Refashion and Embellish Your Jeans (18 easy ideas)

Learn different ways that you can refashion your old jeans to looking new trendy and attractive with simple embellishing techniques

The once interesting colour of your jeans gets to be mind numbingly boring after a point. Especially if you own more than 3 pairs of the same colour. And if you have a DIY orientation in your brain. I “have to” take out my craft tools on these jeans to make them more interesting – yes, refashion jeans into a better version of itself.

embellish jeans

Many different ideas to embellish and refashion jeans

1. Add ready made Clothing patches

decorate old jeans diy with clothing patches cut out yourself or store bought

This is by far the easiest method of embellishing your jeans. If you have a sticky clothing patch you need only apply  it on your jeans with the appropriate technique and you have a different jeans altogether; totally different from what you started with. If you have the time and inclination you can even make the patches yourself.

Checkout the different ways to make clothing matches and the different ways (as many as 8) to add these patches to your jeans

2. Use hand embroidery designs on jeans

embellish jeans with small hand embroidered flower motifs

There is nothing like too much embroidery for me. So even jeans get embroidered. To embroider on denim you need really thick needle with a large eye. The full strands of the embroidery thread will have to be used for having some impact. Choose a simple design with broad outlines. Learn how to make your own hand embroidered jeans here along with the best positions to place the embroidery on jeans.

embroidered jeans tutorial

3. Side seam embellishments

embellish old jeans with small running stitches on the outer seam

Embellishments done on the side seams of the jeans are very visible and can look very attractive. I have a Levis jeans with simple embroidery like this (plus signs) on the side seams and it is my favourite. Just running stitches done along the side seams. It could be any other stitch like fly stitch, cross stitch, star stitch.

You will need to thread the whole embroidery floss and tie the strands together. You will have 12 strands on your needle. Remember that you need thick needle to do any embroidery or stitching on the jeans. 

embellsih jeans

You can also add studs, or  rhinestones or lace trims along the side seams.

4. Decorated patch pocket

old jeans can be made to look better with small decortive stitches made on pockets

Most jeans come with decorative stitches on the pockets; You can add your own decorations to your pockets.

decorate jeans pockets with hand embroidery

5. Applique or Reverse applique

reverse applique on old jeans

You can sew small pieces of fabric to your jeans with satin stitches (applique)

6. Use paint to decorate your jeans

refashion jeans with fabric paint

Fabric paint can be used with brushes or as stencils or block painting for simple effects. Check out the post on the different fabric painting techniques you can try on your jeans

7. Distressed jeans

distress your jeans with sandpaper or some such tools

Distressed jeans mean jeans that have undergone some procedure to make them look aged, worn; Distressed jeans can be achieved in many ways. Checkout this post on the different ways of distressing your jeans

8. Ripped jeans

rip jeans to give it a worn look

Ripped jeans is the ultimate in distressing denim. Holes are made on the jeans near the knees and thighs. Checkout the DIY tutorial to rip your jeans properly without removing the white thread in denim

9. Decorate with sequins

Checkout the different methods of Sequin sewing basics on fabric 

how to embellish jeans with sequins

10. Decorate with couching embroidery stitches

You can use couching stitches as in the picture below 

refashion old jeans with simple couching stitches with decorative thread

11. Make a hem band

The hem of the old jeans can be enclosed in fabric to give it a new look

You can make a small cuff or a wide cuff. An interesting print can be chosen for making this band

12. Make a cuff by adding printed fabric inside

fabric is added to the inside of the legs

As can be seen in the picture the fabric is added to the inside of the jeans leg. When folded the cuff looks attractive. You can learn how to add an extra cuff on your jeans with the tutorial here.

13. Embroider letters on jeans

change the look of old jeans with embroidered letters

You will have to use your hand sewing needle to sew the letters.

14. Add lace

lace can be added to the hem of the jeans if you like the look

Lace trims can be added to the hem . I have seen lace added under ripped holes and that looks very nice

15. Use eyelets to decorate

eyelets can add a charming look to denim fabric

You can add metal grommets or hand embroidered eyelets

eyelet embroidery is done on denim fabric

16. Fray the hem of jeans

fringe hem for denim

This is easy as you just have to cut off the hem, sew a restraining stitching line along the edge some 1-2 inch above the cut edge. You can put it in the wash for automatic fraying or use seam ripper to remove the horizontal threads

You can learn more about this in this post on making cut off shorts from jeans.

diy cut off jean shorts

17. Use rhinestones/ studs to embellish

Checkout the different ways to attach rhinestones here. You can add Swarovski crystals, metal studs etc. I wouldn’t go to that extent but even diamond and gold are added to jeans by designers in their quest for that perfect embellished jeans 

add rhinestones on top of jeans in patterns

18. Recycle jeans

If everything fails or you are too bored with the jeans as it is you can recycle them into a cut off shorts or a jean skirt

how to make a skirt from jeans and fabric

Check out this post on the 10 things you can make with old jeans

Whatever embellishments you do, it has to be done tastefully. Do you have any more ideas for embellishing and decorating jeans? Put it in the comments below.

Related posts : Different types of jeans; Different types of fit in jeans; How to select the right jeans for you

sewing with denim
history of blue jeans

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Refashion and Embellish Your Jeans (18 easy ideas)”

  1. I was recently given blue jeans that aren’t my size or some of the jeans i own no longer fit i recycled them into a 3-n-1 purse. ( hand held, crossover and backpack). i’ve learned to recycle many materials since i’ve become unemployed. i wasn’t even thinking of turning them into a skirt or shorts- i am definitely glad i ran into you website though. you are very informal and knowledgeable on sewing thank you for sharing your knowledge to this community! 🙂

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