Add a new skirt to your wardrobe without shopping! Making a denim skirt is a great project to re-use those jeans with too-tattered hems or too-short pairs that still fit well. Two pairs of jeans will be required for a long jeans skirt. Two pairs may also be needed if you want to add wedges to the side seams to flare out the finished skirt. Read the directions all the way through before beginning.
Equipment / Tools
- Iron and ironing board
- Seam ripper
- Sewing machine
- Denim or microtex needle, if available
- Marking tool, such as a removable fabric marker or tailor's chalk
- Ruler or hem gauge
- 1 to 2 pairs jeans
- Thread to match topstitching (ideally, heavier-weight topstitching or jeans thread)
- All-purpose thread for the bobbin to match topstitching thread
Ripping out and Cutting
To transform jeans into a jeans skirt, you will need to remove stitching without ripping or tearing the fabric.
- Lay the jeans flat on a table. Smooth from the waist down until you reach a point where the crotch seam will no longer lay flat. Mark this point with a pin. Turn the jeans over and do the same thing for the center back seam, marking with a pin where the seam begins to curve.
- Use a sharp seam ripper to carefully remove the inseam stitching.
- Remove the stitching from the crotch to the pin on the front and the back of the jeans.
- Trim the legs off of the jeans leaving ample length to hem.
- With the jeans laid out flat, and the back pocket side up, open out one unstitched leg on top of the opposite leg. Smooth out the unstitched back crotch seam, making sure it lays flat on top of the opposite side. Turn the raw edge of the inseam on the top piece under to the wrong side and pin in place, making sure not to pin through to the front of the jeans.
Filling in the Center Opening
The triangular opening at the center needs to filled with a piece from the trimmed-off legs.
- Rough cut a rectangle of denim at least an inch larger than the area you need to fill in. Pay attention to the fabric grain. In most denim, you can see the threads of the fabric. You want the threads to run vertical or perpendicular to the waistband.
- Layer the rectangle insert between the 2 unstitched leg layers so it covers the gap and extends above and below.
- Turn under the exposed raw edge of the insert (here on the right-hand side) so that the edge of the inserted piece matches the original seam line on the underneath leg. Now the rectangle will look like a triangle or wedge.
- Pin in place along both leg edges.
Start Sewing the Insert
- Using thread to match the existing topstitching in the upper thread (do not use topstitching thread in the bobbin as it is too thick), edgestitch along the folded edge of the insert on top of the lower leg. You may need to reach under the upper layer as you sew. Keep the pins in place until just before you reach them, then remove them. Do not sew over pins as it can break your needle, your thread, or even your machine.
- If you removed pins on the unsewn side of the insert, lay the garment flat again to replace the pins.
Finishing the First Seam Allowance
- Measure the spacing between the rows of topstitching on the original seams. Most jeans use a 3/8" seam allowance.
- From the inside of the skirt, trim the seam allowance so that it is just wide enough to be caught in a second row of stitching the distance apart you just measured.
- Apply a seam finish to the trimmed seam allowance. If you are using a heavier-weight thread for topstitching, switch to a lighter-weight for seam finishes.
Making a Mock Flat Felled Seam
Stitch the seam allowance in place by topstitching a second row of stitching to create a mock flat felled seam. Some sewing machines have guide bars or special presser feet with a guide to help keep the stitching an even distance from the first row of stitching.
Topstitching the Curved and Long Straight Edges
- Make sure that all the seams are laying flat.
- Turn all raw edges under along the original edge.
- Edgestitch along the edge of the curved seam and the remaining flat seam with topstitching thread. This will close up the second side of the insert.
Continue Finishing Seam Allowances
- Working on the inside of the skirt, trim the seam allowance as you did for the first seam.
- Apply a seam finish to the new seam allowances.
Making Another Mock Flat Felled Seam
- Be sure all seam allowances are pressed flat.
- Sew a second row of stitching on the long straight seam as you did on the first seam to create a mock flat felled seam.
Sewing the Skirt Front
Repeat steps 1 - 8 to finish the skirt front. For step 1, you only need to repeat the leg placement and pinning.
If desired, use the same process to open the side seams and add wedge-shaped inserts to create an A-line skirt.
Hem the Skirt