Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ripped Jean Refashion + the Giraffes

So I got these jeans from Forever21. I've POSTED BEFORE about my amazingly long lasting jeans from F21. You should probably read that, too, because it's interesting to compare them to more expensive brands. Anyway- when I bought them (around 2 years ago?) I knew that they would have to eventually be refashioned a bit. They were "distressed" with perfectly ripped holes, strings intact, running all along them from thigh to knee.
I've been really gentle with them and tried to always wash them on gentle cycles + hang to dry to avoid the snapping of those precious, delicate threads that made them look so stinking cool. Alas, they have finally gotten to the point where intervention was necessary. I noticed that they were starting to look really bad on me, too. Once the white threads were gone, the holes kind of flapped open making my thighs look really, really unappealing. Plus I didn't really want them on display anyway.
mid-refashion. I love that they use Swahili in "Wild Africa" at the zoo... but it's hilarious how many men walk into this women's room without paying attention!!!
I used this awesome stretchy grey knit that I bought for the EASY FLOWY SUMMER SHIRT and then used recently for the JET SET WRAP. It has really been handy! I've patched previously with more sturdy materials such as duck cloth, but I really loved the effect this gave instead. My BFF has historically worn leggings/thermals underneath extremely ripped jeans (she is so incredibly cool. She keeps offering to do baby guest blogging- but I *really* want to hook her into doing periodic style posts...), this has a similar feel. You could try it with scraps from an old t-shirt refashion, but my material was a much looser knit than jersey.
(1) Cut it. Flip the jeans inside out and cut a patch to match the rip. Add about 1/2 to 1 inch all around for seam allowance. You can choose to make the matches match the rip identically and sew along the edge of the rip (less noticeable, more work) OR you can just cut them into large rectangles. That's what I did. I was in a rush because I wanted to wear these to the zoo. Originally I just patched the worst offender, but I loved it so much that I added the next three.
(2) Sew it. HA- let's talk about how I tried running these through the sewing machine and ended up sewing the leg to the butt. It took some serious patience with a seam ripper to right that wrong. Depending on how big your jeans are, you may be able to get them on your machine with ease. If so- that's what I recommend. But if they're major skinny jeans, you may have issues. I had to hand sew to save sanity and that was fine. You can either choose a contrasting thread  or one that blends in. I should have used a cream thread if I wanted to hide the stitching, but I used dark blue to add a little color. You can stitch it really tightly together or use a looser stitch (like I did) depending on the look you want to achieve. Follow along the rip closely or stitch along the edge of the rectangles depending on the style you chose.
There's obviously a lot of freedom in this tutorial, and it's clearly extremely easy. I hate getting rid of jeans, especially jeans that fit well still, so this was a great save. I love the way they turned out!
Want more options?
Patch with...
a) Contrasting denim
b) Lace (!!!)
c) Crochet
d) Pretty, patterned fabric
e) Leather
Another fun addition would be concentric circles (or squares...) of thread. Instead of just going around the patch or hole once with thread, do it multiple times (1/2 inch apart) with various colors of thread. You could rainbow it, or make ombre (dark blue, lighter blue, light blue, white) ... you could do anything! One last trick- if you opt for rectangles like I did, you may find that the holes are still a bit loose and pull away from the denim (you can see it on the left side of the pictures, the knee). If that bothers you- then make little X stitches (one or two) to tack the two fabrics together close to the edge of the rip/tear/hole. I think I'll do that tomorrow and update this.
As I said, I originally patched these in a hurry while trying to wear them to a zoo outing. There's a zoo I absolutely love in Michigan where they let you feed and pet giraffes! I don't care how tough you are, it is super fun and you *will* squeal (however that looks for you...) with delight. John had never gotten to go and since we had a rare (rare, very rare) weekend to ourselves in our own home, we snatched up the opportunity to go.
 I love weekends like that because they're so inspiring. When I get too busy, all creative energy is gone. The testimony is that I had 4 blogs written for this week by Sunday! A little time off is an amazing thing. One of the posts is a really interesting thrift store sweatshirt refashion. It was supposed to turn out another way but clearly didn't, haha. It happens. Often projects turn into something different along the way, but different doesn't equal worse. It's just different. I'm posting it tomorrow- so look for that! And don't forget to bust out those old jeans and fix them up with scrap fabric today! All the best and as always, thanks for reading! 


  1. Great idea. I am wanting to do this to mu favorite jeans which now have huge holes in the knees. Also if you are not wanting to see the stiches you could use heat'n'bond.

    1. Awesome! I like heat'n'bond, too... but the last time i used it to patch jeans, my knee went right through it!! I must be a little too rough and tumble with my clothes :/


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