Rainbow Striped Jeans Remake




About: I've loved textiles since I was a kid. My well-educated grandmother introduced me to the magic of sewing. The redemptive and transformative nature of sewing is like good therapy - only cheaper.

"Plain" to "ombre-rainbow-happy" in a day. My main motivation was to make these cord-jeans a size bigger. I have so many jeans/pants in my stash because of impulse buying a "deal" that I didn't bother trying on or that I saved from my pre-childbearing era. In this case, I was at the Gap Outlet and didn't have time to try them on. (Always a mistake.)

But I love the colorful stripe trend. So... can I turn them into something even better? Let me know if you think the remake is better than the original in the comments at the end.


  • Jeans to remake
  • Thread
  • 1/2 yard fabric (I got mine at Ikea some time ago and has been sitting in my stash.)
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors and rotary cutter and mat
  • Walking foot for your machine

Step 1: Cut Sides of Jeans & Cut Fabric

I decided I was going to take the easy route with these so, instead of picking out the jean's side seams with my seam ripper, I cut along the seam on the back panel side of the jeans. If it was a denim project, I would have used my seam ripper but I thought this was great to use more striped fabric on the side rather than less.

I initially made my side fabric strips 2" wide. Then I realized that would only net me 1/2" increase in size on each side (since I don't have seam allowances on the jeans themselves - since I cut and didn't seam rip) and I needed at least 1". Now, in retrospect, I could have used another 1/2 inch so I wish I would have made my strips 3" wide but my actual used strips were 2.5" wide.

Make sure you have plenty of length to your strips. You want enough fabric at the top and hem of jeans to finish them off.

Step 2: Optional: Cut Out Yoke of Back

Ok, so this step, in the end, wasn't necessary. I was trying to give myself more room in the derriere but it didn't turn out to net that much more room. Instead, what gave me the necessary room was seam-ripping out the back 3 belt loops and then cutting the center waistband in order to add an extension to the back waistband. (Will detail this step later.)

If you have some great striped fabric and want to cut out the yolk-back section for added effect, here are the steps:

  • Cut above the double (French) seam-line and below the waistband. I cut and didn't seam-rip because I didn't mind a rough/tattered/fringe look to the jeans all along the perimeter of this area. Seam-rip all these areas if you don't want that look. It is time-consuming but can allow you to catch a great audio book or netflix show.
  • Use this slender piece you cut (Pic #1) to make your new pattern piece. Make sure you have plenty of seam allowance around it - better to have more than less. Also, the direction of the corduroy helped me place it to match the direction of the stripes. They run parallel.
  • Then use your newly cut piece and match it to cut a second one, matching stripes.
  • Sew pieces together in the center, using a 5/8" seam allowance. Press seam to one rside.
  • Topstitch double lines to match the width of the double lines on center of jeans. Now your two yoke pieces are one.
  • Pin yoke piece in place on jeans back, both yoke and jeans facing up and matching center of new yoke to center of jeans.
  • Sew on top of the already existing double line (French seam) to affix new yoke to jeans. KEY: start your sewing in the center of the yoke and work your way out. Repeat this for the other side of the yoke. This way you won't have any bunching in the middle. I pulled all my center threads through to the back and tied them off in a knot.

Step 3: Pin Fabric Strips and Sew Side Seams

Pin right side of fabric facing right side of front panel of jeans all along the outer seam, making sure the same color of stripes start and stop at the same places on each side. Sew 1/2" away from the edge (seam allowances) on the front panel side. Then pin again to attach this front panel to the back panel. This time, use a 1/4" seam allowance if possible.

A walking foot is very helpful to go over these layers without causing bunching. I highly recommend an investment in one if you don't already have one. It is designed for quilting but I use mine on leather (doesn't stick) and any and every project that has thick layers.

Even though you can see that the sewing jumped around a bit (pic #6) due to the already existing seam on the jeans, you can also see (pic #7) that once you turn it right side out, these irregularities don't show.

Step 4: Finish Inside Edges of Seam Allowances

I used my serger to finish the raw edges but you can also use a zig-zag stitch.

Then I snipped the area shown in pic #3 under the waistband and right up to the side seam in order to get my striped fabric tucked in there. Again, seam-rip here and into the front waistband a bit if the raw edge is not the look you are after. A bit more work but worth it to be happy with your end result.

Step 5: Hem

I serged the bottom edge of the striped fabric so my hem would not be as thick but you can zig-zag stitch this or double-fold and then sew if you don't have a serger. Then I turned my pant leg to sew right-side up and topstitched along the hem to match the original hem (pic #2).

Step 6: Finish Waistband

The last step is to expand the back waistband and then re-attach it. I used a small section of the extra length that I cut off at the hem so this was also 3" wide. I wanted it to blend in more with the existing waistband so I used the pale pink section of the striped fabric. I don't picture these steps but they are easy:

  • Seam-rip off the back 3 belt loops being careful not to damage them as you will need to reapply these loops
  • Cut up center of back waistband in the seam
  • Pin right sides of fabric facing each other, starting with one side of center waistband facing the right side of striped fabric, raw edges aligned. Use a 1/4" seam allowance and sew. Repeat to attach to other side center waistband.
  • Then tuck ends around to back side of waistband and stitch along top edge of center, tracing the already existing stitching line
  • Pin and sew waistband on top edge of back yoke, both sides facing up and trace the already existing stitching line on waistband as your sewing line.
  • Position and sew belt loops back on.

Step 7: What Do You Have to Lose?

Try it with a pair of jeans that are currently too tight and what do you have to lose??? (No pun intended - ha :)) The worst that could happen is you ruin a pair of jeans that you couldn't wear anyway. The upside is that you could end up with a pair of cool new jeans to rock.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Also, what else would you like to see made out of this happy ombre-rainbow fabric? I still have more than 1/2 yard calling out for something else to be done. I'm thinking either shopping bag or table runner... any other ideas for me? Leave them in the comments below.

I hope you will try this project! Stay tuned for the accompanying video tutorial.

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    9 Discussions


    4 months ago

    This looks so cool! I have a few pairs of jeans that seem to have unfortunately....ahem...."shrunk in the wash" over the last year, and I was wondering what I could do with them.

    2 replies

    1 year ago

    That is a cool idea! I just picked up a new sewing machine and was looking for tips just like this! Thanks JudeSewsSpunk! If I can do this, will give an update.. my first sew is a new night gown.. but then will be working on dresses tops and pants.. maybe if I get used to it all, even a jumpsuit! :) (y)

    3 replies
    Threadhead JudeSmokyBlue

    Reply 1 year ago

    Awesome - I love "meeting" new sewists! I'd love to see what you make! Stay in touch

    SmokyBlueThreadhead Jude

    Reply 1 year ago

    I will! I also found out how to upload pix.. so will see ;)
    My machine ( bernette b38! ) will be here tomorrow!
    Thanks Jude ;)

    Threadhead JudeSmokyBlue

    Reply 1 year ago

    Wow! You are getting a really nice one - congrats! Please do upload any pics - I would love to see your projects.