Ladies: A Cunning Way to Recycle Your Jeans

Jeans are the nation’s favourite trousers.  Probably the world’s favourite trousers. Match them with anything. Dress them up, dress them down. Heels, trainers, flip flops, flats, hiking shoes and boots, t-shirts, jumpers, tunics, shirts and jackets – any will work!

I don’t know about you, but I find it a challenge to find a good pair of jeans that I like and that fit me well. Usually, about once every three years I find a winning pair that I cling to, wearing them whenever I can. Eventually they inevitably wear through and usually (for me) – in rather unfortunate places. I try to keep wearing them until they reach the officially ‘unwearable’ stage, but at some point you have to say goodbye. (I recently realised this with my current favourite pair the other day. I jumped onto my bike and the edge of saddle slid through a rather insightly hole on the side of my thigh, which took me a few seconds to uncomfortably untangle…) It’s sad when this happens.

I do, however, have a trick that a friend taught me whilst I was at university, that keeps your favourite pair of jeans alive. It requires a pair of sharp scissors, a needle and thread and a sewing machine.

Here’s my simple step-by-step illustrated tutorial on how to turn a pair of jeans into a denim skirt:

1.  Cut up your jeans

I know it hurts but you’ve gotta do it.  Take a pair of sharp scissors and cut off the legs of your jeans, probably around the knees, or approximately 2 inches lower than you would like to wear the skirt.  Keep hold of the leftover fabric.

2.  Unpick the inner stitching

Using a stitch unpicker or “seam ripper”, cut all the stitching on the inside of both legs and along the crotch.

3.  Pin, pin, pin!

On a flat surface, lay out what remains of your jeans.  Lay one part of the leg over the other and pin these together, taking care to tuck the seam of the leg underneath, before you pin so it looks neat.  You’ll probably find you have an upside down “V” shape missing from the shape of the skirt.  Cut up a piece of the leftover fabric from the jeans to fill the gap and pin this in that section.  (Take care not to cut this piece too small – you can always trim it smaller, but you can’t work with a piece of fabric that’s too small.)  Turn the jeans over and repeat the process with the back of the jeans.

4.  Tack and Try Again

Using a needle and tread, tack along the line you pinned loosely, to hold the fabric together.  Remove the pins and then try on the skirt.  If the skirt is too tight or too loose, take out the loose stitching, re pin and try again.

4. Sew, sew, sew!

You’ll probably need a thick fabric needle, one that’s suitable for denim to fit to your sewing machine.  I’d recommend using fairly thick and strong thread too.  Following the lines along where you tacked, sew the denim together using the sewing machine, to form the shape of the skirt.  (see diagram.)  When you’re finished, gently remove the tacking thread.

5.  Decide about the Hem

With the hem of the skirt you can do either of two things:  You can leave the hem to fray for a scruffy look, or you can fix the hem for a neater, finished look.  If you choose the latter, here’s what you do:

Turn the skirt inside out and lie flat.  Turn up the hem to the length you want and pin it using straight pins, approximately 1inch from the bottom of the skirt.   Again, using needle and thread loosely tack along the line and then remove the pins.  Use the sewing machine to sew just underneath the tacked line, leaving approximately 1.5cm from the bottom of the hem.  I normally sew a second line all the way around the skirt a few millimetres from the bottom of the hem, as this makes it look a little more finished.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, check out our affordable mini sewing machine – perfect for little tasks like this, with all the functionality of a full-size sewing machine.  Even better, it’s size makes it perfectly portable – and it’s cordless!

Let us know how you get on – we hope you find new life out of an old pair of jeans!

Illustrations: Floral Footsteps

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