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Hey every one. My name is Lesley Chandler and I am a self-taught, mixed media artist from Big Spring, Texas. Although I have a Bachelors degree in nursing, I do not have a formal education in art. I spend most of my free time exploring many art techniques through on-line tutorials such as this one, magazines, and my own experimentation. I would love for you to come by later and visit my blog listed below in the resource list.

I am so excited that I was invited to share the techniques for making this altered denim skirt. It is quite an honor to be here. My love for art can only be compared to my love for teaching others the many techniques I learn throughout my creative journey.

Back to this Altered Denim Frida skirt. Did you know that this year would be Frida Kahlo's 100th birthday were she still alive? I have loved Frida Kahlo since I discovered her a few years ago. I am so exposed to the Mexican culture, living here in West Texas that this might be one reason why I am drawn to her work. I have always been very interested in the Mexican culture too. So, everything about Frida and her art captured me. Happy Birthday Frida!

Altering a pair of denim jeans into a skirt is quite thrifty and earth friendly. I can't stand to throw stuff away if I can think of another use for it. I have also noticed altering denim jeans is all the rage right now. People from every walk of life are reinventing their old jeans into wearable pieces of art. I have seen jeans painted with stencils, jeans with rhinestones all over in fabulous patterns, jeans with extensive embroidery work and fabric transfers that rock! There are so many possibilities. Maybe we are just bored with plain old blue denim! But a good old pair of blue jeans is hard to give up and you should not have to.

Tonight I am going to show you how to take an old pair of jeans and re-invent them into a piece of art you can wear proudly. Turning jeans into a skirt is not a new concept. This is a technique I picked up some where in my creative journey and I have adapted the technique to my liking. If you are a rigid Annie you are going to have to relax a little because my techniques are anything but rigid but the outcomes are both durable and attractive.

Note: I am using a different skirt for the tutorial pictures since I did not take pictures of the process while making the Freda skirt.


  • Denim jeans
  • Sewing machine (needles for denim work best)
  • Matching Thread (for heavy materials such as denim)
  • Straight pins
  • Seam ripper
  • Pinking Shears
  • Marker
  • Newspaper ( to draw a pattern on)
  • Fabric for triangle in front and back
  • Embellishments of your choice to decorate Like fabric transfers, rhinestones, beads, found objects, embroidery thread, fabric paints... whatever you like! No rules here.

Tip: You will need a large, flat work surface like a table or the floor to work on.

Instructions to turn jeans into skirt

Step 1

Lie the denim jeans on the flat surface (leg to leg) and use your pinking shears to cut the legs off at the desired length adding some length for seam allowance.

Step 2

Use a good seam ripper or sharp pointed scissors to open the seams on the legs.

Step 3

Now you need to open up the groin area a little bit because you are going to sew it down flat in the next step. If it does not lie flat across the opposite leg, then you probably need to open up that seam a little more. You just have to open the seam a little and check to see if it will lie flat.

Step 4

Now pin that area that you opened up in step 3 and stitch it down with the sewing machine. You should do two separate stitches much like the ones they do with jeans to make it more durable.

Repeat steps 3-4 for the back of skirt

Step 5

Now lie the skirt out on your flat work surface (table or floor) and smooth it out so that you can clearly see the triangle-gap left in the middle of the front of the skirt. Slip a piece of newspaper in between so you can outline the triangle. Add a little (about 1/4th”) seam allowance along each edge of the triangle pattern before cutting it out.

Step 6

Use your newspaper pattern to cut out the fabric you have chosen for the front of the skirt.

Step 7

Slip your fabric triangle in between skirt and stitch it to the denim from the front. Use two seams for durability. Trim your seams.

Repeat steps 5-7 for the back. Your triangle measurements will likely be different than the front (experience talking) so go through the process again to prevent wasting of your fabric.

Embellish Your Skirt

This is my favorite part of making these skirts. Usually by the time I get to this point, I have already determined what my theme will be. I find all the embellishments and create the fabric transfers that go with the theme. I find charms, other fabric pieces, contrasting embroidery thread and have it close by. I play with the composition of all of my embellishment materials and finally decide where everything should go. This can change throughout the creative process as any artist would understand.

About the fabric transfers. I buy the June Tailor Colorfast Sew-In Inkjet Fabric Sheets. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the package! But, there are times when I don't have any of that and I don't want to go and get some so I make my own transfers using an easy and inexpensive technique I outlined on my biog. last year. There is a link to that in the resource list below.

Finish Skirt

Hem your skirt and press it and go show it off! Tell your friends where you learned how to make it!

Other Resources

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