Recycle your old jeans into something new

Turning Jeans into Bags

I have a tendency to wear my jeans until they fall apart… the knees wear through, giant rips appear in areas that expose me.  I also happen to horde things – so I can’ t through the jeans out.  I sometimes buy jeans that go too quicky out of fashion too – those big baggy flares .. just as the skinny leg jeans came in.

But I see a common element in both these scenarios: the bottoms of the jeans still have good fabric and use in them. So, I have put together a little how-to to turn your old jeans into shorts and a bag.

I have put together a pattern to download if it will assist the process.   I tend to snip and sew as I go to construct whatever it is that I’m doing…. So.   Here goes, and hopefully these instructions will make sense.

Jeans bag Pattern A2

Step 1.   Grab your old jeans and cut them off at or above the knees. This will somewhat depend on how wearable your old jeans are – if they’re very wearable, make a decision if you’d like knee length short, short shorts or anything in between.   If the jeans are not in very good condition anymore, chop them so that you can get best use of the remaining fabric.

Step 2Layout the bottom of the jeans flat and recut them to according to pattern (pattern can be scaled if your jeans are smaller).   This bag pattern requires 3 denim pieces – 2 main bag pieces (front and back), and 1 internal flap piece.

Step 3.  Cut an additional novelty fabric piece for the front panel, and cut 2 additional pieces for lining the internal of the bag.  Left overs work great – curtains/upholstery, the pattern piece will also fit into a fat quarter, so check out your local fabric shop, or jump online to Spoonflower for some original designs.

Step 4.  Pockets. The pattern allows for an iPhone size mobile phone pocket, and an additional internal pocket.  The mobile phone pocket goes on the main front bag piece that will be covered by the flap.  The internal pocket goes on the back lining piece.  Attach by top-topstitching the pockets to the various pieces before sewing the bag together.  Add as many pockets of varying sizes as you desire – they can have zips, buttons or just be open as these ones are.   Customise the bag to your requirements.

Step 5.  Sew the main bag pieces together, then the lining. Sew the novelty fabric to the remaining denim flap.  Presto, you should have 3 bits to the bag.

Step 6.  Straps. I have worked out for me it is comfortable to have a bag strap that is 120cm long.  You may wish to check this prior to fixing the strap in place – otherwise you could make it an adjustable strap.   Cut strips of fabric 8cm wide out of the jeans leftovers.  Join the pieces together lengthwise end to end first, then fold in half turning raw edges in 3-5mm, and topstitch edge.

Step 7.  Put it all together. Turn the main bag right side out, and place the lining (right side in) on the inside of the bag so no raw seams are visible.   Line the edges up at the top, and turn the top edges independently inwards 10-15mm.  Pin in place.   Remove a single pin at the side seams and place the strap ends between the lining and the bag.    On the back side of the bag carefully place the flap between the lining and the bag also, careful to keep the alignment of the top edges on either side of the flap.

Step 8.  Top Stitch the top edges of the bag together. I stitched 2mm from the edge, and then again ~8mm from the edge for double strength.

POSTSCRIPT (07.03.2010):

If you’ve found this handy or inspiring, I’d love to hear from you!  Have you successfully chopped up and made a bag from your old jeans? Leave me a comment, or send me a picture and I’ll post it up! email me direct:

1 comment
  1. kaleidoscapes said:

    that is so good! why haven’t you put it up on burdastyle yet?!?!?!
    i reckon if you chose plaids and darker colours it’d make a really cute man bag for the slightly more feminine boyfriends out there for valentines! (or as it is, the guys on there that sew)

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