DIY Denim Culottes from Skinny Jeans

DIY Style

I’ve been excited all week to share these DIY denim culottes with you. I’ve literally only taken them off to sleep and bathe in the past few days because I’m that obsessed. As I mentioned on Tuesday, this week is very fashion-centric here on Salvage & Stitch, and of course, that meant that I had to offer you all a fun DIY project that you can totally make from jeans you already own. 

Let’s all be honest: finding fashion that one likes when you’re over 30 and waste-conscious is difficult. And sure, there are people who would say, “Just stop trying, just accept that you’ll be wearing the same pants forever.” I refuse. I cannot give up fashion. Sorry. Nope. But I can remake my wardrobe a million times over and I love giving my jeans a make-over. 

Wearing denim culottes and a stripped shirt next to a cactus on a wood chair and straw hat.
Shoes: Fortress of Inca

I keep seeing denim culottes all over the internet and I love them. I’m sure these pants are old news in Europe, where everyone is way quicker to adopt fashions that take *years* to materialize in the U.S. But the other day I saw a woman wearing some in my local grocery store. She stopped to buy meat and I stopped to look at the cut of her jeans, which is super awkward, by the way. I’m not trying to make anyone uncomfortable, I just have a thing for these pants. 

For a few years now I’ve been trying to break away from skinny jeans. I cannot believe skinny jeans have been fashionable for as long as they have. In various iterations, styles, cuts, and lengths I’ve been wearing skinny jeans since 2005 (I was an early adopter). That’s 13 years. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just always imagined that by now I’d be wearing something different. I’m starting to feel like a teenager every time I put them on, and not in a good way. 

So I thought I’d try making my own denim culottes from skinny jeans, because waste not, want not, right? Skinny jeans are a complicated nut to crack as far as refashioning goes because they don’t offer a ton of material to work with. Therefore, we have to add material to our preexisting jeans, which can look either great or really tacky (remember back in 1998 when people were making flares by adding smiley face fabric to straight jeans? Just me? Ok, well it happened). 

Skinny jeans and light green shirt.  Denim culotes and black shoes with wood heals next to chair and plants.

I wanted the pants to be a little high-waisted, light-weight, and comfortable. I also wanted them to be all one color, which was a tall order considering I planned to make them from jeans I already owned. In the end, I selected two pairs of fast fashion jeans from my wardrobe, both purchased used: one high-waisted pair from Ann Taylor Loft and one by Levi’s. Since I just used the Levi’s as extra material, I was able to turn them into shorts. 

Culottes are really growing on me because I’m trying desperately to accept the fact that it’s fine that I have curves. It’s impossible to ignore one’s round parts in these pants, though I think that denim culottes are more slimming then most. Body image is something that I’ve always struggled with (ok, what woman in America doesn’t struggle with this) but these pants leave me feeling sophisticated AND curvy. Take that world. 

Wearing denim culottes and stripped shirt and petting a black cat next to a cactus.

How To Make DIY Denim Culottes 

  • 2 pairs of skinny jeans. 
  • Sewing Machine 
  • Scissors 
  • Optional: Serger (if you don’t have one, no worries!) 

       Leg of jeans cut open at the seam.     Legs of jeans cut open at the sides.

1. Cut open your jeans along the outer seam ending about 7 inches below the pocket. Alternatively, you can take a seam ripper to it if it’s just a normal seam, which is technically what I did. Then, cut along the inner seam ending about 8 inches below the crotch.

2. Cut the legs off your other pair of jeans. I was able to turn this second pair into shorts and still had enough fabric to work with, but measure before you cut. Cut these leg pieces in half, lengthwise, right down the middle. 

    Legs of jeans cut off.  Jean legs cut in half.

3. Snip the hems off of all your denim pieces, we won’t be needing them. 

4. Flip your leg pieces from the second pair of jeans upside down so what was the thigh is now the bottom. Insert them into the outer openings your jeans, matching the middle seams, so that they make a long triangle. Pin along the edges of your openings. (The picture below says it all) 

Leg of denim culottes.

5. Do the same thing on the inside opening of your jeans, only leave one edge completely open. You have to leave an opening or the jeans will be really hard to sew. If you want to try your jeans on to make sure you like the new leg width, you can pin that edge and un-pin it. 

6. Neatly topstitch the legs along the edge of your opening, on all three pinned sides. Turn your jeans inside out, and sew the final opening closed by aligning the remaining raw fabric edges right-sides together. 

Top stitching denim culottes.

7. Cut off any excess fabric. I serged the raw edges on the inside of my jeans, but if you don’t have a serger you can use a zig zag stitch, or leave them raw if you don’t care about raveling. 

Inside of DIY denim culottes.

8. Cut any excess fabric off on the bottoms. Hem, and you’re finished!  

Denim culottes and brown belt, stripped shirt.

I hope that wasn’t too confusing, if you have any questions, definitely leave them in the comments. Enjoy making these culottes, they’re the perfect jeans for spring. 

DIY Culottes from Skinny Jeans.

More Refashion Posts 

Refashioning Clothes: A Remade Wardrobe 

DIY Overalls From Jeans You Already Own


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