Denim Month: Scraps Can Be Beautiful

A white woman in a yellow knitted hat is looking down at the floor wearing a denim jacket made from lots of different kinds of denim.

Hey, Sewcialists!

I’m Vicky of Sewstainability here, and I am so excited that the theme this month is denim as it is my all-time favourite fabric! It’s my favourite fabric to sew as it behaves well during cutting out and under the sewing machine, and it’s my favourite fabric to wear as it looks great with so many colours, makes durable garments, and only gets better with age!

A white woman in a yellow knitted hat is fixing her hair wearing a yellow cardigan under an open denim jacket made from lots of different kinds of denim.

Because it is my favourite, it may come as no surprise that I have made quite a few denim garments over the years. A York Pinafore, a Pippi Pinafore, an Ellis Dress and a Camden Skirt have all contributed scraps to this project. It was these scraps that really gave me the inspiration to make this. I wanted to show the beauty of the shades and textures of the different denims and how they could work together to make one beautiful garment. This jacket is basically my love letter to denim.

A white woman in a yellow knitted hat is looking up at the light with her hands in her pockets wearing a denim jacket made from lots of different kinds of denim.

The idea for this jacket came from that pile of scraps. I wanted to make a colour-blocked style garment that looked cool and wearable and not too clown-like. A challenge I was prepared to give a go—after all, they were all scrap materials, so that makes this project free, right?! I went for the Ready to Sew Julien Chore Jacket pattern because I already had it in my stash. Since that one was released, there have been loads of similar jacket patterns that could be used to create this same look. I really love the chore jacket style and don’t have anything like it in my wardrobe.

A white woman in a yellow knitted hat is looking down and buttoning up her denim jacket made from lots of different kinds of denim.

My measurements are 37″ bust, 32″ waist and 47″ hip. I chose to make the size 40 around the bust and shoulders and graded out from under the armscye to a size 46 at the hip. When I tried it on, I couldn’t believe the fit. I don’t think I have EVER owned a button-up jacket where I have actually been able to close the bottom button before!

A white woman in a yellow knitted hat is looking down at the floor wearing a denim jacket made from lots of different kinds of denim.

The cutting out of this project was the really fun part. I spent a full evening moving pieces around and trying to decide which pieces would look good in which shade of denim. Of course, all the scraps were funny shapes, so it wasn’t always possible to get many pieces out of each scrap. I wanted it to look mismatched but not totally wild. I’m still not sure if I’ve managed to hit that sweet spot or not!

The photo shows the back of a woman with brown hair, the back of her denim jacket is made from several different shades of denim.

The only ‘hacking’ I had to do to make it work was to cut the back into two pieces. I thought when I chose this pattern that the back was already assembled from two pieces; in fact, the flap faux vent is constructed by folding a pleat into one back piece. I didn’t have a scrap big enough for that, so I had to chop it into two pieces and add a seam allowance where the fold would be. It was really easy to do, and I love the look of the back.

This photo shows a close up of a chest pocket on a blue denim jacket, it is a lighter colour and has red, green and yellow flecks of colour in the material.

I am not sure how well this patchwork style would work in other fabrics, but I think that denim lends itself to this mismatched workwear vibe. I even added extra shades of blue into the piece by playing around with the ‘right side’ and the ‘wrong side’ of the denim. The chest pocket is actually the reverse side of the same denim used in the left pocket, collar, and cuffs.

A white woman with brown hair is looking at the camera and smiling wearing a yellow hat and jumper and a denim jacket made from lots of different kinds of denim.

The construction was relatively simple; I think it is supposed to make a good introduction into sewing outerwear. I didn’t love some of the oversimplified construction such as the collar, cuffs and hem, but that is my personal preference. I didn’t really find any disadvantages to working with lots of different denims; they are all of a similar weight, and there really isn’t a downside to using up all those scraps! I even decided that in the spirit of using up what I already have, I wouldn’t go out and buy any extra buttons or thread for it either. I toyed with the idea of doing some contrast topstitching (I love topstitching in yellow or rust when working with denim), but I decided that this colour-blocked design is ‘busy’ enough, and if I wanted to avoid the clown look, I would be better off sticking with a navy denim thread, which I think was a good choice.

The photo shows a close up of a cuff of the denim jacket, it is two different shades of blue and has a green button.

Not wanting to bother my very sensitive (difficult!) machine with trying to do buttonholes through thick, interfaced denim, I chose to add copper snaps down the front, which I think look amazing! I only had five left in the pack, which was enough for the front of the jacket but not enough for the cuffs as well. After much deliberation about whether to go out and buy another pack of snaps, I decided to add buttons to the cuffs instead. I found two of these green buttons, which I think make a cute and quirky detail. The last detail I wanted to add to this make is a Kylie and The Machine ‘You Can’t Buy This’ label, because I don’t think I have ever made anything so unique before and I love it, so you definitely can’t buy this!

A close up of a label sewn into the denim jacket. It is a black label that says 'You Can't Buy This' in silver text.

Vicky is a sewist, knitter and tea-drinking mum of one who lives in Yorkshire, UK. She has been sewing for ten years and is passionate about sustainability and sewing on a tight budget. You can find her on Instagram @sewstainability and her blog: https://sewstainability.wordpress.com/


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