Looking for other crafty inspirations?  Check out the patterns I have for sale in my Etsy Shop.

Grab a pair of jeans and some ribbons to try out this fun embellishment.  This is a fun way to create that boutique-y “made to match” look.

Ribbons:  Unless you (like me) have a huge basket of ribbons in your craft room, you’ll need to take a trip to the store to buy some ribbons.  For one pair of ribbon jeans, I recommend purchasing 6 yards of ribbons. Your actual use may vary somewhat depending on the size of jeans you are using (an 18-24 month size takes less ribbon than a size 8.) and the fullness you desire. I’ve found when I make ribbon jeans, the smaller sizes have about 25 loops per cuff, and the larger girl’s sizes have about 35 loops per cuff. 

For ribbon jeans, you will want to make sure the ribbons you choose are washable, usually 100% polyester. The two main styles of ribbons you’ll find are satin ribbons and grosgrain ribbons. Satin ribbons have a smooth texture and a bit of shine, grosgrain ribbons have a “ribbed” texture and a more casual look. You’ll also see ribbons with printed designs, stripes, dots and ginghams. Avoid ribbons that have wired edges. At your local craft or fabric store you’ll likely find some ribbons that are sold by the spool (check the label for yardage, often the spool will contain several yards of ribbon) and ribbons that are sold by the yard.  When I select ribbons for a project, I take the item I’m trying to match to the store with me.  I like a variety of sizes of ribbons, ranging from 1” to 3/8”, and a variety of designs.  I also like to add rick-rack trim or lace for a fun detail.  

I like to pre-cut my ribbon pieces, so they’re ready to go.  I use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter, but a pair of scissors will do just fine (only it may take longer, and make your hand ache).  I choose a plain ribbon that is about 7/8 inch wide as a facing, so be sure not to cut that to bits, set aside at least enough to go around the inside cuff of BOTH legs of the jeans.

Start by determining the inseam measurement that is appropriate for your project. Ribbon jeans can be made in full-length styles or capri’s. The easiest way to determine the length you want is to put the jeans on your daughter and turn up the cuffs until you like the length, then mark that length with a pin.  I cut the jeans off about a half-inch higher than I want the finshed length to be.  When the ribbon loops are sewn on, they will add a little length to the jeans.  Be sure to make both legs the same length!

Now you’re ready to sew.  Start by putting in a new sewing machine needle (I use a #12 or #14 universal needle when I’m sewing through denim).  Put one leg of the jeans onto the sewing machine, and starting at the inseam, begin to stitch on the ribbon loops.  Remember to backstitch to secure the beginning of the thread.  Arrange your ribbons to overlap slightly, remembering that the “down” side of the ribbons will be visible from the outside of the jeans; if you would like a smaller ribbon to be in front of a larger one, it needs to be placed next to the denim with the larger ribbon on top of it.  I like to vary the lengths of the ribbons slightly for a more interesting look. 


Continue around the pant leg until you reach your starting point, then backstitch, remove your work from the machine, and trim the ends of thread.  Use this same technique to apply the ribbon loops to the second leg.

Now it’s time to atatch the facings.  Take the ribbons that you DIDN’T cut, these are your facings, they will cover the raw edges of the ribbons and make for a smooth, professionally finished look on the inside of  the cuff.  Beginning at the inseam of one cuff, line up the “facing” ribbon next to the stitching line you made when applying the ribbon loops, and stitch along the edge of the ribbon.  When you near the end of the ribbon, turn back ½” and finish your stitching line by backstitching a few stitches, then remove and trim threads.  Do likewise with the second leg.


At this point, you will trim the raw edges of the ribbons and denim to eliminate unnecessary bulk in the seam. Hold the ribbon facing and the jeans leg out of the way, and trim only the raw edge of the denim and ribbon to ¼ inch


Fold the ribbon facing to the inside of the cuff, and smooth out the jeans, so the ribbons are smooth and the denim turns back properly.  Put the cuff on the sewing machine and stitch on the denim approximately 1/8 inch from the ribbon edge.  Remember to begin and end at the inseam and backstitch at the start and finish of your stitching line.  Do the same to the second jeans leg.


The last step is to apply the decorative stitching 3/8 inch above your topstitching line.  I like to do this stitching in a coordinating colored thread.  Choose a stitch function from your machine (refer to your machine’s owner’s manual for the appropriate settings if you’re not familiar with these functions) and practice a sample stitch on the cut-off hem of the jeans.  Then, beginning at the inseam, apply the decorative stitch around each of the cuffs, making sure that the ribbon facing is fully caught in the stitching.


Great job!  You’re done…now, go look through your daughter’s closet for EVERY tee that needs a matching pair of jeans, and practice, practice, practice!

Looking for other crafty inspirations?  Check out the patterns I have for sale in my Etsy Shop.

24 Responses to “Ribbon Jeans Tutorial”

  1. 1 Judy September 2, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Great Job! Now I CAN DO THEM!!

  2. 2 christi September 7, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing your talent!
    Easy and Fun…..

  3. 3 Kelly Alford November 7, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Too cute!!! Something that I immediately thought of was that I bet I could just add the ribbon part on to the bottom of a pair of too-short jeans and make them fit again. Yay!!

  4. 4 longstride10 November 14, 2007 at 8:39 am

    You’re the BEST for creating this blog! Thank you. much appreciated

    from one rebel to another happy holidays !!!

  5. 5 heather_delynn December 4, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I kept seeing these at craft shows…I can’t wait to try it out! I’m thinking a red and green “Christmas” pair is in order 🙂 Thanks!

  6. 6 Demi January 22, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Now she can have boutique jeans for EVERY holiday. . .gee, I’d better get started!

  7. 7 The Quilting Pirate April 12, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    what a great tutorial! thanks for sharing! my daughter is going to love this!

  8. 8 Kristin August 26, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Those are so adorable! I will definitely be trying this on my daughters “too short” jeans. Thanks!

  9. 9 Deen October 2, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Thanks so much for sharing the “how to”!!! I’m asking for a sewing machine for Christmas just so I can make these cute jeans!

  10. 10 Brandy Ruth/Raleigh VIP Club March 23, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    What a hip and cute idea with the colorful ribbons. very creative and martha stewart.

  11. 11 marianny March 27, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Hi,this is sooooooooooooo cuteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee thanks you

  12. 12 Lisa Atwell August 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Save those end pieces for appliques on tee shirts. Also a great way to keep pants that have possibly gotten too short. UMM, how about doing this to crop pants also? Anything that will help parents with kids in these trying economic times.

  13. 13 Alex September 8, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Thats pretty damn cool 🙂

  14. 14 lynne December 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I’m dazzled, they look like expensive boutique jeans!
    Thanks for the great explanation, I’m going to try it.
    It should be fun shopping for ribbons.

  15. 15 Kristina March 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I just finished a pair. They turned out pretty good. Have to say that if you don’t have a cuff adjustment on your sewing machine like I don’t, it is difficult to keep the ribbons from catching underneath.

  16. 16 Ginny July 28, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Awesome tutorial, you’ve made it very easy for beginners with all the easy to follow instructions and step by step pictures. They are too cute.

  17. 17 sandi November 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    these are adorable. my daughter (6) and i made these together. she helped cut the ribbons and lined them up in a pattern. i then sewed one leg to show her how and then she sewed the other (without much help). they turned out so well that we made another pair for a younger sister. whenever the girls wear them people always ask where they came from.

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