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Repurpose Jeans into a Denim Jacket

Reinterpret the beauty of well-worn denim.
Threads #191, June/July 2017
Every section from two pairs of old jeans plays a new role in making this intriguingly distressed jacket. Pattern: author’s design. Photo: Jack Deutsch; all others, Mike Yamin. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Hair and makeup: AgataHelena.com. Styling credits: earrings—Lucky Brand (Macys.com), top—Vince Camuto (LordAndTaylor.com), pants—stylist’s own.

Synopsis: Here’s a unique, eco-friendly sewing project to turn a couple pairs of jeans into a jacket. Author Mary Ray shows how she started with two pairs of men’s Levi’s that were well worn and faded. She knew she wanted to make a jacket and considered how to use various parts of the jeans. She let the project evolve by designing as she went along. Her article was first published in Threads #191, June/July 2017. Click on the View PDF link below to view the article.


Besides encouraging sustainability in fashion—an idea that sewers have always upheld—upcycling is just plain fun. It’s challenging to think beyond the pattern, work with limited fabric, and figure out design and construction details as you go. Repurposing is an interesting way to develop your sewing and planning skills and to see unique projects unfold before you. I was inspired by two pairs of men’s Levi’s that were well worn and faded, qualities we’ve come to appreciate in denim. Using them to make something new seemed like a good idea. I knew I wanted to make a jacket and considered how I might use various parts of the jeans before I started, but I also let the project evolve, designing as I went along. As I took the jeans apart, I discovered designs naturally created by the contrasts of faded, worn edges and darker indigo where the fabric had never been exposed. For the new garment, I chose a jacket style with princess seams and let my reclaimed fabric lead the way. Each upcycling project is different, but I’ll share helpful strategies for breathing new life into old jeans.

Deconstruct and discover

In most cases, you’ll need at least two pairs of jeans to make a…

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  1. mytime2 | | #1

    This article was so inspirational. In the spirit of this article I set myself the challenge of making a jacket using only what I had in the house - nothing could be bought. Luckily I had an opening zip, I seemed to have collected a few. I have had a lot of compliments. I also had enough fabric left to make a skirt. Both items were lots of fun to do. Thank you Mary.

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