Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Ruffled Denim Skirt - THE TUTORIAL

Photographs taken on my kitchen floor
So, a while ago you may recall I showed you a picture of one of my favourite skirts – made out of an old pair of jeans. Well, I had another pair of jeans go (they always seem to get holes right in the middle of my behind! It’s very strange), so I figured I’d sew up another skirt, and whilst I did it, I’d take pictures and tell you how to do it.

This is a picture of the hole in my jeans
#super classy
For this tutorial you will need: A pair of old jeans, fabric that goes well with them, your maths brain, regular sewing stuff, OPTIONAL TRIM… who am I kidding? Trim is never optional… TRIM. An overlocker… I did the first one of these before I owned an overlocker, just zigzagging the edges – but it turns out denim frays, a LOT, so if you don’t have one, you might like to consider doing bias bound seams or something.

And now you see why I sew on
the kitchen floor - can't accidentally
cut tiles
Step one: cut off the top of the jeans. Now, I will say at this point, for this skirt, I feel for me I cut it off too low – it doesn’t sit particularly flatteringly when it’s on, but it’s still wearable with certain tops. You may need to unpick the pockets at this point – I suppose you could just slice through them, but I think that would look tacky. So yes, unpick pockets, and cut off the top of the jeans, just before the crotch (or, if they have a hole in them… just above the hole!). I made sure the cut was even by cutting one leg – which I measured with a ruler, then folding the jeans in half at the centre seam, and cutting the second leg to match.

Shortest skirt ever
This leaves you with the top of the jeans… which could actually be a skirt all by itself… IF YOU LIKE SHOWING PEOPLE YOUR PANTS. I will refer to this bit as the ‘top of jeans’ from here on in. Also, you will note that my waistband isn’t straight at this point – these are well worn jeans, and I always wear my jeans higher at the back – so I know this is how they sit on me – if I were to try and match the front and back of the waistband up, the bottom seam of this section would end up all wonky when I wore it – so bear this in mind.

Step two… cut up the legs of your jeans. Now, this actually involves a little bit of thinking, because you want to turn the legs of your jeans into one long strip of fabric. PLEASE NOTE: If the legs of your jeans are super damaged beyond repair, then you could skip this step, and use a different fabric. Anyway, back onto using the jeans… cut the seams out, yes, you can unpick them, but unpicking denim is NO FUN, and if you cut really close to the seam, you get enough fabric.
Ok, don't look at the burn marks
on my ironing board

This will leave you with four strips of fabric, of roughly equal length (two from each leg, the front and the back). Now, depending on the type of jeans you are using, you may need to even up the strips – my jeans are bootleg cut, which means the front of the jeans are narrower than the back, and just above the knee is the narrowest point of the jeans. So, the quick and easy way to even these up, is to eyeball where the narrowest part of the narrowest strip is – measure how wide that is, and then cut each of the strips down to match it – using the grainline to ensure you are cutting nice straight lines – also if you don’t cut along the grain, it will look slightly odd.
This is just four strips of fabric...

Ok, at this point you should have: 4 equal rectangles of fabric, 1 top of jeans.

Please excuse the blurry photo
overlocker light does nothing
for pictures
The next step is to stitch the 4 rectangles together to make one long strip of fabric. Then sew the last two short edges together to make a circle. Overlock it. You may find it helpful to overlock one or both of the long edges at this point – it just makes it easier to work with. You could also hem one edge at this point, or if you are adding cutsie trim like I did with the last one, this is your moment to do that.

Ok, bad news: here is the mathsy bit. Good news: I’ll walk you through it.
1.      Measure how long your circle is all the way around
2.      Measure how deep your denim strips are
3.      Measure how long your jeans top is all the way around
4.      Measure how deep your jeans top is
5.      Work out how long you want your skirt to be

Now, you need to cut out a strip of your contrasting fabric (or several strips together like you did for the denim circle) – the height is the easy bit, it’s just however high it needs to be to make up the rest of the skirt length: skirt length – (height of denim strip + height of jeans top) + SA

The length of the strip is quite tricky, essentially you want it to be halfway between the skirt top, and the denim circle. So if your skirt top measured 1 metre all the way around, and your denim circle measured 3 metres, you’d want the middle layer to be 2 metres long.

There’s an easy way you can work this out: (round jeans top + round denim circle)/2
Again, rubbish
blurry photo of
doom #sorry

Ok, now you have another strip of fabric, sew this into a circle and overlock it. The first think you want to do is to join the denim circle to this circle – you’ll need to gather the denim circle to do this (quick gathering – sew two lines of really long stitches along the edge you want to gather, and then pull on those threads). Stitch the gathered denim circle to the fabric circle, and overlock.

The finished product
Now do the same thing to join the fabric circle to the top of your jeans, and then you’re done! You have a brand new skirt (unless you didn’t hem it earlier, if that’s the case, you need to hem it now!)

And here! The finished skirt. I'm not too happy with how this one turned out compared to the other one - the top section is too long for it to be flattering on me - lesson learnt for next time.

I hope that wasn’t too complex – I’ve never really done a tutorial before, so feedback would be SUPER APPRECIATED.

Bonus skirt: pop on over to my friend Luthaisea's blog where she's made a GORGEOUS gold version, with the cutest trim around the bottom - it's delicious!


  1. I understood all of it :D And my skirt worked so it must be a good tutorial! :D

    1. I feel oddly really proud of your gorgeous golden skirt - which is bizarre, because I didn't make it :-D

  2. Neat! I followed, I think :) Love your friends too!

    1. Thank you! My brain tends to work a bit like a runaway train, so I'm surprised anyone manages to keep up with my instructions!

  3. Very cute! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

    1. Oooh thanks! I'll be sure to pop along on Friday - I love me a good link party ;-)

  4. Love your fabrics and refashion! Pinned:)

    1. Thanks Michele! And thanks for the follow :-D I'm only just starting out in Blogland - so it makes me super happy!

  5. Awesome!!! I love the way your skirt turned out! Thanks sooo much for sharing this great and clear tutorial! Would love to have you visit me sometime :)
    Hope you have a wonderful day!
    Hugs from Portugal,
    Ana Love Craft

    1. Thanks Ana! You should totally make one the next time you have some jeans to upcycle!

  6. Thank you for sharing this post at City of Creative Dream's City of Links on Friday! I appreciate you taking the time to party with me. Hope to see you again this week :)

  7. I love this idea it is perfect use for my old jeans! I would love if you would share it on my meet up Monday blog party.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I'll be sure to pop over!