Taking down your trousers 😉  sfw!

How to upcycle a pair of trousers depends a lot on the fabric involved – this tutorial is for jeans, heavy chinos/dockers, heavyweight cotton drill/ camouflage trousers.

So, my gardening STA45567trousers are about 7 years old and have progressed from smart casual to allotment wear and according to the paint splashes, DIY or art 😉 They could carry on this way, but the crotch will need patching soon and to me it makes more sense to make them into new things while they still look mainly ok and have a lot of wear left, than to leave them till they are half rags and have to go to end life as ground up fibres in mattresses or those wipes.

There is a way to deconstruct a garment to get the most use and least waste out of it.

It starts by recognizing your own skill set and needs – this tutorial includes some NO-SEW and FIXER-FRIENDLY projects, because it’s zero waste week, but a prom dress can be upcycled too, just veeeerry differently 😉 and would probably be best suited to someone with good sewing skills or an artist/crafter who liked tearing things.

So, the challenge is trousers to:



Toolbelt;  I was taught this by a friend who volunteered at Nottingham Free Shop. All you need are good/sharp scissors.

Basically, you keep the belt and pockets of the trousers and cut away the rest.

It depends on the cut of the jeans, but even low slung hipsters can be used for this, but you might have to use leg fabric for adding (false fronting) the pockets.

I’ve discovered that trousers without pockets are beyond annoying with the rollator – I need to not be scrabbling in my bag for bus fares etc and it’s been far too hot for a jacket, so this will come in very handy next summer to wear over light trousers that won’t take pockets without tearing.

Lailah added all sorts of custom pockets and clippies to her belt to go round the festivals – you need to know where your lighter is and that it’s dry, if camping in the woods a multi-tool knife is best kept handy, and the belt loops are great for that. You could add buttoned tabs for mallets or a hammer, secateurs can go in the pockets, whatever you like really. I will machine stitch the front pocket fabric to the lining because it annoys me when I see the lining sticking out, AND it makes it far stronger – form AND function 😉 So now you have two legs and a zip and the crotch which is the bit, that with any side seams I send to the rags – but remember, NO STUDS, NO METAL, nothing that could wreck the machine that ‘grinds’ the fabric into rags!!


What state are the legs and particularly the ankle seams in? Garments wear differently according to the user and their activities and the initial design and materials of course.So are you a cyclist who has wrecked the right inner leg by not wearing gaiters in the rain? Are you an allotmenteer or woodswalker who has encountered one too many thorn tree or bramble patch? ;)If the ankle/lower leg is in reasonable condition then make messenger bags. Cut across the leg above the knee and put the tubes to one side – a tutorial will be coming later this week for these 😉

STA45574Take the chance to notice how differently the inside wears from the outside when garments are worn outdoors a lot. In the 18th and 19th centuries, garments were turned inside out after a couple of seasons to ‘freshen’ them, particularly if they were in colours that were expensive to dye. There’s a great section in Louisa May Alcott’s ‘An Old Fashioned Girl’ where the country girl teaches her rich friend, who has fallen on hard times, to make over her clothes. I photocopied it as part of my display for the end show of the Eco-Garments course I took with the amazingly inspiring Linda Lloyd Willis.

STA45576Consider dyeing some of the fabric that is left now – cut it into the largest blocks you can and some small patches for mending/patching. I have two pairs of these trousers, the other pair is burgundy and if I dyed some blocks of each brown or black, I could now make a project with the same fabric in 3 colours – patchwork bags, cushion covers, floor cushions, dog beds (pets love having your old clothes to snuggle in, they can still smell you 😉 )

I’ve been making cloth carriers to sell at Nottingham Fixers stall and this fabric would be fine for that, large simple blocks for the body and you could use contrasting thread and an automatic stitch pattern on your sewing machine to make a feature edge and pocket.

Inevitably there will be some long narrow pieces, but these have a use too – cut strips nearly an inch/2.5cm wide and roll the strips up, you now have fabric ‘yarn’ for making cloth rugs, another tutorial I am going to share this week 😉

So, I think we made it – 100% used/reused, ZERO WASTED 😉

feels good yes? 😉