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Repurposing, refashioning and upcycling are all fairly new buzz words in the fashion world. They refer to the ever increasing move for designers to be more “green” when making clothes. Rather than creating a garment completely from new fabrics, many designers and seamstresses are recycling old clothes and giving them a whole new look. Denim is a durable material, and a pair of old, ill fitting, and/or out-of-style jeans can be transformed into a stylish bolero jacket with some basic sewing skills.

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Lay the pants flat on your work surface, face up.

Draw a U shape from the side of a leg just under the pocket down to about 3 inches below the crotch and back up to the crotch. Do the same on the other leg.

Flip the jeans over and draw a straight line across the back just above the crotch.

Cut the jeans apart through one layer at a time following the lines you drew.

Lay one leg on your work surface, back side up. Lay the other leg on top of it, front side up. Align the two straight edges of the jeans and pin them together.

Sew the jeans together along the flat edges on the 5/8 inch seam line. Take the unfinished bolero off your machine and try it on.

Mark on the ends of the sleeves where you need to cut them for the right length. If you had trouble putting on the jacket you need to widen the arm holes. To widen the arm holes, cut a deeper U shape into that side of the pant leg, which is now the opening.

Make the necessary adjustments to the arm openings to get the right fit. Re-stitch the seam down the center back. Finger press the seam to one side and stitch it down again very close to the raw edge.

Cut the sleeves to your desired length.

Sandwich the end of a sleeve inside the quilt binding. Overlap the ends about an inch and cut the strip just beyond where the ends overlapped. Lay that piece on top of the binding strip and cut another piece the same length.

Fold one short end of the binding strip over ¼ inch and then over again. Create a finished edge to the strip by sewing down the fold very close to the edge.

Sandwich each sleeve end inside the crease of the satin quilt binding strip, overlap the ends, and pin it in place. Be sure the end that overlaps on top is the finished end.

Sew the satin cuffs to the sleeves very close to the edge of the binding. Run another couple rows of stitching around the cuffs to give them a quilted look. Use the pressure foot as a guide for the stitching.

Repeat the same process for the arm opening of the jacket which is also the collar. Sandwich the raw edge in the binding, overlap the ends and sew in place. Adding the extra rows of stitches is not only decorative, it also will help the collar stand up a little, giving the bolero jacket that something extra.


Add some interest to your bolero by use a contrasting thread on the satin quilt binding, add an applique or fabric paint.