Photo: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Denim fabric gives fashion a Western flair, but it also is a practical fabric choice when you need a durable dress. Jean dresses are casual but dressy, country but urban and, best of all, a fashion choice for women who enjoy wearing a dress but love blue jeans. Making a jean dress from vintage blue jeans also offers a nod to history with the perfect fit for your body -- when you design and sew the dress yourself.
Equipment and Fabric
Doing the homemade thing with a pair or two of jeans allows you to bring your fashionista flair and personal touches to a do-it-yourself dress project. You’ll need a few things to get started, including a sewing machine outfitted with heavy-duty sewing needles, heavy-duty thread and pins or fabric weights – and some jeans. Vintage or discarded jeans are an excellent source of quality cotton denim, particularly the thick fabric used to make the vintage pants. Wash new jeans a few dozen times to relax the fabric and get rid of excess dye.
Keeping Jean Features
Many denim dresses have the blue jeans pants look, but DIY dresses need not keep any of the original elements. Traditional DIY jean dresses split the pant legs creating a skirt, and denim fabric from the legs fills the pant crotch. Add a fabric bodice or use the leftover leg material to craft a simple halter top from the denim. If a blue jean re-creation isn’t your idea of dress fashion, collect more discarded jeans and use the legs to construct a sheath dress. Measure your bust and hips for the project width and then determine the dress length by measuring from the top of your neck in back to the dress hem, depending on how much leg you want to flash. Cut rectangle fabric pieces and match the same number of sections for the front and back. Add a scooped neckline to pull the dress over your head. Add a belt on the hip, waist and under the bust to dress up the sheath.
DIY Dress Fitting
You want your dress to fit your body to perfection and a DIY dress project allows you to have your fit the way you want it – loose where it needs to disguise and fitted to show off your best assets. Trying on the jean dress during the construction offers a chance to custom tailor your dress. Using the original waistband and top portion of the jeans in your dress design keeps the jean heritage, but allows you to update the top of the dress with a down-home, country-type bib on top or attach other clothing elements to the jean skirt bottom to make a dress. A ribbed tank top stitched onto a jean skirts makes a dress with the appearance of a two-piece outfit.
Adding Dash and Flash
Heavy jean denim handles snaps, pockets, appliques, large buttons and decorative stitching without damaging the fabric. Once you’re done with stitching the basic dress, lay your flash elements out to make sure the items work with the overall dress design. If you’re a fan of bling, borrow or purchase a hand-held tool to attach snaps, metal brads or jewel inserts on the jean dress.