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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nancy Flynn is an editor and former columnist at She also designs her own line of handbags. She lives in San Francisco, California, with her husband and two daughters. Nancy’s favorite pair of jeans are dark wash, low-rise, and boot cut.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Jeans are a girl’s best friend. Your favorite pair never lets you down and can make you feel pretty on even the ugliest of days. Jeans are simply perfect for everything — dressing up, dressing down, or just plain lounging around. And while everyone already knows that jeans make great pants, Jeaneology will show you they also make great skirts … and key fobs and coasters and pillows and purses. Have a beat-up pair of tapered blues that needs new life? Turn them into funky flares. Have a pair too tattered for patching? Refashion them into a belt and matching hair band. Just like blue jean styles, cuts, and washes, the options for re-creating your blues are endless — and Jeaneology includes 25 fabulous ways to get you started. Whether you’re a sewing whiz or an amateur whose last project involved popsicle sticks and finger paint, the projects in Jeaneology will have you falling in love with your old blues all over again.

Toolbox and terms

Necessities for All Projects

These are items you will need for nearly every project in this book. It is a good idea to have them on hand in a little kit or container. (Try making a zippered pouch like the one on page 64 to carry them in!)

Chalk pencil: You need this to mark off measurements with
your ruler. Go for a pale color, which is more likely to show up
on dark fabrics.

Flexible measuring tape: The best kind of measuring tapes for sewing look like long, sturdy, flexible ribbons marked with inches and centimeters. Typically, they are yellow, though they come in a variety of colors. They are inexpensive and easy to find, and indispensable for measuring around curves.

Iron: Any household iron will do. You can either use an ironing board or put a towel over a hard surface like the floor or a table.

Pins: These are key for holding things in place before you sew them. Long pins with little balls on top work well. When you sew your pinned-together layers in place, remember to take the pins out as you secure the layers together with stitching!

Ruler: This is needed for measuring lengths and widths, and customizing the
projects to fit you and your stuff.

Sewing machine and/or heavy-duty sewing needle: Because jeans are so sturdy, sewing them by hand can be a chore. Some of the smaller projects in this book are a breeze for hand-sewing, but everything will go faster if you can get behind a sewing machine. Either way, be sure to use a heavy-duty needle.

Sharp scissors: Jeans are thick and sturdy, so sharp shears are a must.

Thread: Some projects call for thread to match your jeans, others for contrasting colors (hues that will stand out), and some for both. These are just guidelines. Get creative and experiment with different thread colors whenever you think a project calls for it.

Special Tools and Materials

These are things you’ll need for only some of the projects in the book.

Batting: This is a thick, squishy fabric made of either cotton or cotton-polyester fibers that quilters use as an inner layer to make their quilts puffy and warm. Batting is specifically meant to be sewn between fabrics so that you don’t see it; therefore, it isn’t pretty to look at. You can buy it by the yard or in a large package at a fabric or quilt shop. Use any type of batting for the projects in this book.

Bias tape: Though it is called tape, bias tape is not sticky. Packaged bias tape is fabric that has been cut, folded, and ironed specifically to be used for finishing off the raw edges of seams, or binding multiple sewn layers of fabric.

Decorative extras: Some projects are only really finished when you’ve added your own personal touch. So when you are at the thrift, fabric, or craft store, keep an eye out for buttons, pins, patches, ribbons, sequins, and any other add-ons that reflect your style. By attaching these extras, you will make your projects truly individual.

Seam ripper: This is a nifty little gadget that makes pulling out seams much easier. You can find one at a fabric or craft store. It is basically a handle with a hook on one end that rips out the stitches of the seams you wish to pull apart. Seam rippers typically come with instructions included.

Zippers and zipper tape: You can buy zippers of different colors and lengths at most fabric stores. The zipper consists of two sets of teeth that hook together when you pull the zipper closed. Each set of teeth is attached to a fabric strip that you stitch to the project you are working on. This fabric strip is called the zipper tape.

Sewing Terms

Below is some sewing vocabulary you’ll want to know before you get started
on the projects.

Alternate fabric: This means any fabric being used in a project that is not
blue jeans.

Contrasting fabric: This term refers to a bright or patterned fabric that looks very
different from your blue jeans fabric.

Contrasting thread: This is thread in a color that will stand out against your
blue jeans.

Clip corners: This expression means to cut off the pointy triangle of a newly sewn corner. The cut will
end up being on the inside of one of your projects.

The reason you do it: When you sew a point or an angle on the inside of your project (a corner of a pillow, for instance), you want that corner to be pointy and smooth when you turn the project right side out. Therefore, you’ll need to clip away the seam allowance before turning the fabric right side out, so that the inside of the corner can not bunch up. To do this, simply take your scissors and cut off the little triangle that forms the point of the corner. (The book will instruct you when this is necessary.) Just be careful not to cut across the stitches themselves.

Edges (long and short): Many of these projects include roughly rectangular-shaped pieces of fabric. As we learned in grade school, rectangles have two long sides and two short sides. In sewing terms, we call those sides long edge(s) and short edge(s).

Hem: The hem is the name for the seam sewn at the bottom of pant legs, skirts, and shirts. Hem can also be used as a verb when you’re talking about changing this seam to make pants or a skirt longer or shorter — for example, when you shorten your jeans, you hem them.

Pattern: People who sew often buy paper patterns to help them cut out pieces of fabric the right size and shape for what they are making. You can find these at most fabric or craft stores. You won’t need to buy any paper patterns for the projects in this book, but you will be making patterns of your own by tracing shapes onto paper, and sometimes right onto your jeans fabric. Sometimes these are referred to as pattern pieces.

Raw edge: This is a cut edge of the fabric and will fray if left unsewn. Cutoff shorts have raw edges.

Right and wrong sides: "Right side" indicates the good side of the fabric — for example, the denim that shows on the outside of your jeans. "Wrong side" is like the inside of the fabric, or the part of the fabric that is washed out or without the design. For some fabrics, either side will do. But for many, there is a right and a wrong side. This book will frequently direct you to place pieces right sides together or wrong sides together.

Note: When the instruction has to do with right and left, it will say "right-hand side."

Right sides together/wrong sides together: Sometimes you will be instructed to pin pieces of fabric "right sides together," which means that you will place one piece of fabric right (or good) side up, and the other on top of it good side down and then pin. "Wrong sides together" indicates just the opposite, one piece wrong side up, the other on top of it wrong side down.

Seam: This is a line of stitching that joins and holds two, three, or more layers of fabric together. When we talk about the "inseam" of a pair of jeans, we’re referring to the single continuous seam that holds the jeans together under the zipper and along the inside of the legs. The seams that run down the outside of your legs are the outer seams.

Seam allowance: This is the distance between the raw edges of fabrics you are sewing together and the seam.

Turning: Sometimes turning just means flipping something from side to side or turning something inside out. But there is another meaning for turning that’s specific to sewing. When we don’t want the seams to show after we’ve sewn two pieces together, we first sew them inside out and then turn them right side out. In these cases, we leave a hole in the seam for turning, and we pull the whole project through that hole to turn it right side out.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1070L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Zest Books; Spi edition (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977266036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977266036
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Diana Hill on June 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a great example of a user-friendly book for girls in middle school and up, who would love to learn some sewing basics and be fashionably cool as well. The cost of the projects is minimal and the tools are standard household fare. The instructions are given in an upbeat, fun, narrative style with a helpful up-front glossary/vocabulary. A great book for your personal collection, for a gift or for a library collection which serves tween, teen and young-at-heart girls.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Burton on June 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
So for those of you who are craftsers and would-be fashion designers looking for a new book to add to your collection, I have to say I'm really impressed with the book Jeaneology: Crafty Ways to Reinvent Your Old Blues by Nancy Flynn.

You might recognize Nancy's name from her column on She also has a blog here too: [...]

When I picked up her new book, I was happy to see that she has all kinds of sewing projects in the book and not just really advanced stuff. Especially since I don't sew that much.

Her book has 25 cool sewing projects that help you find uses for old jeans you'll never fit into again, or were ruined, or you bought and never wore. For the projects jeans are ripped, dyed, decorated, distressed, and otherwise dressed up or completely reinvented as other clothes, wallets, cell phone holders, jewelry, coasters and pillows. And there's some pretty cool projects that guys can do to -- which is nice to have a book that isn't just for the girls.

And the book is on Myspace with blog updates in case you want to see what Nancy is working on lately...
Jeaneology book on Myspace -- [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shala Kerrigan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Jeaneology by Nancy Flynn is written for teens and has projects for recycling torn or old jeans into new things. Since my teenage daughter is a big fan of upcycling and sewing, it seemed like something she would enjoy.

I was right. It's written at a close to beginners level. The author does assume at least basic hand sewing skills, and that was my first very pleasant surprise about this book. We have a lot of sewing books, but most modern books focus strongly on machine sewing. They never seem to take into account young sewers like my daughter who can use a sewing machine but honestly prefers to sew by hand. The instructions are written so they can be used by both hand sewers and machine sewers. The beginning section includes useful information like explaining about bias tape and other tools you may need and how to pick the right hand sewing or machine sewing needles for working with denim.

The layout is image heavy with clear illustrations, and spiral bound with a heavy paper cover so it can lie flat. There is a full color photo of every project, and interspersed throughout the book are trivia, facts and tips about jeans. This was one of my daughter's favorite parts of the book.

The projects are well organized, starting with clothing in a chapter called Rocking Rags. Converting jeans into a maxi skirt or a mini skirt, making shorts and a great set of tips for distressing or customizing an existing pair of jeans. I absolutely loved the photo of the star stenciled jeans that were discharged using a bleach pen.

Mean Jean Accessories has headbands, gadget pockets and the nice big purse that's pictured on the cover as well as some great casual jewelry projects for making the most of even small scraps.
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By Connywithay on October 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Title: Jeaneology
Author: Nancy Flynn
Photographer: Peter Honig
Illustrator: Roxy Baer-Block
Publisher: Zest Books
ISBN: 978-1-9772660-3-6

“Whether you’re a sewing whiz or an amateur whose last project involved popsicle sticks and finger paint, the projects in Jeaneology will have you falling in love with your old blues all over again,” Nancy Flynn writes in the introduction of her book, "Jeaneology: Crafty Ways to Reinvent Your Old Jeans."

This one hundred and twenty page over-sized spiral-bound paperback targets ages twelve years old and older looking for ways to repurpose faded jeans. Geared toward the seventh grader or above, it contains twenty-five crafts to make from denim material.

After the table of contents and introduction, the book is divided into three sections, with an index and the author’s biography in the end. From seven to eleven topics per section, each is covered in two to six pages with numbered instructions. Small clock and spool icons cover the pages, alerting the reader to time involved and difficulty of the project.

Beginning with a chapter on necessary tools and materials, items used and sewing terms are discussed. The first section of seven patterns relates to clothing to wear like skirts, shorts, pants, and ties. The second section contains eleven accessory items such as hair bands, cellphone holders, handbags, wallets, pencil pouches, belt, slippers, earrings, bracelets, and chokers. The last seven-item part is for items around the house: laundry bag, placemat, coasters, pot holder, cushions, book covers, and key fobs. With photographs by Honig and corresponding color illustrations by Baer-Block, the directions seem understandable and informative.
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