opening the inside leg seams starting at the cuff
view of opened seams – notice that I can use the parallel seam lines as stitching guides
laying flat with seams ripped open – see how the jeans want to form an A-line? these were taken before I ripped the seams up to the zipper in the front and the yoke in the back.
I don’t have any pictures for this but what I did next was pin the front halves of the inside seams together to form a front seam. I worked from the bottom up and let the flaps fall flat and overlap. I basted it down and tried it on, found it left a curious bump, took all the stitching out (see? I LOVE basting) and tried again, this time it looked as normal as it was gonna get.
how the skirt lays flat with no back panel – this is the shape I will make the panel – I put brown paper between the layers of the skirt and traced the opening and where the bottom seam should be
the following are views and details of topstitching the overlapping front and back flaps (ignore the thread I hadn’t clipped yet). the overlap on the inside of the skirt is whipstitched down over the edge by hand
the catchstich on the inside where the fabric flaps overlap
if I wanted to show off my legs (I don’t) I might consider just leaving it open, with the flaps overlapping and tacked down it falls low enough in the back (note the 3″ platform shoes)
I liked the way the finished hem looked but had to cut it off because I’m too short – so I left it to fray. I added a center front slit to allow for room when walking.
the finished panel, hemmed to the length of the skirt and left to fray as well
stitch detail of the front slit – note I reenforced the spot where the seam separates
stitch detail of the hem – I made two rows where I want the fraying to stop
detail of one of the back slits
[apologies for the eBay-like quality of most of these photos, I was working at night and the light is all wrong]
With the arrival of my new (used) sewing machine which declared it was sturdy enough to go through denim I wanted to test this (within my 90-day period), and I happened to have a pair of perfectly good but slightly too small jeans I knew were to small but I ordered them online and never bothered to return them. So I decided to make a skirt (because they are in this season, apparently). There are a few sites with how-to instructions (there are also apparently some long-lost get crafty threads on this which I couldn’t locate, I grabbed a few of these links from this thread)
I wanted a floor-length skirt so I needed for find a fabric to use for the insert, I went with some red corduroy I found in the remnants section, but I wish I had used wide-wale. And I’m embarrassed but of course I cut out the panel with the nap running up instead of down, you won’t tell anyone will you? As I was building it I decided I wanted to have the insert only in the back (I had images of a Victorian train as I walked around the apartment trying it on in different stages). It worked, but I had to add some slits at the seams to give myself room to walk, and it’s still a little tight but doable. I would add a triangle in front as well as back next time I do this to make a wide a-line skirt which I can roam around in with as much freedom of movement as jeans. I left the bottom raw to fray (watch out – you too could be shedding denim strings and little puffs of red all over you boyfriend’s mother’s carpet) but I stitched two rows in about 3/4″ above the seam line to stop the fraying at that height (denim will fray quite well in the wash), the same with the corduroy (though I wish I had finished that).
So the good news is that my machine works quite well with denim (I didn’t even change the needle to a sturdier one) and extra-strong thread.
Here is some stuff I found out the hard way:
- Don’t cut any fabric when you are opening the inside leg seams – just rip out the stitching, you want to keep those nice stitched and dyed rows intact. Use teensy scissors or a seam ripper (preferred) to rip out the the stitches about an inch on either side of the leg hem around the inside seam – you can cut this if you know you are going to be chopping off the bottom of the skirt. Unfold this then rip out the stitches along the inside seam. This is a lot of work and will leave little thread pieces everywhere. When ripping I like to cut the thread on the inside of the seam (rather than the stitches you see on the top) little by little, pulling open the seam as I go. I ripped up to the bottom of the zipper in the front and the yoke in the back, although one of those pages I liked above gives an inches from the waist recommendation. I basted some stitches around where I stopped ripping to keep them together while I worked (which I never bothered taking out again because I was lazy and basted in white, should have used a bright see-able color).
- When you are laying the skirt out to pin it, laying it flat works as well as any sort of rigging on the body you might try. But do make the initial stitches basting (in a see-able color if you intend to take them out) and try it on before doing anything permanent. The first few times I did the I ended up with, ahem, oddly shaped bumps where I rejoined the fabric.
- Trying it on while it is pinned is a bad idea. So is trying to walk to a full length mirror at this point.
- Baste in your triangles of fabric as well if you suspect the thing will drape strangely.
- Don’t bother trying to make a straight down the center seam, it’s too much work. Overlap the little flaps created by the crotch (tee hee) area and stitch them down in front. I hand whipped over the edge on the inside of the skirt just to hold the flaps in place. You could cut out the flaps on the inside but why bother unless it shows an bugs you.
- If you are planning on letting the bottom fray do a row or two of reenforcing stitches to stop the fraying at a point. You can to these well above the cut line if you’re hoping it will fray itself into an asymmetrical line. Also, wash and wear the skirt a few times before you do some thing like leave little strings of denim and tiny puffs of bright red fraying cord all over you boyfriend’s mother’s carpet during a family get together.
- I didn’t use extra strong thread, but I did go over pressure points a few times (at the top of my slits, corners). I used white thread but I bet you can find that strong tan denim thead in the stores. I was considering doing red stitching but, well, I was too lazy.
- I didn’t stitch anything precisely (I never liked coloring inside the lines either) but it doesn’t show unless the viewer is really intent on criticizing your clothing.
- I found the most difficult part to be getting the front flaps to lay down flat – this was because I was going for stitching the front seams together, if you add a panel to the front and the back it will be easier. I found that the way the jeans want to open when put flat on a table is fine.
Next I’m going to try this with a pair of my boyfriend’s old army green cargo pants which have lots of pockets!