How to Make a Pretty DIY Denim Top Out of Old Jeans & a Dress Pattern

by Gulsen
13 Materials
4 Hours

If you’ve got some old jeans at home, you can make a DIY jean top that is absolutely gorgeous. You might be asking how to sew a cute denim top that looks and feels good quality, well I am here to show you how.

This denim top DIY is for people with medium to advanced sewing skills. Let’s get started!

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Tools and materials:

  • 2 pairs jeans
  • Lining fabric
  • Invisible zipper - 10 to 11 inch
  • Serger/overlock machine
  • Sewing machine with a denim or heavy-duty needle
  • Invisible zipper foot
  • Dress pattern
  • Pattern paper
  • Marker/tailor’s chalk
  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
DIY denim top pattern

1. Make the pattern

Download and print the dress pattern. You only need pieces 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.


Modifying the DIY denim top pattern

I don't want the pleat at the front of the dress pattern, so I followed the seam line instead on piece 2 (this is mentioned as an option on the pattern). This line will be the center front fold.

Shorten pieces 2 and 5 to make a top pattern. You can get the length measurement from under your bust to your hip height plus 1¼ inch (3 cm) for the seam allowance and hem.

Mark this measurement on both sides. Then, trace a curved shape like on the original pattern piece at the edge on the bottom. 

Modifying the collar of the DIY denim top pattern

Modify the collar on pieces 1 and 4. At the shoulders, add 1½ inch (4 cm) in width and mark this measurement all the way up to the shoulder. Trace the curved lines as in the original pattern.

Making the DIY denim top sleeve pattern

Measure a simple sleeve and add ¾ inch (2 cm) for seam allowance. Measure the bottom of the sleeve and mark the center.

How to adjust the DIY denim top pattern

From the center mark, measure out an equal distance on either side. In this tutorial, it measures about 9½ inches (24 cm) so it measures 4¾ inches (12 cm) on either side from the center mark.

Use a ruler to draw a diagonal line from these points on either edge of the sleeve. 

Seam ripping the inner seams of the jeans

2. Prepare the jean fabric

Seam rip the inner seams of the jeans, keeping the heavier outer seams intact. 


Placing the pattern on the denim, ready to cut the fabric

3. Cut the fabric

Place the pattern pieces on the jeans. Pin in place and cut.

Cutting out the pattern pieces in denim fabric

If there isn’t enough fabric, undo the pocket seams and use that part of the jeans for your fabric. 

Repeat all the steps for the lining.

Transferring dart lines and notches to the fabric pattern pieces

Transfer the dart lines, notches, and marks from the pattern to the fabric, including the lining.

Serging the edges of the pattern pieces

4. Serge the edges

Serge all the edges including the lining. 

Pinning the darts on the bodice pattern pieces

5. Assemble the top

Start with the darts. Pin the darts on the denim and lining, then sew. After sewing, cut the excess fabric and press the darts in place.

Pinning the shoulder and side seams

Pin the shoulders and sides, right sides together, then sew. Repeat for the lining pieces.

Press the seams open on both the lining and denim layers. 

Attaching the lining to the denim fabric

6. Attach the lining

Place the lining and the denim right sides together. Line up the seams. Pin around the collar in the front and back. Sew the pinned areas.

Cutting notches along the curves

Cut notches on the curved areas.

Pressing the seam allowance with an iron

Press the seam allowance towards the lining. 

Topstitching the DIY denim top bodice

Topstitch through the 2 layers of the seam allowance and the lining. Press. Fold the 2 layers and press to flatten. 

Running basting stitch along the bottom of the bodice piece

Do a basting stitch on the entire bottom area of the top piece, including the center open back seams. 

Pinning the pleats in the DIY denim top

7. Assemble the bottom

On the denim back pieces, there is a mark for the pleats. Fold from 1 mark to the other. Pin in place. Do the same for the other back piece but with the pleat going in the other direction.

Sewing pleats in the DIY denim top

Sew these pleats together close to the edge. 

Attaching the back pieces together

Assemble the bottom front with the bottom back pieces by placing them right sides together and pinning the sides. Sew. 

Pinning the top to the bottom pieces

8. Attach the top to the bottom

Place the top and the bottom pieces right sides together so the seams are aligned.

How to sew a cute denim top

Pin all around. Sew. Press open the seam allowances. 

Sewing a basting stitch along the sleeves

9. Assemble the sleeves

Note the marks at the top of the sleeve cap. Sew a basting stitch in between these marks.

Pinning the inner sleeve seams, ready to sew

Pin the sleeve right sides together on the inner sleeve seam. Sew. Repeat for the other sleeve. 

Attaching the sleeves to the top

10. Attach the sleeves to the top

Pin the sleeves to the armhole by aligning the sleeves and matching the notches. Pin those in place.

Then, pin from the bottom up so the basting stitch gathers at the top of the sleeve. Pin, distributing the gathers evenly at the top. Sew.

Sewing a zipper into the DIY denim top

11. Insert the zipper

Keep the top right side facing. Pin the zipper to one side of the top and sew using an invisible zipper foot. Repeat the process for the other side. 

How to make a denim top with an invisible zipper

Turn the top wrong side facing and pin the center back seam.

Sewing the invisible zipper

Secure the bottom of the zipper with the zipper foot and then sew with a straight stitch on the rest of the seam. 

Hemming the DIY denim top

12. Hem

For both the sleeve and bottom hem, fold over the serged edge. Press. Then fold again. Press. Pin in place. Sew across.

How to make a top from old jeans

Close-up of the DIY jean top
Back of the DIY denim top

How to make a DIY denim top

Denim top DIY tutorial

Your denim top DIY denim top is done and looks super beautiful! Please let me know in the comments if you made this and what else you’d like to see upcycled. Thanks for joining!

Suggested materials:
  • 2 pairs jeans
  • Lining fabric
  • Invisible zipper - 10 to 11 inch
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