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How to Make Modest Jean Skirt out of pants

I’ve been toying with the blog post for almost a decade now. As a United Pentecostal, it is always difficult to find comfortable, practical, modest skirts especially if you’re like me and need pockets!

I’ve been making skirts like this since I was a teenager and, while I’ve seen many variations on the idea I’ve never seen anyone make their skirts exactly the way I make mine, so here’s my process!

You will need:
2 pairs of jeans.
– Pick on pair that fits you in the waist, and one pair that is two or three sizes wider and longer. You want plenty of room on the second pair to make the triangle inserts (gores) as wide as possible.
– I prefer that the jeans match, so I typically buy the same brand/style for both pairs, but you can feel free to mix and match
Seam ripper
Measuring Tape
Sewing Machine
Chalk (optional)

Step 1:
Turn the jeans inside out and tear out the inside seam. Remove the hems of each pant leg. It’s also convenient if you take the time now to remove the butt pockets on the bigger pair of jeans.

Remove the in-seams and the cuff hem

You’ll notice that the crotch seam comes to a point. We’re going to remove that triangle and make it a straight seam. Spread the legs out as wide as they will go and put a pin just above where the wrinkles stop. Go to the sewing machine and stitch back and forth perpendicular to that seam line. This will stop the seam from tearing out.

Put a pin just above where the wrinkles stop.

Once you have that line of stitches put in, take the seam ripper and remove the crotch stitches.

Remove the crotch seam up to your stitch line.

Lay the pants out flat and spread the legs out as far as they will go. Fold the little triangle under until the seam lays flat. It will be difficult to get perfect due to the memory of the fabric, but once you have it sewn down and washed a few times, it will look fine.

Pin your new seam flat.

Go back to the machine and make one seam from the triangle up toward the crotch zipper.

Make one seam, from the triangle up toward the crotch zipper.

Turn the pants inside out, trim the excess fabric to a straight edge. Turn the pants right way out, fold the excess material in toward the first line of stiches, and make another seam parallel to the first, catching the excess material to hold it flat.

Now that your crotch seam is in place, lay the pants out flat and measure the length you want your skirt to be. I find these skirts tend to mysteriously become longer in the back than in the front. It’s very annoying, and I haven’t figured out why this happens, but here’s my work around: measure down the side seam to your desired length and mark with a pin. Lay the pants flat, face up, measure to your desired length and put in a pin. Turn the pants over and on the back, measure to your desired length then add 1 inch and mark with a pin. Once you’ve found your desired length, add another pin two inches below each pin. This will be our two-inch hem once we’re finished.

I use straight pins for this process, but you can also mark the hem with safety pins.

Once you’ve found your hem, it’s time to start adding the gores. Lay the pants flat, with the front facing up. Spread the legs out as wide as you can get them. Take the second (larger) pair, flatten out one leg, and tuck it up inside the top pants as far as it will go. You want the widest part of the leg to be roughly even with the lowest pin marker on your top pants. Take care to line up the outside seam of the bottom pants with the crotch seam of your top pants. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it makes the difference between your skirt looking home-made or professional.

Pin each side of the triangle together, making sure both pants are flat and smooth.

Cut the bottom pants off, leaving as much extra to the leg as possible. You cut from the tip of the crotch seam, across the front pocket, across about half of the butt pocket, and out to the back of the crotch. Take the skirt to the machine, and stich up each side of the triangle on the inside of the original stitch line, removing the pins as you go. Take the skirt off the machine and turn it inside out.

Cut the excess fabric off, leaving about an inch all the way around the triangle. Go back to the machine and fold the excess fabric in towards the first stich line. You’ll have to fold it as you sew, so be careful and go slow. The goal is to catch as much of the excess fabric as possible with your second line of stitching.

Once it’s finished, it will look like this. Some raw edges are ok. They will fray, but it won’t actually hurt anything. If you want, you can hand finish the inside with a needle and thread at the end.

Once we have the front finished, we’ll move to the back. The back crotch is fixed just the same as the front, but you’ll start up a little higher. Lay the pants flat and pull the legs out as far as they will go. Put a pin just above where the wrinkles stop and stitch perpendicular to the crotch seam. Rip out the crotch seam, and fold the top layer over until it lays flat. The back is MUCH more difficult than the front, so don’t get too frustrated. If it’s not perfect, that’s ok.

Sew up the seam line from the triangle up toward the waistband. Turn the pants inside out, trim the excess, and fold under and sew just like the front.

Insert the second pants leg just like the front. Make sure the seams line up, smooth flat, pin, and trim the excess off. The back will not have the obvious fold and stitch lines that the front did. Fold and tuck until the legs of the triangle are flat, and sew in straight lines and best as you can.

Once you have the front and back done you could simply trim the excess, hem, and be done but I like to add two more gores on the side for more freedom of movement. Measure down the side of your leg from your hip to an inch above your knee. Using that measurement, lay the skirt flat on its side and measure from the waistband to the desired measurement. Put in a pin.

Mark one inch above your knee

You’ll want to move your hem markers off of the outer seam. I recommend two sets of pins on the front and two sets of pins on the back of the pants legs. For convenience, you can trim the excess pants away until you skirt is roughly the same length all the way around.

Go back to the machine, sew a line across the seam at your pin and then rip out the outer seam up to your new stitch line. Lay the skirt flat on its side and stretch out the sides of the seam as far as they will go. Take the excess fabric left over from making the large triangles and tuck it up into the skirt to make the side gore. Follow the same process as the front and back. Pin flat, stitch the first seams. Trim excess, fold and sew again.

Once you have your new triangle pinned, measure a straight line from the waistband to your hem length and put the two marker pins in. Make sure your side panels are long enough!

Repeat the process for the knee panel on the other side.

Once you have all four panels sewn up, all that’s left is to hem the bottom. Lay the skirt flat, front facing up. The waistband will naturally curve down in the front. This is fine. Leave it like that, and pin the waistband together so it doesn’t move. Starting from the front middle, work your way around with the tape measure to make sure all your pins are at the correct length. The best way I have found to get the skirt to be the right length all the way around is to make your front panel the length you want, and gradually grade that measurement to a half inch longer at the sides, and a full inch longer in the back. For example, if your skirt is 33″ long, the front panel will be 33″, the sides will gradually curve to 33.5″ and the back seam will be 34″ in the middle. Take tailors chalk (or just pins if you don’t have chalk) and connect all the seam markers to make a continuous line around the hem.

Draw the hem line

Trim the excess off to match your bottom line. If you have an iron, you can fold the hem and iron it to get helpful creases to follow. Basically, you’re going to fold the part between the lines in half, and then fold that up again until the top line is the bottom edge of the skirt.

Pin in place as you go. Before you sew anything, lay the skirt on the floor and make sure the hem is the same length all the way around! Adjust the hem as necessary, and then sew all the way around, keeping the foot about 3/4inch away from the bottom of the skirt, removing the pins as you go. Sew a second line around the hem, half and inch above and parallel to the first seam.

Wash and dry just as you would regular jeans. These skirts are very sturdy, comfortable, and long-lasting.


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