Upcycling Corner: Jeans Bag

While my stash of new fabric is growing exponentially (didn’t I swear solemnly that I’d only buy new fabric when having used up my old fabric? Umm, did I?…), I also have a collection of clothes I no longer wear and fabrics (mostly bedlinen and tablecloths) that a friend gave me, and that are waiting for a suitable project to come along. I’ve always fancied making the recycled denim bag the wonderfully talened Izzy Meim Saab makes in her tutorial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r0O15z01TE). A friend’s birthday was coming up – so I had a good excuse to go ahead.

As shown in the tutorial, I first cut off the legs of an old, decrepit pair of jeans. It’s also good to cut out the middle seam along the crotch area, as it would make sewing difficult unless you have a commercial/industrial sewing machine.

photo 1

After that, turn the jeans inside out and draw straight lines down the front and back and sew along those lines. All of this is done approximately – there really is no need to get to work measuring right angles precisely… Just as long as the lines are approximately straight it’s fine.

photo 2


After that, you cut off the extra bits and sew along the bottom. To give the bag some depth, you fold the corners out, taking care that seam lies on top of seam. Here it does pay to be exact, otherwise the corners will look wonky. Draw a line across at a right angle (so that there are 2.5 or 3 cm either side of the seam), secure with a couple of pins, and sew across.

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Look – it’s almost a bag!

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Next comes the lining. Measure your bag and calculate the width and length of your fabric accordingly. The fabric I used is from an old set of bedcovers, and I added a simple inside pocket.

photo 1-1

When you calculate your fabric measurements, remember that your new bag now has a boxy shape: don’t just measure to the edge of each box, but take a true measurement of the width & length of the bag. If you’re unsure how to do this, have a look at the video tutorial.

Making the lining is simplicity itself. You simply sew along the three sides and then make boxy edges, just as before. Then place the two boxy triangles of the bag and the lining against each other (both wrong side of the fabric facing each other) and sew along the bottom triangle line again to connect denim and lining. This is so that you don’t actually pull out the lining of the bag when you grab your keys a bit too vigorously.

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Almost done! Now fold the edge of the lining in on itself and neatly sew it to the denim using a hemming stitch – or, if you want to make a feature of it, use a contrasting thread and use a catch stitch. I sewed the lining to the lower edge of the waistband of the jeans, so that the stitches wouldn’t show on the outside.

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If you squint, you can see that I added an additional feature: a pink band with small carabiner on which you can hang your keys. No more frantic searching for your keys in voluminous bags!


Now just add handles. I made mine from one of the legs of the old jeans. I should have closed up the second end of the handles before stitching along the edges, but since we never admit to mistakes here (umm!), I turned it into a feature – a jagged edge which will hopefully fray nicely with use and washing.

And here it is!

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Penny does look a bit unhappy wearing the bag, I think she’s more a rucksack kind of a dog.

photo 1-2


About alycevr

Academic, translator & maker of things
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