We're probably all guilty of keeping old items of clothing stored away which we know we'll never wear again. Perhaps we've just grown bored of them, or maybe they're looking a bit faded and tired? Either way, these forgotten garments are the perfect basis for trying something new – like this upcycled denim skirt from Sew designer Vicky Taylor. With exposed seams and a contrast coloured band, this skirt looks great whether dressed up or down, and being made from an old pair of jeans it won't cost you anything to create either!
- A pair of old jeans that fit you well
- Seam ripper
- Tumble drier
- Custom sized to your measurements
Cut the legs off the jeans. To do this, draw a line with tailor’s chalk (slightly curved to coordinate with your waistband) across the front of the jeans from side to side below the crotch, making sure that it doesn’t intercept the pockets at any point (they need to be kept intact).
Cut out the parts for your skirt. Cut across the line with a pair of sharp dressmaker’s scissors. You should now have three parts – two leg pieces and one pair of ‘shorts’. Turn your ‘shorts’ upside down so that the waistband is facing towards you and, using a seam ripper and working from the centre point of the crotch outwards, start unpicking the seam. You will need to work upwards from the centre point in both directions: first up the front of the jeans towards the zip; and then up the back towards the waistband (only unpick about half of the each seam). This will take a while in most cases, as jeans are usually twin-stitched, but persevere!
Unpick the inside leg seams until all of the internally connecting stitching is removed and you are left with an open bottomed ‘skirt’ shape. Remove any scrap cotton, and fold one front flap (created when you unpicked the leg seams) over the other. Pin the flaps into place (slightly overlapping), and repeat with the back flap so that they also overlap each other, to form a more ‘regular’ A-line skirt shape. Working along the same lines as the original stitches, sew the overlapping front flaps together. Repeat for the back, and set this section aside for later.
Separate the strips. Lay out one of the leg pieces and, using a ruler and dressmaker’s chalk, draw lines along the entire length of the leg to separate it into four equal strips. Our sample skirt was constructed using one leg piece but if you would prefer a longer version, repeat this step on the second leg to create eight equally sized strips.
Make your first lower panel. Place two of your lengthways strips together (wrong sides facing) and using a straight machine stitch, sew along one short edge to make a loop, making sure to work slightly diagonally rather than parallel to the edge of the pieces – sewing at a ten degree angle will produce a slightly A-line shape when the skirt is finished. With wrong sides out, match the seam you just created with the side seam of your skirt and pin all the way round (on denim the seam allowance should be on show once finished).
Second side seam. Pin around the skirt to the opposite side seam, cut any excess fabric from the edge, making sure to add 1.5cm seam allowance. Fold the edge inwards and cut as above, working slightly diagonally to create an A-line curve. Once pinned, sew the panel to the skirt with a straight machine stitch with wrong sides of the panel facing outwards (this side is lighter than the right side and will create the ‘two tone’ colour effect of the skirt).
Make the bottom tier. Take two more strips, and repeat steps 8–10, making sure to work with the right side of your fabric facing outwards on this panel. If you want your skirt to be longer, add further tiers now, alternating between having wrong and right sides facing out for a striped effect. Fray the exposed seams; to do this take a pair of sharp scissors and (taking care not to cut through the stitching) make a series of 1cm snips on the seam allowance that is facing to the right side of the skirt, cutting up to the stitch line. Wash your skirt on a suitable cycle, then the tumble drier, to fray and ‘fluff up’ the exposed edges.