How many pairs of jeans do you need for a jeans refashion?

Rashly, I decided to throw my hat in the ring for Refashioners 2016, so the question became “how many pairs of jeans does it take to make a jacket?”


I initially thought this would take two pairs of jeans and a skirt, and then I read the rules again and realised that the skirt wouldn’t make the cut as the remake had to be from actual jeans, rather than a denim garment.  This meant that I had to completely revise my plan as I had intended to use those skirt buttons down the front of the jacket. IMG_7863

So that left me with the two pairs at the back of the above photo. My plan was to harvest the denim then weave it and sashiko over the top to anchor it all. I started to do this but rapidly lost the will to live. The sashiko (think tiny stitches) on denim was so hard! So that was the second part of my plan out of the window!


I had originally planned to have a woven back and plain fronts with the button band cut from the skirt, but once the skirt was off the table I decided that having just a woven back was going to look strange. Third part of the plan gone! I then needed to weave more denim and realised that the back section, which I had finished weaving, was too grey and wouldn’t match the fronts, which were out of a different, bluer, denim. I unpicked all that I had done. Let me say that again – I de-wove it, undid it, deconstructed it. I had even machine stitched every row in place, so all that had to be unpicked too. I then grabbed another pair of jeans and began stripping out the fabric


and then more jeans, and yet another pair of jeans. IMG_7871

In the end, five pairs of jeans were no more, they were kaput! And I had a large pile of denim strips ready to start weaving again (I didn’t photograph the pile for some reason, but it looked like this magnified by about 100)


At the end of the process I had several pairs of Daisy Duke shorts, which I won’t be wearing!


and some interesting jeans style trims


I also had a massive amount of denim threads, which I considered keeping and trying to spin or weave with. Then I got over myself!

A couple of the jeans were by Armani and I noted with interest that the seams were bound with a fine bias binding before being overlocked. Perhaps they are worth the money!IMG_7873

My revised plan was beginning to take shape – I was going to have woven back and fronts, plain sleeves and a knit lining. I planned to use the Pilvi jacket pattern which I’d already made from Lotta Jansdotta’s book Everyday Style as this is a pretty shapeless jacket with raglan sleeves and therefore perfect for embellishing and fiddling around with.

I made lining from a RTW Country Road skirt, although the polyester in it gave me pause. In the end I used it. I needed to cut a lining pattern to fit around the facings inside the jacket.


The weaving isn’t quite as easy as I perhaps thought. It’s tedious, every row needs to be stitched, and effort is required to keep things straight. This is the view from the wrong side. I cut some of the strips and ripped others, as I wanted to get the frayed look which is so trendy right now.


I wove a large piece for the back and two smaller pieces for the fronts. I wove the fronts in tandem so that the lines would match up and be the same colours. A good plan, but then I had some sort of brain malfunction and I cut a front from the back piece, which meant (a) more weaving, and (b) my masterful plan of matching lines wouldn’t work.

It was at this point that I began getting cold feet about this make. It didn’t look anything like jeans – no clever realignment of pockets and jeany details. I worried that my shapeless jacket was going to be really boxy and I wouldn’t ever wear it. However, I am not one to collect UFOs, so I pressed on. Literally as it happens because, as I wanted the inside to look nice, I began making bias binding from an old skirt which I never wore


I bound the seams and the joining between the facing and the lining.


I inserted pockets in the side seams, which aren’t really long enough for pockets, but I wanted them. I stitched them down from the inside so they didn’t flap around, which you can just see in the above photo, and faced them with the same fabric as the bias binding. I cut the sleeves from the two legs of one pair of jeans, with the side seam going down the centre sleeve

IMG_8194but I didn’t like the way the sleeves joined the weaving, so I replaced the tops of the sleeves with scraps of woven denim. I also though about woven cuffs, but they were just too bulky and strange. I am really happy with the way the tops of the sleeves link the fronts and back.

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front view
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back view

I added bronze snaps to secure the fronts together and as a bit of a nod to the origins of this denim, and even though my stripes are no longer identical I managed to match them sufficiently as to not be an obvious problem.


Basically I now have a jacket that I will wear – even though it is really heavy – and there are now five fewer pairs of jeans sitting in a box in my stash!



58 thoughts on “How many pairs of jeans do you need for a jeans refashion?

  1. What an epic refashion! I’m glad you did not give up. The work behind this jacket is just insane, but the outcome is well worth it. And I guess it will just get nicer and nicer with wear and tear.

    1. Thank you Hélène it was a bit epic and I am glad I finished it. I think I was worried about being embarrassed by the distinguished company I was going to be in 😁

  2. You really must be commended for the amount of work and thought that went into this jacket!! It has really paid off as the jacket looks fantastic.

  3. You’ve made an incredibly awesome jacket!!! So interesting to read through your thought process, what worked and what did not and why you adjusted your plans. I learn so much from you and you are ever inspiring! 🙂

  4. It’s really nice. I love the way all the blues work together and the squareness of the weave works well with the boxy shape. I am sorry you find it heavy. My regular denim jacket feels a bit heavy and it doesn’t contain five pairs of jeans!

  5. That’s a fine looking jacket. What a great refashion. I don’t blame you about the sashiko though, it would have been very hard work.

  6. What a glutton for punishment you are. I’m so glad you didn’t give up, it really is a work of art. I had planned a pair of jeans made this way for my son when he was a baby, but never got around to it. I think it’s safe to say that this plan won’t be resurrected. If I even suggest it, please put me out of my misery.

    1. Wow, making jeans out of this fabric would be an epic thing to do – I chose a jacket because it doesn’t have a lot of shaping. Thanks for your comment Andrea 🙂

  7. A spectacularly good refashion. With five pairs of jeans it must indeed be heavy! I love the woven fabric you created, and despite all of the difficulties you experienced you should be very proud.

  8. I do admire your perseverance and the end result was well worth it. Your jacket looks great and will be a worthy entry in the Refashioners 2016.

  9. Oh my you are my sewing hero. So much patience, heaps of creativity and an excellent finished garment. And you made me laugh out loud quite a few times reading this post!

  10. I salute your monumental effort, and such an interesting blog post, I do enjoy all the detail. The sleeves are still recognisably jeany and the finished garment looks professionally finished off. Must start my refashioners entry soon.

  11. Wow! Such an epic make. So much effort has gone into this jacket and problems overcome along the way. Your perseverance has certainly paid off and the result is awesome.

  12. Your jacket looks fab. I really like the woven effect, but it didn’t occur to me that it would be so heavy? I’m in the process of a jacket for #refashioners2016 too, and like you had to totally rethink it because I thought we could make it from anything denim and not just jeans only. It’s great fun doing these challenges simply because they make you think in a different way. Your jacket is a truly worthy entry

    1. Thanks Linda – the body is probably twice as heavy as a regular jacket because there are two layers of denim, but it is warm! I agree re the challenges, I really enjoy them, and love seeing all the fabulous things that other people make. I always wonder why I don’t think of some of these things!

  13. Weaving your own fabric from jeans, now that’s thinking outside the box! The jacket looks like a piece of wearable art and completely unique, nothing like your standard “jeans jacket” at all! Well done!

  14. Well done for sticking with it, I think I would have thrown the towel in but it’s well worth the hours you put in, it looks great on you and think it was a great idea.

  15. Saw this in the FB group. It’s so good. I am in awe of the perseverance that has gone into it and I agree those shoulders are a nice feature. Gives a perfect continuity of the woven element around the neckline. I also love the “and then I got over myself ” line 😂 Thanks you so much for joining in in such an awesome fashion!!! Px

  16. This is fascinating, thinking back to those construction paper woven hearts and cones and things. And maybe forward to some fabric strip weaving confection for ME! I wonder if tee shirt fabric would work?

    Thank you for sharing your process.


    1. Thanks Ceci, I’m not certain about tee shirt fabric, I think it would roll up too much. However, you could interface it before cutting it and then it would work. Thank you for your comment!

  17. What clever thinking in repurposing those jeans. LOVE the jacket and it suits you to a T. Just amazed at your skills. You’ve inspired me to have a go at something now.

    1. Oh Judy, that would be so good if you had a go. I have got lots of leftovers which now need to be made into something but I’ve run out of inspiration!

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