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recycling an old denim jacket

tricone | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi ALl

I am a novice to sewing. I have bought an old denim jacket, which i would like to redesign / reinvent.
I have taken the collar. waist band and arm cuffs of it. I found some matching topstitch heavy weight thread on ebay.

Now i got it stripped to the basics, i would like to know if anyone has reinvented a denim jacket, and has anyone ideas of what i could do next.

The jacket is a short box denim jacket.
The collar , cuffs and waistband were easily removed.
Now i am looking to make it a more relaxed jacket. So any ideas on finishing , reinventing / redesigning etc would be greatly accepted.

Thank .


  1. rodezzy | | #1

    I would say to explore your design options by looking into your present wardrobe to get some ideas of the colors you like the most, colors you want to incorporate, and/or styles you tend to use the most or would like to try. 

    Then sew on ruffles, knit on a new color if you knit, or purchase some fantastic new novelty fabric to make collar and cuffs.  Or, take a favorite skirt to wear with it and if long enough, you can take fabric from it to coordinate the missing parts with the jacket. 

    I have knitted on collars and cuffs.  I have taken out the center back panel of a denim jacket and replaced it with a lacy pink novelty fabric, that had sequins and metallic threads in it. 

    I have crocheted ruffles around the entire front edge.  You can buy lace by the yard and make collars and cuffs. 

    You can weave ribbons onto a very light weight fusible web and cut a new collar and cuffs from it and the waistband.  The sky is the limit.  Do you know how to make fabric yo yo's.  They can be made and sewn together to make a unique collar and cuffs.  If you know how to make a quilted patch fabric, you use that.  Add feathers, buttons or bead a fabric and add it.

    Oh, oh....you can go to resale shops and get some old silk ties that look good and recreate a new collar and cuffs.  Make a purchase to match.  If you have the crystal stud machine, you can stud up the old collar and cuffs, waistband and re-attach.  You can take a lighter or darker denim fabric and make new collars and cuffs.  Man, you got me started now.  giggle. 

    Take some some water soluble (spelling?) web and sandwich novelty yarns in one direction next to each other, then sew across them in colorful threads (the web holding them together) and wash out the webbing, creating a new fun fabric to make the new parts you need.  Whew, I've got to stop, I'm overloading with ideas.  giggle!

    Just let your imagination run free.

    Edited 8/19/2008 9:36 am ET by rodezzy

  2. Josefly | | #2

    If you want to keep the jacket as it is now without collar, cuffs, or waistband, you could trim those edges with wide or narrow bias tape you make yourself from a contrast or printed fabric, or maybe with corduroy or ultrasuede.

    What kind of buttons are on the jacket? Are they removable? If you use a fabric to trim the sleeve, neckline and bottom of the jacket, you could cover buttons with the same fabric, to replace the originals. Or you could applique square or diamond-shaped patches over the buttonholes, then re-cut the buttonholes and hand-stitch a buttonhole edge with matching or contrasting thread.

    Does the jacket have other design features you'd like to accentuate, like a yoke, or princess seam-lines? Try a narrow fold of bias tape trim sewn down over the seam lines. Or embellish the yoke with decorative stitching.

    A poster in another thread on this forum is considering embellishing a sheer jacket with a stitched spiral-square motif. You might consider scattering a similar motif around on your denim. She cut out squares of paper and pinned them onto her jacket to determine how many she wants to use and where they should be placed.

    I know you'll have fun with this and end up with a jacket you enjoy wearing. Please let us hear about what you decide to do, and attach photos if possible.

  3. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #3

    You could use old denim from jeans to refashion the jacket as well. If you want to lengthen it. You can also use old denim to face the hem of the jacket and to make turned back cuffs on the sleeves, and remake a new collar. Then you can decorate, embellish to your hearts content from there. Cathy

  4. BernaWeaves | | #4

    I bought a denim jacket from "The Mola Lady" about 8 years ago.  She had sewn a large beautiful mola to the back, and a smaller one to the front upper chest above the pocket, and trimmed them with striped Guatemalan fabrics.   She had replaced the cuffs with striped Guatemalan fabric, and also the collar (although she sewed the fabric on top of the existing collar).  She put a twisted fringe on the threads hanging from the front of the collar. 

    I always got compliments on that jacket.  However, I wore it for a walk last time it was chilly (earlier this year), and some 10 year old kids playing on the street said, "Wow!  Is that jacket like from the 90's?"   It's really the wrong shape for this decade, so I've retired it.   It has broad shoulders, deep armholes, and a long waist and tapered.  Today's jackets need to be short and fitted and nipped in at the waist, or short and flared, trapeze shaped with 3/4 length sleeves.  As long as your jacket is an up to date shape, you can probably do anything to it.  I'd recommend ruffles, as that seems to be very in right now.


    Edited 8/20/2008 10:39 am ET by BernaWeaves

    1. Josefly | | #5

      I got a chuckle from your post. 90's? That's gone out of style already? The shoulder-padded, tapered clothes of that era remind me that in the 50's-60's I laughed at the enormously wide shoulders and long dress length of the - what was it? - the 40's, and thought that surely that monstrously exaggerated style would never be popular again. But, sure 'nuf, I did wear it in the late 80's and 90's, and still suffer shoulder-pad withdrawal pains.Hang onto the jacket. It'll soon be "retro" won't it?And anyway, could you recycle the molas somehow?

      Edited 8/20/2008 12:51 pm ET by Josefly

      1. BernaWeaves | | #7

        Oh yes!  I'm hanging onto the mola jacket.  It did give me a start when the kids said it, as I didn't think of the jacket as being all that old.  But it was probably made around the year he was born, so it's all relative.   I'm sure similar look will come around in the 2000 and "teens."

        I have my Mom's cashmere sweaters and crinolines from the 50's, which I used to wear alot in the 70's, but I've outgrown them now.  And I have her gloves and net eye veils from the 60's.  I also have some amazing vintage store finds.  Not cheap, mind you.  Really gorgeous stuff.

        For example, I own this coat.  This very one.


        Scroll down to Thursday, March 23, 2006   The Pauline Trigere coat.

        It's not felt.  It's double sided cashmere, and the inside is the exact opposite colors as the outside.  If it wasn't for that huge sailor collar, and it could be reversible.   It's either from the 1940's or the 1980's.  I've searched her archives and it's difficult to tell, because she did variations on this coat all her life.  Because the only closure is a self covered button, I can't use something like a zipper or bakelite button to date it.  But everyone drools over it whenever I wear it.  So, yeah, I'm hanging onto the mola!


        1. Josefly | | #8

          Wonderful coat. I love that collar, and the two fabrics used the way they are. You lucky thing, you've been so smart to hang on to your mother's things. My MIL sold one of her homes, and asked us to go through her things for her, as she was ill and unable to do it for herself. I found some great hats, gloves, purses. I wanted to have them all, but have no place to store them. I think many of the things were donated to a theatre costume department. I did end up with a couple of hand-bags, and they're very precious to me...much too special to actually use, except perhaps on a very special occasion.

        2. katina | | #10

          Hi Berna

          Fabulous coat - thanks so much for sharing. And that website...oh my, I wince when I think of all that I had and now don't.


    2. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #6

      Stlyles come round again, so wait a couple of years and you will be able to proudly wear your jacket again. Some of the clothing styles the girls have been bringing home to show me are right out of the late 70's early 80's so it shouldn't be too far off....Cathy

    3. MaryinColorado | | #9

      I have some 5x7 Mola designs for machine embroidery from Laura's Sewing Studio, her website is http://www.LaurasSewingStudio.net.  I don't know anything about the site as I got these at a Quilting Show in Denver. 

      Your jacket sounds darling!  I think that fabric is available at Southwest Decoratives.com if memory serves.  Mary

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