Give those worn-out denims an even better second life by making your own designer patchwork jeans!
Step 1: Giving Credit: Anthropologie, Current/Elliot Designer Hack & Materials Needed
These Current/Elliot jeans are sold out on every website I've tried! You can see why... they are amazing and with some time and patience, you can have your own pair at a fraction of the $163 (on sale!) price.
You will need at least 3 different shades of denim (the 4th light shade can be used from the wrong side/inside of the denim). I've been saving worn-out jeans because I can't stand to put them in the landfill. Lots of projects await these great saves.
Here are the materials you will need:
1 pair jeans as your base
3 different shades of denim (wrong side of denim fabric will be your 4th shade)
2 spools topstitching thread
1 spool navy thread (jean preferable)
Jeans/denim sewing machine needles
Twin sewing machine needle - size 6.0/100 - please note this size because the photo of the twin needle shown in the video is not the correct size. (I did not use for this project but will most definitely for all future jean projects)
Step 2: Cut Off Jean Legs & Use As Pattern
Take note and make an even better version than mine:
Use a seam ripper to un-do side seams and inseams before you cut off the front panel. You will get a better result for your pattern pieces (see below) than cutting away the side seams of your old base pair (as I did) Another bonus to doing it this way is that you can leave the back panels mostlly intact, saving yourself more work to replace them.
Once you've seam-ripped both inseams and outer leg seams 3-4 inches above where you want to make your cut, then make a diagonal cut on the front panels only. The leg panels you've cut off will now make your pattern pieces after ironing out the side seams so they are flat. Cut this front panel piece into 4 triangle pieces and these pieces will serve as your pattern. Pin a paper label to each triangle (ie. R1, R2, R3 and R4 for the right jean leg pieces) so as to keep straight which piece goes where.
Now use those triangle pieces to cut denim from 3-4 different shades of denim. The lightest shade can be made from the wrong (back) side of one of the denims. Make sure you leave a 5/8" seam allowance around your triangles (pic #4), with the exception of the seam sides. These sides already take into account the seam allowance. (I had to add 5/8" to mine all around because I cut seams off).
As soon as you cut the new denim triangle, pin a paper label in in a different shape so as to keep those pieces straight as well. (I tore my Post-its in half for these labels.) This an absolutely necessary step to keeping track of what's what: which side goes up on those triangles and in which order they go.
Step 3: Pin, Sew Your Triangles, Iron Seam Allowances Up
Pin 2 triangle edges together at a time, right sides of fabric facing each other. Sew 5/8" away from the edge. Then zig-zag stitch close to the seam, on the seam allowance side to reinforce and to prevent fraying of the seams.
Once you have the pairs of triangles sewn, pin it to the other pair of triangles from that front side and repeat the above. Then iron seam allowances upward - toward the top most triangle. This is important because you want to catch this seam underneath the top-stitching which is the next step.
Step 4: Top Stitch Triangles
Now you will change the thread in your machine to the jean top-stitching thread which is gold in color. Even if your gold doesn't exactly match the gold in your original jeans, it won't be noticable. They are all close enough in color.
Set your machine stitch length to a longer stitch than for seam sewing. (Is is a bit above a 3 on my machine.) Sew about 1/8" away from the sewn edge as shown in pics. The only triangle edge being top-stitched is the bottom edge of each triangle.
Step 5: Sew Completed Front Panel Legs to Jeans
Pin completed front leg panels to jean base in the same manner you sewed the triangles together. Press and repeat topstitching. You could save all the top-stitching for last so you don't have to change your thread (nor your stitch length} back and forth. You can always use top-stitching thread to sew a seam but it is more expensive and tends to run out quickly (not as much yardage on a spool as regular thread) so I save mine for topstitching only.
Trim up edges (along inseam and outer) to make even (pic #3). Hopefully you don't have to do too much trimming because you don't want to lose too much width to your jean leg.
If you need to add the back panel legs, this would be the time to do it. Design it with larger triangular pieces - or just one triangle at the bottom as pictured on the Current/Elliot model.
Step 6: Sew Inseams = French Seams
The inseams are the inside thigh seams. These are French seams on most jeans. It is the double-stitched seam that is characteristic of jeans. You will match whatever kind of seam is on your base jean inseam. Most likely it is a French seam. If so, you will pin WRONG sides facing (unlike typically where right sides face each other to sew). Straight stitch 1/4" away from the edge. (I used my serger but you can use a straight stitch or a zig-zag - pic #3 shows it already sewn).
Then turn RIGHT sides together and sew down the length on the inseams again, this time encasing the raw edges/seam you originally sewed. (Pic #4). The only reason I used a zipper foot here is because I was trying to get as close to the edge as I could while still encasing the raw-edge seam. This is because I originally cut my pattern seams away and could tell my front panel was skinnier than I thought best so I was maximizing the width here. If you took my advise and seam ripped (instead of cut) your front panel serving as your pattern, then you should make a (wider) 5/8" sew away from this edge and no need for a zipper foot.
Once your inseam is encased, you will turn your fabric right side out and press encased seam in one direction, following the lead of the already existing inseam on your base jean. This is the point where you change your needle to the twin jean needle. (I didn't have the right width twin needle size on this project but I do now - so stay tuned to Threadhead TV for more great jean remakes.) Top stitch using your twin needle (or if using a single needle, sew first topstitching the length on the right side of the jeans 1/8" away from the seam, then another top-stitching line 1/4" away from your first line).
Step 7: Sew Up Outer Seam
Most jean outer seams are not a French seam so you will sew a regular seam here. Pin right sides of outer jean legs together and sew down that outer seam, starting at the top and making your way down to the hem. I used my serger to do this seam but it then needs to be reinforced by a straight stitch. On a sewing machine, straight stitch down the outer leg and then go back and zig-zag to reinforce and keep the edges from fraying.
For the hem, I originally seam-ripped mine out in order to have an authentic seam look at the bottom. However, the jeans were a bit too long so I ended up cutting off the hem and left it raw. I like the ragged look that is on the runway right now. And with the boyfriend cut & cuff at the bottom that I wanted, it doesn't show anyway.
Step 8: Rock Out Your Cool New Jeans
Cool new Current/Elliot look-alike jeans without the designer hit to your wallet. I can't wait to make a pair for myself! Stay tuned to Threadhead TV for more great jean remakes.