One pair of jeans in my closet has been sitting around, unworn and unloved, for years. They fit me great, but there's one problem: they have really big, goofy flare legs.
Bootcut jeans are one thing (I love a bootcut), but these were in a league of their own. Even though I’ve owned these jeans for at least 3 or 4 years and really love the way they fit, I’ve only worn them a few times.
I decided since I don't wear them much anyway, I'd take a chance on them and see if I could turn those unloved jeans into a pair I might really enjoy wearing. I read a lot of tutorials and instructions on how to transform my jeans into skinnies before I got started, and all of the instructions I read were so different that I was left more than a little confused about what to do.
After some thought and trial and error, I thought it might be helpful for others who have thought about McGuyvering their jeans to hear what I did and how it turned out.
I just worked my way down the leg, holding the outer seam as flat as possible and pinning where I wanted the new seam to go. I took the jeans off and used a pen and ruler to mark a gradual line along the pins, and started sewing along that line (make sure to use a heavy-duty needle!).
I started at the bottom of the leg and worked my way up. I think the most important point to take away from the many tutorials out there is to make sure your stitch line is smooth and gradual, and to blend it as smoothly and seamlessly as possible into the original stitch line when you reach the point along the thigh where you began pinning.
This is what my pants looked like with one leg skinnified. (And yes, I’m standing on a bucket in my bathroom.) You can see, about mid-thigh, where I didn’t do a very good job of blending the new seam line into the old seam line—there’s some awkward puckering and bulging along the outer seam a few inches above my knee. I went back and sewed it again, making a longer, more gradual stitch line that blended less noticeably into the original seam, and it looks much more natural now.
Here’s what the stitch line looked like from the inside.
Try the jeans on after sewing before you cut off the extra fabric to make sure you like the fit and can easily get your foot in and out. It'll be a tight squeeze to get them on since you'll have all that extra fabric inside, but do the best you can.
If something doesn’t look or fit right, adjust. If you like it, cut off the extra material and zig-zag stitch over the raw edges to prevent fraying. Instead of fitting and pinning for the second leg, I just folded the first leg over the second one and used it as a guide.
I had never realized before just how long these jeans are! I used Sew Much Ado’s hemming tutorial (which uses the original hem for a more natural look) to take them up so they hit just below the ankles—a good length for flats and heels.
You can see the new, altered seam pretty well in that last picture above—the old seam at the top of the leg looks more “original,” and my new seam line comes in just above the knee.
Overall, here are my thoughts on skinnifying bootcut jeans:
- I definitely recommend Sew Much Ado’s method for hemming jeans. Fast, straightforward, and leaves the hemline looking very natural and unaltered.
- Although I can tell that these jeans look altered now, I’m very happy with how they came out, especially considering how little time and effort I spent on them.
- I would definitely do this project again (and, as an update, have since 'skinnified' many pairs of bootcut jeans!). It turned a pair of jeans that had been neglected and ignored for the past few years into my new favorite pair.
Have you ever turned bootcuts into skinny jeans?