Tube dresses from jeans are easy for those with small-ish frames but what do you do if you need a tad more fabric than the jeans can provide? This tutorial will walk you through adding fabric to what you have to create a pretty dress. We'll even have useful bits leftover!
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Step 1: Get Your Materials Ready
- Corduroy jeans. Denim works too, as long as the material is a little stretchy.
- Knit fabric that is as long as the length of the cut jean legs, and as wide as needed to cover your widest circumference after taking the width of the two jean legs into consideration. For vertical addition.
- Knit fabric at least 4" thick and 1" longer than the circumference of your chest just under the arms. For binding the top of the dress.
- Pins and safety pins (makes for pain-free pulling on of the outfit in progress)
- Sewing machine, matching color threads
- Seam ripper
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- Cut trouser legs off of jeans then open them up.
- Cut each leg open in the middle, and not along a seam.
- Measure the gap. Safety pin the edges together and put it around your body without stretching it. If the open edges meet easily around your body and with allowance, you don't need extra knit fabric. If the open edges do not meet, measure the gap. Add 4 inches to that measurement, and that's the width of the vertical addition. The length will be the length of the jean leg that you just cut up.
- Cut the knit fabric to get a rectangular strip with the measurements from step 3. Further split this into 2 strips.
- Cut another strip of the knit fabric atleast 4" thick and 1" longer than the circumference of your chest just under the arms. This will be used to bind the top of the dress.
Step 2: Connect the Panels
- Pin one panel of knit fabric (knit 1) to one jean leg panel (jean1), with right sides facing. This will hide the seam inside after you turn the outfit inside out.
- Zig zag stitch 5/8" along the edge (small stitch width and stitch length set on 2 for my Singer machine).
- Finish the seam with a triple zigzag stitch (wide stitch for big zigzags and stitch length at 1 so the stitches are close together) and then snip off excess fabric. The triple zigzag stitch prevents unraveling and won't pucker up the two layers.
- Repeat step 3 until the 2 knit panels and 2 jean legs are connected in a tube. (Knit-Jean-Knit-Jean).
Step 3: Gather to Shape the Dress
1. We added 4" to the knit panels earlier. That provides some give when pulling the dress on without pulling a muscle. However, a loose dress made with corduroy/denim jeans isn't going to drape very well so it's time to add gathers. Pull on the tube and pinch out the excess fabric - measure that. We will use that length to cut out strips of elastic to make the dress fit better.
2. Not having elastic thread on hand, I used strips of elastic instead. Cut out 6 to 8 strips with the length measured in step 1.
3. Use tailor's chalk and a long ruler to draw horizontal lines 1" apart, across the middle-back of the dress. This is where we will attach the elastic strips. Stretch the elastic as you sew. Use safety pins to test the positioning and fit.
4. Zigzag stitch the elastic strips on. You may have to change bobbins if you intend to color-match the thread to the bottom layer. I did mine in 3 parts - black, red/white, then black bobbin.
5. When you have attached all the elastic strips, turn the dress inside out and try it on. It should fit better.
Step 4: Bind the Top
- We will bind the top of the dress with the 4" wide strip of knit fabric. Be sure that it fits comfortably under your arms and around your chest.
- First, iron one raw edge inwards about half an inch. Next sew the edges together to form a tube.
- Place the binding tube inside the dress. Match up the seam on the binding tube to the middle-back of the dress. Distribute the binding tube equally around the circumference of the dress. Do not stretch the gathered section.
- Pin the right side of the binding strip to the wrong side of the dress. Zigag stitch 3/8" in.
- Flip the binding strip over to the right side of the dress. Pin and zigzag stitch as close to the folded edge of the binding tube as possible. Remember not to stretch the gathered section of the dress.
Step 5: Add Lacy Shoulder Straps
- Place a tape measure from the front of your dress to the back, where you want the straps to be. Add 3 inches.
- Cut out strips of fabric from the leftover jeans with the measurement from step 1. You may have to cut 4 strips and sew two together to get a strap that is long enough.
- Fold the long edges inwards once and triple zigzag stitch to prevent unraveling.
- Add lace to both sides of the straps and zigzag stitch them in place.
- Pin to your dress (safety pins are safer!) and try them on for fit. Adjust the placement till you love it.
- Top stitch the straps in place. The 3 extra inches is to allow the bottom of the strap to reach below the binding tube. So i could hide stitches along the bottom edge of the binding tube.
- Top stitch all around the top of the binding tube to make sure the lacy straps stay in place. Be sure to match the thread color!
Step 6: Hem!
- To finish up the dress, fold the bottom towards the wrong side twice over.
- Iron, pin in place, then zigzag stitch along the edge.
You're all done! An easyrefashionwith gathers for fit instead of darts, buttons, or zippers.
This project even leaves you with some extras for other projects.
- You can use the seam ripper to gently remove the zipper.
- Cut out the back pockets.
- Cut out the top of the jeans that has the button - this can be a belt.
Enjoy your new dress! :)
Check out some of my other jeans refashioning projects.