by Learning Lead – Fidel Pacay

Well Folks, I wish I had a more positive update for you all on my journey learning How to Make Bike Mechanic’s Aprons from Recycled Jeans, however, I unfortunately encountered a few unprecedented issues with the sewing machine, as well as in my personal life which impeded me from being able to stay on track with my personal life, and my sewing learnings.

To start with the first of numerous hurdles I’ve encountered these past few months, I learned that the breaking of the needle on the sewing machine back in November, was more serious than I had thought. When I went to see my sewing instructor for our scheduled lesson back in December, she informed me that the problem with the machine was bigger than just a broken needle, and that the sewing machine needed to be inspected, and quite possibly will need to be repaired.

Timing Hook

After finding out that it would take quite some time before I would be able to get the machine in to be repaired due to restrictions, I decided to inspect the machine to see if I would be able to fix the problem.  I decided to open up the machine, and to give it a try, and I determined that the main cause of the problem had to do with what is called “the timing hook”, whose job is to create a loop behind the needle, between the needle eye and the fabric, the hook must pass through that loop to create a stitch, which is essentially what is wrong with the machine, as every time the needle goes down, the hook does not engage with the eye needle as it is supposed to.

After a couple of unsuccessful tries adjusting the hook timing myself, I decided to wait until restrictions allowed for me to be able to take in the machine to be repaired, and as it was to be expected, it will be a few weeks still before I am able to get the machine back, and I am able to continue with my sewing lessons.

I was quite sad and disappointed my sewing lessons had to be put on pause for a few weeks because of this, at this point in time, my learning to sew journey was helping me cope with what was happening around the world, as well as in my personal life, as I was also dealing with an unprecedented tenancy situation that brought unnecessary stress to my personal life.

Thankfully, I have now moved into a different apartment building, so I have finally started to get settled in, free of stress, and finally able to breathe fresh air, which was one of the problems affecting my apartment unit.

Working without the machine

The Deconstructing of Jeans

Since I am unable to continue my sewing lessons at this time, due to the sewing machine needing to be repaired, I decided to start practicing the deconstructing of the jeans that I will be using to make bike mechanic’s aprons with.

After watching various Youtube tutorials on “how to deconstruct jeans”, I was able to find a couple of tutorials to guide me through this process, and so far, I have been able to create two different patterns for the bike mechanic’s aprons that I am hoping to make.

At first, I thought to myself “easy peacey! slice through the stitching, cut the jean material to form the pattern, stitch it all back together to create the apron, no problem!” Nope! not as easy as I’ve discovered.

The first tutorial that I found suggests cutting through the legs of the jeans, removing the stitched part, and then creating the apron’s pattern using the cut off legs. This process was very easy to follow, however, one thing that I found out is that you can’t really use skinny jeans for this project because skinny legged jeans do not have enough material for them to be able to be used as aprons, unless of course, you sew them together to form one.

The second jean deconstructing tutorial that I found is a little bit more tricky, because it suggests that all the stitched jean parts be sliced through with a blade or seam ripper, in order to separate the stitched parts of the jeans. This method I have found to not be as easy and safe to do because of the fact that the stitching of the jeans is so well sewn together, it is almost impossible for a pair of scissors, or a seam ripper to be able to slice through the stitched jeans.

Practicing Making the Pattern

After practicing the deconstructing of jeans, now I can practice creating the apron’s pattern. In order to do this, and according to the second tutorial that I have been following, it is suggested for the deconstructed legs to be held together where the old stitching was. The goal here is to be able to stitch the legs together on opposite sides, which will look a little bit like the picture below.

Next Lesson:

I am looking forward to having the sewing machine back in working order, which is slated for the end of March. My next sewing lesson at Winnipeg Sews is scheduled for the first week of April, when my sewing instructor will be giving me a more in-depth lesson on how to create the apron’s pattern, and sew it all together, in order for me to be able to construct my first bike mechanic’s apron using the recycled jean material shown in the picture above. Unfortunately, the second pattern that I was working on did not end up being wide enough, so I decided to continue working with the one that is best suited for the job.

Since I am a little bit behind on my sewing learnings due to the unforeseen challenges that I described earlier, I am hoping to be able to finalize my sewing lessons by mid-April, once I manage to get more practice and experience sewing, my goal is to continue making bike mechanic’s aprons from recycled jeans, with the ultimate goal to be able to donate them to some community bike shops here in Winnipeg.

Until Next Time!


Just as I suspected, I had gotten a better coating of wax on the heel of the shoe. The results here were more noticeable: most of the water ran right off the waxed heel, whereas it soaked into the heel of the other shoe.

Again, the waxed shoe is on the left, and the unwaxed shoe on the right.

I finished by carefully applying some of my industrial-strength adhesive to re-seal the gaps between the edge of the soles and the canvas, wiping away any excess with a napkin (careful not to get any on my hands).

I will probably try to add another coat of wax to see if I can improve the water resistance, but otherwise shoe #1 is done! My embroidery skills could use some more practice, but overall I’m happy with how it turned out, and excited that minor shoe repairs are now something I’m confident I could tackle – yet another way to help make my wardrobe last.