***These jeans are featured in the Nov/Dec 2015/Jan 2016 issue of Altered Couture Magazine.***
I’m always looking for new ways to make a pair of jeans special. Since my first pair, I’ve been utterly ruined by the process, and I’m sure that I’ve boldly declared Scarlett O’Hara style that I’d never buy plain jeans again. High on my list of must try techniques has been applique.
I’ve sewn cotton on denim, never really liking how the cotton would dominate and the denim disappear in the patch area. I’ve messed around with reverse applique on denim, but I hadn’t found anything that I really liked until I threw a random piece of silk on top of denim and started sewing. The silk blended into the denim, but its sheerness allowed the denim to be unchanged by the applique. I knew I wanted to try this on a larger scale.
Enter this vintage silk blend scarf.
Deconstructed Silk Scarf Jeans
I loved the vibrant colors of the scarf and wanted to showcase them as best as possible. To do so, I chose white bull denim to be a blank canvas to show off the scarf. These deconstructed silk scarf jeans are made from my now TNT Ottobre 5-2014-19 skinny jeans. I made up the fronts and backs and then was ready to applique.
I cut up the scarf, setting aside the grey and baby pink for something else as I don’t wear either of those colors. There was not a lot of the kite motif that ran through the stripes, so I reserved it for the back pockets. I’m not creative when it comes to back pocket design, so I’m always grateful when I can use something other than topstitching thread to decorate back pockets. In such a tiny area, the silk did not require any stabilizer or pins to hold it down during stitching.
For the legs, I sketched out a line running 2/3 of the way up each leg to the inseam hem corner, then I stacked pieces of silk until I liked how they looked. The longer pieces did move around a lot more as I was stitching them. I found that a dab from a glue stick kept everything in place and allowed me to keep stitching without stopping. I stitched one color at a time and varied the decorative straight stitching that I did on each piece. All total, it took me about 5 hours to stitch all four panels.
An essential tool for this technique turned out to be a lint roller. The edges frayed a bit while I was stitching, but the lint roller kept everything in check. If I try this technique again, I might use a zigzag stitch around each piece first.
I wasn’t thrilled about any of my topstitching thread options. White is typically my #1 color, but obviously, white thread on white denim is pointless. The other colors I have in my stash were all too muted with the exception of the purple Gutermann thread which just looked bad with all the scarf colors. After some test stitching, I opted to blend two colors in the aqua family combined with a triple stitch for a unique topstitching color blend. I like how the topstitching picks up the aqua from the scarf and how it stands out against the white. For more options on topstitching without topstitching thread, check out this post.
The scarf had a really fun border that I wanted to highlight in some way. Since the little shapes are backed in the same grey I wanted to avoid earlier, I sewed it on the not-so-visible while wearing waistband. It’s a fun little accent.
Overall, I had so much fun combining two things I really enjoy wearing–denim and vintage silk scarves into this pair of jeans. Even if they end up being a bear to keep clean, I’m going to wear them into the ground this spring.
My patternreview is here.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.