Design & Sew Your Own Boho Animal Patch Jeans!
Updated: Feb 9
One fashion that never seems to go out of style is patches and embroidery work on jeans! I was reminded of this when several of these projects came up on my Pinterest feed. Inspired by a bit of nostalgia from my college days of sewing patches on jeans, and by my passion for spreading awareness about endangered species and their ecosystems, I decided to embark upon a long-term sewing project: creating my own patches from my Save Endangered Species fabric collections, and with trim and buttons, fashion a wearable art piece that would look smashing AND send out an important message as well. And here you see the result!
This type of project is NOT your do-it-in-one-weekend type of project. This is a long-term affair that I enjoyed working on whenever I had the chance, and it was something I could look forward to for many weeks. Also, taking my time gave me the opportunity to “create” as I went along, which does not often happen with a short-term project.
SO—here’s how to begin creating your one-of-a-kind animal Boho Patch Jeans! To make the animal patches, all you need is one fat quarter of one of my Save Endangered Species prints or my No Wildlife, No Human Life prints—or one of each if you want to mix and match. A good fabric choice for these patches is lightweight cotton twill, though I also used my organic cotton sateen fabric scraps. Of course, you can make patches from any woven fabric print—flowers, your favorite animals, abstracts—whatever inspires you! Get creative! Let your patches tell a story!
You will also need fusible interfacing, preferably medium weight, but if you do use designs printed on a simple cotton fabric, I suggest getting a heavy weight fusible interfacing for your patches. Finally, you will need embroidery thread in a variety of colors to match or to contrast with your patches’ colors, about six yards of your choice of trim (or of each one if you are using two like me), and decorative buttons of your choice.
Also, choose the right jeans for this project! Stretch jeans are not a good option for applying woven patches, and skinny jeans that are a really tight fit present problems when trying to sew the patches and trim on those skinny legs. Good, comfy-fitting woven jeans are the best!
STEP 1: Make your patches!
Outline the shapes and cut your patches out. I preferred rounded edges as you can tell (Figure 1).
Next, cut pieces of the fusible interfacing to match each cut patch, and iron the two together (Figure 2).
Use a Closed Overlock stitch on your sewing machine, or your serger machine if you are lucky to have one, and overcast all the patches’ edges. I chose to overcast in matching thread colors because I planned on using contrasting embroidery thread to sew the patches to the jeans. I don’t have a serger, so overcasting my fourteen patches with my sewing machine took quite some time, but I tried to “enjoy the journey!” (Figure 3)
STEP 2: Plan your design!
This really is the fun part and you should take your time with it! I actually spent several days placing my patches in different layouts (taking a phone photo of each) before I found the one that made me happy. I am more of an asymmetrical person, so for me, I wanted a design that was not perfectly mimicked on both legs. Again, have fun and be creative with this part! (Figure 4)
Once your final layout is chosen, tack each patch in place at the sides, top, and bottom. This leaves plenty of room to weave your trim through the patches before giving these the final stitching with embroidery thread (Figures 5a, 5b, & 5c).
STEP 3: Add the trim!
Lay out the trim and weave it through the patches creating the designs that you want. Again, I did not hurry this part, and as with the patches, I created a few different layouts before I found the one that pleased me (Figures 6a, 6b, & 6c).
Next, carefully hand sew the trim in place. This part is time-consuming, but remember, this is a long-term project meant to be enjoyed a little each day. Then, if you are adding a second trim, take your time and lay this out, and when you are satisfied, hand sew this trim in place (Figures 7a & 7b).
STEP 4: Attach the patches!
With the trim(s) sewn in place, it is now time to hand sew all your patches in place. You can use regular thread to do this, but I preferred using embroidery thread in contrasting colors to give my jeans more of a boho look. And, I used a blanket stitch. Again, this part is very time-consuming, so enjoy sewing one patch a day! (Figures 8a, 8b, 8c, & 8d)
STEP 5: Sew your buttons!
This final part is very enjoyable because your hard work is done and now you are simply adding the finishing touches. Note: I also happened to have some small bird patches that I decided to add. So, go for it and add anything else you want! (Figures 9a, 9b, 9c, & 9d))
STEP 6: Wear proudly and enjoy the compliments!
Strut your stuff in your new boho patch jeans, and if you used endangered animal patches, spread the word each time you receive a compliment...and you will invite compliments!