How to make a skirt out of old trousers

Updated April 17, 2017

Sometimes a pair of trousers or jeans just doesn't satisfy your fashion needs any longer. But instead of tossing them in the donation bin, why not remake them into a customised skirt for just pennies and a little time? Refashioning and remaking the items in your wardrobe can save money and make you feel like a fashion designer. Gather a few basic sewing supplies and turn those boring old trousers or jeans into a fun new skirt.

Try on the trousers. If the waistband and hips fit comfortably, you're ready to transform the trousers into a skirt. Adjustments in these areas are more difficult, so try this project the first time using trousers that work for you without other alterations.

Mark the desired length of the skirt on the trouser legs, adding about 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) for a hem allowance. Use a ruler or measuring tape to indicate the mark evenly all the way across the legs.

Cut the legs on the mark, keeping the cut-off material to use later. Use the seam ripper to remove the seams on the inside of the legs on the portion that now looks like a pair of shorts. Remove the seams all the way around inside the crotch and inside both legs. Leave at least 2.5 to 5 cm (1 or 2 inches) of seam below the zipper on the front; try not to disturb the stitching around the zipper at all.

Lay the former trousers on a flat surface. You now have what looks like a skirt missing triangular portions of fabric on its front and back. Cut one of the reserved legs open from Step 3 using your scissors. Lay the piece of fabric that results under the triangular gap in the front of the skirt-in-progress. Use the fabric marker or chalk to trace the triangle shape of the opening onto the leg fabric. Cut out this triangle, adding 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) all the way around for a seam allowance. Repeat this process for the back triangle of the skirt.

Pin the triangles into place on the front and back of the skirt. You will have to make a slight fold at the bottom of the zipper and at the end of the seam on the rear of the trousers, but the fold won't show when the skirt is worn. Sew the triangle pieces to the skirt by hand or using a sewing machine. Cut off any excess fabric on the inside of the skirt around the triangles.

Examine the bottom edge of the skirt you have created. This process will give you a somewhat curved hemline if you sew it as is; you can also cut it again straight across to get a completely straight hemline. Either way, make a hem by first folding the bottom edge of the fabric in about 9 mm (3/8 inch), and then folding it over again another 9 mm (3/8 inch). Pin the fabric in place. You may wish to iron the pinned fabric prior to sewing. It's also a good idea to try on the skirt at this point to be sure you're happy with the planned length; just watch out for those pins. Sew the hem. Your skirt is now complete.


Embellish the skirt however you like by adding embroidery, patches, appliques, or sections of contrasting fabric. You can make the triangles for the skirt out of a different fabric as well.


Always use caution when cutting the fabric for this trousers-to-skirt project. You probably can't go to the fabric shop and buy more of the same fabric for this project, so be sure to measure accurately and double-check your desired skirt length and shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Pair of trousers
  • Fabric marking pen or chalk
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Rotary fabric cutter and mat, if desired
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Thread to match trousers
  • Sewing machine or needle
  • Denim needle for sewing machine, if using
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About the Author

Susan Sivek teaches journalism and communication and is also a freelance writer. She has been writing since 1999. Her writing interests include travel, health, exercise, cooking, crafts and more. She has been published in scholarly journals, on, and on eHow. Sivek holds a doctorate in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.