Progress report: denim jacket

A couple of weeks ago I began making a jacket out of denim jeans. The jeans had been rejected by the opshop and I used 3 pairs. The jacket is my sew-a-long project for Zero and Zen, a course I’m co-presenting with Kate Ward.

I’ve since started the sashiko stitching which is going across the back shoulders, like a yoke.

I’m doing a persimmon flower design, with individual motifs dribbling down, like Space Invaders or the screens on The Matrix. It could potentially be the coolest thing I’ve ever made.

I’m using little paper cutouts to plan the individual motifs.

Persimmon stitch is one of those stitches that’s boring, boring, boring…then, Wow! It starts off with strategically placed horizontal running stitch, which magically connects up when the verticals are stitched…assuming you got it right, of course 🙂

My stitching is far from perfect, and much of it was done lying on my bed resting between naps (I’ve spent a great deal of time there lately; Long Covid). But I but I take heart in the knowledge that any mass of stitching looks good, and it always looks worse up close when you’re stitching it!

It’s been a bit of a head-scratcher where to start and finish the motifs around the edges. Should they drift across the seam lines as complete shapes? Or are the seam lines the boundary? I’m leaving the options open for now.

I discovered the interior forms a lovely pattern of its own. There’s potential for a reversible jacket (with some very careful stitching and seaming) if it’s planned from the start. Too late now!

I’m thinking of putting pockets on the front of the jacket, which could be unpicked from one of the original jeans. The best pocket is that one I’m pointing to. What to do about the rivets? Any ideas?



  1. Lois on November 14, 2023 at 8:44 pm

    The jacket does look cool! Love the embroidery. Re the pockets I would cut the original pockets out with seam allowances. So the original pockets are not cut and the rivets stay in place. Turn the seam allowances under the pocket and edge stitch the pockets in place.

    • lizhaywood on November 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

      Many thanks Lois. Wishing I hadn’t cut so close up to the pocket, but I’ll use what’s there and see how it looks.

  2. Michelle Shaffer on November 15, 2023 at 2:00 am

    When I cut down denim to reuse the fabric in other projects, I cut the entire pocket out including the back fabric leaving 1/2” so that I can reattach the pocket. I stitch close to the pocket and clip away the excess fabric. In this case I would use the sashiko stitching to decorate the excess fabric.

    • lizhaywood on November 15, 2023 at 11:11 am

      Thank you – I wish I’d thought ahead to leave a margin around the pockets, but I didn’t give it any consideration at the time. I’ll cut around the pockets and attempt an elegant solution 🙂 I like your idea of using sashiko stitching.

  3. Liseli on November 16, 2023 at 7:14 am

    I love the persimmon space invaders! Doing such a big thing with long covid is… wow!

    • lizhaywood on November 16, 2023 at 10:03 am

      “Persimmon Space Invaders” – I love that! The beauty of this project is that it’s very easy to pick up and put down, without a lot of energy expended.

      • Judith on November 17, 2023 at 11:34 pm

        You could also unpick the thread that connects the pocket to the „trouser fabric“. That way you have less fabric that needs to be turned under. You then attach the pocket to the new garment following the original stitching line. You might have to handsew a few parts.
        The rivets are a bit of a challenge. I have successfully cut the back fabric away around the rivets and pulled it out. The rivets stay in place but don’t serve any purpose apart from looking cool. I hope this makes sense…
        Liebe Grüße

      • lizhaywood on November 18, 2023 at 9:37 am

        Thank you Judith, this is very helpful. I’ve cut the pockets from the jeans leaving a margin of fabric, and pinned them on the jacket to see how it looks, but have been dithering ever since (the problem being I cut the denim right up to the pockets when cutting the jacket pieces, so there’s no margin in some places). However, I can easily unpick and re-stitch the pockets on as I have gold topstitching thread, and the stitching goes to one side of the rivets at the top so it should be OK there – might not even have to handsew.

  4. Mary Warner on November 17, 2023 at 4:58 am

    Your sashiko is beautiful, Liz!

    • lizhaywood on November 17, 2023 at 8:05 pm

      Thank you, Mary!

  5. Heidi on December 3, 2023 at 8:32 am

    Liz, I love your jacket and watching the progress is so interesting. Your daughter will be very proud to wear such a unique creation. I love the red overstitching (serging machine I guess). On your back with all the space invaders, it would be wonderful to have one of the falling invaders have the middle square a solid red. Much like the indigenous crafters add a red stitch somewhere or a red bead in their beading that is out of the regular pattern. Does this make any sense to you? It is just my rambling thought of the day! Have a happy day – Heidi

    • lizhaywood on December 3, 2023 at 7:36 pm

      Many thanks Heidi, I’m on the home run with this jacket for sure, but might leave the last few bits to do over Christmas/New Year as an enjoyable reward. Thank you for the red idea!

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