DIY: How to Upcycle a Denim Jacket (Sleeve Swap Part 2)

Ok, let’s just get all the cards out on the table.  I cannot sew.  Not one bit.  Period.  (So, if you are looking for great sewing technique here…  ummm…. turn away now).  Don’t get me wrong, I can stitch when I need to… maybe re-sew a button back on if it comes off, patch a hole here and there, but that’s pretty much the extent of it.  So, when I took on the challenge of removing the sleeves from an old denim jacket and replacing them with the sleeves from my sweater, I’m not quite sure I had the full intention of really doing the sewing myself.  Sure, I mentioned that I might in my post about it (UPCYCLED DENIM JACKET: SWAPPING SLEEVES) but honestly, in my mind, I had already decided to take the jacket to my handy seamstress and call it a day.  Yep , easy right?  Sure, really easy….  until she absolutely refused to do it.  Just said no.  Too risky she said.  It just won’t work.

Now, anybody that knows me knows that if you tell me that I can’t do something, it absolutely becomes my goal to do it.  That’s just how I am.  It actually annoyed me that she refused.  So, I got a little “huffy”.  I asked her IF it could be done, how would you do it?   She told me…  and I set out to do it.

So, here’s what you need:

An old denim jacket (one that you won’t mind messing up – just in case)

A thick cable knit sweater (or a sweatshirt would do fine as well)

Bias tape (you can pick this up from a fabric or craft store – like JoAnn’s)

Thick needle and thread

Here’s what you do:

First up, remove the sleeves from your jacket.  I cut the sleeves as close to the seam as possible.

Now, remove the sleeves from your sweater.  I found this easiest to do with the sweater turned inside out.  This allowed me to clearly see the sleeve seam.  This is important because you want to cut above the seam by approximately 4 or 5 inches.  This leaves the entire sleeve in tact, and ensures you have a strong stitch in place,  which will ultimately keep the sweater from unraveling.

Next, I stitched the bias tape to the exposed sweater edges.  This essentially binds all of the open pieces.  Again, this ensures that the sweater does not begin to unravel.  To be safe, you’ll want to complete at least 2 full revolutions around.

Once the open sweater ends were bound, I took the sleeve and stitched it to jacket itself.  I found this easiest to do from the inside of the jacket.  I simply inserted the sleeve into the arm hole, turned the jacket inside out and began stitching the sleeve to the jacket.  It’s important to be sure the sleeve length is right when you insert it (so please check this before you start stitching).  I would also recommend pulling the sleeve far enough inside the arm hole so you are not stitching from the very end of the sweater sleeve.

My stitching isn’t the best (it’s quite crude actually) but hopefully you get the idea.  And I like the end result.  I think it adds “character” to the jacket (but of course I’m probably biased).  On a side note: I did wear the jacket out last weekend and no one was staring oddly or laughing and pointing (no more than normal anyway) so maybe that’s a good sign!

What do you all think?  I’d be interested to hear your feedback.  Was there a better or different way to do this?  What DIY upcycled projects are you taking on?  I’d love to hear from you!!!


11 thoughts on “DIY: How to Upcycle a Denim Jacket (Sleeve Swap Part 2)

    • Thanks!! I actually worked it one sleeve at a time over 2 days. The first sleeve took longer just because I had to figure out the best way to stitch it so I kinda started and then stopped. I didn’t really track the time but it probably took me an hour and half. The 2nd sleeve took maybe an hour or so….

  1. Ha! I’m with you, just don’t tell me no! The jacket turned out great and for the next project the way I see it is that you are the visionary…others can make your ideas come to life!

    • Lol! Exactly! Keep enough distance so it still looks great! Ha! But really, DIYs are so much fun! It’s amazing just to see what you can do sometimes!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! And keep up the awesome job on your blog – which I love btw.

      xo, Kenya

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