How to Turn Jeans Into a Skirt

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Turning jeans into skirts isn’t a new idea and was certainly never my idea.  When I was growing up everything was DIY and clothes weren’t as cheap as they are today so there was a lot of upcycling going on (did anyone else have fabric ruffles added to their too short jeans?)

cut-off-jeans-purseAnd although I love making things and I can’t shake the DIY habit even when I should, I’ve never wanted to make a pair of jeans into a skirt. They reminded me of those purses people made from the tops of their cut off jeans. And to me those amputated jeans seemed so strange, hanging off some one’s shoulders.

However, we are all allowed to change our minds and suddenly I wanted to make my tad-too-short jeans into a skirt.

 

The video will show and explain the how-tos but I wanted to write out the steps for easy reference should you decide to transform your own jeans into a skirt.

The Supplies:

  • A pair of jeans that fit you in the waist, hips and the widest part of your lower body. They don’t have to fit in the length or the crotch (the rise) as we’re going to eliminate those.
  • A denim needle OR a universal needle if the jeans have stretch in them OR a stretch needle if they stretch jeans. (Stretch jeans will stretch both across the legs and up and down the legs. Jeans with some stretch will only stretch across the leg. And I’m talking S-T-R-E-T-C-H, like an inch plus)
  • Topstitch thread which matches the jeans’ topstitching. (optional)
  • Regular All-Purpose thread in your bobbin.
  • The usual sewing supplies: A sewing machine, scissors, pins, and a marking tool.

The Steps:

Watch the video for complete instructions.

Put on the jeans and mark what length you want the finished skirt. Marking with a straight pin at one point is fine. There’s no need to mark all the way around.

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On the back make a mark on the center back seam where the pants start to curve under the buttocks.

 

Take off the jeans and lay them flat on the table, right side out.

 

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Measure from the waistband to your marked desired length.

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Add at least another 1 1/2 / 3cm to the length. Mark. Measure down the same distance on the other leg and mark. Eyeballing or measuring, mark a straight line across both legs connecting your two marks. This is your cutting line.

Note: A skirt’s waistband wants to sit at your natural waist. The crotch seam in pants will stop the pant waistband from creeping up but once that crotch seam is taken out of the pants, your skirt may creep up on your torso. This makes the skirt shorter than you planned it to be. If the jeans you are converting sit low on your torso now, as jeans, add more length to the skirt, just in case. You can cut it off when it’s time to hem it.

If you desire a skirt below your knees you’re probably going to need a slit in the skirt in order to walk freely.

Cut the legs off the jeans at the marked line and set them aside.

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Take out the inseam by cutting the jeans right up against the seam. You could pick out the stitches and all the little threads but this gains you only a 1/2″ / 1cm of fabric from the salvaged seam allowance. Not worth the time.

When the inseam is out, lay the jeans flat on the work surface facing you. The center front seam under the fly will be sticking up a bit. Take out the bottom couple inches of the center front seam until it lays flat. You will not go as high as the fly.

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Cut away the extra layer of seam allowance from the center seam.

On most jeans, the left side will overlap the right side or the leg with the topstitching will overlap the leg without the stitching.

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Use the cut off leg pieces of the jeans to fill in the triangular shaped gap under the fly. You could use any fabric here, including legs from other jeans if you want to mix up the washes.

Fold under the raw edge of the front legs and press.

Cut a piece of the filler fabric bigger than the gap. Pin the filler piece of denim in place under both folded edges. Topstitch along the fold catching and attaching the filler fabric.

Repeat these steps on the back of the jeans. You will take the center back seam out almost up to your pin mark.

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You will need to cut some of the fabric of the back legs away from the inseam. The back of pant legs are larger than the fronts. To get a triangle gap like the front you’ll have to cut away some fabric from the inseam edge.

Watch the video to see how and maybe just cut away a little at a time until the back lays flat and a wedge shape gap is formed.

Cut off any extra filler fabric from the hem edge.

Try the skirt on and see if the hem has risen on you before you hem the skirt. If you find your skirt too short after you put it on, you could add a denim band, from the leg fabric or other denim to the hem.

Hem the skirt. Press the hem and wear.

Ta-da!

Note:  If you are working with stretch jeans there may be some waviness to the edge of the fill pieces. Ironing does a lot to relieve this but best yet, use a walking foot when you hem your skirt or loosen the pressure on the pressure foot slightly.

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