Seeing a pair of bell bottoms makse it easy to reminisce about decades past. While this classic silhouette was made popular in the 1960s, its origins actually date back to the early 19th century with naval sailors. This style came in and out of the trend spotlight for years and is now a popular style yet again. If you'd like to add a little flair to your own jeans, all you need is a bit of fabric and a few minutes of stitching. You can use crazy patches or fabric for a hippie style, or strips of denim for the subdued look of flared-leg jeans.
What You'll Need:
- A pair of old jeans
- 1/4 yard of the fabric of your choice
- Measuring tape
- Seam ripper
- Sewing machine or sewing kit
Once you have gathered all your materials, you're ready to get started.
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Open the Side Seam
Use your seam ripper to open the side seams along the legs. You can also use scissors to clip the thread, but you have to be careful not to cut the fabric. This is when you decide if you want your bell-bottom triangles to reach your knee or thigh.
Next, we will un-do the bottom hem.
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Undo the Leg Hems
The bottoms of your pant legs are folded up to form a hem. We want to take out this hem while we're stitching in our panels.
The best way to remove hemstitching is with your seam ripper, but scissors will work if you're careful not to clip the fabric.
Once your legs are both swinging free, it's time to measure the bell-bottom fabric.
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Measure the Panel Fabric
You will need a panel that tapers down to about 2" at the top. A good finished width for the bottom of your panel is between 3"-6". This picture shows a bottom width of 6.5", which includes a 1/2" for seam allowance.
Measure the height of your opened seam on your pants, and add two inches.
Don't feel limited by one kind of fabric. You can patch together lots of pieces of fabric to create your panels or even cut up another pair of jeans to make matching denim panels. Once you have cut your two panels, we can stitch them in.
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Stitch on the Panels
Turn your pants inside-out.
Lay the triangular panel face-down on the open seam and align the edges of the fabric. Make sure that about 2" of the triangle panel extends above the top of the open seam in the thigh or knee area. This is because we will be crisscrossing the seams at the top. Straight stitch from the top of the triangle to the bottom hem.
When you sew on the other side of the panel, cross over the first stitch as shown above. This will help the top of the triangle come together.
Finish the raw edges on each seam with a zigzag stitch to prevent the fabric from unraveling.
Sew the other side of the panel onto the leg. When you've got both legs done, it's time to re-hem the bottoms.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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