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I am crafty. I am creative. I like to make things, paint things, and sew. I like to dress casually and comfortably, too, and because of all these traits I need a style that just doesn't come from buying the same pair of jeans at the GAP that several thousand girls in a 100 mile radius own as well. (This is where the creativity really comes in handy.)

I think many people can empathize with this and so I propose something different: Embellish your own jeans. Yes, that's right, I mean it. Boldly go forth and show your wild creative side! Make your pants pop, have people stand up and notice as you pass by. You're not boring, so why should your pants be?

Don't have much money? These are all cost-effective
Don't think you're creative? I'm here to prove you wrong.
Can't sew? Don't worry, I have several projects just for you.
Really want to sew? I'm gonna set you up.
Even if you don't have a machine? You betcha.
What about if you do have a machine? We're gonna have a good time.

So get started and remember: Alter these to fit your own motif, play around with what you're making, make it yours. And please forgive the terrible ASCII art.

*For all projects requiring sewing, this writeup assumes you have: Needles or a sewing machine, thread, and a seam ripper. If you don't own thread, a seam ripper and/or needles, they are relatively inexpensive and one spool of thread, a packet of needles, plus a seam ripper would cost about $5.00 and last you a really long time.

Project #1 - Safety pin your jeans
What you need: between 75 and 100 large safety pins (they average between 1 1/2" and 2")
Price estimate: $6.00
Time estimate: less than one hour

This is by far the easiest project featured here, and it comes out looking really neat. It's also one of the few guaranteed gender-neutral projects.

Start pinning the safety pins perpendicular to the outer sideseam of your pants on each leg, about 1/2" from each other. Make sure you pass the pin through the fabric as much as you can so that the pins stay more secure. The finished product should look something like this:

     | |

(-----------
     | |
(-----------
     | |
(-----------
     | |

What you get: A pair of jeans with thin metal rods running all down the sides and loved by many goths and alternateens. You also get a practically endless supply of safety pins if you're ever in a jam. And really, who doesn't like safety pins?


Project #2 - Artsy pants
What you need: Any permanent paint such as acrylics or even leftover house paint, plus varying sizes of paintbrushes.
Price estimate: $4.00 or more, depending on what you want to use.
Time estimate: Your call. You could spend an hour or two on these, or have an all-night project.

This project definitely calls for some creativity... but don't worry, it comes to you.

I got this idea from a teen magazine in high school (don't let that scare you off). Apparently there's a girl in Florida who does this and can rake in $100+ for a pair.

Simply take your paint and smear it in a random style in various spots on the jeans. Let this dry, and then write/paint on snippets from poems, lyrics, or books.

Another take on this theme that was popular in my high school was putting green and white handprints all over a pair of jeans (especially on the butt), along with the year you were supposed to graduate.

What you get: An arsty-fartsy pair of jeans. Perfect for artists of the paint medium because spillage will look like you did it on purpose!


Project #3 - Bell-bottoms
What you need: about 1/2 yard of fabric and a sewing machine isn't necessary but certainly is much more convenient
Cost estimate: $3.00
Time estimate: 3 hours or less

Go to your local sewing-supply store (Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael's, etc.) and purchase the 1/2 yard of fabric. The fabric should be a cotton or a cotton/polyester blend, similar to quilting fabrics. Choose any color you like, any print.

The fabric will most likely be folded in half already, it usually comes on the bolts that way. If it isn't, fold the finished edges together. Next, cut out a right triangle 13" tall and 5" wide (you can change the dimensions to make a bigger or smaller flare). Since the fabric is folded in half, you will now have two right triangles. Lay them out like this, with the right side facing up:

    /|\

   / | \
  /  |  \
 /   |   \
/____|____\
Tri1 Tri2

Next, use the seam ripper to rip the outer side seam of each pant leg from the cuff to about 12" up the leg. Hem the bottom side of each triangle, about 1/2". Next, position Triangle 1 in the left pant leg tear and Triangle 2 in the right pant leg tear (this will make the flare go forward) so that the hemmed edge lines up with the hemmed edge of your jeans cuff. Start at the bottom and sew up each side of the triangle, so that the new seams are on the inside of the pants.

What you get: A groovy pair of retro bell bottoms, just like your mom used to wear (except yours will look better).


Project #4 - Cuffs
What you need: 1/2 yard of fabric and a sewing machine isn't necessary but certainly is much more convenient
Cost estimate: $3.00
Time estimate: 3 hours or less

Go to your local sewing-supply store (Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael's, etc.) and purchase the 1/2 yard of fabric. The fabric should be a cotton or a cotton/polyester blend, similar to quilting fabrics. Choose any color you like, any print.

Use your jeans as a stencil of sorts. Lay your jeans flat on a table so they look like this:


________
|        |
|        |
|        |
|   /\   |
|   ||   |
|   ||   |
|   ||   |
|   ||   |
|   ||   |
|   ||   |
|___||___|

Next, slip a piece of plain paper (folded in half) underneath one cuff. With a pencil, trace the outline of your jeans cuff about 5" up each side (this measurement can be changed to make wider or narrower cuffs). You will have something looking like this on your paper:

 _________

|         |
|  |   |  |
|  |___|  |
|_________|

This looks a bit like a 'U', so draw a straight line across the two ends of the 'U', so it makes a sort of rectangle. Add roughly 1/2" to the right side of your stencil (this gives you a seam allowance), then cut it out. You will now have two of these stencils, since you folded your paper in half. Keep them together and tape the left sides (the side without the seam allowance added) together. Unfold your stencil. (Many jeans flare at the bottom, so your stencil might come out looking like a circle almost. This is fine.) Your stencil will look something like this:

 _______

|      |
|______|

Now, lay out your fabric. The fabric will most likely be folded in half already, it usually comes on the bolts that way. If it isn't, fold the finished edges together. Lay your stencil on top of the fabric, pinning it in place. Cut out the fabric. You will now have two pieces, one for each pant leg. Hem each piece of fabric on the tops and bottoms. Next, fold them in half to find the center and line it up with the inner seam of each pant leg, lining up each piece with the cuff. Sew to the pant leg around the top and bottom. When you get to the end, fold the excess seam allowance under and sew closed.

What you get: Custom cuffs on your jeans. With flair! I did this particular one with a light blue ocean wave-patterned fabric with silver accents.


Project #5 - Beaded embroidery
What you need: A liquid pen (like a gel roller, not your basic Bic), a needle, beading thread, and beads (I find seed beads work best, and are most fun and versatile in multi-color opaque or translucent packs)
Cost estimate: You can purchase all this for as little as $6, and any price upwards. It depends on the quality of the beads and how many you want.
Time estimate: Anywhere from one hour to a couple days, depending on how large of a design you want.

Beading thread and beads of many varieties can be found in many places: fabric and crafts stores obviously, but also stores like Wal-Mart and Meijer.

Firstly, turn your jeans inside out. Now, draw any pattern you like. These can be thematic or just for fun. For instance, my largest project was in high school (back when I had loads of free time) and I was rather fond of the anime Sailor Moon, so I found the planet symbols for each character and drew it on the inside of my jeans. Simple line drawings tend to work best.

Next, cut a piece of beading thread and thread it through your needle, tying the two ends together into a knot. Now simply follow the lines of your drawing. Start on the wrong side of the fabric, push the needle through so it's on the right side of the fabric, and pull all the way through. Thread a bead on the needle, then push the needle back through the hole and pull tight so that your needle is now back on the wrong side of the fabric. Move your needle about 1/8" down the pattern you've drawn and continue as above. Continue until the entire design has been threaded.

If you don't feel you have the drawing skills necessary for this, use the needling instructions above and just run a line of multi-colored beads down the outer seams of your pants and around the pockets. The seams are already there, providing a good guide to follow with your needle.


It has been my concerted effort to explain these projects as clearly as possible. However, if any further clarification is needed, /msg me and I will answer any questions or make any additions. Also, if anyone tries these out, let me know how they worked for you, I'd really like to hear.

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