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Finding the beauty of imperfection in a refashioned jean skirt

Sewing is always fun for me, but sewing with friends? Even better. I especially like a challenge, even when it’s posed to me in an unorthodox way:

jean skirt convo

I laughed when I first read her comment; coming from a friend as dear as she, I knew it was sent in love, but in truthfulness as well. As a creative, it’s so easy to get caught up in creating a masterpiece, something as near-to-perfection as possible, so that projects become far more complicated than they need to be.

When sometimes? There’s a simple way that might not look as polished and put-together as something from the store… and isn’t that part of the appeal of handmade?

My mom is an amazing quilter, and I remember her telling me that the Amish purposefully include a flaw in each of their creations, simply because the only true, perfect work of art is that which comes from the hands of the Master Creator Himself. I don’t know any Amish quilters to get confirmation on that but true or wives’ tale, I think it’s a great lesson.

In sewing, as with any creative endeavor, it’s important not to be afraid to jump in and start cutting the fabric, even when the outcome or the process isn’t clear yet. Sometimes, it will most definitely be a failure. Other times, we’ll end up with a creation that serves its purpose well, even if it’s a bit rustic.

jean skirt-9

Read on to see how we transformed Kelsi’s cutoff jeans into an a-line skirt. All we used were standard sewing tools, her jean shorts and an extra panel of denim (ours was an unmatched piece cut off a pair of her husband’s jeans– one cut-off jean leg was enough).

jean skirt-1

We started by cutting the jean inseam from end to end. Some might say you should rip out the seam, but hey, we were going for crappy easy. Just make sure you have a heavy duty needle on hand since there will be some bulk.

jean skirt-2

We started with the back. Cut up the back seam as next to the finished seam again (basically straight up the butt crack of the pants for lack of a better term).

jean skirt-3

Then lay the side with the finished seam over the other side, lining up the bottom of your skirt/former pant legs (not shown), leaving an opening for a natural slit (see final photo below).  Pin in place.

jean skirt-8

Whenever sewing over the existing finished seam,  I would sew directly over both seams in a similar (gold in our case) color.

jean skirt-4

Turn skirt inside out and trim off the extra fabric along the new seam. Use pinking shears if you have them to help prevent fraying. Done with the back!

jean skirt-5

For the front, you’ll need to cut open your extra panel and add it in. I had Kelsi try on the skirt so we could see how wide we wanted the middle panel to be. Just eyeball it.

jean skirt-6

Trim up the front inseam a bit and fold the thicker side over so that it lays flat at your desired opening angle. We didn’t even sew this super bulky point down because Kelsi wasn’t concerned about it. If you want to, just be sure to sew super slow on such a thick seam.

jean skirt-7

Pin skirt to extra panel and sew. Make sure you leave some of the panel hanging over on either underside, and then afterwards go inside and trim it off like you did for the back.

jean skirt finished

We both loved how the skirt came out. As you can see, we sewed the back only partially to leave a slit, and we loved the asymmetry going on in the back. The bottom edges are still raw, but with jeans, that’s always a fun look. The best part? It was exactly what Kelsi was looking for and was finished in time for our kids to enjoy some play time together before totally melting down.

Do you find yourself scared to be imperfect in your creations? Or do you embrace flaws as part of the novelty of a handmade item?

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  1. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I LOVE what you did with the skirt! It looks darling on your friend.

    This is timely for me: my 8-year-old’s favorite hobby these days is “refashioning.” She takes old/outgrown/rejected clothes and turns them into unique creations….and sometimes the results kind of give me hives. My natural instinct is to help her make it “perfect,” but she just wants to enjoy the thrill of creation.

    Also? That text at the top cracked me up. 🙂

    • Nicole

      Thanks, Anne! That is so awesome that your 8-yr old is already refashioning. I’m sure I would feel the same way as you– I think that’s why I don’t do more projects with my 6-yr old yet, as I don’t tend to feel like she has enough skills to do it “well.”

  2. Jessica

    I can definitely be a perfectionist it I let myself! I once read (sorry, I can’t remember where!) that hand-made things don’t need to be perfect to be beautiful. This is so true and it took the pressure off somewhat, allowing me to enjoy my sewing without the added pressure of my perfectionism!

    • Nicole

      I think that is the Nester’s motto, and how true it is. Often I find the imperfections to be the beautiful part in projects as in life. I just have to relax enough to allow them to appear. 😉

  3. Maggie

    Aww, I love this 🙂 It’s not just a post about making a skirt, it’s a post about friendship too. <3

    • Nicole

      You’re so right! xo

  4. Katie

    This is amazing! I’m so stunned by the transformation of your jeans. I know basic sewing and you gave me an idea for my next project. Thanks for the idea.

  5. Robin AKA GoatMom

    Very vintage, we were making these back in the 70’s! Homemade, like wearing real vintage, gets some of its character and definition from its uniqueness and imperfections. Just like the beauty of people!

  6. Prerna@The Mom Writes

    Wow.. It looks gorgeous and while I really can’t even hem.. I can totally relate to wanting to see perfection.. My 5 year old has recently started drawing these lovely pictures and sometimes, I have to hold myself back from telling her that the sky isn’t really green and that my hair isn’t orange.. LOL! Thank YOU Nicole for this reminder!

  7. Kay

    side note:: My mom grew up Amish and made many quilts in her day… maybe some Amish do that, but I have never heard of one. All my relatives that are/were Amish would be mortified if someone found a mistake or imperfection in their quilts! LOL! Good thought, tho.
    And great tutorial. I love your website. 🙂

  8. Liz

    Nice skirt!
    “Perfection is boring” is a useful phrase in my life.


    Hi, my name is Jennifer, and I’m a perfectionist. 🙂
    Well, I am a recovering perfectionist, I suppose, and it is very freeing. I am learning to let go of the perfect and embrace all the imperfections. I realize striving for the perfections causes us to miss so many great moments, just like the time you were able to spend as friends on this project instead of worrying over aesthetics of the skirt (which are absolutely adorable, by the way). Lovely post!

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