DIY Bell Bottoms

Some say that the comeback of the flare & wide leg denim trend marks the death of the skinny jean. Although I’m not ready to retire all of my skinnies just yet, I’m more than happy to lend a couple of pairs for the sake of an HonestlyWTF DIY. With denim scrap I saved when making some denim cut-offs last summer, we’ll show you how to upcycle a pair of skinny jeans into a pair of bell bottoms!

You’ll need:
– a pair of skinny jeans
– scrap denim or fabric
– a pair of scissors
– a seam ripper
– a sewing machine
– a ruler

Start by opening up the outer seams of each leg with the seam ripper. Stop at around 18 inches or right below the knee.

Fold the the scrap denim or fabric in half lengthwise and draw a diagonal line measuring the length of the open seam plus 2 inches. Adjust the width to your liking: the wider the base of the triangle, the wider the bell. Cut along the line. Repeat the step to make 2 identical triangular panels.

Pin one side of the triangular panel to an open seam. Starting at the bottom hem, sew a straight stitch with a half inch inseam. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can try hand sewing with a thread and needle. After sewing one side, pin the other side. Trim any excess fabric. Repeat the same step on the other leg

Your bell bottoms are finished! You can also try adding fabric like we did here. Have fun!

(top image via Jak&Jil, rest of images by Honestly…WTF)

Leave a Comment

100 Comments

  1. Brittany wrote:

    Wow, those turned out great! Always amazed by your awesome DIY’s.

    Just posted my first giveaway! Check it out! xo

    http://tryitonmegirl.blogspot.com/

    5.10.11
    Reply
  2. Lisi wrote:

    You girls never cease to amaze!!! LOVE THEM!! Death to the skinny jean!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  3. Evelin wrote:

    I’m still too fond of my skinny jeans to do that just yet…you’re brave 😀

    5.10.11
    Reply
  4. Nikki wrote:

    Wow, these turned out amazing! I like to have a combo of shapes in my wardrobe when it comes to jeans, so I’ve definitely bit into the wider legged trend, but am still holding on to a few pairs of my skinnies. It’s nice to have options. Great job!

    http://www.cositabella.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  5. january wrote:

    i love the fabric ones! very boho

    january, x
    jessicajanuary.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  6. Great tutorial!
    I’ve done this with old jeans before and it turned out really nice!

    ♥ Gina Michele
    CrochetClouds

    5.10.11
    Reply
  7. AlbeeLucky wrote:

    I <3 this DIY. Totally inspired me to try this and maybe with some lace.

    xo-AlbeeLucky.blogspot.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  8. Turned out so great! I love the slight variation in tone of the 2 denims too! Very cool!

    http://www.nydontleaveme.com
    Check Out My Giveaway!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  9. AGH!!!! LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!! I am on this. Thanks so much!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  10. Bianca wrote:

    super clever!! love!
    xx
    http://www.iletaitunefois.com.au/

    5.10.11
    Reply
  11. Jessie wrote:

    amazing DIY you always have the best ones! i love bell bottoms and am so glad i dont’ need to go out and buy a pair because i can do this at home 😀
    xx, http://wordbyjessie.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  12. Baoto wrote:

    Very cool! These will be more beautiful than a regular flared pants, which is somethings a bit baggy above.

    glamourcube.blogspot.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  13. Weronika wrote:

    Wow I love them! I’ve been thinking to do something like this with some old jeans… might have to give it a try 🙂

    5.10.11
    Reply
  14. super cool diy!! i am an avid bell bottom lover 🙂

    xx
    http://www.dragonnfruit.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  15. Franzi wrote:

    That is an absolutely brilliant idea!!

    I’m gonna raid my denim cupboard tonight and see if I can pull this off too.
    xx

    https://franzistylenomad.wordpress.com/

    5.10.11
    Reply
  16. Zori wrote:

    I used to do this when I was in high school, I even put denim in different color for more interesting look. Thanks for making me remember!

    http://www.gossipstyleblog.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  17. great! I made a pair with lace insert a while ago, definitely hippy and i love them!

    http://matterofstyle.blogspot.com/2011/01/lace-bellbottoms-diy.html

    5.10.11
    Reply
  18. those with the fabric insert rock!!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  19. Lia wrote:

    These are fantastic, and so easy!! Great idea!
    xoxo
    Lia

    5.10.11
    Reply
  20. ashley wrote:

    wow, this turned out better than expected! time to bring out the sewing machine! Thanks for the idea!

    -AR
    http://plum-bucket.blogspot.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  21. Jesse wrote:

    i used to have a pair of jeans like this years ago, still a great idea.
    i’m holding out for the made in heaven bell bottoms, they’re so amazing.

    5.10.11
    Reply
  22. omg i LOVE it. Jr High flashbaaaaaaackssssss.

    5.10.11
    Reply
  23. marina wrote:

    Beautiful!

    spicyfashion.blogspot.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  24. yesss we used to do this in highschool, haha 🙂

    5.10.11
    Reply
  25. Lucía wrote:

    wow, so nice, I don’t think I can do that. So talented!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  26. Rae wrote:

    i love your DIYs! But this one i have to disagree with… not at all for me.

    5.10.11
    Reply
  27. You always do such a great job- love them. I really want some great hightwaisted flares. xo http://dressmeup-dressmedown.blogspot.com/

    5.10.11
    Reply
  28. Barret wrote:

    tessa and i would do that with all our jeans in college! perfect way to make old jeans new again, i love it. and it works well with different fabrics and patterns as well.

    girlobsessed.blogspot.com

    5.10.11
    Reply
  29. Bia wrote:

    amazing blog. I’ve been really inspired by your ideas. Thanks. 😉

    ps: I added you to my blogs list. Im sure I will stop by here more.

    kisses, bia ^^

    5.10.11
    Reply
  30. Eliana wrote:

    You’re brilliant!! What a great way to literally recycle fashion!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  31. Letitia wrote:

    BRILLIANT! I did the same thing to my skirt when it was WAY too tight!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  32. I always save jeans since trends are changing so quickly… already pulled out my wide leg jeans already!

    theArtofbeingFashionable</a

    5.10.11
    Reply
  33. Lo wrote:

    I’ve been dying for a pair of bell bottoms, this is the perfect solution! thanks! 🙂

    5.10.11
    Reply
  34. Hannah wrote:

    WTF? This is my first visit to your blog and it’s awesome! Followed! :DD

    5.10.11
    Reply
  35. Bec wrote:

    WOW, it doesn’t even look like an obvious diy. so phenomenal. but i’m still with you, the skinnies are still hanging in the front of my closet!

    5.10.11
    Reply
  36. Marsha wrote:

    Great fix! I am looking forward to the change from skinnies to wide. Skinny jeans only look right on skinny people. The rest of us look like a science project gone horribly wrong when wearing skinny jeans.

    5.10.11
    Reply
  37. Joanna wrote:

    Another fantastically executed DIY…that I probably couldn’t pull off myself. Sewing machines scare me.

    5.10.11
    Reply
    • erica wrote:

      @Joanna, you can hand sew it like Lauren did back in high school! a bit more time consuming but it works. xx

      5.11.11
  38. AMAZING!!!! WOW!!!! GOBSMACKED!!!!

    5.11.11
    Reply
  39. UM wrote:

    i used to do this in middle school

    5.11.11
    Reply
  40. kris wrote:

    Thanks for the step by step. I will be doing this DIY

    5.11.11
    Reply
  41. I did this almost 20 years ago. It was my first sewing project ever back in junior high. Now I’m a fashion designer and sew every day. I will never forget that pair of light blue jeans with the lime-green velvet triangle inserts!

    5.12.11
    Reply
  42. thordis wrote:

    Great idea, i will do this with this weekend. Greetings from Germany!

    5.14.11
    Reply
  43. Rai wrote:

    This is really amazing! I wonder where do you get all these marvellous DIY ideas! You are invited to check my first DIY -Bolt necklace- on my blog 🙂
    http://www.thestyleagenda.com/2011/05/diy-bolt-necklace.html

    xx

    5.14.11
    Reply
  44. I did this back in the early 1970’s in the 8th grade. Us girls would also cut our jeans to skirt length and insert fabric in the front and back. We also made bags from our jeans. Those were some of the first clothing hacks we did back then! 🙂

    5.14.11
    Reply
  45. Cicily wrote:

    I have never given up on my bootcuts, so I am super happy that bell bottoms are coming back in. LOVE this DIY. Even I could pull it off in the limited time I have for that kind of thing. Sweet!

    5.14.11
    Reply
  46. Sofia wrote:

    I use to do this to my jeans in high school. And sometimes I would use paisley instead of denim. Ugh.

    5.15.11
    Reply
  47. Alex wrote:

    I love this! I am a big fan of flares, i wear flares almost everyday.. but always looking for the next pair, haha. these look great, i wanted to do this before but worried the different color fabric/denim would look stupid :S but you’ve made it look cool.. would be awesome if they were black with a dark grey or white insert!!

    http://www.houseofslater.com

    5.16.11
    Reply
  48. Emma wrote:

    I am for sure trying this one!
    http://www.fashionhacks.blogspot.com/

    5.16.11
    Reply
  49. Helen wrote:

    Whoa! I really love this! I like the fabric one the best – you’re very talented!!

    PS: I’m hosting a $150 perricone skin care giveaway — check it out if you like!

    xo, Helen

    5.16.11
    Reply
  50. Marie Soderberg wrote:

    Woaw this is awesome

    5.18.11
    Reply
  51. Patrícia wrote:

    I used to do this when I had 14 years old. xD

    5.26.11
    Reply
  52. Gaby wrote:

    I love this! I read this and immediately went to my bag of old jeans that I was about to give away and did this. I’m SO happy I hadn’t gotten rid of the pair of skinny jeans I did this to, they’re now my favorite pair of jeans. I inserted a stripey purple and teal batik fabric into dark wash jeans. I LOVE them now. Thanks for the idea 😀

    5.31.11
    Reply
  53. Caroline wrote:

    Ooh, I want to try this!! Hopefully with some lacy fabric 😀

    6.25.11
    Reply
  54. Anna wrote:

    Super great idea. And nice pictures too. 🙂

    9.6.11
    Reply
  55. Paul wrote:

    We use to do this in the 60’s and early 70’s….I guess what goes around, comes around…

    9.9.11
    Reply
  56. Doreen wrote:

    like Paul said, we did that 60s-70s… what a kick to see it being done again.

    9.28.11
    Reply
  57. Puffle_huff wrote:

    I just made these and they turned out GREAT! Love them so much. ^_____^

    The one issue I had is that I assumed on the fabric and tried to use one pair of skinnies and another pair of skinnies as scrap denim. It’s best to use an one pair of flares or, like you mentioned,scrap fabric to achieve a wide enough bell.

    12.20.11
    Reply
  58. Marissa wrote:

    I did something like this for a hippie costume. I used some remnant fabric that I picked up for $2 that was tie-dye and then added some peace signs and butterfly patches. Still have them!

    1.2.12
    Reply
  59. say wrote:

    Love it!
    It was a classic in the Seventies to DIY bell bottoms denim to make them more more and more flare :)))

    2.18.12
    Reply
  60. shannthall wrote:

    JAJA!!! YO ESTO LO HICE EN HIGH SCHOOL

    6.25.12
    Reply
  61. Sarah wrote:

    So done with skinnies. Ready to transform them into some good old trusty flares! Take that society!
    Death to skinny jeans.

    7.16.12
    Reply
  62. Shanae Mccullar wrote:

    i would really love to wear skinny jeans because it makes you more sexy. –

    <a href="My own, personal blog
    http://www.homeimprovementstuffs.com/ink-cartridge-refills-vs-brand-new-cartridges/

    11.21.12
    Reply
  63. Lettie Wasco wrote:

    Slim-fit pants or skinny jeans (when made of denim) have a snug fit through the legs and end in a small leg opening that can be anywhere from 9″ to 20″ depending on size.[1] Other names for this style include drainpipes, stovepipes, tight pants, cigarette pants, pencil pants, skinny pants or skinnies. Skinny jeans taper completely at the bottom of the leg, whereas drainpipe jeans are skinny but then the lower leg is straight instead of tapering and so they are often slightly baggier at the bottom of the leg than skinny jeans.`

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    2.20.13
    Reply
  64. Hope wrote:

    Do you think it would be possible to hand sew these instead of using the sewing machine. I have one but it’s old and I am clueless on how to use it. I am a fairly decent hand at basic hand sewing though. Just wondering if it might work?

    4.1.13
    Reply
  65. Ira wrote:

    I’ve actually used this awesome tutorial to turn a skirt into an A-line. AWESOMENESS!

    5.25.13
    Reply
  66. Ana wrote:

    Adorei… Muito bem pensado!

    6.14.13
    Reply
  67. Wow, that’s what I was searching for, what a material!
    existing here at this website, thanks admin of this web page.

    3.30.14
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  68. Lilly wrote:

    Sarah, Amen to that last statement!

    3.31.14
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  69. Toni wrote:

    POODZ puzzle shorts by Toni.original,fun,sassy.the next great trend.

    7.15.14
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  71. anna wrote:

    this is a great idea!! i really want to try this out using some plain black trousers.
    x messystreet.com

    8.18.15
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  72. Loren wrote:

    I have to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this site.

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    7.2.16
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  73. Cynthia wrote:

    I work out and love to buy workout leggings. The wide leg is hard to find. I bet I could use this technique on those!
    I’m doing this on my skinny jeans too.
    Thanks so much!

    2.3.17
    Reply
  74. DD Funky wrote:

    I’m a man and I love the 70’s, funky music, bell bottoms, like Cynthia I’m doing this on my regular jeans too, because it’s impossible for a man to find a bell bottom jean (or other flared pants) today.

    2.9.17
    Reply
  75. Jessy wrote:

    I did not do them but I bought some this girl by etsy and I love them !!
    https://www.etsy.com/es/market/soulspunk
    I love the bell pants!

    7.20.17
    Reply
  76. Dawn wrote:

    I used to do this in the 70s !

    8.1.17
    Reply
  77. Judy wrote:

    Bell bottom were all the rage when I was a teen, but being just 5 ft tall by the time my mom cut them off to fit ,they were no longer bell bottom.

    9.24.17
    Reply
  78. Sienna wrote:

    I don’t understand the second step all that well. Can someone please sum it up for me? Thanks!!

    10.4.17
    Reply