Lee jeans

This being the Straight Dope, here’s a dopey question. I’m sitting here at my desk, wearing a pair of Lee jeans. I’m unconsciously running my fingers along the outside seam when I notice something strange. Right around mid-thigh, the seam changes from overlaying back-over-front to overlaying front-over-back. It continues like that to the end of the leg. It does not do that on the inside seam. The other leg does the same thing, but then it changes back to back-over-front. What’s the deal with this? Is this some sort of quality control issue? Were these pants thrown in the ‘seconds’ pile, and then fixed later on? Do I need to go back and talk to the retailer about this?

Nope, all jeans do that. At least, all jeans that don’t have fancy schmancy seams like the Land’s End ones I’m wearing right now.

I know this because about 2 months ago I noticed the same thing, and mentioned it to my boyfriend. He said all his jeans are like that, and the reason he knows they’re like that is that they tend to get holes in 'em right at the place where the seam switches.

I don’t know why they’re like that, but it’s not just your jeans.

All mine do that, too. I’m wondering if they do that on brand new jeans, if not, here’s my hypothesis >>>>>
They seem to switch at a point pretty close to where the the jeans get loose. And actually, it looks like the seams have been stressed (around the tight parts of the body). around your legs, the seam isn’t stressed. Maybe the reversal is an effect of the pulling the seam apart.

of course, if it’s this way on new jeans, than I’m completely wrong.

The only way to rid yourself of temptation is to yield to it–Oscar Wilde

I just checked every pair of jeans in the place and none of them have this type of seam. Two pairs of mens Levi’s (about 2-3 years old) don’t even have that overlapping outside seam, just a regular old straight seam. Got women’s Lee’s with the outside overlapping seam, but it doesn’t switch - it’s front to back all the way. Have one pair of women’s Lee’s that don’t have that type of seam. Wrangler’s - nope.
Now I’m really curious – I hope someone has the answer.


Maybe it’s to do with the cut. The wider the cut, the less likely to swap overlap. The narrower the cut (I wear straight cut, which is the median average style) the more likely the need for a special stitch.

But I know next to zero about clothing, so don’t go by my account.

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Checked my closet…

3 pairs of Levi’s – seam does not switch
1 pair of Faded Glory – seam switches on both legs
1 pair of Ralph Laurens – ditto
1 pair of Coda Baggy Fit – seam does not switch.

Some brands do. Some don’t.

Now then, why? (Warning: Incoming WAG) I suspect it has to do with how they’re sewn and the stresses of wear.

My Faded Glorys and Ralph Laurens have a single stitch seam that pretty much lets the inside flop back and forth with freedom. The top and bottom are forced to back-over-front due to the hem but the area around the knee gets used to going the other direction due to the material being bent around the joint.

My Levis are actually stitched through the outside layer of denim (going through a total of three layers). This reinforces the direction the material lays, so it stays the same.

The Coda Baggy Fit jeans are still new, and the material is loose around the knees. Perhaps one or both of these factors explain why the seam is still in the same direction.

“The saurians had no strange wine, no imagination, and they became extinct. And you don’t look so terrific yourself.” -Harlan Ellison

I sew my own clothes, and have sewn myself a few pair of (simple) jeans. And, frankly, I don’t know how they construct some of these jeans the way they do. I sometimes inspect my store-bought jeans, inspect the flat-felled (sp?) seams, etc., to figure out how they do it. The double-stiching is not an easy thing to do. They obviously have special sewing machines, not just a crappy $100 Singer like I do!

I sometimes suspect that these weird seam configurations are the way that they construct the seam. Perhaps they sew from the top for a while, then switch and sew from the bottom and then the two seams would meet in the middle. I have used this sewing technique on a few things, but not on jeans.

Of course, I am completely confused now.

But I just always assumed it was a sewing/construction technique.

The jeans I have on now have one inseam forward and the other back, and on a non-jean pair I have both inseams switch direction halfway down the thigh.

I think (WAG ahead!) that the direction is most often just which way the material is folded when the garment is first turned right-side-out and folded. Then everything stretches and/or shrinks to force a set into the fibers, so any odd folds can’t be corrected.

“It’ll ride up with wear.”

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

You are correct ,babe. I worked for Levi for a while, I was inspector number 12. They have dedicated machines some do the flat fells on the leg some the belt loops some the fancy stitch on the pocket etc. Checked all mt jeans no twisty seam. Don’t know why some of yall’s do. It is NOT just happenchance they plan these things out meticulously so as to save every bit of cloth and time they can. It is not because theu started at top then stopped and switched the people that do one particular step do only that and they are as automatically dedicated as the machine. The “eficiency” experts were always tweaking the movements so a step could be done as quickly as possible. pick it up slide it in run the stitch do it again over and over.They are so automatic that part of my job was culling out jeans that a sewer had run without thread, they didn’t even notice. BTW I like jeans with that seam on the outside, makes a great finger nail cleaner, when its on the inside I worry somebody gonna see me running my hand up and down my inner thigh.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

I can’t believe that you buggers got me checking out my jeans while reading this and I’ve not found anything odd about them – aside from the curious fact that the waist seems to have mysteriously gotten bigger over the years.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”

My wife, who is, among other things, a “Denim Expert” at the Gap, had never heard of this. But every pair of jeans I own (all Gap jeans) do the seam flip. She did think it was significant that the flip occurs between the forward-bending waist part and the backward-bending knee, as someone pointed out here.

Weird, man!

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

I have several different brands of jeans, but they are all pipes (or phats, or baggies, whatever you want to call them). None of them have this interesting seam configuration y’all are talking about. I honestly can’t even picture it in my head.