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…


Comments 37

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  1. Fantastic! I just made a long skirt from two pair of jeans using two triangles, front and back. I can’ wait to try this with 4 triangles! Love the instructions. Jean skirts are the best!

  2. Omg! A great tute! I have been trying to think this out in my head for yrs! Have never attempted to make one. Now I will! Thanks for sharing!

  3. oh I just made one and I think this is now my favourite skirt :D oh I love it :D may or may not alter it a bit after tonight going out in it thank you for this great tutorial.

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  4. Hi! Thanks for posting this tutorial. It wasn’t easy from a newbie perspective though lol. I found the pattern and planned to hand sew it (not fun ). I had it all pinned and was then given a sewing machine. I apparently misunderstood your pattern, because I assumed I had to turn it inside out and repin it to sew it that way. Of course, the back puckered because I had pinned it completely wrong. Lol. And, you didn’t specify when to cut the future skirts length, so I didn’t realize how long it was til it was pinned… It’s a wearable mess. But, I’m writing this with humor at myself :) On the bright side, it took me all of 5 minutes to learn the machine. Now that I think I correctly understand the pattern, I’m going to try again, to make skirts for my daughters.

  5. This is a nice tut. I started one for an October “Make A Garment A Month Challenge”. It’s modeled after the one I saw on Pinterest by apostolic clothing dot com. It has diamond shaped patchwork inserts in the front and back.

    I may try one in the future with the four inserts. I live in semi-tropical environment so not sure how often I’d get to wear that much denim. Still, it would be a nice project to blog about.

    Thank you for this share.



    P.S. I am really enjoying your website. The Robson Coat inner lining is what pulled me in and made me Bloglovin’ follow you. :-)

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      I wear my skirt in all sorts of weather, even on the hottest days of summer (which for us is ~80F). The volume of the skirt with four panel inserts allows plenty of air to move over your legs and keep you cool, in my opinion, so maybe it would work for you too?

  6. I absolutely LOVE this!!!!! Me and my mom have tried to make some skirts with the Jean top. Most have flopped but a cpl came out really good, one in particular is my favourite skirt! :) now I want to get back into it. I am definitely trying this! love the style! thx so much!

  7. YES! This pattern is so well laid out and easy to follow, thank you! I’ve sewn a lot of things for my family but never once did it cross my mind to split some pants and craft a skirt. (Yes, it was truly a DUH! moment for me, LOL) I was given a bunch of scrubs pants and thought of your tutorial right off :-) Awesome job and thank you for sharing!

  8. Thanks for the cool skirt. Made mine out of light weight jeans and white sailor like pants. Turned out ok. Made the top of triangle pants into a purse. Quick and simple finished in one evening. :-)

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  9. I love this skirt! I’m going to make one now.
    How do you ride your bike in it? I’m wondering how you keep the long skirt from getting caught in the chain/spokes.

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      I just hop on my bike and ride! I find that the weight of the skirt keeps it from getting caught in the spokes, although I have gotten a bit of chain grease on it over the years. I also sometimes hike it up a bit and sitting on it hiked up a bit makes it short enough that I don’t have to worry at all.

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  10. Pingback: Turn Recycled Jeans into Skirts This Weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area | Make: DIY Projects, How-Tos, Electronics, Crafts and Ideas for Makers

  11. I’d really love to make this skirt (w/ contrasting fabric). My sewing skills are not great — it would be helpful if you had a video showing how make this as opposed to some diagrams and written instructions.

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  12. Glad I found your tutorial. Although I know how to sew from patterns, I don’t usually use them… or instructions. I just lay down on the fabric, trace myself, and make it up as I go along. So far, so good.

    But my daughter-in-law asked me to make a little dress for my granddaughter out of some infant denim overalls where the legs are now too small, but the torso portion still fits. I dont want to wreck it, so I’ll adapt your plan, scale it down to baby size!!

    I am going to use white cotton eyelet fabric for the inserts and eyelet trim around the hem and match it on the shoulder straps. Add some pre-embroidered daisies, and… voila!! Baby denim dress!!

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  13. Pingback: Denim 2017: Deconstructing Spring Styles | Girlfriend is Better

  14. My front and back inserts are not as wide as I didn’t have enough material,i plan to make side inserts might give the skirt a bit more swing. I have done sewing all my life am a few days from 78 yrs old, afraid I may be too old for this style, but here in the south should be cool enough, is light weight jeans, I used a woodsy pattern material for inserts. i am tall and thin so hope it won’t look silly on me, may wear it anyway. first time I have seen your site so will look for more nice ideas, might improve my closet. i don’t wear old lady cloths, but not teen ones either, if it is a decient style and covers my body I am on it. thank you can’t wait to wear

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  15. I just made a below-knee length version of this using a pair of dark denim jeans that had been shredded by chub rub and the legs from a pair of grey skinny jeans that I had made into cut-offs for my daughter after she went through the knees. There wasn’t enough fabric to add side godets, unfortunately, but it’s still breezy enough for these warmer days. I finished it off with a floral piped ruffle cut off a thrifted sheet.

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  16. I’m making one for my 3yo. Just two things I’m not quite clear on. Are you actually cutting off the seams, not ripping them out? And when you cut the the triangles, you’ve already opened the inside seams so the legs are no longer tubes? Just hoping to be sure I’m following correctly. Thank you if you are able to answer!

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      I cut off the seams because it’s usually to hard to sew through so many layers of fabric if you don’t cut off the seams. It’s also a lot easier and faster than ripping!
      Yes, when I cut the triangles I have already turned the fabric into rectangles instead of tubes.

  17. Great tutorial Erin. I’m using a set of spring-y cotton sheets (pinks & peaches) for the triangles. I’m also short and very fluffy so I’m going to target the length above the ankle at the bottom of the calf and am going to slit the side up to about and inch and a half below the waist band to give better hip room and more fullness. Thank you for your generosity in sharing this. I’d already cut the center seams of my one pair of jeans before I found your tutorial. I’m always running ahead of myself.

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  18. Yay! I have been looking for a tutorial like this! To buy a skirt like this would have cost me $65-$70+! Can’t wait to try this!!
    Have you ever thought of making a video?
    Thanks again for sharing!

  19. When step 3 ‘slit’ …does one slit same way as cutting leg seams please? Haven’t sewn for years, & need to comprehend instructions before the sewing process. Thank you.

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      When cutting leg seams you probably want to cut off the whole seam (which is usually bulky because it’s felled or serged and stitched down). When cutting the crotch curve you want to cut next to the seam but don’t cut it off because you don’t want to leave a hole in the fabric.

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