Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How to Re-Fashion Your Own Boyfriend Jeans //

I have to confess, I love boyfriend cut jeans.  Specifically, the type with the cuffs rolled up a bit.  I just think they look fantastic with a basic sweater, maybe a checkered shirt beneath and finished off with some leather oxfords or even simple black pumps.  Essentially, you can take take the boyfriend cut and style it up or down, it works either way and I love that.

A while ago, I did a Polyvore set featuring the Boyfriend Cut Jean:

The possibilities are endless:  A loose tee, black blazer and pumps; asymmetrical blouse, statement necklace and flats; button-down, sweater vest and oxfords.  I can't get enough.

Needless to say, I really wanted a pair for myself.  At the time, though, I didn't feel like making the investment on new jeans.  I had recently shifted my fashion purchase priorities from 'cavalier' to 'investment' {see my Value of Investment Purchases post here}, but I didn't have the budget at the time and {impatient me!} I didn't feel like waiting until I did.  So, I made my way over to a great consignment shop in my area and looked around for a cheap pair of jeans that I could re-fashion.  I figured, how hard could it be?  And it wasn't hard at all!

I thought I'd keep it simple.  Boyfriend cut jeans -- look in the men's jean section.  Of course, since I don't make a habit of buying men's clothes for myself, I had no idea what size I should look for, so I had to try a few on.  Eventually, through trial and error, I found the size I needed, all I had to do was find the wash I wanted.  I elected for a somewhat already 'distressed' wash and style.  No holes, of course, but some gentle fraying around the edges.  Perfect.  I found my pair within a half hour and only spent $5 on it!  Can't get much better than that.

The next purchase I had to make was the denim thread at my local craft store.  I would say this is the 'key'.  Don't skimp or cheap out {Not that demin thread is expensive.  It's comparable to any of the other types.} and use regular thread.  Trust me, you need something durable and sturdy that will actually go all the way through the denim.

I'm fortunate enough that my mother has her own sewing machine, which I use constantly.  I have to admit, if I didn't have access to a sewing machine I probably would never do this project because hand-sewing through denim isn't easy.  I would recommend a stealth 'mini sewing flash session' at your local craft store or {if you're not quite that daring} beg to borrow one from a friend, co-worker or family member.

Here's everything you need broken down:

Sewing machine
Sewing machine needle fit for denim
Denim thread
Your thrifted men's jeans
Sewing scissors
Black pen or marker
Sewing pins
Yard-long ruler or straight-edge

Through my research online I came to the conclusion that what makes the boyfriend jean the boyfriend jean is the boxy cut around the hips and thighs, rolled cuffs and {most importantly, but easy to miss} the gentle taper of the legs.  Most men's jeans have legs that go straight down and don't flair or taper at all.  If you were to buy men's jeans, roll the cuffs and call it a day, you'd find that A) they don't look at all like what you had imagined and B) the cuffs would unroll almost immediately after putting them on.  Super annoying.  All you have to do to remedy this is to trim the legs from the knee down.  I don't mean hem the bottom, I mean trim the legs {as in narrowing them}.  Sounds complicated, but, honestly, it's not.

First, turn the jeans inside-out and put them on inside-out.  What you're going to do now is decide how much you want to trim off the legs.  As you can see from the image, the material that you're going to be cutting off is the bit from the outer seam towards the inner seam.  Essentially, you'll be trimming off a very long and narrow triangle that starts at the bottom hem and ends at the knee area.  We're not going to be trimming all the way up the leg because if we do that, then the jeans will look too tight.  Boyfriend cut jeans are meant to be loose fitting and a bit baggy.

How much you want to trim is really up to you.  While I was wearing my jeans {inside-out!} I used my hand to take in a few inches at the bottom hem and pinned it into place.  Then, very carefully, I began rolling up the pant legs to how I would want the final product to look.  I took a little walk around, looked at them in the mirror and when they didn't unroll and looked how I wanted them to, I decided that that was how many inches I wanted to trim inwards.  It's best to decide how many inches inward on the bottom hem you want to go in first and then work your way upwards.  Once, you've decided how far you wish to go inwards on the hem, start going up the leg and pin into place.  At this point, you only need to go up about half-way up your shin.  I did both legs at once.  After you've pinned a bit, carefully take the jeans off and leave them rightside-out.  Most likely the pinning will be a little half-hazard because it's hard to pin while wearing your clothes, so fix them up a bit.

To make the hem even, I used a yard-long ruler as a straight edge.  I knew that I wanted the hem to end at the outter knee seam.  So, one end of the ruler started at the bottom hem of the jeans where I pinned a few inches in.  The other end of the ruler ended at the outter knee seam.  I drew a line with my pen that followed the basic pinning I had already done.  Once I had drawn the line, I mirrored the technique on the other leg.

If you want to be precise, like I did, I measured in inches exactly how far I went in on the bottom hem and how far I went up.  For example, if I knew I wanted to take 2 inches off the outer part of the bottom hem, I measured that exactly on the other leg as well.  And however many inches I went up to the knee on the first leg, I measured that exactly on the other leg.  That way, nothing looks lopsided.

Now it's just a matter of straight line of sewing.  Nothing fancy.  Load up your machine with the denim thread and sew right over the line you've made on each leg.  Make sure to go back and forth a little with the stitching on both ends of your stitch to make sure it doesn't unravel on you later.

Before you cut off the excess material make sure you try them on again!!!

Remember, once you cut, you're stuck.  So, turn your jeans right side-out and try them on.  Roll up the cuffs.  Do they look good?  Feel good?  Is the bottom hem still too wide?  Too narrow?

If you find that you've gone too far inwards with your stitch and things are too tight, I find it's easiest to turn the pants inside-out again and leave the stitch in for the moment and measure about a quarter of an inch outwards from your stitch and make the second line there.  Once you've made the line, then you stitch along it.  Only after you've made your correction stitch do you take out the original stitch.  This way, you don't have to try the jeans on again, pin by hand, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Much less hassle this way.  Do the same with the other leg and try on again.  Keep doing this until the fit feels right.

If you find that you haven't gone in far enough, do the same as above {that is, don't take out the original stitch, just measure a quarter of an inch inwards along your original stitch, make the new line, sew again, then take out the original stitch} and try on the jeans again.  Do this until the fit feels right.

This next step is optional, but I thought it made the end result much more 'finished' looking.

Alongside your first stitch you're going to make an additional straight stitch parallel to it and one quarter inch outwards from your original stitch {make sure this next straight stitch is on the outer side of your original, otherwise you'll be narrowing the leg further, messing up your final product}.  I like to do this because it makes the end result look a little more professional and the natural fraying won't unravel your hard work.

The final step is simply cutting off the excess material.  Cut as close as you can to your last outer stitch.  In the future, after you wash your jeans, the natural fraying that occurs here won't be a problem because of your second stitch.  Everything will stay in place.

That's it!

Turn your jeans right side-out and enjoy; you crafty person, you!

I'm not a professional sewer {by any means!} and some of you may want your hem job to look a little more professional than I made mine.  If you have mad sewing skills, go for it!  I'm jealous of your prowess with the sewing machine.

I wear these jeans all the time!  They're so comfortable and they go with anything!

Have fun and enjoy!

P.S.  My oxfords are from Jack Wills and my booties are Rag & Bone