Saturday, March 23, 2013

upcycled, re-purposed denim; into a skirt

Are they flowers that have been thrown into the air and are slowly falling to the earth against a blue sky background?
Or is it a large field where the bodies of the slain Avatars have been laid out to be adorned with everlasting blooms?

Wrong on both accounts. It is an upcycled denim skirt. Often denim is upcycled in to quilts or, in the case below, a duvet cover. I made it as such so it would be easier to launder. Denim gets to be quite heavy when it's wet and if batting and a backing were added to that. . .I'm not training to be a prize fighter, so I prefer my bed dressings to be lighter-weight.

My daughter wore out a pair of pants. While I could have turned them in to cutoffs or hemmed them for long shorts, I instead added a skirt to the cut offs. She gets the benefit of being girly and I get the benefit of not worrying about her exposing herself. Win:Win.

For the most part, I liked it quite a bit, so I decided to try something similar for me. I had a pair of jeans that had the knees torn out, or maybe it was the back pockets, or possibly the thighs; I really can't remember except that they were indecent.

So I cut the back out making sure to leave 5/8" of fabric all around. (That way you have something to stitch to and it looks more like it is a part of the waistband and side seams).

Something not strictly necessary, but that I did is I stitched around each square to prevent fraying on the inside. It was extra work, but made it more finished and makes it feel less like there are grasshopper antennae brushing against my legs when I wear it. I used an over lock machine, but zig-zag stitching the edges would yield similar results.

The first row of blocks is actually only a half row because I wanted the pockets to remain in the front so that I would have a place for my phone and keys. Yes, I realize that is what a purse or handbag is for, but I'm not really a handbag kind of gal and prefer to have those items on my person. Also, the first row of blocks is longer than the rest of the blocks because it had to span the distance from the waistband down to the bottom of where the pocket liners hung on the front so that I was starting with something equal distance in length. I eased in that first half row of blocks to accommodate the curvature of my backside.
After that, it was just a matter of making the tiers for the tiered skirt. I used a 6x6 porcelain tile and a permanent marker to trace the squares on the denim pants I was re-purposing. While cutting out side seams and inseams creates more visually, my machine has a hard time sewing through that many layers, so I only used flat portions of pants.

After cutting out squares and finishing the edges, I began stitching them together in rows. I increased each tier by two squares. For example the first row had five across the back. Therefore it would stand to reason that an equal five could have been spread across the front. So for the second row; the first full tier, I used 12 blocks, 14 for the next and so on.
With six tiers, I ended up with a skirt approximately 36" long, which, with my short legs, is about ankle length. If you are leggy, you'll want to do it longer. After the tiers have been sewn together, I hemmed it and then top stitched each row so that the finished seam would lie flat. (look at the close-up pictures of the front and back if that doesn't make sense)

Back to the front. The final step was to embroider, with ribbon, the cascading flowers. I am not an expert and cannot give a tutorial on that particular aspect of the skirt, but I'm sure you can locate it elsewhere on the Internet. I did find that the 1/8" ribbon was the easiest to work with. Originally I cut denim flowers, but they frayed and didn't stand out as well, so I unpicked them and added the brightly colored flowers you see pictured.

The things I love about the skirt are:
1. It is unique. I'm the only one I know with one like it.
2. I can wear the bag lady/gypsy skirt and since it has a built in waistband, I still feel like I have some structure to the clothing.
3. It reused denim that wasn't worn out.
4. In the drab, dark winter, the flowers are like a tiny touch of summer.
5. The denim goes with nearly anything and several colors of flowers coordinate with a variety of tops.

The concept was reused again in a tie skirt. Denim top, ties on the bottom.

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