Self Edge Makes Jeans New Again.

My buddy Jian, who recently joined the Complex team, approached me about filming a video for their website about our jean repair process. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I agreed. I think the video turned out great; certainly a testament to the talents of the director, Jonathan Lees, and his team.

Darning jeans is a complex process because each jean is different and reacts differently to the machine, and each repair scenario has to be approached in a unique way. While the video makes the process look simple, it’s actually a task that generates regular headaches. Sometimes the machine acts up (it’s over 50 years old), sometimes the thread tangles and knots, and sometimes the timing is off. Sometimes I make a mistake and have to spend half an hour taking the repair apart and starting from scratch. I’ve spent more than a few evenings spent in our sweltering basement raining curses down on the machine. If not for the ongoing guidance and tutelage of Julian, who heads up Self Edge SF’s repair services, I might have given up by now.

Frustrations aside, I really enjoy the repair process. Since Johan and I design our own jeans but don’t manufacture them ourselves, I feel like darning holes and chainstitching hems are the closest I can get to jean (re)construction.  There’s also a certain satisfaction that comes from handing a rebuilt pair back to an excited customer. Now, if only I could get people to wash their jeans before bringing them in… I’m not trying to get a staph infection here.

11 Comment

  1. […] know literally nothing about jean repair, so hearing Andrew Chen talk about the process of darning and repairing jeans at the Self Edge shop on the LES is quite […]

  2. dirbab says: Reply

    really enjoyed this. knowing how involved the process it, you sure do make it look so easy.

  3. Kyle says: Reply

    Hey Andrew, this looks awesome…cool process. Any estimate on what it would cost to repair my APC New Standards? Crotch just started to rip after 2 years in…not badly, but there’s a hole.

  4. andrew says: Reply

    @dirbab: Thanks!

    @Kyle: We charge a flat $40 fee for any repairs done on jeans not bought at Self Edge. If you buy them from us, a small hole repair is free of charge and a full crotch rebuild would be $20 no matter how bad it is. Stop by sometime and we can take a look at them.

  5. Victor says: Reply

    Andrew,
    I know I’m late to the party, but what is the sewing machine make and model that you are using to repair the denim in the video. And yes I have seen pictures of your Union Special chainstitch machine..drool…

  6. Jenny says: Reply

    Your video has been so helpful to me! I thrifted a pair of tweedy shorts for my son, which had a 1″ hole in the leg. I thought I could hand-darn the hole closed but I was wrong–not working! I watched your video, and then used my free-motion quilting foot to do exactly what you did in the video. It SO worked. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!

    1. andrew says: Reply

      Glad it was helpful.

  7. Terance Chen says: Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m really interested in denim and jeans and feel like starting one in my place too, I’m looking for this singer 47w70 but apparently its kind of rare here in south asia, or is there any other darning machines with cylinder arm will do the work too?

    Please advise.

    *would be much appreciated if you don’t mind to communicate through email*

    Regards,
    Terance Chen.

  8. James says: Reply

    Andrew, I noticed Self Edge isn’t accepting mail-ins for repairs at the moment…..can you recommend someone who does? Thanks

  9. Erica says: Reply

    Hi Andrew. I love your video. I live in Utah. I just restored a 47W40. I visited my dad in WA and he buys a lot of junk. He had one of these in his shop! Anyhow…it was in pretty bad shape, and I had to take it completely apart to figure out that it needed a new thread take-up and bobbin pinion. But – now it’s working pretty great. My machine has a short end on….not the nice tubular end that yours has (I’m jealous). Anyhow…knowing that you must use left twist thread – can you give advise on what kind of thread(s) you have found best for your jean repairs? (I guess since you manufacture jeans…you might have access to resources I might not as an average consumer). But, if you could tip me off…it might save me some tangles with the machine trying to figure it out. I find it is a pretty temperamental machine:)

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