Jeans upcycled to child’s pinafore dress

Here at Ealing cafe, we try to find a use for all fabric that comes out way, including left over jeans or other clothes that have become unwearable. One of our regulars, Jacki, transformed an old pair of jeans into a child’s pinafore dress.

So, what do you need?

  • A pair of men’s jeans (the bigger the size the more material you will have)
  • Dungaree fasteners or buttons
  • Material to line straps and inside of bibs and potentially patch pockets (or you could unpick the pockets on the jeans and use them)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (as its difficult to sew this project by hand)
Cutting the legs from the jeans

Step 1

Start by cutting off the legs as high as possible so you get as much fabric to work with.

Cutting the inside leg

Step 2

Then either cut along the inside of both legs to open them up, or if you need a bit more fabric un-pick the seam on the inside leg.

Jeans may have multiple rows of stitching, but they are pretty easy to cut open and will give you another couple of centimetres of fabric.

Cutting the jeans for the pinafore

Step 3

Start by measuring the length of the pinafore (yellow arrow) so you know where to start.

Now we need to cut the arm holes – it is not an exact science but rough guidelines below – however you can adjust or use an existing dress or t-shirt.

Front – armhole should be roughly 1/3 the width of the folded fabric.

Back – armhole needs to be bigger so roughly 2/3 the width of the folded fabric.

The height of the bib (bottom of armhole to top) is roughly ½ to ¾ the width of the fabric.

Left: Back Piece, Right: Front piece

Step 4

Now we need to prepare the other pieces of fabric.

  • Cut 2 lengths from the bottom section of the jeans to make the straps – adjust them in width to match your dungaree fasteners.
  • Next cut 2 pieces from a contrast fabric to line the straps with.  
  • Then cut facing (lining of dress) from contrast fabric to line front and back bib section, it needs to extend a couple of centimetres below the armhole (see picture below).
  • Finally cut patch pockets from contrast fabric or if you are using the pockets from the jeans unpick them and adjust in size to suit the pinafore.
Cut facing (lining material) for this area marked out

Step 5

Now it is time to start assembling your pinafore:

  1. The the denim strap material and line the straps by adding sewing the denim and lining material together. Place the two fabrics front side of the material facing each other (inside out) and sew along the sides of the straps, then turn it inside out and iron. Your straps are ready.
  2. Now insert straps between the lining of the back bib and the bib itself.
    • To hide the seam, sandwich the straps between the two materials with the front side material facing each other and sew together. Then when you flip it around the seam will be hidden.
    • Place the straps in between bib and the lining, that way when you turn the right side out you will hide the bottom of the straps behind the lining.
    • When sewing don’t secure the lining down the side seam, you will sew that when you sew the side seams together (step 4)  
  3. Add your patch pockets to the front section
  4. Sew the side seams together and make sure you have the lining included
  5. Turn up the hem
  6. Finally attach the dungaree fastener

Couple of additional hints and tips.

If you can’t get your mittens on a pair of dungaree fasteners, you can use a button and sew a buttonhole into your straps.

Make sure the button is well attached and if you are not sure about the length of the straps you can add multiple buttonholes so they can be adjusted.

If your jeans are too short for the pinafore you could add a ruffle at the bottom using the same fabric as you did for the lining and patch pockets.

You don’t have to line the bibs or straps if you can’t find additional fabric

Pinafore Dress
Your finished Pinafore – what a great way to re-use old jeans
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