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  • Writer's pictureRadha

Upcycle a Sweatshirt with Thrifted Jeans

Add a unique woven design out of thrifted jeans, to your sweatshirt or hoodie.

If you follow me, you know I’m slightly obsessed with upcycling jeans – you’d think working for Levi’s for 15 years would have gotten it out of my system, right? Well, the thing is, when I worked in product development and strategy it was all about making new jeans and convincing [insert consumer/department store/influencer] to buy them. But now I’m all about finding those old jeans, the ones destined for a landfill, so I can upcycle them into something awesome!

It's all about knits!

Now today’s project is a bit different because usually I just upcycle woven things, but today starts with a knit… Besides your denim, you will need an old sweatshirt or hoodie. You can thrift one, but I bet there is one in the back of your closet that you just don’t wear anymore. Maybe it has a logo you don’t like, or it’s just too boring and you want something more interesting to wear when you are stuck on zoom calls all day.

Well, here is a quick upcycling project to try to add a cool touch to that sweatshirt.

supply list for this upcycle project
Supply list
Supply list:
  • Jeans or denim fabric cut into 1” x 9” strips.

  • Sweatshirt or hoodie

  • Pencil/tailors chalk and ruler

  • Rotary cutter and mat or Scissors

  • Pins

  • Sewing machine (or needle and thread)

  • Optional: fusible interfacing. If you are new to sewing with these materials, I’ll show you how you can use fusible interfacing to stabilize your weave and make it easier to sew.

Step #1: Prep the sweatshirt
  • Choose the size and placement of your weave. I chose the front left chest and wanted the final size to be about a 6" square. Which was handy because that's about the size square ruler I had.

  • Use a pencil or tailor's chalk to mark the size. Use a marker that will come off with steam or heat because these lines are not going to be hidden! If you are worried about this, you can always turn the sweatshirt inside out to do this part.

  • If you are using a rotary cutter, put your mat inside the sweatshirt so you only cut through the front layer!

  • Make 6 cuts, each 1" apart from the top of your marked square to the bottom. You should end up with 1" strips of sweatshirt that are still connected at the top and bottom (last photo above).

Step #2: Weave in the denim
  • For a 6" square, you will use 6 strips of denim. Because my denim was super dark, I alternated between showing the front of the denim and the back to get this cool effect. You use different values or colors of denim, or just one.

  • Start weaving the 1" strips in and out of the sweatshirt until they reach the top.

  • Make sure to tuck in the ends of each alternating strip.

  • Trim the visible ends to be 1"-1.5" long. These can get trimmed again at the end.

  • Pin every square so the denim and sweatshirt are connected! This is super important because the denim will be really stable, but the sweatshirt is going to want to stretch and get all wonky. The more pins the better! I used straight pins above, but safety pins are an even better idea because they will stay in place.

Fusible interfacing

Optional Interfacing step:

If you aren't an experienced sewist or aren't used to sewing with knits and/or denim, this step will help you keep everything in place.

After you have woven your denim through the sweatshirt you can turn it inside out and place a square piece of fusible interfacing over the whole weave.

Please note: if you have a zillion pins everywhere you are going to have to be careful you don't fuse your pins to the interfacing as well.

If you don't have fusible interfacing, you can also place a piece of cotton over the back and hand baste it in place to add stabilization.

Step 3: Sewing down the weave
  • Once you have your weave securely pinned or fused, it's time to sew it together. If it's fused, can you skip this step? Nope. I mean, I guess you could... but the stitch lines are part of the design and give it that quilted look and more dimension.

  • In the images above I've shown in red my recommended stitch lines. Yeah, there are a lot, but see point above about the stitches being important. Also this will keep everything in place.

Aurifil 28wt thread affiliate link
  • You can really use whatever thread you want but I like using a thicker thread to emphasize the stitches. My absolute fav is Auriful 100% cotton 28wt which is a heavier weight quilting thread that I use for basically everything. This is an affiliate link to Fat Quarter Shop, to this thread specifically, because it's one of the only things that I have to buy new, and I would totally recommend it to anyone who quilts.

Sweatshirt with woven denim upcycle project
Sweatshirt with woven denim upcycle

So, after you finish sewing you can press the whole thing, and that's it! You can totally throw this in the wash but just know that the denim will fray (I think it's cool so I don't mind), and you will totally need to iron it after because the sweatshirt ends will really want to curl.

If you try this, please shoot me a note or tag me @sewingthroughfog on IG or TikTok and let me know how it goes!!

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