Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 2: Repurposing Denim

I made it to the second round of the sewing bee! This challenge was somewhat unexpected, but really interesting an inspiring – repurposing denim!

We had to use denim from existing garments to make one new garment and one new accessory for the challenge. My mother gave me some old hole-y jeans to use, and I made a new pair of pants and a hat:

Here’s how they turned out:

We were allowed to use additional fabric as embellishment, so I added a cotton print lining for the hat and pocket pieces in the trousers, but the rest of the materials were sourced from five old pairs of pants that otherwise wouldn’t have been used again. It’s been a unique challenge for me since I don’t often do refashions or up-cycling, but it has also been very inspiring as well!

Pattern Review

Pattern Description: For my garment I used BurdaStyle 11/2009 #126, which are wide-legged trousers with welt and cargo pockets and topstitching details. For my accessory I used Burda World of Fashion 09/2006 #129, which is a paperboy style hat with a brim.

Pattern Sizing: Pants: BurdaStyle sizes 34-44. I traced a size 44 but made several adjustments for size and fit (detailed below in the alterations section), so my finished garment size is probably closer to a Burda size 48.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  The instructions for the hat were great! It actually came together super fast and used an interesting method involving a ribbon to finish off the open hat edge that goes around the head. The instructions for the pants were a bit less straightforward, so I followed the general construction order, but turned to other sources to guide me on sewing the fly front.

Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done with it?  For the most part, I think so! Because I used denim instead of wool for the hat, my version has a bit more structure than the one in the magazine. For the pants, in the magazine, they are done in one solid color of denim, so the inset panel isn’t as apparent. I also made some design changes and had to deal with piecing the previously used denim, so my version is a little different at first glance, but has a similar overall silhouette.

What did you particularly like/dislike about the pattern?  I LOVE the pants pattern. It’s actually 4 patterns in one; the first pattern is a very traditional trouser with the seams along the front and back, and then the other three trousers are variations on the most basic silhouette using different gore shapes and pocket details as design elements to create 4 very different trouser looks. What’s great is that now that I have fitted the pattern to myself, I could use it for all of these different types of pants and end up with many different styles from one pattern. I’m also obsessed with my hat. I keep sending selfies to all my friends who know I’m doing the Bee because I am so excited and please with the hat. My only dislikes of the trouser pattern is that the instructions are a bit confusing and the construction order seems a bit odd, and I wasn’t a fan of the size and placement of the cargo pockets, so I left them off of my design.

Fabric used: Since the goal of this challenge was to repurpose denim, I used five pairs of my mother’s old jeans to repurpose the stretch denim. Her pants had worn thin in placed and had several frayed holes along their seams, so I did my best to cut around the damaged areas of the fabric so that I can crate something with as much longevity as possible. Of course, it wasn’t totally possible to avoid some of the weird leftovers of the old trousers, and you can see a few places where all the old stitch lines were located around the pocket area of my new pants. For supplemental fabric, I used a bit of leftover quilting cotton from mask making for the trouser pocket lining and the hat lining. I also used 3 weights of interfacing (medium on the pants and heavy and sew-in hair canvas for the hat brim), a jeans zipper, and regular and heavy-weight thread to do the top-stitching details.

Pattern alterations or design changes you made:  I did not make any changes to the hat pattern, but I made several design changes to the trousers. For fit purposes, I added 0.5″ to each side seam, 0.25″ at each of the front and back seams, and increased the back rise by 1.75″. I then took in the side seams a bit after sewing the denim to tailor them a bit more because of the stretch. In terms of design changes, I omitted the cargo pockets because I didn’t like the way they looked, and I thought with all the piecing it might be a bit much going on to add those in as well. I also pieced the trousers out of necessity, so I made an extra-wide hem as a design feature, which was not part of the original pattern. I also changed the front button closure to trouser hooks, mainly out of necessity due to the time constraints of the Bee and what I had on hand in the stash.

Would you sew this again?  Would you recommend it to others?  Yes and yes! I’m already planning my next set of pants and I’d love to make the hat in a wool. I would recommend both of these patterns to others, but I would suggest that the pants not be attempted by a beginner because the instructions are a bit confusing if you aren’t used to using BurdaStyle.

Conclusion & How Does This Fit the Challenge:  When this challenge was first announced, I actually wasn’t that excited about it. I didn’t know where I would get the fabric, and I wasn’t keen on the idea of tearing apart anything that was still wearable, as that didn’t seem to be in the spirt of the competition. However, my mother and some of my friends donated pants to me that were worn or damaged, and would have been thrown away because they were past the point of being donate-able. Once I had the fabric, my first thought was to make a jean jacket because I wanted to “transform” the denim, but after thinking about it a bit more, I decided I actually did want to make pants. I already have a jean jacket and I don’t use it much, and in the spirit of repurposing the denim, I wanted to sew something that had a new purpose. I didn’t need a new jacket, but I did need new pants. And even though I used pants to make pants, they still had a lot of transformation! I took five pairs of elastic-waisted jeans and pieced them into new jeans with a fly front, topstitching, and welt pocket details, along with making a hat! I’m honestly so excited by my new garments because they are both fun, but also made with the intention of trying to use things as thoughtfully as possible for as long as possible, and it feels great to have made something with that thought and purpose in mind.

How does this fit in with the Sew Your Kibbe Challenge?  Does it work as well for you as you expected it to? Yeah these pants definitely don’t fit into the Kibbe recommendations at all. The are wide instead of tapered, they are very heavy denim and not soft or draped, and they have very geometric design details. But I sort of don’t care. This challenge was exhausting on so many levels (I think I spent as much time taking apart garments as putting them back together, and I crammed it into every “spare” moment I had this week), but also really fun and inspiring in a unique way. I’m super excited with everything I made and I’m really happy with how it all turned out.


18 thoughts on “Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 2: Repurposing Denim

  1. Wow! Super impressed and love the retro vibe! Think one of the high fashion houses used panels with embroidery not too long ago, really like the use of the lighter fabric in the middle 🙂 good luck in the bee!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great job! I was not sorry I didn’t make it past the first round, as I really have no time. And then when I saw what the challenge was, I had a pang of regret, as I do love upcycling. Anyway, your look is cute and I hope the judges like it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! I remember thinking that pattern for the pants was pretty nice, but it never occured to me that it could be done with a contrasting panel. I love how you used all the different shades of denim. The whole look is amazing. I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the next round.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are amazing! I love the hat so much I want to make one for each of my kids! The jeans look fab too—really eye catching with that contrast gore. I’ve not seen a design detail like that on jeans before.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the outstanding results of your determined dedication in repurposing many pairs of denim.

    The cap and its fabric lining are adorable.

    Plus the smart and fun decision to use contrasting denim insets for the pants are so retro 70’s & stylish.

    A similar applied design would make a fun flaired skirt in varying lengths.

    Very admirable!

    Liked by 1 person

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