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Upcycle Dress To Denim Skirt

Upcycle Dress To Denim Skirt

Denim Skirt Pattern

This is the denim skirt I recycled from an outgrown denim dress I mentioned in the earlier post. This the second part of the recycling project after I made the top to a vest. There are another 2 tutorials, a reversible belt, and a denim rosette brooch, all made from a single piece of 4-year-old denim dress.

I salvaged the bottom part of the denim dress my daughter wore when she was 4. Since the denim dress is a drop-waist type (bigger than the wist line measurement), making the drop-waist to the waist line for a 8 year-old is possible.

recycle denim skirt

Upcycle Dress To Denim Skirt

1. Denim / jeans dress, drop waist type (a little too small for the current wearer)
2. Seam ripper (to separate the skirt from the dress)
3. Strong thread for denim sewing, find the closest thread color
4. 1/2 yard cotton fabric (enough to make ruffles for a vest, this skirts and another side of the reversible belt, post to follow soon)
5. 1″ Elastic band, length according to wearer’s waist.

1. Sewing machine
2. Denim sewing needle #16 or #18
3. Matching color threads
4. Sewing kits and pins
5. Scissors
6. Rotary cutter, quilter’s ruler & rubber mat (optional)
7. Safety pin for inserting elastic band

Refashion denim skirt material

This is the skirt portion of a denim dress. I split it from the dress by ripping off the seam using a seam ripper.
Cut the hem from the skirt, just above the sewing line, around 3/4″ from the bottom. Keep the hem for making a reversible belt later.
Measure the total length of the skirt’s hem, multiple by 2 to 2.5 for the ruffle’s length. Cut a 3″ wide on the new fabric with the multiplied length.

Recycle Denim Skirt

If the original dress came with a facing on the waistband, just stitch them back to the band after ripping off the top from it. If it didn’t have waist facing, cut a strip of new fabric, and sew it on. Leave a 2″ opening for elastic band insertion.

modify belt loop

If the belt loop is too long, trim it to about 3/16″ from the edge.
Fold the raw edge in and sew on the waistband.
If you have a bad experience in sewing a thick layer of denim fabric and faced problem like needle breaking and thread jamming, you are not alone… You will find the trick shown below helpful.

sew with different thickness

There are a few ways to sew a thick layer of fabrics with a household sewing machine, you can use handwheel to control the sewing and manually move the “stuck” fabric by hand, or use a walking foot, or hammered down the thick pile. But, I found that by simply placing thick cardboard to level the presser foot does the trick wonderfully.
When you are about to sew a thick pile of fabric, with the needle down and presser foot up, insert the cardboard behind the needle. Drop the foot and continue sewing. Sewing from thick to thin layer fabric has a lesser problem, if needed, just place the cardboard to the front part of the presser foot to level it and sew slowly until the needle is about to reach the cardboard. Adjust the cardboard to the front and repeat again if needed.

sew belt loop

The adjusted belt loop. Using a household sewing machine to make narrow satin stitch on a thick pile of denim fabric is difficult, so, sew the belt loop with straight stitches instead.
Remember to perform 1 or 2 back stitches at the beginning and end of the sewing to prevent the threads from fraying.


Join all the 3″ strips to make them into a circle. Overlock or zigzag stitch the raw edges of the seams.
Rolled hem one of the long raw edges.
Set your upper sewing thread to tight tension and longest stitching length, sew 2 parallel lines of long stitch about 5/16″ apart and 3/8″ from the raw edge.
Pull both upper sewing threads to create gathers for the ruffled trim until the length matches the skirt’s hem. Spread the gathers evenly across the trim.
For more detailed photos on making a ruffle, please refer to the denim vest tutorial.

ruffled hem

With the right side of the ruffles facing the right side of the denim skirt, pin the ruffle to the bottom edge of the skirt.
Set your sewing machine back to normal sewing condition, sew a straight line to attach the ruffles to the skirt with 1/2″ seam allowance.
Trim the raw edges with overlock stitches by using a serger.

frill skirt

Press the ruffles down and topstitch the ruffles to the seam allowance underneath it.

elastic waistband

Measure the wearer’s waist. Cut the elastic band according to the waist measurement.
Insert the elastic band through the waistband opening with a safety pin.
Overlap the ends by about 1 “, zig-zag sew to join them.
Close the opening.

ruffles denim skirt

A whole new look of a denim skirt with a touch of ruffles.

recycle denim skirt


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