Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to remodel jeans into a skirt

Ladies, let's be honest. Have you ever had this happen to your jeans?

Yeah, not pleasant. We won't go there with how they get like that. It's always the jeans that fit you perfectly too. So, this post is about how to turn this:

Into this:

For this project, I used a pair of jeans that fit perfectly (actually, perhaps a little big in the butt or the thighs), thread meant for jean sewing in gold, jean needles for a sewing machine and the sewing machine of course, a seam ripper, pins, scissors and a measuring tape. I also used a sharp needle for hand-sewing.


To start out, you will need to cut the pants open. I did this the lazy way by cutting out the seam going up the legs. I cut it on one side then the other to remove it completely.

Next, it's time to cut the crotch out (sorry, there isn't a better word for it though). I turned the pants over on the side and smoothed them out, making sure that the edges of the waistband down to the legs were completely lined up. Then I cut out the back and the front - just enough so that the pants are in a straight line.

Next, it's time to cut the pants into a knee-length skirt. To get the right distance, I took another skirt that fit me perfectly and laid it over top of this one to get an idea of where I needed to cut it. I made sure that both the pants and the skirt were perfectly lined up then I cut them with about 1 inch of seam allowance.

Ok, so now I reused the leg fabric to make an insert for the front of the skirt. I cut away the ratty seam and cut the leg into two pieces. I folded one leg piece in the middle and used my measuring tape to get a good line. I pinned the fabric down so that it didn't shift while I was cutting then I cut up the cut side (not the folded side).


Time to get sewing. First, I sewed the panel into the front of the skirt. On the wrong side, I pinned the top over the crotch seam to keep it in place then I pinned the panel down one side of the jeans. I sewed that in place as far as I could go (it gets more difficult at the top so I'll do that by hand).

Then, I lined up the other side, pinned it and sewed it from the top to the cut edge at the bottom.

Now there is only an inch on either side of the crotch that needs to be sewn up. I did this by hand with a needle and thread.


Now time to tackle the back. On the wrong side, pin the seam going up the back up slightly to the waistline (for a smooth line down) down to 2 inches before the new hem with a very small seam allowance, less than 1 cm (as these fit you already). This skirt has a small pleat in the back for movement. Sew the seam down using the jean thread and jean needle on the sewing machine.

After trying it on and making sure that it fits right, I went over the front and back seams again to reinforce them. Now, I had to sew up the hem. I trimmed the hem to even it out then pinned the hem with less than 1 cm seam allowance. I should note that if I had a serger, I would have serged at this point and then sewed it down as jeans fray so I recommend doing that if you are able to.

This is the skirt on the wrong side:

And here is the finished product!

Estimated time for this project: about 3 hours. It took a little while to cut everything out, pin the seams, reinforce them and do the hand sewing. A good estimate is between 2 and 3 1/2 hours. 

  • If you have a serger, this is definitely a project to use it on. I would have serged all of the seams after they were done and the hem before sewing it down. 
  • I did plan on having two panels -- one in the back and one in the front for a nice wide skirt but it didn't look right after I had sewn it into the back so I ripped it out and sewed up the back. That is an option though. 


  • Why not do this with a pair of jeans that is faded, ripped or torn and dye them indigo again (or perhaps slate grey, black or such) before giving them a new lease on life as a skirt?
  • The instructions in this tutorial also work for any pair of pants, not just jeans.

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