Jean Skirt Tutorial

Hello, there! This is Suzannah. You can see Abigail’s impressionist portrait of me up there on the banner, in a red bonnet.

One of my grandfathers used to say, “They don’t make the kind of clothes I like!” And when asked what kind of clothes he liked– “Old clothes.”

I was in this dilemma. I wanted a warm, cheap, sturdy, serviceable skirt (or three) which I could wear around the house, but which would take so little time to make that I would not end up putting it away for special occasions. Finally I realised what I needed…


It’s cheap! It’s easy! It’s hard wearing! It only takes two hours to make


You will need 2 pairs of jeans, one for the main body of the skirt and one for the insert panel. Here are some guidelines for choosing the jeans:

– The main body jeans should be bootcut–tapering in slightly at the knee and flaring out again toward the bottom. This gives the skirt a more stylish, tailored look. I also highly recommend using jeans that are a little too small for you, as I don’t recommend cutting anything off the end (it’ll unbalance the bootcut silhouette). Since the finished skirt will be full length, it’s more important to start with a smaller, higher waist.

Also, don’t use baggy-kneed or stretchy jeans ;).

– The insert jeans should have wide, straight legs. Their colour should look good with the other pair.

OK, so you’ve found your materials, hopefully for under $8 at an op shop.

Step 1: Rip open the inner leg seam of both your jeans and lay the main pair out flat on the ground.

Get it lying naturally by kneeling on the waistband and smoothing the legs away, straight down the grain.

Step 2: This is the only tricky bit: you need to flatten down the crotch seam, front and back, and sew it flat.

As is, your jeans are going to have a bit of a ‘nose’ at the crotch seam. You need to grab a couple of pins, carefully fold the nose over to lie flat, and pin with extreme care. Then sew right along the ends of the crotch seam.

On this particular pair, the front crotch seam was nearly flat already. I still stitched it down, folding the seam allowances from the inner leg seam down as I did so.

In case you’re wondering, I basically sewed down along the darker row of stitching in the photo.

The back usually has a much bigger ‘nose’, and can take more work. The first thing I normally do is sew the end of the ‘nose’ together, along the red line pictured below:

That holds everything in place long enough for me to topstitch it flat from the right side, like this (pinned):

I usually do two rows of stitching, and it ends up looking like this:

There you are! This is really the only fiddly part.

Step 3: Lay out your jeans again, front side up. Take one leg of the ‘insert material’ trousers (or try some contrast material!) and lay it over the jeans you’ve been working on so far. Cut off the leg, giving yourself a generous hem allowance. You can trim it later:

If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the insert leg is actually up-side-down, with the original hem towards the top of the skirt. This is because most trouser legs are wider right at the top, which gives the leg a better chance of filling in all the space it needs to fill.

If your trouser leg is just a centimetre or two too narrow, don’t worry. It won’t matter.

Step 4: Now, without moving the pieces more than necessary, smooth that insert panel under and inside the jeans, between front and back. Get the middle seam of the panel straight and centred.

Now pin the jeans to the panel, all the way around what was formerly the inner leg seam. As you pin, tuck the seam allowance from that inner leg seam back under, out of sight.

Working from the right side, topstitch the jeans to the panel with two rows of stitching.

Then turn your skirt inside out again and trim away the panel!

Repeat Step 4 for the back panel.

Step 5: Hem the panels and wear!

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One Response to Jean Skirt Tutorial

  1. 3margarets says:

    We used to do this back in the early 70s 😉 Lovely blog; thanks for sharing x

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