Jeans to Skirt Tutorial: Turn a pair of jeans into a cute pleated skirt in 9 easy steps

Transforming a pair of jeans into something else is a great project, and there are lots of instructions online to do a simple transformation by removing the center seam and inserting a triangular piece. But what if you want to do something different? Here's a great project to transform your jeans into a cute pleated skirt. Let's do it!

What you will need: good scissors or a rotary cutter, a sewing machine, thread, and pins. That's it! If you have a serger, great. If not, you can zigzag your rough edges or leave them as is (they will all be hidden away).

Important Tip: Because this skirt will use all of the fabric from the legs, choose a pair that are in good shape. Really worn out jeans are better made into shorts. When you cut the legs off, the waist will become a little looser - so it's okay to use a pair that are a little bit tight.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, please don't hesitate to leave me a question in the comments section and I'll get back to you right away. Suggestions and links are also welcome! Happy sewing, Devorah


Turn your jeans inside-out (not necessary, but I did) and cut off the legs below the pocket. You can use scissors or a rotary cutter, whatever is handy. Cut this as straight as you can.

Cut open the crotch.
Neaten edges. I trimmed mine to one inch below the pocket.


Cut off the leg hems. Again, you can use scissors or a rotary cutter, but cut as close to the hem as possible to preserve the maximum amount of fabric.
Fold and then cut each leg in half. Do this as evenly as you can.
At this point you should have four leg tubes and one top piece.


Cut open one side seam on each leg. Most jeans have one simple seam and one nicely-finished "flat-felled" seam. Leave the nice topstitched seam and cut open the simpler one. You can be lazy like me and just cut next to the seam, or you can use a seam ripper to painstakingly pull out the stitching. Your choice!
At this point you should have 4 nice flat leg pieces. Pile them up. If your jeans are like mine (slightly flared), they're narrower at the top. Keep them that way!


Pin and sew the four pieces together to make a tube (remember to keep the narrower part at the top).
Serge (or zigzag, or do nothing), press them to one side, and then topstitch the four new seams.
Even out the top and bottom of your tube. Fold it in several places to check that it's even, and then trim.


Prepare to attach the bottom to the top by slipping the top inside the wide skirt fabric. In this photo the top is upside-down and the skirt is right side (narrower side)-up. Make sense? Pinch it with your fingers and turn it right side out if you need to - it should be very clear.

STEP SIX: Pin together 8 times, evenly around the skirt

Pin the halfway points of the skirt (on both sides) to the halfway points of the top. Do this again with the front and back so that the skirt fabric is evenly distributed around the base, and there are 4 points where the fabric is pinned together.
Keep pinning the centers (first into 4 sections, and then halfway again) until you have pinned at eight points. From the top you should have 8 'pockets' - you're almost done!

Step 7: Make 8 box pleats

Using your extra skirt fabric, create 8 box pleats. Just pinch each section in the center of the pins like this...
...use your fingers to fold the sides down evenly (checking underneath that the fold underneath is lined up nicely)...
...and pin them well. In this photo the box pleats have red pins. (Don't be distracted by the 8 vertical seams in the skirt, unless you are intent on making this perfect. I ignored them.)

Step 8: Stitch the top to the bottom

Before you sew, turn the skirt right side out and look at it. Does anything need to be adjusted? If so, this is the time. If not, turn it back inside-out and stitch the top to the bottom! Go slowly, as you are stitching through through several layers of denim, and your pleats may shift if you're not careful. Once this is stitched, you can serge the seam, zigzag, or just leave it be.

Step 9: Hem the skirt, press, and you're done!

If you have a serger, serge the bottom. If not, you can press and stitch a regular hem, or do a rolled hem if you prefer. Try it on first to make sure it's a length you love!
The skirt from the front...
... and here's the side/back!

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