Are you curious how fashionista’s get their long denim maxi skirts? Often, they’re a thrift flip that they’ve commissioned or made themselves!
Wait a minute. Can you believe that I actually made this long denim maxi skirt?
I have to admit I’m a little bit proud of myself BUT the truth is that it wasn’t hard.
All you need is a sewing machine, seam ripper, and scissors. It’s so much easier than I want anyone to know. Seriously, since I’m not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, I want people to think that making this thrift flip long denim maxi skirt was SUPER HARD. The truth of it will be our secret!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
A few summers ago my niece, Mary, stayed with us each weekend. She was a counselor with my youngest daughter at a camp on the lake.
To fill her time, she went to thrift stores to buy men’s’ denim jeans and sewed them up to fit her. She’s a University of Southern California student and this look is (or was at the time) very popular.
I found it interesting, yet was curious if this could be done in a more pulled-together appearance.
So I hunted online for pictures of denim skirts to find a style that inspired me. While I LOVE how knee-length denim skirts look on some women, they aren’t flattering on me. After hunting for a while, I did find one that I really liked.
It was a maxi with a large slit in the middle. The model was a 20-something size 0 so I kept my fingers crossed that it would translate okay to a 50-something NOT size 0 woman (me). It did.
If you like this look, here are the steps to take to make one for yourself. However, I’m keeping this broader than most of my DIY and How-to posts since each pair of thrift flip jeans are different and your long denim maxi skirt might take on a slightly different fit based on your body.
This is what you need on hand
The supplies for this are pretty basic BUT I wouldn’t suggest trying this with hand sewing (if you appreciate the use of your fingers). Denim is a tough fabric so you’ll need a sewing machine. If you’re new to sewing, I started with this machine and found it really great for my first few years sewing.
Now I use a Bernina 790, which has to be purchased from an authorized dealer.
In addition to the sewing machine, basic sewing supplies, and cutting tools, you’ll also need the following:
- Seam Ripper
- Good sewing scissors
- Denim Sewing Needles
- Jeans Thread
- 1″ elastic
- 2″ Spring Clamps
- Men’s Denim Jeans (big enough to fit around your hips)
Hello seam ripper!
The way my niece did her thrift flip was to put darts in the front and back. She would reposition the pockets. And that was that!
It was a look that is appealing to a younger crowd but I wanted to make a long denim maxi skirt that would look good at any age!
To start, I asked my daughter Stella what brands of jeans are popular right now that I can find in a thrift store. She suggested Levi’s and Wranglers. Funny how brands circle back around, isn’t it!
I bought 4 pairs, each for $7.99. This is the pair of Wrangler jeans that I’m using for the maxi skirt. The hips and length fit me pretty well.
The waist doesn’t work
First up, the waist was too big. Not a huge amount but I knew I needed to address it and the fabric leading up to it. That’s why I took off the waistband. Yup, I just ripped it apart with the seam ripper. It wasn’t delicate work!
Just set it aside.
Keep the zipper pull down.
Even when you try them on, clip the top!
Don’t pull the zipper up!
If you pull up the zipper (like I did as I was trying it on the first time), chances are you’ll go straight up and pull the zipper pull off of the coil.
You can get it back on with a LOT of patience and focus. I did and it all worked out fine. But a word to the wise, leave the zipper pull in the down position and use one of the 2″ spring clamps to hold the zipper closed as you try on and off your pants.
Open up the Inseam
You’ve probably figured out that somehow we need to sew together the two legs into a long maxi skirt.
Again, start by using the seam ripper to open up both inseams and then the butt.
Don’t touch the front.
You’re next going to open up the hem. I was surprised to see that simply doing this presented a hem that is totally in fashion right now. Just by doing a little seam ripping. You can do this to older pants to give them a quick refresh!
The next step isn’t hard but I’ll do a little break away to give you the step-by-step on making a flat felled seam.
How to sew a flat felled seam
Denim jeans are often assembled using a flat felled seam. You can see it, for example, in the photo above of the opened up hem.
This isn’t a hard technique, just one you might never have needed before.
As a side note, I use a flat felled seam in lots of other applications. Most frequently, I love it on a tote bag.
Step 1: Leave a 1″ seam allowance
Pull together the back of the denim jeans. You’ll be sewing a flat felled seam from the top all the way to the hem.
The red line indicates where I thought it made sense to sew up the back. Remember, I’ve never done something like this and I thought it made sense to leave a bump out for my butt.
This is how it looked after the seam of the long denim maxi was finished (don’t worry, I’m going to show you how to do it).
The seam ripper came out after this because it appears that I DON’T need a bump out for my FLAT butt. Humility is painful at times.
I had to re-open this up and do another flat felled seam pretty much straight down from the waist to hem.
Why am I sharing this? Because you’re going to have to put on your “long denim maxi skirt” (I know, it’s not quite that YET) and figure out the line you need to sew based on YOUR tushy. Use the 2″ spring clamps or a fabric pencil to mark it.
NOW you’re ready to cut the fabric leaving a 1″ seam allowance outside the fit line.
Step 2: Sew and trim
Stitch the seam, wrong sides together, with your 1″ seam allowance. A few tips:
- Use your jeans thread on top and a contrasting color for the bobbin (I used navy).
- Opening up your stitch length a bit (I went to 4).
- Decreasing the tension a little bit too.
Now, listen carefully, you’re going to trim the seam allowance ONLY on the bobbin side. So NOT the side with the jeans thread stitches.
Trim it down to about 1/4″.
Step 3: Fold over and edge Stitch
Now, fold the top side (with the jeans thread stitches) over the trimmed off bottom side. You’ll now need to edge stitch this down.
I found it helpful to press and use a Tailor’s Clapper to firm up the flat-felled before edge-stitching. I’ve mentioned this before, having a Tailor’s Clapper on hand is well, handy!
With a thinner fabric, you can pin down the fold before you go to stitch. I couldn’t do this with the denim, given its heavyweight. So I just folded as I went.
That’s it! Not really hard at all. Just a few steps to finish. This is how it looked at first (before I had to redo it for my flat butt)! It looked the same afterward but just (sigh) FLATTER!
In hindsight, I would have made the two seams a little closer together. I’m happy with it though and I’m sure that nobody in my circle will ever notice (except perhaps my sister, Patti. I’ll have to make sure I never wear it with her around. She IS a seamstress.)
Notice here that I am able to leave the pockets EXACTLY where they began. Nice, right? That was the fortunate part of finding a pair of jeans that fit my hips. Otherwise, if they were REALLY big, like another size 44″ pair I bought, then you would have to do a little remodeling in the back, lol.
Closing up the front
If we can at all help it, we don’t want to mess with the front zipper at ALL!!!
In this project, it’s not needed. All that’s necessary is to fold over the top (top of the zipper) panel and sew it in place.
First, I stitched the bottom panel (left) down with the bobbin thread on top. It’s navy and thus can’t be seen. You can choose to show the jeans thread, it’s a subjective decision.
Next comes the top panel. This is really easy!
Notice here I was able to pin the fabric. Some new pins came in the mail for me to try and these worked pretty well even with the thick denim.
Create a faux flat felled seam by sewing two rows of seams down both
Finish up by trimming the excess fabric on the inside of the skirt.
Shrinking down the waist band
I don’t have a drastically smaller waist than hips. If you do, you’ll have to put a couple of darts in the front and trim out part of the waistband. I’ll show that with the size 44″ pair of denim jean thrift flip. For now, I’m going to show you an easier HACK for shrinking the waist down just a bit.
The trick, is ELASTIC!
Yes, just like the little kiddos have in their pants. I put elastic inside the waistband of this pair for my long denim maxi skirt.
I pulled the elastic comfortably taught around my waist and then subtracted about three inches (for the button area). From the underside, I secured the start and the end of the elastic in the channel of the waistband so it couldn’t be seen from the outside.
I then simply re-attached the waistband in exactly the same way it had originally been attached.
See how it looks like I did a flat felled seam here too? It’s faux. Just two seams so it looks like a flat felled seam.
Sew down the ends of the belt loops and you’re finished!
Oh, I almost forgot. Totally optional, you can sew a seam around the bottom using navy thread (or one that won’t show up) to prevent too much fraying.
all done, the long maxi skirt thrift flip look
Is this an intimidating project? Yes, I think so. But as you saw, it really isn’t hard at all. And look at how cute it looks!
Do you want to know a bonus of using men’s denim? They don’t have spandex in them like women’s jeans. That means, they hold in all the rolls! haha.
Here are some pieces similar to what I’m wearing. Not exact, as these were bought a few seasons ago.
Okay, so you like the idea of this but want to buy the skirt instead of making it? I get it. How about these as options?
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