Old Jeans to New Skirt - An Absolute Beginners Guide
Spring Skirt Up-cycle - 20,000l of water saved!
Spring is in full swing, we have been having a wonderful warm weather and my creative juices were flowing, so this week I decided to try my hand at another little up-cycle project. This time is was a much loved pair of jeans that I bought 6 years ago and have worn to death.
Despite really not wanting to get rid of them I had been gearing myself up for a trip to clothing bank as I knew they were no longer wearable – they literally had a hole at the knee as well as serious saggy-arse-syndrome – never a good look! However I had a statistic in my head from the research I had done for challenge#19:
Did you know it takes around 20,000 litres of water to make a pair of jeans!
With this in mind I decided to go old-school and try up-cycling my jeans into a new frayed denim-skirt – Yes, I did this when I was about 15, and no sadly I retained none of the know how – so here is my absolute beginners guide. I was pretty chuffed with the result and am wearing it now as I write!
If you want to give this a go yourself, I hope my tips will offer some inspiration and guidance. I was going for a raw, frayed style, but if you fancy a straight-seamed finish or feel any steps are unclear there are a million and one tutorials and posts on how to do this and other styles online, so give it a google and away you go! Be sure to share your results with me on Instagram or Twitter 😃
Step 1 - Get snipping
Think about how long you want your skirt to be, then be sure to leave a good 8-10 cm extra on the length during this first stage (you will cut to the desired length in the final step). Cut the jeans legs straight across – easy.
Step 2 - Unstitch the inner seam
Carefully remove the stitching on the INNER leg seam ONLY using sharp, pointy scissors. Jeans are usually sewn very tightly at the seams to be durable, so start from the bottom and pull both sides apart as you cut to try avoid damaging the actual fabric. If you have a pair of helping hands in your home, get someone else to hold and pull the jeans so the stitches are easier to cut. Do this both sides and also at the crotch of the jeans until the front and back are separated.
Step 3 - Pinning into place
Now it’s time to pin the seams of the two legs together in the middle. To do this lay the skirt flat and overlap the top side as you would like it to appear (this is easy to see based on which side of the fly is placed on top – see pic on the left). At this stage think about how you would like the skirt to sit on you – will it be more A-line or tight fitting. I decided to go for a slight A-line and have a small slit at the front of mine.
When pinning, make sure that there is a good 1cm overlap. If you have a slit the overlap will gradually get less. I have added a red line to illustrate where my sewing line was on image in the middle above.
I suggest trying on the skirt now to see how it sits and readjust where necessary, being very careful with the pins 😉.
Step 4 - Sewing time
You are now ready to sew the skirt back together along the lines you have pinned. Believe it or not, I did in fact use our recently acquired manual sewing machine from Dennis’ grandma (The lovely Lisa from challenge #6). We moved it with us to the new flat more for decoration and memories, but this little machine still has a bit of life in her yet. If you don’t have a sewing-machine yourself there are still options:
- Hand sewing – It’s possible, but often results in wonky lines & uneven stitches.
- Borrow a friends – Ask around, you might be surprised how many people have sewing machines.
- Fabric shops often have machine they rent – even better, you can do it there and they will give you tips as you go.
Step 5 - The final trim - go easy now!
Soon you will understand why we kept so much of the length at the beginning – lots of us tend to get carried away with the final trimming and run the risk of only being left with a belt 😳😄
After sewing your skirt, try it on and then mark with chalk or pins where you would like the length to be. If you don’t want a frayed skirt, this is where you would tuck under the hem and do a bit more sewing.
I found it was useful to fold the skirt at the front seam and then cut from front to side seam so that the cutting is even on both sides (see image above right).
Keep in mind that you may want to have the back a little longer than the front. When trimming, try not to aim for perfection, when the skirt is on, you tend not to see if there are slightly uneven lines – compare the image below left, with the one at the beginning of this post.
Finally, finish off by pull a little at the frayed ends or throw in the washing machine as this helps too.
Voilà – a new lease of life for your jeans and a new item for the wardrobe for you…
Thanks for reading
Your Better Me Greener