1970s Fashion Flashback!

Back in the stone age, when I was in high school, maxi skirts were the rage. And the coolest maxi you could have was one made from an old pair of blue jeans.

There was a cool girl at my school who had the best blue jean skirt ever. I coveted that skirt. Then, one day she left school - I can't remember if she graduated or if she moved to a different school but she left the skirt behind in the laundry room and I found it. Possession is 9/10th of the law, right??

I wore that skirt almost daily for a full semester. I loved that skirt with everything I had. Then, one day, she came back and saw me in it. The exchange went like this:

HER: Hey! That's my skirt!
ME: No it's not.
HER: Yes it is... look there's the [some identifying feature that made it hers]. Give it back!
ME: No.
HER: I'm telling. (she probably didn't actually say this but...)
ME: Fine.

So, I caved and returned the skirt and forever regretted no longer having the coolest jean maxi skirt ever.

The other day, I was cleaning out my chest of drawers and came across a pair of jeans that I never wear anymore. And I had an epiphany.

Because I'm a really generous person, unlike that b*tch from high school, I'm going to share my tutorial on how to make your very own, awesome jean maxi skirt. Enjoy.

Materials needed:
  • 2 pair of jeans (or one pair of jeans and fabric to fill in the “center” of the skirt)
  • A seam ripper and/or a really good pair of sharp pointed scissors (snips)
  • A spool of “jean thread” (it’s kind of orange and heavy)
  • A denim needle for your sewing machine. DO NOT SKIP THIS. You need a heavy duty needle to get through the multiple layers of denim.
  • An iron and ironing board
Step one: Open up the inseam on the pair of jeans that will serve as the skirt. 

Step two: Clean up the remnants of the old thread.

Step three: Measure and cut the jeans that will be used to fill the center of the skirt.

a)      Measure the inseam on your “skirt” and then measure the leg of your second pair of jeans from the hem up – allowing yourself at least four inches of extra fabric. It helps if your “inset” jeans are longer than the “skirt” jeans.
b)      Mark the fabric at your cut line. Fold the jeans in half and cut across both legs.

Step four: Secure the “V” of the skirt in the front and back by folding the fabric over and sewing it down using a topstitch with the "jean thread".  I used a ¼” seam allowance. See photos:

Front fold
Front pinned down
Front sewn
Back pinned

Back sewn
Step five: Take one of the legs apart with a seam ripper, leaving you with two pieces of long fabric. The back of the leg will be wider and, probably, the one you’ll want to use for the front inset. However, you can use the narrower one if it fits and you prefer it. Iron flat any old seams that might be folded over.

Step six: Open the larger seam (the old inseam) on the other leg, leaving the smaller seam and creating a wider piece of fabric. This is the one you’ll use for the back inset.
a)      When placing this fabric into the “V”, make sure you line up the seam so that it’s exactly in the middle or it will look askew.

Step seven: Pin the inset fabric into the front and back “V”’s of the skirt and then sew in place using a ¼” seam allowance topstitch.

NOTE: on the front of the skirt, the old inseam should still be folded under and you can just topstitch over that. In the back, you'll need to iron the fabric to create a finished edge for the topstitching.

Step eight: Turn your skirt inside out and trim off the excess fabric. Don't worry about the frayed edges. Pro-tip: If they bug you, use some Fray Stop.

That's a lot of extra fabric.
Step nine: Finish the hem in whatever way you prefer. I like a fringe so I just cut everything to the same length and start the fray with the pick end of the seam ripper. It will fringe up nicely with a couple of washings.

E voila! You’re done. Now you can be the coolest kid in school too. 

- Alex


  1. I have a pair of jean capri's that will make a start on this...humm...need to find that other pair...it's a start! Thanks! Always, liked these, but never had one! Now I can make my own. Mid-calf will be good in this heat wave!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Di - I'm glad you like the pattern! Good luck with your mid-calf version. I'd love to see a pic when you're done. :) Also, for a second pair of jeans, just go to Goodwill or some other second-hand store. You can usually pick up jeans for about $5.

  3. Love it! I had one back in the 70's...I was a kid then and I wish I still had it not that it would fit!...Great tutorial and thanks for the flashback.Oh..I remember my skirt from Way-back-when had like a shami?,the shiny side type leather for the middle part, kind of like a irregular pattern, soft and fun and I think it would look great today, now I am off to dig up a old pair if jeans and give it a go..Thanks again!

    1. Teri - So glad I could bring you some nostalgia. :) I totally know what you're talking about with the irregular patterned "shami" fabric!! If you do make one of these, please email us a photo. I'd love to see it! - Alex

    2. I think you might be able to sew the front seams together and put inserts on the sides instead giving you a more unique looking skirt.

  4. I made one and would love to send you a picture. Where do I email the photo? Great pattern btw. Very easy and I love the result!

  5. You can always use a different type of fabric for the center piece. My granddaughters asked me to put some silky material in the middle on their capris. They turned out perfect. They wear them proudly.

  6. I went to the thrift store today to get a couple of pairs of mens jeans because I wanted to waist to sit lower. I'm not great at sewing so wish me luck!

  7. I've just made one using a pair of Boden jeans I no longer like the style of and a pair that were a bit snug, thanks for putting up the tutorial, the weather here in the uk has just got better so these will get perfect. :)

  8. I have been looking all over for YEARS for one of these skirts. I love them so much! I don't have a sewing machine, nor do i know how to use one so, i'm just sitting here wishful thinking. Oh, how i want that skirt.

  9. How about 1 pair of old jeans and a fabric with a nostalgic pattern for the mid of the skirt?? maybe an old flat sheet with a cool flower design??

  10. Wow that will look so cool with my kaki jeans! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Awesome! I must try this! :D

  12. made one from an old trashed pair of jeans and a 'donor' pair. Rather than adding a section in the back, I added a kick stop so the back was slit to my knees. Was a great skirt for dancing in.

  13. AWESOME! The Boss is buying 2-piece overalls for the men - but since I'm the only women, it was a puzzle what I will wear for a "uniform" - now I know! I will also order a 2-piece overall - the same as for the men and will transform the pants into a skirt like this - will be perfect for our informal environment! THANKS!

  14. I must be in the wrong room. I thought I clicked on the link for the A-Line skirt pattern...

  15. Hello. Where is the excess fabric for Step eight: Turn your skirt inside out and trim off the excess fabric.? And can you trim the crotch area so it doesn't have as much of a fold over? Thank you

    1. Trimming the crotch area just does NOT work. I have tried several times and I am a good seamstress. Sorry

  16. In the 70's we would use pretty cotton fabric instead of a second pair of jeans!

  17. Thank You for info on the jean skirt I can now make the skirt out of jeans

  18. Hey! I would have decked her and kept the skirt she didn't want! But, so glad someone else loved these. I have 3 or 4 left from Hi School...a L O N G time ago! Just can't turn loose of them! Thanks for the memories!

  19. I have a lot of jeans that I could not let go of.. Were way to small for me... What a great idea. TFS with us all