Sewing Crafts to Repurpose Jeans

by Jimmie

Repurpose those old jeans into functional crafts! Use the denim to sew up some projects -- aprons, totebags, book covers, or drawstring bags.

Denim is such a durable and attractive fabric, it's a shame to waste a pair of jeans that are too tight or have holes in the knees.

Repurpose them into something new and useful with the project ideas and photos here! All of these denim makeovers are my own creations that I made with outgrown or thrift store jeans, a sewing machine, basic notions, and a heavy dose of creativity.

Reusing Old Jeans

To Repurpose into Useful Objects

Once you get the repurposing bug, you'll be looking for interesting jeans at the thrift store. Denim jackets, dresses, and jumpers are great for recycling into crafts too. In fact, the larger pieces of cloth in dresses often make them ideal for sewing projects. So keep your eyes open for denim in all forms and with interesting embroidery or colors.

One of my favorite things about using old jeans is that the cloth is already washed, shrunk, and velvety soft to work with.

Denim Repurposing Guides

Jean Therapy: Denim Deconstruction for the Conscientious ...
Quarry Books
$10.44  $7.0
Denim Redesign: 20 Projects to Reconstruct & Embellish Je...
Indygo Junction
$24.99  $20.88

Apron from Denim Bustier and Tablecloth

Repurposed Denim Project #1
Repurposed Apron from Bustier and Tablecloth
Repurposed Apron from Bustier and Tablecloth

Details About My Apron

From Repurposed Articles

At my favorite thrift store where the textiles and clothes are sold by the pound, I came upon a denim bustier with some lovely embroidery. Now, I am not a woman to wear a bustier of any kind, but the embroidery was so pretty that I held on to it. I hoped to repurpose the article into something useful. A tablecloth found elsewhere gave me my inspiration -- an apron!

It's one of my favorite aprons, and I get loads of compliments when I wear it. 

Drawstring Bag From Jeans Leg

Repurposed Denim Project #2
Drawstring Bag Made From Jeans Leg
Drawstring Bag Made From Jeans Leg

Another Drawstring Bag

A Travel Bag for Shoes
Side 1: A Casual Sandal
Side 1: A Casual Sandal
Side 2: High Heeled Pump
Side 2: High Heeled Pump

Details About the Drawstring Bag

This drawstring bag has a chicken leg applique! Yes, a chicken leg. This bag is my meat bag for the grocery store. I try to be "green" and take my own repurposed t-shirt bags to the grocery store. But whenever I buy meats or a chicken, the clerks always want to revert back to a plastic bag because of the mess. This durable, denim bag is especially designed for messy chicken. 

I got the idea for this craft from these directions. I used a leg from a pair of very wide leg denim jeans. I left plenty of length to hold a whole chicken and to create a casing for the drawstring.

From another leg (actually from another pair of jeans in a slightly thicker denim), I made a bottom for the bag. This was a bit tricky to get the size right. I held the pant leg up above a tape measure to estimate the diameter of the opening. I then used a plate to trace a circle on my fabric. I cut it out and started pinning it along the wide bottom of the pant leg. When my circle didn't match perfectly, I trimmed it. That resulted in a somewhat oval bottom, but this drawstring bag is very forgiving. It doesn't have to be perfect. (The chicken won't mind.)

Then I added a chicken leg applique. You can customize the design with other appliques, patches, fabric paint, trims, etc.

I ironed down a generous casing, leaving my raw edges on the outside and showing the wrong side of the denim for a bit of visual contrast. You can make it in the typical way, folding the casing inside the bag. Make two button holes in the casing, one on either side. Then sew down the casing.

Insert two ties, each circling the top of the bag in a different direction so that when you pull on both sides together, the bag cinches neatly. I used some scrap upholstery fabric I found at a thrift store for my ties. That same fabric became the chicken leg applique.

The drawstring bag can be used for lots of things:

  • lunchbag
  • shoe bag
  • toiletry bag
  • swimsuit and googgles bag
  • make up bag

Small pant legs will make small drawstring bags. Wider legs will make bigger bags.

Denim Bible (or Book) Cover

Repurposed Denim Project #3
Denim Bible Cover Made from Old Jeans
Denim Bible Cover Made from Old Jeans

Details About the Denim Bible Cover

Made From Old Jeans

My husband's favorite Bible was getting pretty ratty, and he mentioned wanting a Bible cover. I thought that old blue jeans would make the prefect casual cover for his book. I used a waistband for the velcro closure. And I added a pocket to hold pens and highlighters.

For step by step directions visit my blog where I give a basic tutorial for making this Bible cover

Denim Tote Bag Made From Jeans Legs

Repurposed Denim Projects #4
Tote Bag Made from Two Pairs of Jeans
Tote Bag Made from Two Pairs of Jeans

Details About the Tote Bag

Visit Crafting a Green World blog to see my inspiration for this repurposed tote bag. Of course, I put my own touches on her directions. I loved the alternating denim tones, so I used a pair of dark jeans that my daughter outgrew plus a thrift store pair in a ligher shade of blue.

I used pink thread for a feminine contrast and added some daisy trim that I found at a yard sale. Although the directions suggest leaving the top ragged to get that natural raveled edge, I finished the top edge with a decorative ribbon. I also used two jeans waistbands for my straps.

After it was finished, I decided it needed just one more thing, so I added a pretty fabric flower.

Visit my blog for the tutorial for this tote bag

More Denim Projects

Apron Made With Denim Jeans
Apron Made With Denim Jeans
Green Apron
Green Apron
Pin Cushion with Denim Wristband
Pin Cushion with Denim Wristband
Bibs Made From Green Denim
Bibs Made From Green Denim
Tote with Flowers
Tote with Flowers
Another Jean Tote with Fabric Flowers
Another Jean Tote with Fabric Flowers
by Jimmie

Essentials for Repurposed Sewing

A Sewing Machine and Pinking Shears

My sewing machine is a New Home brand, similar to this one. It has no electronic display and very few fancy stitches. It's a simple machine.  But it's metal (inside). Just pick it up and you can feel the weight of the metal parts inside. That means it's heavy duty.

My sewing machine has worked for about twenty years now without a single problem. I recommend going with a simple but quality machine. Don't be enamored by digital displays and fancy stitches that you will use less than 5% of your sewing time. Stick with a mostly metal machine that covers the basics.

Pinking shears are great for minimizing raveling on the clothes and linens that I cut up for my repurposed sewing projects.

More Repurposing and Upcycling

I make sewing more affordable and green by stocking my sewing closet at the thrift store. Second hand clothes and linens can be repurposed to create original sewing projects.
Out of style Christmas dresses can be repurposed into cute, reusable gift bags for bulky gifts. Here is how to do it.
Updated: 03/04/2012, Jimmie
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samsons1 on 10/27/2011

What nice gift ideas, thanks so much...

paperfacets on 08/03/2011

These are fresh and new ideas for denim. The apron with the pockets is perfect for craft group project day. Nothing will get missing.

kajohu on 07/19/2011

I love the denim tote bags -- I have a couple pairs of denim jeans that need "repurposing", and I'd enjoy making them into bags. I also love the aprons -- I'm not an apron wearer, but my daughter-in-law is. Maybe a good gift idea for her.

MugTreasuresByBrenda on 07/08/2011

Beautiful pieces. I love items made out of jeans, I suppose because I live in them.

Meagan on 07/01/2011

These are fantastic - a whole host of new ideas for recycling clothes! The red apron is my favourite.

emeraldmile on 06/30/2011

I really love the repurposed blue jean book cover.

bev-owens on 06/28/2011

Oh these are just fantastic! I love the idea of using denim and other fabric to make aprons! Very cool!

tandemonimom on 06/26/2011

Oh! Jimmie, I love it! Each picture I came to, I thought, THAT is the one I'll say is my favorite. ALL of them are my favorites! These are just fabulous ways to reuse old blue jeans!

sheilamarie on 06/25/2011

I love this idea! So many ways to repurpose an old friendly pair of blue jeans.

PeggyHazelwood on 06/24/2011

You have the blue jean bug. Great projects to use old blue jeans!

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