Today I’ve got an easy refashion for you in this upcycled denim skirt. Probably most of us have at least one pair of jeans that have maybe lived their lives in their pantsy state, but they still have some good wear left in them.
Jeans are prime refashioning materials, and one of the simplest ways to breathe some new life into them is by turning them into a skirt.
I’ll show you how to take jeans, chop them up to get a skirt with just a teeny bit of sewing, then we’ll talk raw hems and other embellishments you can add to make this project truly your own.
So find a pair of jeans that fit you in the hips, a pair of scissors, and let’s get to work.
Supplies for your upcycled denim skirt
Cutting the jeans
First try on your jeans, and decide how long you want the skirt to be. I always like to end skirts around my knees. Mark it with a pin and square off the cut line. I actually made mine slightly longer in back by marking the center of the back of my knee on the back and the top of my knee on the front.
You don’t *have to* cut off any length either. Some of my students at the Sew Much Talent retreat made their upcycled denim skirts into maxi skirts to pretty dramatic results. If you go the maxi skirt route, you will need extra denim once we get into revamping things in a couple steps.
Whatever path you choose, make sure you leave room for a hem. You don’t need to add anything extra for a raw hem. For a traditional double turned jeans hem, add 1″ in length past the finished length. When you’re happy with things, cut off those legs.
Set aside the bottom legs for later.
Open up the inseam
Now you want to open up the inseam of your jeans. A seam ripper will do you good, though I used scissors because this thread was really stubborn.
Go all the way up one leg and around and back down again the other leg, opening up the entire seam.
Open up the crotch seams
See how the crotch seams bubble up in the middle as they’re sitting flat? Yeah, we don’t want that. That’s all the space that would be for your boot in pants that we don’t need in a skirt.
So with your seam ripper open up the front and back crotch seams partially. On both sides, you only need to go as far as it takes for the seam to sit flat on the table.
On the front, do not go past the zipper unless you like replacing fly fronts. I’m guessing you’re sane and are not into that, so stop before that zip!
Vertical or angled?
At this point, you need to overlap the crotch seams on the front and then on the back. At this point you’ll have to decide if you like the look of the original crotch seam angling over the seam or a line that hangs vertically.
There’s no right or wrong here, it’s just a preference. If you go with a vertical line, you’ll have to fold the extra crotch piece out of the way (you can cut it off later once it’s topstitched).
If you want to keep that original look of the jeans, just fold one side over the other so that it sits flat and pin. Here’s the difference to help you decide.
Sewing the front of your upcycled denim skirt
At this point, grab one of your extra leg pieces and cut open one of the seams.
Now we have to bridge the gap with the extra fabric. On the front side, slide in the extra fabric so that it covers the gap. Keep about 1/2″ of extra at the top from the wrong side so that you’ll have room to finish the seam later.
Pin in place and stitch down the fabric from the right side following the holes from the original stitching. Do not backstitch, just overlap the stitches by a few stitches past where you stopped cutting open the seam.
Trim away the extra fabric on the wrong side, about 1/2″ away from your stitching. Finish off the raw edge of that extra fabric with a zigzag stitch or a serger.
On to sewing the back, finishing it up and adding some pizazz (does anyone use that word anymore, LOL?!)…
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.