How to Sew a Skirt From an Old Pair of Jeans

Cyndee Kromminga
Blue Jean Skirt

Jeans have long been the go-to garment for comfort and relaxation, but what happens when your favorite jeans get holes in the knees? You make an equally comfortable jean skirt, of course! Featuring a trendy maxi length, this skirt made from recycled jeans can easily be completed in under an hour.

Make a Maxi Jean Skirt

The fabric used for this project is jersey knit, which is the same as t-shirt fabric. A stretch knit or cotton fabric of the same light weight can be substituted.

Things You Will Need:

  • Old jeans
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper (if required)
  • Jersey knit fabric
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Crochet thread

Note: The total fabric amount will depend on fabric width, skirt size and the length desired. Jersey knit is commonly available in 59"-60" widths.

What to Do:

  1. While wearing the jeans you are transforming, measure from 1/2" below the back pockets to 1/2" above the floor. This works better with the help of a partner. Do not mold the measuring tape to the legs. Allow the tape to drop naturally. This is your maxi skirt length. If a shorter skirt is desired, measure to the length needed. You do not need to add length for a hem as jersey knit does not require a hem. Record the measurement and set aside. If you are using different fabric or you would like a hem, add 1/2" to fold and sew a 1/4" hem.
  2. Lay the jeans flat with the zipper closed and the back pockets facing up. To avoid cutting the inside front pockets, pull them up toward the waistband.
  3. Measure one inch below the back pockets and cut straight across the jeans from one side to the other, through both layers. The legs will not be needed for this project. The rest of the skirt instructions will refer to the top section of the jeans.
    Cut your jeans.
    Cut your jeans.
  4. Optional step if needed: If the front and/or back crotch seams do not lay flat after cutting, use a seam ripper to open the seams to just above the point where they begin to flare. Overlap the open seams until they lay flat. Top stitch over the same seams using a thread that matches the top stitching on the jeans.
    Adjust the front and back seams.
    Adjust the front and back seams.
  5. Measure the circumference of the jeans along the bottom cutting line. Multiply this measurement 1 1/2 to 2 times. This is the skirt's width measurement. Cut jersey knit fabric using the length measurement in Step 1 by the width measurement.
  6. Fold the fabric in half with the wrong side facing out and the "length" ends matching. Pin the ends together. Sew the pinned edge using a 1/2" seam allowance. You now have a tube. Do not turn right side out.
  7. Prepare one open edge of the tube for gathering. This is the top edge of the knit skirt. Keep that in mind if your fabric has a directional print. To gather, knot one end of crochet thread and place on top of the tube edge. Insert both the edge and the thread under your sewing machine's presser foot. Select your zig-zag stitch and adjust to the widest setting and a long stitch length. Sewing as close to the edge as possible, zig-zag over the crochet thread. At the end, cut the thread and knot. The zig-zag stitch has created a casing over the crochet thread.
    Prepare to gather.
    Prepare to gather.
  8. Measure and mark the top edge of the knit skirt into four equal sections with the first section being the seam. Insert the right-side-out jeans inside the wrong-side-out skirt. Match the jean edge with the prepared skirt edge. Pin the skirt seam to the back jean seam. Pin the remainder of the marked sections to the jean side seams and the front crotch seam. Pull the ends of the crochet thread to gather the fabric of the skirt. Match the gathers to the jeans and pin.
    Gather and pin.
    Gather and pin.
  9. Sew the pinned edge using a 1/2" seam allowance. Cut the knots from the crochet thread, pull it out and discard. Turn the skirt right side out.
    Maxi Jean Skirt
    Finished skirt

Pattern Alternatives and Tips

The design of the fabric used in this pattern has a bohemian feel to it, but you do not need to feel tied to this style. Use these ideas to create a jean skirt that's just the right style for you.

  • Completely change the look of your jean skirt to a western style by using bandanas. Using the fabric dimensions for your skirt, cut and sew several bandanas together to create a single piece of fabric and follow the pattern to attach it in the same way.
  • If the seam between the skirt and jeans does not lay flat, top stitch rick-rack or other small trim over the seam. The stitching will flatten the seam.
  • Appliques are a fun skirt embellishment. Use the legs of the jeans to cut appliques that will tie the top of the jean skirt with the fabric bottom.
  • Cut and hem a long strip of the skirt fabric to use as a tie belt on your finished jean skirt.

Cool for Summer

If you are not looking forward to long hot days and bugs that seem to zero in on your skin, then you are not alone. Use the skirt of this maxi to keep the mosquitoes at bay while allowing you to enjoy the cool spring and summer breezes.

How to Sew a Skirt From an Old Pair of Jeans