My Favorite Skirt – How to Make a Long Skirt from Recycled Jeans

My Favorite Skirt

This really is my favorite skirt. I’ve been wearing it just about weekly for 7 years? 8 years? I had an amazing time teaching people at Maker Faire how to make this skirt. The shape is flattering on all body types (Seriously. I have yet to see a gal that doesn’t look fabulous in this skirt) and allows for great ease of movement. (Seriously. I ride my bike and climb trees in this skirt). Added bonus – I  met my boyfriend husband while wearing this skirt! The basic idea behind this skirt is that we are opening up a pair of pants and setting in four triangles of fabric into the openings.

You Need:
2 pairs of recycled jeans. 1 needs to fit you at the waist.
Sewing Machine

Separated MFS Instructions 1

We start with the first pair of pants. These needs to fit you at the waist. Cut off the entire center seam, cutting up one leg and down the other. On the outside leg seams, cut off the seam stopping a few inches above the knee.


On the second pair of pants your goal is to make two rectangles of fabric out of the legs. To do this, cut off the legs just below the crotch. Then cut off the center leg seam from both legs. (For this skirt you’ll be discarding the top of these pants, but consider other creative uses of the jean tops. Sew on other fabric for a non-denim skirt, make it into a tool-belt, save the back pockets to sew onto something else…)

Separated MFS Instructions 3

Back to the first pair of pants – we need to deal with the curve of fabric that sticks out to allow the trousers to go into the crotch. To do this, we make a slit next to the curved part of the crotch seam. Don’t cut out the whole seam because this will leave a hole. In the front, slit next to the seam up until the bottom of the zipper, but make sure you stop below the zipper because zipper flies have several layers of denim that are challenging to sew through. In the back, slit to about mid-butt, which usually is about the bottom of the pockets.

Separated MFS Instructions 4

We now want to take the two rectangles made out of pant legs and turn them into four triangles. We want two to be slightly larger and two to be slightly smaller. To do this, instead of cutting exactly on the diagonal (which would make four equal size triangles), shift your cut line down by a couple of inches. If the pant legs you used aren’t exactly rectangular (e.g. they came from a pair of flares), don’t worry. Your triangles just need to be mostly triangular – a little bit of wonkiness never hurt anyone.

Separated MFS Instructions 5

Now we start sewing the skirt together. Front and back are sewn similarly. I suggest laying out and pinning the front, sewing the front, and then laying out, pinning, and sewing the back. If you try to pin all the triangles in before you sew any, you’ll be dealing with a lot of pins that can snag on the rest of the skirt or on your fingers!

Start with the crotch curve. You want to make the curved parts lay flat against the skirt so they will flap to the side, as shown in the diagram. Pin them in place. Then take one of the larger triangles and put it on the inside of the skirt. Pin down one leg seam and then the other with the triangle and leg fabric overlapping by 1/2 inch. You want your triangle to lay flat at the top (so don’t stretch the legs apart immediately) and to take full advantage of the width of the triangle at the bottom (so it’s good if the legs are being stretch wide at the bottom). Don’t worry if you have overlapping fabric or large seam allowances at the top of the triangle as you can cut out the excess after you have sewn the seams.

my favorite skirt stitching

A note about sewing: One seam of a normal straight stitch will not be sufficient to hold this skirt together. I recommend doing two rows of stitching and using a sturdier stitch like an elastic/stretch stitch or a zig-zag stitch. Also, the point at which your crotch fabric slit stops is going to be a weak point. I recommend running a tight zig-zag of stitches over it to prevent it from forming a hole.

Separated MFS Instructions 6

Finally, set the smaller triangles of fabric into the side slits and sew them in place.

Additionally ,there are so many ways you can personalize this skirt! A few ideas:

  • Make it out of non-denim pants (FYI, wool pinstripe looks awesome and steampunk).
  • Make your inset panels out of highly contrasting denim.
  • Set in triangles of non-denim fabric.
  • Cut the skirt short (omit the side triangles if the skirt is much shorter than your knee).
  • Add extra pockets.
  • Add applique decorations to the skirt…