Upcycling jeans into a skirt – part 1

Using a different method than commonly seen

Upcycling skirt

Upcycling is fun, but always takes more time than expected. Today I wanted to show you how to make a skirt out of two old pairs of jeans, but I only managed to get halfway through the process. I decided to split up the article in two parts so that I can continue another day with a clear head and find good solutions for the final steps.


The goal with this step by step tutorial is to show another way that you can make a skirt out of old jeans. I’m not using the typical method where you split the seam between the legs to create a skirt that uses the upper part more or less intact. In my case I had two jeans that were very worn out on the seat and that wouldn’t be safe to try to patch up (unless you enjoy your pants ripping in half in public…). The fabric on the legs on the other hand was in fairly good shape, so I decided to use that.


Find a good pattern

Step one is to find a pattern to work with. I used this interactive pattern from Scandinaviantailoring.com which I know works out good. You just take your own waist and hip measurements and decide how long you want the skirt. The script will calculate an individual pattern for you that you can print on a normal office printer. Once you have that, cut out the pieces and tape them together. The corset pattern is also highly recommended if you’re a skilled sewer. Some of the instructions are in Danish, but you should be able to figure out how it works anyway.

Since I know my body fairly well I decided to skip the darts in the pattern. Instead the skirt will sit a bit lower than the waistline. That might not work out for you though, so try that in a cheap fabric first to see if you need to make adjustments.


Upcycling demands flexibility and creativity

I quickly figured out that the fabric of one pair of jeans wouldn’t be enough to use in the original direction I went for making a shorter skirt and cutting the fabric in the other direction instead. The former leg seams of the jeans turn into cool accents. I’m also using white thread since I’m slowly starting to run out of other colors here at home (as part of the Creative October Challenge I’m not buying any new one) but I find that also creates nice details.

Upcycling really demands of you to think a bit outside of the box and find new solutions. Sometimes it’s a bit more difficult and takes more time than creating a new garment from scratch, but I like this kind of challenge.


Time to cut the pieces

Once I had separated the legs from the rest of the jeans and spread out the pieces on the floor I cut them based on the pattern. Remember to add seam allowance to the pattern if you’re using the one I’m suggesting above.


Next step is zig-zagging the edges to protect them from fraying. Make sure you’re using the right needle strength for denim and adjust the tension accordingly. Also, make sure your sewing machine is strong enough to sew through several layers of denim. Not all machines can handle this. Be careful when you sew over the old seams of the jeans.

Once that’s done you can go straight for sewing the side seams. Press them flat towards the back of the garment and then sew a seam next to the first one to keep the seam allowance in place inside the skirt.


Next up is the lining. I decided to just line the waistband with an 8 cm wide strip. Cut it based on the pattern in the same way as you cut the main pieces for the skirt (but obviously not as long). Zig-zag around and sew them together. Press the seams flat.


Put the lining on top of the skirt, right sides facing each other. Sew the lining to the skirt.

Press the seam down and fold in the lining. Press it again to make sure it all looks flat and tidy.


Next up after this will be to find a zipper or another way of closing the skirt in the back. I will have to go through my stash and see what I can find. But for today that’s enough work on this garment.

I can’t believe it’s already the 27th of October. Only a few days left of the Creative October Challenge for this time. On Monday I will be closing the Facebook group for this year and make a small evaluation. Next week I’ll post a summary of the crafts I managed to do this month myself. Hopefully I’ll have an update for you on this skirt until then.

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About Veronica (166 Articles)
Veronica is the founder of Hyperbrain.me. With one foot in the past and one in the future she takes inspiration from older aesthetics and ideas to apply them in updated form today. She is passionate about teaching timeless skills and believes that the world needs more polymaths.

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