Jeans to dress refashion

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Refashioners 2016


This will be my entry for refashioners 2016.

I don’t really wear jeans.  My reasons are that they are too tight, and  I don’t like wearing tight clothes, the fabric is too heavy and stiff, which makes them uncomfortable, and  waistbands normally sit right in the middle of my stomach area, which cuts me in half when I sit down.

I do, however, like  denim fabric

I have made a number of household items from denim –  tea cosies, cushions etc



but as yet, no refashioned clothing.

With refashioners 2016  in mind I bought some jeans from Traid for £4.



They were having an ‘everything £4 ‘ sale.  The jeans are a size 18 Tommy Hilfiger, 99% cotton 1% elastane, made in China and are quite nice and soft with a bit of stretch and a large amount of fabric.



I looked them up, these jeans could easily have cost £50

The brief I gave myself was to make a dress from a pair of jeans using as much of the jeans as possible.

I did a lot of unpicking to the point of having 2 large leg pieces, pockets and waistband.



I had a vague idea of an empire line dress but also went round the shops for inspiration. This was the kind of thing I had in mind.


I decided to attempt pattern drafting.

Using pages out of a magazine to draw round myself in a mirror probably isn’t the best method.



The bodice pleats and neckline shape just sort of morphed out of what I needed to do to make the pieces fit, there wasn’t much vision and planning involved.

In the end I set the bar no higher than making something that fit.

I made some adjustment to the pattern and cut out the denim pieces.  I placed the centre front of the bodice on the jeans seam but the other pieces were placed any old how to make them fit, but approximately on the grain, give or take a few degrees.

One of the refashioners said she didn’t want to make something that looked like it was cobbled together from an old pair of jeans – Oh dear, that was something like the look I was actually aiming for.


I had made a toile but from a fabric with no stretch whatsoever, so even after going to that effort several adjustments were needed in the denim version.

The toile got abandoned at this point due to lack of time and because I now wanted to make it into a wearable garment with a different skirt design.

The bodice was now starting to take shape, next stage was to add the waistband, salvaged from the jeans.  It had to be cut down a few inches which I did in 2 places to avoid excessive bulk.


I added home made bias binding to the neck and armholes.  This was made from fabric  bought in a local market.  That market stall is no longer there and has been replaced by an artisan bakery.  Some people call this progress, some call it gentrification.

By now there wasn’t enough denim left to make the skirt, and someone who had planned this better would have made the larger skirt pieces out of the larger pair of jeans but luckily I already had a pair of flared jeans in a similar denim which had been given to me by my daughter, which would do the job.

I had already used the waistband of the second pair of jeans for an earlier project.


I laid the pieces on the bed to get some ideas, then stitched the legs onto the bodice.  The skirt was beginning to look very much like the classic jeans to skirt refashion.


The original Tommy Hilfiger jeans still had enough fabric left to make two triangles to fill in the front and back, I had to pare down the flare  to make this work.

I wasn’t going to cut up a third pair of jeans so for the side fill in panels I used more of the trim fabric.


I used both back pockets together to make one large pocket, which needed a stitch or two in the middle to avoid gape.


This pocket turned out to be my favourite feature because it was the perfect size to hold passport and boarding pass, and the middle stitch at the top gave extra security.

I was in something of a rush to finish this off because I wanted to wear it on holiday (Croatia) and would have probably added more jean details such as the coin pocket somewhere,  and back pocket lapels, but at 2am before the holiday I had to call it a day.

I have to say I am really pleased with it, this dress may not be the most original make, and I am full of awe for some of the artistic and imaginative designs that other bloggers have produced.


The slevelessness made it cool enough to wear in warm temperatures and it provided just the right amount of fit shape, comfort and practicality for me.

A denim dress made a very practical holiday item because it could be worn several times without needing a wash, or I shoud probably say, showing the dirt.


And I shamelessly got my daughter to model it for me.


All refashions are unique, and there are improvements I could make to this dress if I were to repeat the process but then again I would be using different jeans so who knows, different mistakes may be made.


With such a  great variety of inspiration from therefashioners, I’ll probably be making more use of denim in the future.







6 thoughts on “Jeans to dress refashion

    FabricHoarder said:
    September 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Looks very stylish, and you made great use of those pockets!


      helentristam responded:
      September 14, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks, the denim being soft and a little stretchy really helped.


    Alyssa said:
    September 13, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    You did a great job with this! Nice job making your own pattern and everything. It looks awesome!


      helentristam responded:
      September 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Thank you, it was quite time consuming but I enjoy wearing the dress.


    […] by my mum’s entry to the challenge (she asked me to model her entry, which you can see here- There are some super creative entries, people must have spent weeks on some of their creations, […]


    K said:
    September 28, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Think it looks really good. Denim can be quite hard to work with. Well done!!


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