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How To Make Embellished Jeans

Doing Denim Your Way

Designers have taken denim to whole new fashion heights, with premium lines that can cost hundreds of dollars. These boutique lines feature creative details and embellishment, making each pair of jeans an individual work of art. With a little creativity and basic sewing skills, you can create the luxury look for less!

You can start with a new pair of jeans, or re-invent a pair of your broken-in favorites. Consider whether you’re willing to dry clean your newly decorated jeans; if so, your trimming options will be greater. If you prefer to machine launder them, remember that the care instructions for your embellishments should be the same.

TIP: If you are using new jeans, pre-shrink them by machine washing and drying them before applying any trims or embellishments. Also, it’s a good idea to pre-shrink any washable ribbons or braids as well.



Add the latest trend of fabric-mixing to your wardrobe by fusing or sewing on different textures to your jeans. Try tweed, brocade or velvet shapes and trims on front pocket edges, waistbands, belt loops and back pockets. Cut shapes or individual motifs from prints and florals and place them up the front and sides of pants legs. See our red-hot Tropical Jean for basic instructions:



You Will Need:

  • 1 – 2 yards of tropical print fabric (we used two different prints, from Fabri-Quilt, Inc.)
  • 1 yard of paper-backed fusing webSharp scissors

Cut motifs such as flowers, palm trees, surfboards, etc. from your tropical print fabric. Iron paper-backed fusing web (exposed glue side) to wrong side of fabric. Using sharp scissors, cut out details of your fabric motifs, as close to the motif outlines as possible. Peel off paper from wrong side of motifs, exposing the other glue side of the fusing web. Place as desired on your jeans, and press the motifs in place. Be careful to hold the iron over the motifs completely, to ensure that they permanently fuse to the denim fabric.



Remember the all-important signature stitching on the back pockets of designer jeans? Now the back pocket gets focus again, but the options go far beyond just machine-stitched designs. Back pockets can be blank canvases for rhinestones, appliqués, trims – anything you can think of. Rhinestones make glittery impact with minimal fuss; you can create your own design with individual stones (like we did here), or use an iron-on rhinestone motif or initial, easily available at your local fabric and sewing center.



Elongate your legs with embellishment that runs along the side seams of your jeans. Try ribbon, braid or flat trim for a tuxedo-pant feel; velvet ribbon looks posh, beaded trim gives a bohemian touch, and sequin trim (available by the yard) gives glittering club style. You can also use lace by the yard or pretty flower trim for a romantic feel. Line up ready-made appliqués or individual, evenly-spaced rhinestones to form a not-so-solid vertical line. We used 28 individual rose appliqués from Wrights to create this floral look; many appliqués can be ironed on, but a few hand stitches here and there ensure that they stay put wear after wear.

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