Sewing a Denim Jacket from Vintage Jeans

Updated: Sep 23, 2019

Jacket made from vintage jeans

A denim jacket is such a wardrobe staple for everyone. It's really the perfect jacket that can go with any outfit. (Warning: I'm about to geek out about the history of denim, I promise I'll keep it short)

FIT had this really awesome exhibition a few years ago showcasing the history of denim, called Denim: Fashion’s Frontier.

This exhibition also highlighted denim's relationship with high fashion dating from the 19th century to present day. It also explored denim from work wear to haute couture—in order to shed new light on how a particular style of woven cotton has come to dominate the clothing industry and the way people dress around the globe.

Denim began as the ideal workwear fabric and has become one of the world's most beloved fabrics.

I could go on and on about this awesome exhibit, but I won't because I want to share more about my jacket (lol). Here's the link to the article if you're interested in reading more about the exhibition.

Since the first jacket I always reach for is the ~classic~ denim jacket, I had the idea to make one and put a different spin on it. I have stockpiled a TON of jeans over the years and have all sorts of washes and colors to choose from. So I thought... What if I use actual jeans to make a jean jacket?

For this jacket, I used a base pattern from the book, Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets, by Wendy Mullin. Wendy has a few really awesome sewing books. I also own her book on dresses and they are both great resources for basic garment blocks.

There is something so satisfying about sewing with denim. It sews really well, it presses really nicely, and it's really fun adding topstitching to the seams like a pair of jeans.

What was really cool about using existing jeans for this project is that the fabric is already worn out and soft and doesn't have that stiff, crunchy feeling that denim from a bolt typically has.

Finding pairs of jeans with different color washes that I felt went together well was a tedious experience, but also added to the fun of it. Also, I decided to have the closure be a zipper instead of the buttons for two reasons; I already have classic denim jackets with the buttons down the front so I went with something different, but mostly because I didn't feel like dealing with sewing buttons and buttonholes. By the time all of the pieces were sewn together and it was looking like an actual jacket, I slapped on a zipper and called it a day.

I am trying to get better at taking more photos in stages as I go along, so here is what I have of the process!

I incorporated some of the existing inseams of the jeans I was using, which I thought added to the classic feel of the jacket. After this jacket was finished, I was day dreaming about making it in colored denim... could be interesting... we'll see what the future holds.

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