So, I dropped a red sharpie right on the crotch of my jeans. (FML)
I determinedly attempted to scrub, and bleach these mortifying spots into a mortifying mess (See picture. I'm not embarrassed).
Being the thrifty nerd that I am, I pulled out my trusty sewing machine and turned the jeans into a super easy, cute, functional skirt! Here's how....
Step 1: Cut Around the Bad Stuff - Keep the Good Stuff
So I started by cutting around the zipper and pockets (to keep them attached) and cut out the damaged part of the jeans (symmetrically, of course).
Then I measured how long I wanted the skirt to be, added 1/2" for the seams, and cut the bottom legs of jeans off. Why the bottom? Because they were already hemmed, and I don't have to do it. Nice.
Then pick one hem on each of the legs and rip it open. See? It looks like a skirt already.
Step 2: Stitch the Back
I wanted to keep the pockets, so I cut around the back pockets and left them attached to the waistband. Then I ripped out about an inch or two where the front pockets are stitched to the side seams (So the pockets don't get stitched closed and rendered useless).
DON'T SKIP THIS STEP if you want to keep the front pockets. I mean it. Seriously!
Then I stitched one of the opened pant legs from side seam to side seam across the back of the waistband, making sure to leave gaps for the pockets.
Basically, I put the right sides together, and stitched 1/2" seam until I reached the pocket, stopped, started on the other side, stitched until I reached the other pocket, stopped, started on the other side.
The intelligent thing to do, of course, is to stitch the side seams on both halves of the skirt (the cut-open pant legs) first.
This works much, much better. I highly recommend it if you have a tape measure and can measure how big the bottom of the waistline is, so the pant-legs-skirt fits.
If you are uncertain, or lazy like me - then we piece it like Princess Leia's slave outfit, and fight a little harder later when trying to stitch the side seams.
Step 3: Stitch the Front
First and foremost, pin the pockets up and out of the way. They have a tendency to get in the way of scissors and sewing needles.
Take the front piece of the skirt and trace along the cuts you made on the waistline. Then draw a line 1/2 inch above that for a seam allowance. Cut it out.
Place right sides together, and start by stitching across the crotch, under the zipper. This was more critical for me, trying to hide the bleach stains. Then you can work out from there stitching the front of the skirt to the front of the waistband.
Please note: See how I didn't line up my front skirt seam with the waistline-crotch seam? I fixed this later - don't screw it up in the first place. Initially, this came together beautifully - but the off-centered seam looked stupid. So I ended up adding a bit of fabric on the side so I could have a centered seam.
Step 4: Stitch the Side Seams
Super! So far, so easy - right? Right.
Turn the skirt inside-out and match the side seams (right sides together) and stitch. This might get tricky close to the waistband if you're doing it my way, instead of properly sewing the skirt first. Just use a lot of pins. Trim the waistband seams, then fold them down. Stitch right over the top to get a clean seam. Failing that, there's always hand sewing. _.\/.
If the side seams don't quite match, you can snip out an appropriate-length + 1" and width + 1" piece of the pants. (The extra inch is to leave room for the hem, and for the side seams). Stitch the extra piece in just like in the above step.
*If you can catch this mismatch before you stitch the skirt to the waistband it will be so much easier!*
Topstitch the pockets down onto the back of the skirt as in the Picture. (Make sure you aren't stitching through to the front of the skirt).
Trim the dangling threads and extra material from the seams, and you're done!
Step 5: Hints and Tricks - Before You Start
Match the front and back seams with the seams from the pant legs and pin. Figure out if you're going to need extra fabric to make ends meet.
Pin things like pockets up and out of the way so they don't accidentally get stitched or cut where they shouldn't be.
There's nothing wrong with basting (using a very long, easy-to-rip-out stitch) to test the fit and appearance. In fact, it's much easier to do your final stitching, especially around tricky bits, without worrying about pins.
Measure twice, cut once. It's easier to take off more material than it is to put some back.
Remember to leave room for hems, and seams. Usually a half inch per seam/hem is enough. So 2 side seams means add an extra inch onto what you need. Again, it's much easier to stitch a slightly bigger seam, and cut the extra off than it is to have to add more fabric.
You'll do fine! This whole project took me under 2 hours start to finish. I'm pretty happy with it!