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Fashion Statement

Repurpose your old jeans into the latest style

July 15, 2012
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

Top designers from around the country are continuing to draw up fashion collections for the summer of a maxi length with obvious and increasing focus being aimed in the direction of highlighting femininity, graceful flowing fabrics and having them serve as a palette on which to paint a particular picture.

The idea is to create a fresh palette on which to create a reconnection with a very special time in this nation's clothing history: the time of the hippies.

Still another designed called maxi dresses are considered to be "fun and flirty, and perfect for the summer's heat."

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But few icons created in that era were more significant than maxi looks, which allowed for a reincarnation of favorite clothing items.

Reincarnation is not just a subject for discussion in theology classrooms, nor is repurposing a term only to be used in the realm of those who fearlessly wield such powerful weapons as are pinking shears, needle and thread, or even a hot glue gun.

Today, when it comes to the practice of giving iconic old blue jeans a new lease on life, the possibilities seem endless, as does the popularity of denim, a fabric with roots reaching deep into the nation's history, back to the opening of the West, as well as the era in which the country opened its doors to floods of immigrants, each hoping to build a better life in America.

However, even decades past the 1970s, the popularity of turning an old pair of jeans into something that makes it useful again is a practice almost as popular today as it was in the era of the original Woodstock festival event. (No, it has nothing to do with the cute little yellow bird brought to comic strips around the world by cartoonist Charles Schultz.)

The jean maxi skirt has been something of a staple in many American women's wardrobes since the mid-1970s when it became a symbol of youthfulness and artistic freedom.

Today, women of all ages and from all economic conditions are revisiting a clothing favorite; the nearly forgotten 1970s wardrobe staple, the home crafted denim maxi skirt or jumper.

These popular clothing icons of their day are as easily brought to life today as they were in the 1970s.

The maxi skirts are made from a pair of jeans.

The maxi jumpers are crafted from traditional bib overalls.

Fabric inserts are also an easy way to resurrect a favorite jean skirt which originally might have included a slit .

No high tech tools are required in order to transform - to resurrect - these iconic wardrobe items into fashionable skirts or dresses now perfectly suited to serve as foundations on which to build completely new and ultra chic favorite looks for women of all ages.

In truth, it is not even necessary to employ the technologies of today's sewing machines, as virtually all the work can be done by hand, with the help of only one electrical appliance: a steam iron.

No, there is no need to locate your roll of duct tape, or to break out the pneumatic nail gun.

The necessary tools to make these transformations happen easily are found in just about any home's kitchen, sewing or craft room: scissors, straight pins, needle and thread, an iron and a ruler or measuring tape.

Using the popular fabric fusing material, Stitch Witchery, is not a must, but it can help reduce the amount of time a project will take to complete, particularly if the alternative is to do the alterations by hand rather than using a sewing machine.

Choosing what fabric or fabrics to use to fill in a split skirt's now unwanted opening, or to bring a skirt to life from what was originally a pair of jeans, can easily be accomplished with the help of fabric inserts, or the like. It does not mean finding funds to use for purchasing new fabrics.

Experts in these wardrobe repurposing projects are quick to remind consumers there is a ready supply of fabrics available for alteration projects hanging in their closets just waiting to be gathered together with other now unused items to be given away.

Any of the repurposing projects involving what started out as a pair of jeans should begin only after the jeans to be used have been washed.

Put the jeans on a flat, hard surface and then cut open the inseams on both legs to begin a project. It is also easier to manage the fabric of the jeans if they are zipped and shaped or buttoned.

Position the pant legs to the a-line width profile you want established when the skirt or jumper project is finished. Fabric choices for the insets can vary widely and do not have to be limited to a single solid piece of fabric.

In general, it works out best to have the front and back insets the same size.

So, once one side is completed, make sure the second side's spacing profile is the same as was made for the first.

A word of caution when deciding what type of fabric to use for the inset: make sure it is substantial enough to be paired with the denim.

When configuring your inset for a skirt section, leave a full inch of fabric for a solid seam allowance, regardless how the two fabrics are being connected.

Designers of several denim skirt projects suggest sewing all seams with the help of a sewing machine if at all possible.

Another tactic to employ when working toward a goal of really making a skirt's new look one of artistic individuality, consider adding in fabric or using decorative stitches on a sewing machine to serve as both decorative and stabilizing elements of the redesign.

If a maxi skirt of denim is not your style, consider purchasing a knit fabric from which can readily be made into a long skirt.

You will need pinking shears, a wide piece of knit elastic, fabric, needle and thread - or a sewing machine.

To figure out how much material you will need to purchase for the project, consider the following: get a waist measurement and divide it by two, in order to get the width of the fabric needed. Experts suggest adding between 4 and 7 inches to the width of the fabric piece for an ease of faith.

Stitch elastic around the waistline level of the skirt, making it a snug fit, but not tight. Stitch the elastic in at the looser waistline using a zig zag stitch if needed. It should measure slightly smaller than your waist measurement.

Only after sewing up the sides of the skirt do you sew large seams under the sideline. Gather it at the waist and make sure it is evenly distributed, and then sew it in place on the top and bottom of the waist band elastic.

A hem can best be achieved with the help of a simple gauge or basic ruler.

Top designers in the U.S. have again incorporated maxi skirts and dresses into the status of cornerstones of spring and summer season looks this year.

One of the biggest surprises women are finding as they are increasingly interested in wearing maxi dresses and skirts is a reconnection with the fact that wearing a skirt in hot and humid weather is actually a pleasant experience and provides a great foundation on which to build a personalized sense of summer style chic.

Loccisano can be reached at



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