Growing up in blustery southeast Alaska, miniskirts weren’t a garment choice so much as a punishment. During their peak of fashion in middle school, I saw girls every day standing out by the bus stops with their naked knees knocking together under a piece of too-short denim. This was in February, a season that would give you hypothermia if you wore sweatpants, let alone a miniskirt.
Needless to say, I was never attracted to the thought of wearing them. I’d seen enough frozen grimaces at the bus stop to know that they weren’t fun. Besides, all those skirt-wearing girls couldn’t go on the swings or monkeybars or play soccer at recess… so what was the point of that?
That’s all changed thanks to the popularity of leggings. With leggings under anything, one’s extremities are warm and concealed enough to give confidence to even those with the shortest skirts. One can play on the monkey bars to their heart’s content and swing as high as they like without fear of flashing innocent bystanders. Now that miniskirts are made concealing and comfy by the addition of leggings, I decided that I ought to come out of the miniskirt-fan closet and make one for myself.
First of all, I don’t believe any sewing project can be successful without a good YouTube video or an experienced friend hovering over you. There are so many talented seamstresses (and seamsters) on campus, it’s ironic that I am the one writing this article as I might be the least qualified to instruct on the subject of sewing.
I am afraid of sewing machines, am incapable of following a garment pattern and present a threat to myself (and others) with a seam ripper. The beauty of the miniskirt project is this: one doesn’t need any of those things. This denim skirt can be made with a pair of scissors, some straight-pins, and can be hemmed by hand with a needle and thread (though if a sewing machine is available, and tame enough to use, it would be a blessing and the process would go much faster).
Remember that emergency sewing kit that you got from your aunt for high school graduation? You knew it would come in handy one day, but it’s just been tucked away in your dorm room collecting dust. Now is the time to whip it out!
How to make a miniskirt from old jeans (or pants):
1. Watch this YouTube video to the end: “How to Turn an Old Pair of Jeans into a Miniskirt” with Hannah Sandling of the United Kingdom. Her quick instructions and sassy British accent are just the things you need to inspire yourself and gain confidence for the task. There are loads of videos on YouTube about miniskirts, but this one is definitely my favorite. For more Internet inspirations, check out the Threadbanger.com, a hipster website for inspiring D.I.Y. alterations to every garment imaginable.
2. Start with an old pair of jeans or pants that you have little sentimental attachment to. That way, you don’t worry about messing up.
3. Hold the jeans up to your waist, and LOOK IN THE MIRROR. The classic error when making miniskirts is cutting them way too short. Even if you’re planning to wear those confidence-boosting leggings, be conservative. Short skirts feel shorter once they’re on.
4. Cut one leg off of the pants, then flip it over and lay it on top of the remaining leg, and follow the cut you made. That way, the skirt will be cut evenly across the bottom.
5. Cut along the inseam of the pants, all the way up to the crotch and then back down. Overlap the fabrics, cut away excess and find some fabric to cover the little triangle of space that the inseam leaves (see the YouTube video for details).
6. Voila! You have a miniskirt! It can be hemmed if you wish, or left to fray in a rugged sort of fashion statement.
7. The skirt’s boring, so you should probably jazz it up. Find old jewelry, bits of ribbon, and fabric scraps to glue or sew on, have fun!
If it’s too short you can cheat and sew a couple inches of different fabric on the bottom as “trim.” If it’s really too short, don’t scrap it; give it to Goodwill. A preteen somewhere will be grateful.
Grab some thick leggings, and enjoy the reclaimed glory of the miniskirt, even in February!