Around five years ago my dad did a wardrobe clear out and, before passing them to the charity shop, gave me first dibs on claiming anything that I might want to chop up. One thing that caught my eye was jeans, two pairs of 80s light blue denim. They had a little wearing to the ends and were clearly well-loved in their day. At the time I had a vague thought of ‘ooh what about a denim jacket’ and they were put at the back of the fabric draw and ignored… Until now!
You may have noticed that I have a little bit of an obsession with Sew Over It, in particular, their summer dreaming capsule wardrobe e-book. When I first saw the book, the Sorrento jacket sparked some old memories of the long-forgotten jeans. I had been vaguely keeping an eye out for a denim jacket pattern that had lots of seam lines to allow for piecing and, whilst classic, wasn’t too boxy. The Sorrento jacket seemed to tick all those boxes so, as I had bought the ebook anyway, I printed the pattern and got the jeans out to see what I could achieve. First step, I seam ripped the outside of each leg to allow me to lie them flat and then started moving around the pattern pieces. I only had one of each pattern piece and most were to be cut twice, so as long as I only used one leg of each pair of jeans, I could work out my pattern piece placement. The widest/ largest pattern piece in this is the sleeves and so this was the first piece I had a play with. Luckily the sleeve ‘just’ (if you minimise seam allowance) fit into the leg and I realised I could actually use the felled seam from the original jeans down the centre of the sleeve to add some interest.
For the undercollar and centre back, I had to cut in two parts and add seam allowance to sew them together as I just didn’t have wide enough fabric. I also had to cut the waistband into three parts, with seam lines on each side. This was absolutely fine and I actually really like the effect this adds, just make sure to add seam allowance to any new seams you create ( I may have forgotten a little bit and had to minimise other seams to make it work!) The rest of the cut was fairly good going and I managed to cannibalise these jeans fairly effectively, I did find a few problems in the pattern labelling in how many to cut – they use phrasing such as pairs etc… so just think about where the pattern piece will be to work out what you need to cut. I accidentally cut two of the same back-side piece, and didn’t have much denim left hence the slight patchwork effect!
This was most definitely not a quick sew, not by a long shot and I actually had all three machines out at once. My old singer was set up to topstitch, my regular machine with denim coloured thread and my overlocker. Another thing this project did – killed a lot of needles. I got through a whole pack of denim needles (one survived), killed four overlocker needles and one regular needle. Lesson – use the right needle for the job and use denim needles in your overlocker. Still, expect some casualties if you chose to make this pattern out of thicker denim, these jeans were proper 100% cotton, no softness or elasticity considered, will survive apocalypse jeans and they won.
The instructions are pretty good and have been well thought out, they assume you are using one machine and have been written to minimise the switching of thread and needles which is pretty good. However, if you are using two machines, the construction pattern can be a little confusing as you switch pieces regularly to avoid switching needles and thread.
The part that I struggled with most was the pockets, they are a little odd as they are fully functional but really tiny – not sure I would ever be able to get anything out without taking off the jacket and shaking upside down. I think I would lean to just making a fake pocket to avoid killing quite so many needles. You have to try to get through this at one point:
It does say in the instructions to consider using quilting cotton to line your pocket and I should probably have listened, I did not to the bain of my machines, My serger couldn’t get through the fabric so I ended up cutting to the seam allowance first and then going super slow with denim needles on my overlocker to get through it.
Another part that I struggled with was the button holes. My machine just did not enjoy the mixture of topstitching thread and many layers of thick denim. In the end it took a mixture of a denim needle combined with experimenting with thread tension until it was just right.
I used proper jean buttons on this which were a lot easier to install then I thought. I just poked a whole through with my thread scisors and then use a hammer to get the button together.
So here is my brand new denim jacket made from two old pairs of jeans:
And there we have two pairs of jeans given a new lease of life!
Changes I made
- I did not add the tabs on the waistband as I just could not face trying to get that many layers through my machine! I also felt the fit didn’t need it.
- I split the waistband, back side panel and under collar into multiple pieces so that I could fit them onto the jeans.
- Cut the sleeves to have the extra seam on the top of the arm to take advantage of the jean seams.
- I am so pleased to be able to make this denim jacket out of only two pairs of jeans and feel it makes really good use of the fabric and seams.
- The pattern just worked well – it’s complicated with a lot of seams but everything just lines up and is really well proportioned.
- I really love the two-tone collar! This was just due to where the pocket was on the original jeans that had not been bleached.
Not so good things
- How to kill your sewing machine needle in one not so easy step
- The pockets are so small that I’m not sure they’re worth the needles I broke! Saying that they are super cute and I am very proud of them!
Recommendations for making Sew Over It Sorrento Denim Jacket
- Think about the fit you want – I cut a size 12 and have a 30-inch waist and 39-inch bust – it’s a looser fit.
- The waistband, sleeve cuffs, placket and neckband go on the opposite to what you might be used to. You attach it so that you end up topstitching with the visible side still loose, not your normal stitch in the ditch. This works really well as you have control over how the topstitching looks but wasn’t my first instinct.
- Do you want working pockets? look at the width of the entrance and then maybe consider making them fake pockets instead!
Overall marks:Fit-8/10 Style-9/10 Instructions-6.5/10 Ease- 6/10 Finished garment- 8/10
I am really happy with this jacket – it was a lot of pain (and needles) but I am really proud to have up-cycled two pairs of jeans into this denim jacket that I will get a lot of wear out of. So what do you think, will you be raiding the draws for old jeans?