How to DIY a Cool Upcycled Jacket

6 Materials
2 Hours

With this quick and easy thrift flip, you can create a fantastic upcycled jacket from a denim vest and an old pair of pajama pants.

I reverse tie-dyed my vest with bleach first. I show you how to do that in my video on clever ways to refashion with bleach, but a plain vest works just as well for this if you want to keep things simple.

I was lucky to have a pair of PJ pants that were already toned with the colors in the vest, otherwise I would have dyed them.

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Tools and materials:

  • Old or thrifted denim vest
  • Soft pants to use as sleeves
  • Loop turner (optional)
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
Measuring sleeve length

1. Measure the sleeve length

Put one of your arms through a leg of the pants and wear the vest on top.

Measuring sleeve length

Place a pin in the sleeve where it meets the outer edge of the shoulder of the vest.

Cutting pants

2. Cut the pants

Fold your pants evenly in half with the pinned layer on top. Make sure the seams are stacked one above the other.

If you're not confident cutting directly on to the fabric, mark the line first with pins or tailor's chalk.

Cut through both legs at the level of the pin. 

Inserting sleeves

3. Insert the sleeves

Turn the vest inside out. Tuck one of the sleeves with the right side out into the armhole of the vest, so the right sides are touching.

Match the raw edge of the sleeve with the outer edge of the armhole. Align the sleeve seams with the shoulder and side seams of the vest.

I did try to avoid having an upper sleeve seam, but I couldn't get it to look right.

Pin the sleeve in place around the armhole edge of the vest, making small pin tucks or gathers at the top if necessary.

Inserting sleeves

Sew in place as close to the edge of the armhole as possible.

If the fabric is too thick for your machine, stitch just inside the armhole edge so it's hidden inside the sleeve.


4. Trim the collar

Cut a 3 - 4 inch (8 - 10 cm) wide strip from the remaining pants fabric.

Fold it in half lengthways with the right sides together and sew along the raw edge. 

Turn the strip right side out. This can be fiddly with a thick fleecy fabric, so a loop turner would probably help if you have one.


Pin and stitch the strip around the collar, sewing it close to both edges.

DIY upcycled jacket

DIY upcycled jacket

DIY upcycled jacket

And that's it! Another triumph, made from an outgrown pair of pajama pants and an old denim vest.

I really think my upcycled denim jacket turned out so well. I'd love to know what you'd like me to make next and if I have it in my stash, I'll definitely give it a go.

Just let me know in the comments below what you'd like to see.

For more upcycle ideas, check out my post on Super Easy Thrift Flip: How to DIY a Cozy Granny Square Scarf.

Suggested materials:
  • Old or thrifted denim vest
  • Soft pants to use as sleeves
  • Loop turner (optional)
See all materials

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 1 comment
  • Janice Janice on Mar 11, 2023

    SO cute! You have the best ideas! I always love them! Thanx for sharing!