With an old pair of ugly jeans, first I turned them into cuffed jean shorts. And guess what we're using the leftover scraps for? Yes, DIY bell bottom jeans!
Even if you're not a fan of bell bottoms, the flair trend keeps coming back into style for a couple of reasons. First, it's great for us pear shapes because it balances the hip width and tricks the eye into thinking you have more of an hourglass appearance. And second, it forces me to wear heels for desperately needed height!
And after nearly a decade riding the skinny jean fan bus, I must say, I'm really excited for this change of pace.
How to Make DIY Bell Bottom Jeans
Enough rambling, ready for the how to? This one is a bit more complex than the shorts so stay with me.
You will need:
-A pair of fitted jeans (I find that bootcut jeans work for this, but anything that's somewhat loose will work)
-A second pair of old jeans or denim scraps from making shorts
-Seam ripper (scissors will also work)
-Scissors or fabric cutter
-Sewing machine with a heavy duty sewing needle
A note about choosing the right jeans for this project: the wider the legs on the fitted jeans (the ones you're turning into bell bottoms), the wider your flare will be when you're done. I started with a pair of jeans that were semi-skinny because that's all I really had (bootcut jeans aren't as popular as they used to be). Since my jeans weren't very wide-leg to begin with, the flare wasn't as pronounced as it could have been.
Also, since you can't really add length later, you want to choose jeans that are the right length at the start. Skinny jeans tend to hit around the ankle, so unless you want your bell bottoms to hit at the ankle, make sure to choose wider, longer jeans.
First, open the outer leg seam of the fitted jeans. I went up about 18 inches, which was not quite knee height. I used a seam ripper to get started and then just ripped it to where I had marked. I also opened about an inch of the hem on each side of the seam. You can open the entire hem if you don't want to re-hem at the end. This will just add about an inch to the length but leave you with a rattier looking hem.
Clean up the open seam and pull out the loose threads.
Take your old jeans or bottom denim pieces from making the shorts and cut down the side seam to open up the fabric into one flat piece. If you're using an old pair of jeans for this, I find it easiest to also cut straight up through the fabric at the crotch to create two separate panels. But it's up to you.
This is the slightly tricky part for me. You are basically cutting a triangle piece that's 6 inches wide at the bottom, 18 inches tall, and 2 inches wide at the top to sew into the leg seam.
Start by folding the panel over length-wise. Starting at the bottom (that way you can keep the bottom hem), measure 3 inches from the folded edge of fabric (when unfolded, this will give you a 6-inch base of the triangle). Make a mark.
Go up 18 inches and measure 1-inch from the folded edge if fabric (when unfolded, this will give you a 2-inch top of the triangle). Make another mark.
Draw a line to connect the two marks. Using scissors or a fabric cutter, cut out the triangle.
Repeat to create a second triangle (feel free to use the first triangle as a template).
Put the two triangles together to see if they match up (right side facing in) and trim up an errors.
Now turn your jeans inside out and pin in the fabric triangle in place, making sure you match up the hems at the bottom.
Finally re-hem. You may have to do this by hand if your sewing machine won't go through the denim layers.
Voila! Super cute DIY bell bottom jeans! I kinda wish I had gone even wider though I'm not quite ready to try any crazy fabric quite yet.
What do you guys think of this trend? Is it something you would wear?
These look adorable!!! I have been looking for bell bottoms for a really long time but apparently they 'aren't in style'. I never thought of making them!
What if you want to take the fabric all the way to the waste band. How would you cut that piece of material.
My mom was SOOOO against buying anything that smacked of "fad" so I had to make my own bell bottoms or Elephant legged pants. And I used whatever fabric she had leftover from making our dresses when it was a RULE for girls to only wear dresses to school. Ugh. So the pants were only for weekend wear. Until the schools finally relented and let us wear jeans. WHAT a wonderful day that was!
Also, we made purses from our really old jeans that had no more life to them from the tops and then took whatever material we could and made the shoulder straps. Groovy!! All those pockets were PERFECT for holding make up, lip gloss, etc.
Fast forward 35 years and now my kids are BEGGING me to make them some bell bottom jeans with whacky prints and such! HA!!! And I'm going to too!! And I JUST might make me some too .... for old time sake. Thanks!
Hey great job! Helped me a lot. Gatta love those bell bottoms!
Chad Greene says
I always get stuck on the sewing part. When I pin the fabric in I can only sew about 6 inches before the other side of the jeans bunches too much to continue. I can't figure out how to sew all the way up without sewing the other side of the jeans as well!!
Milly Jackson says
Do it inside out, then you won't have to bunch it up.
Refashion Tutorials says
I LOVE this tutorial! I hope you don't mind but I shared it on our Facebook page with a link back to your tute.
Of course! Thanks for sharing!
I really had to giggle when I saw these, but they really made me think about how old I really am-boo hoo. We used to make these in the late 50's and early 60's-The Hippy Age.
We made zillions of these out of our no longer-in-fashion straight leg jeans, as bell bottoms had hit the fashion scene. We made them not only with other jeans, but with all kinds of other designed fabrics. I made one with a jeans wedge that I put studs all over the the added jean wedge-Everyone loved them and they were soon copying mine. ;) :) We also made braided bracelts like the ones that you have made--we did not do any of the bobby pin ones-They are SOOO cute-I will have to make some. So many of the trendy fashions from my days are starting to come around again. The super-short shorts out now, we used to call "hot pants". I'm just waiting to find the following on the fashion scene soon-bananna blouses, swamp coats, bench warmers, grasshopper skirts. Of course they will have different names and maybe be a bit updated, but I bet I will see them again!! ;) ;)
wasn't it the 60s-70s that was the hippie / bell bottom age?
Well, for someone who has said that she's not crafty, you did a really great job on those!! They look great!
Hilarious! Still can't believe you did that. :)
Maria S. says
genius! if only that lady who sewed my middle school project is still available to make me these... Good work, Steph!
Sigrid Rogowski says
Have a great day !
Sigrid Rogowski says
I don't think I would wear something like that,but you look good in your new creation.
You are very talented.
Baxter Bunny says
You are sew talented! Those look really good and looking around at the hipsters here in New York, bell bottoms are in style this season. Of course it doesn't make a difference for me because I don't wear pants, but I like to keep up on all the latest fashion. Nice work Stephanie.
You are such a crafty Momma! I need a sewing tutorial asap. Wide leg jeans are everywhere right now! I have a few pairs that I love.