pinning the back leg to the front leg, right? It definitely doesn’t show that in the photos at least! 🙂