The Refashioners 2016: Jeans

It’s that time of year again, where Portia of Makery opens up The Refashioners 2016 to the community.  I am part of said ‘community’ (as is everyone else BTW) so I am taking part.  This is the brief this year.

The theme is Jeans only: (Not denim jackets, skirts, shirts etc) Because the specific challenge with this is the scarcity of fabric and all the hardware and heavy seaming you’ll need to work around. The majority of your finished project must have come from the source garment (ie your jeans). Other than that anything goes. Use additional fabric and haberdashery to your hearts content, as long as you turn them from something you don’t wear, into something you do wear…or use,  ok?! 🙂

If you don’t know about this challenge then I suggest you hop over and have a read.  To kick start this challenge, Portia enlists a bunch of uber talented sewers to give it ‘there all.’ You will see a wide variety of designs, a cool and eclectic mix, from wiggle dresses and kimonos to tops and jackets. There are some brilliant pieces, but my favourite has to be Joost’s project, err yes, Joost is a man.  Quite a brilliant and talented man at that.  He had me at ‘hello’.

So, to cut up a pair of jeans is a big thing.  From an environmental perspective they are a huge consumer of water (among other things).  Something we must be really mindful of, especially those of us here in Australia. My thinking was, if I can’t wear them then surely someone else can!  So I set out to find ‘unwearable’ jeans.

My first thought was to talk to my mother-in-law, Chris.  She works for a charity shop in the UK.  I asked her if they had a scrap bin of ‘unwearables’.  She told me to come and hunt. Luckily, I was in the UK recently so we met up and searched.  I came away empty handed.  There was nothing in the scrap bin.

So then I checked online, surely there was something in Australia.  Nope, another blank. If I want scrap pieces of jeans I have to spend a fortune on postage from the US. I had no choice, time poor as always,  I bite the bullet and found the most unattractive pair of jeans I could find in my local charity store. I put it down to saving someone from a fashion crime.  It was the best I could do.

I decided to use only 1 pair of jeans and pre-loved pieces.  I was gifted the pre-loved pieces by Emily.  She gave me one jean leg offcut in light blue stonewash with a random square of fabric missing and two denim pockets from a early Rushcutter dress sample.

The final decision of what to make was easy.  Make something that I would wear A LOT.  Jeans are an everyday item.  It had to be very wearable, something that I COULD wear as much as jeans.  So there you have it, one word: SWEATSHIRT.

A sweatshirt is not normally made from heavy woven cotton but I did spy some inspiration on my Pinterest page and my idea came together from there.

The sleeves are always the main issue when refashioning.  You need so much more fabric than you think, so I had to be savvy.  I decided to hack up a previous pattern into bite size pieces. I used the pattern from my previous make, A synthetic dream.  It’s a raglan sleeve dress hacked into a top from Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses.  It’s a simple pattern which is what I needed.  It’s also slimmer than the inspiration above, I needed to reduce the volume.  If you panel it out, you will be able to make more use of the strange shapes of fabric that you have.

My thinking was to deconstruct the sleeve by adding an underarm piece and a shoulder panel.  Then, add side panels to the front and back. I had seen this fabulous Dries Van Noten dress which had given me the idea.  Obviously my version is way less complex.


The centre panel of the sleeves are made from the original jeans.  You can see I removed the back pocket, I just have the shadow left. I incorporated the side seam with the lovely bar tack. This sits about elbow level. The side panels are from the Rushcutter pockets sliced together.  The sleeves are identical.


I overlocked all the seams, pressed them like crazy and then top stitched them all down.  The piece sits much flatter for it.

My main concern was getting the front/back side panel and the sleeve panels to sit at perfect right angles.  Every seam matched except one. I couldn’t leave it, it just had to be right so I fixed it up and now it matches.  You can see the before and after shots above.

The front and back centre panels are cut by opening up the inner leg seam and flattening it out.  I didn’t insert that centre front seam, that’s the original side seam of the jeans.

Final step was adding the neckband, cuffs and waistband.  I used some heavy duty ribbing from Neotrims on Ebay. It was a ribbing I had originally bought to make a jacket many moons ago.  It had been cut, so I had to do a patch-up job to make it fit the sweatshirt.  The ribbing gives it a touch of 70’s ‘American High School’, which I am not unhappy about!

So here it is in it’s full glory.

So glad I kept the original jeans side seam, it looks great down the centre front & back.
You can see the panelling quite clearly here.
I think the heavy duty ribbing is a winner!


You can see the shoulder panel here.  It’s a good way of getting this piece cut out of an awkward shape.
I really love the sleeves.  I like the upside down bar tack and the pocket shadowing on the elbow.  I think it’s a great detail.


The colour blocking here is such an unexpected feature
I had to patch up the neckband as I was short on ribbing, it turned out rather well I think.  I top stitched this piece down just at this back section .


Successful refashion?  I think so, yes!

Did it meet my expectations?  Yes, it exceeded them infact.

Will I wear it? HELL YEAH!!

24 thoughts

  1. Oh my gosh you are a super clever clogs. This refashioning gig is not for me. I can never see what might be from a piece of current clothing. I’m a bit useless. Loving the vintage feel of this sweatshirt and it’s so perfectly you xxx


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