Tag Archives: jeans

UpCycled Denim Annika Tunic Dress

Dressmaking Pattern

The Anneka Tunic Simple Sew pattern is very versatile, and can be made up in a variety of fabrics, but this time I chose to make it from upcycled denim with shirts for the optional lining.

Shirt detail and orange satin stitching (to match the jeans seams) add styling. Three jeans pockets made the new outfit even more practical for me.

I am teaching courses in Dressmaking with this being one of the possible pattern choices, and as a Simple Sew Stockest, can also supply the pattern for you to use at home, so please get in touch for more details.

anneka-patternUpcycle Denim

Much hard wearing denim remains when jeans are discarded. My family provides heaps of fabric and charity shops are also good sources. Often it is worth asking if they have any that has not been put out, which may be even cheaper. If jeans are not of a fashionable style or if shirts have some wear or staining (which we can cut out) they may not have been but out on display.

helen-moyes-up-cycle-Annika Tunic-before-medium


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a buttoned back pocket from one pair of jeans as a breast pocket, and a loop I liked from the back of a shirt added some extra detailing to the upcycled denim.


This dress can be worn over leggings and a top in winter and the front and back pleats give lots of movement for a busy lifestyle. I did extend the stitching on both pleats down further than marked on the pattern. This was more flatterning but still gives me plenty of movement.


Bias Binding

I used a comfortable soft brushed cotton pyjama top to make bias binding for the neck and arm edges. Then there is no discomfort from upcycled denim rubbing at your neck or underarms! This also conveniently binds the outer and lining layers together.

Joining Lining Using Bias Binding

Joining Lining Using Bias Binding


Hand Finishing Binding

Hand Finishing Binding

When I tried on the lining for size before joining the layers, I liked it so much I think I will make a shirting dress for summer. What do you think?

Helen Moyes Designs Simple Sew Annika Tunik in Upcycled Shirts

If you haven’t tried upcycling clothes in this way, it involves choosing parts of garments you want to use. You sew these together to form a patchwork large enough to lay on your pattern pieces.

Join pieces right sides together with a 1.5 cm seam allowance.


Patchwork with Shirts for Annika Tunic

Patchwork with Shirts for Annika Tunic


I then like using pinking scissors on cotton fabric seams to stop fraying. But you can use a zig zag stitch instead. Press seams open, and cut each piece straight before adding the next piece.


It is worth thinking about where you want certain pieces to be as you work, and the mix of pattern and colour. Upcycled denim has so much variety.

Helen Moyes Designs upcycled Annika Tunic back detail

Helen Moyes Designs upcycled Annika Tunic.

You can see here, I also added a small dart (on outer and lining) as I found the armhole gaped a little. It is worth regularly trying pieces against you, and trying the garment on, as you make them up to check for fit. I was able to make this adjustment before adding the binding. So I now know I need to do this for this pattern to fit me well.

Helen Moyes Designs – A custom made, re-purposed  designer dress for the cost of some thread!

You  might be interested in reading more about upcycling in my previous blog/happy-upcycling-day.

The aprons I make from jeans and shirts are available on my Etsy Shop


The Annika Tunic is also great in wool and can look very 60’s, similar to a Mary Quant dress.


anneka-tunic-check anneka-tunic-tweed-jpg

If you would like the Annika Tunic pattern, it comes printed on quality paper with clear A4 instructions.  Please get in touch



Happy Upcycling Day

It’s Britain’s second National Upcycling Day!

The desire to be  innovative  and environmentally consciousness has led to upcycling in nearly all areas of life.  The “Upcycling Revolution” is the result of a desire to contribute positively to our planet and also be the owner of a unique, one of a kind product unlike any other. This has led to a shift back to handmade artisan craftsmanship.

40% of Brits say they have tried their hand at upcycling and a further 1 in 5 upcycle on a regular basis according to research carried out by classified website Gumtree. However, 40 per cent who don’t upcycle say the biggest obstacle to upcycling is not feeling creative enough, whilst a third don’t know what to upcycle. There are however,  lots of blogs and also workshops to help you. In my area  (Sheffield 11) please get in touch about upcycling workshops.

It is amazing what a lick of paint or varnish and a needle and thread can achieve! Sometimes a power tool can be put to good use too.

And if you don’t want to upcycle your own stuff, then why not give or sell it to someone else and avoid landfill?


Recycling Vs Upcycling?

Recycling is the process of taking waste, generally consumer materials – plastic, paper, metal or glass – breaking it down and turning it into a reusable product.


Upcycling involves turning an unwanted product into a better quality product. It’s about prolonging  a products life, but also the desire for bespoke items. For example, when we had small children, and our shower cubical started to leak, we moved the shower cubicle to the garden rather than the tip, where on its side it was a safe large cold frame for plants, but with reinforced glass, we didn’t have to worry about our children’s footballs causeing unsafe broken glass.


There are also a plethera of other terms that can really be used interchangably: restoring, reclaiming, remaking, repurposing, reusing, reviving… Let me know if you can think of others, especially if they begin with the letter r.

I love making things from the lovely hardwearing fabric of denim jeans (which may just be outgrown or have a stain or wear in one place) and men’s shirts.

My Upcycled Apron: made from a pair of jeans and a shirt

My Upcycled Apron: made from a pair of jeans and a shirt

These are available to purchase


I also love getting around moth holes in woollen clothes by “fulling”- washing at a high temperature to shrink them . I can then use them as the batting in a quilt, as in my Bronte Challenge Quilt 

I can also turn them into a different garment, as with the wool tunic I made for an upcycled garment challenge.

I would love to here about how you save money and get creative with upcycling, on any day of the year.