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45 minutes and scissors

The frayed denim-mini look is all over the place, and it couldn't be easier to make.

August 03, 2008|Amy Scattergood | Times Staff Writer

Turning A much-loved, over-worn pair of jeans into a skirt isn't a new idea -- nimble sewers have done it for decades -- but making the results look chic took the happy rediscovery of the mini.

It's a trend that belongs to the street -- jean skirts were the coverup of choice at the recent U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, and of course, the paparazzi are catching model Agyness Deyn and other leggy style leaders wearing them just about everywhere else -- but now, even fashion houses such as Chanel are turning out super-distressed denim minis.

Of course, there are some big differences between the ones that look hot today and the ones that looked hot 20 years ago. Remember those jeans conversions, with a triangle of fabric -- think flowers, tie-dye -- sewn between the legs? Yeah, well, if you do, resist the nostalgia.

Instead, think of the jeans skirt this way: Now that straight-leg boyfriend jeans are chic again, these are the skirt translation. Casual, slung low on the hip, neither jailbait short nor too roomy and unkempt, these minis are like a tomboy's idea of a tolerable skirt. No pleats or detailing, no designer rah-rahs, just the classic five-pocket jean.

And like the old straight-leg Levi's, these skirts like flip-flops, casual sandals, mocs and a plain T-shirt or linen shirt. You want casual, not trashy.

You can use any old pair of jeans, either the ones you've been kicking around in for years or a vintage pair from a thrift store. Levi's have the trim fit and thick, durable weight that you want, as well as the minimalist styling that makes these skirts instant classics.

The trick is to start with jeans that ride down a little on your hips, that are roomy enough to allow for comfortable movement after you're done and that won't require any additional fabric when you're making the conversion from pant to skirt.

Then, it's a quick cut across both legs, a satisfying amount of seam-ripping, some quick stitching, a wash and dry to fray the edges and you're done.

Recalled from your clothes drawer, from their grubby kingdom of shreds and patches, your jeans can live on.

Call it denim reincarnation.





Time: About 45 minutes, plus washing and drying

Materials: One pair of old jeans, scissors, seam ripper, thread, pins, sewing machine.

1. Put the jeans on and mark a spot about 4 inches above the knee with a pin. This will be the hem of your skirt (if you want it shorter, place the pin higher -- but no higher than 3 inches below the crotch seam).

2. Smooth the jeans out on a work surface. Measure the length from the top of the waistband to the pin, and mark the distance across both legs. Cut straight across both legs, about an inch below where you marked, to give yourself a little leeway (you can trim later, after you've tried the skirt on).

3. Turn the jeans inside out. Using a seam ripper, rip out the crotch seams, taking out all the stitches up to the zipper. In the back, take out the bottom 3 inches of the center seam (so you can eliminate any bunching).

4. Turn the jeans right-side out again, and smooth out on a work surface. Fold the flap below the zipper over the fabric underneath (left over right), to create a zigzag front seam below the zipper. Place the fabric so that it falls smoothly, with no flare. Pin in place.

5. Flip the jeans over. Pin the back seam together, eliminating a little fabric so that it doesn't flare and so that the center seam is straight.

6. On a sewing machine, sew the front and back seams, tracing the original seam lines and making sure to back-stitch at the top and bottom to secure the seams.

7. Try on the skirt, adjust the length if necessary and make sure that the edges are straight. Sew around the edge of the skirt, about half an inch up from the raw edge (do not make a hem). Trim the threads. Wash and dry the skirt to fray the edges.

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