Keeping them Alive: Fun Ways to Alter Old Jeans

If you’re anything like us, then you probably have an obscene number of pairs of jeans sitting in your closet. Every year when spring comes around we start clearing out our closets for summer and we always find more pairs of jeans than we could every realistically wear, but we always feel some guilt about getting rid of them. We  try to choose our favourite pairs to keep and a few pairs to give away, but we also generally set a few pairs aside for crafting and DIY.

Check out these 15 awesome and totally stylish jean alterations that are surprisingly easy to do and that you’ll actually want to wear!

1. Take jeans in at the waist

Are the jeans you’ve set aside ones that used to be your favourite pair and you haven’t had the heart to give them up, but you’ve lost weight since you bought them so that they’re too big around the waist now? Rabit Stew has the answer for you! Their tutorial shows you how to take your jeans in a little bit at the waist but also how to do it properly so they’ll actually fit well and sit smoothly when you’re done.

2. Take jeans in at the bum

Perhaps you’re fine with the way your jeans fit at the waist but you’re tired of the way they sag and bunch at the back near your bum? We have this problem all the time too but this tutorial from NX2 took care of that for us! They show you how to reduce spare fabric all down the side to pull the jeans inward and reduce sag at the back as well.

3. Take jeans in at the bum (again)

Do you find that the outer edges of your jeans aren’t really the problem when it comes to the way they sag on your bum in the back? Don’t worry, there are other ways to fix the problem without just going out and buying new jeans! Check out how Presser Foot reduced the amount of fabric down the centre seam to tighten the jeans up just in that area and make them fit a little better.

4. Make DIY skinny jeans

Have your tastes changed a little bit over the years and now you have jeans with flared legs that you don’t wear anymore because you prefer a “skinny jean” leg, but they all still fit very well so you feel bad getting rid of them? Then this tutorial from My MCM Life for reducing the width of the legs is exactly what you need!

5. Hemming jeans

Learning how to hem pants is an integral step to learn if you plan to advance your sewing skills past basic alterations and into making your own garments. That’s why tutorials like this one from Rustic Honey are so useful! They’ll help you shorten your jeans just enough to make them more wearable.

6. Make the waist bigger

We’ve talked about making your jeans ever so slightly smaller, but what if you could actually use just a little more room around the waistband? Sometimes a chance in weight is big enough to make your pants a little uncomfortable but not so big to warrant buying new jeans and letting your favourite pair go. That’s why we love this tutorial from The Whoot! They guide you through the process of inserting a bit of spare material into the side seam to give yourself a subtle extra inch or so.

7. Make lace cut off shorts

Perhaps you’ve just made an old pair of jeans into a cute new pair of cut offs but you just can’t help but feel that they’re missing something? There are countless ways to embellish your shorts in easy, fun ways but doing it with lace is absolutely one of our favourite ideas. Check out how LoLoBu put theirs into a slit cut into each side!

8. DIY maternity pants

Are you expecting a new bundle of joy very soon and your pants are naturally getting a little tight, but you’re trying to stay on budget and would rather upcycle something old than buy something new? Then we have a feeling you’ll love how easy What’s Up Moms makes it to add some stretch fabric and turn your regular jeans into a comfortable pair of maternity jeans that really let you move.

9. Fixing worn rips

We know that ripped, distressed jeans are very in fashion right now and many people even buy them pre-ripped from the store, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants their jeans to rip! Denim that has worn out and torn in the middle can be very difficult to fix, so here’s a great patching up tutorial from Mrs. Micawber to help you along the way.

10. Make lace capris

Did you love the way the lace shorts we talked about above looked but you’re not really a fan of wearing your shorts cropped that high? Well, you’ll be happy to learn that you can add lace to just about anything if you know the right techniques! Baking Outside the Box, for example, guides you through the process of affixing a length of lace to the bottom of your favourite pair of denim capris. If you don’t own capris, try your hand at the hemming tutorial we talked about above first and then add the lace!

11. Replacing the zipper

Have you ever had a perfectly good pair of pants that you absolutely love wearing but one day you pulled the zipper up and it broke? The idea of taking out and replacing a zipper can sound intimidating, but if you follow the step by step instructions found on Joys, Jots, and Shots then we’re sure tou’ll have a lot less trouble than you think!

12. DIY distressed jeans

We’ve already talked about ways to fix tears in your jeans, but what if you’d actually rather make a few holes and tears? Distressing your jeans sounds easy but there’s actually a lot more to it than just cutting holds if you want that properly faded and stringy look you’ve seen in stores or rock music videos. Luckily for all of us, AEO is here to show the world how to make the perfect distressed details using sandpaper, tweezers, a razor and, of all things, a cheese grater!

13. Embroider the pocket

Are your favourite jeans actually all good to go in just about every way but you’ve become obsessed with pretty embroidered details and really just want to add pretty stitching to everything you own? Then give your pants some subtle detail by embroidering a floral design on the back pocket, just like Craftylish did here!

14. Add lace to the cuff

If you can add lace to a pair of cut off shorts and you can add lace to the cuffs of your capris, then it only makes sense that you can add lace to the cuffs of your jeans too! We love the way Oh Yeah Mori Girl affixed lace embellishments around a rolled up cuff rather than just the bottom of the pants. It gives things a nearly vintage look that’s just irresistible!

15. Make a leather belted lunch bag

Okay, even we have to admit it; sometimes a pair of jeans is just so far gone that they simply can’t be worn anymore. Even then, however, you can still upcycle them and make them into something useful rather than getting rid of them! One of our very favourite upcycled denim ideas right now is this awesome DIY belted lunch bag by All Day Chic.

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