How to Make a Denim Bag from an Old Pair of Jeans

What can you do with an old pair of denim jeans that has passed their prime? Recycle them into an accessory, of course. When my daughter ripped a hole in the seat of her favorite, obviously well worn, jeans—in a spot too far from the seam to mend and too large to ignore, it was time to say goodbye to them. She desperately wanted to keep them—although there was no way she was going to wear them as bottoms again…what to do with them? We opted to recycle the old jeans into a cute little purse (note that I said little as my daughter is a size 5 at the max—so the purse was destined to be little!)

Inspired by trendy oversized denim bags created from jeans and embellishments featured in local gift shops and boutiques—we set to work on creating a bag from those well loved jeans. It’s a really simple process—and a great way to introduce teens to a sewing machine as the stitching is so straightforward!

Materials Needed to Make a Bag from an Old Pair of Jeans
  • An old pair of jeans 
  • Thread 
  • Scissors 
  • Sewing Machine with Needle suitable for Denim Fabric 
  • Ruler or Measuring Tape 
  • Pins 
  • Ribbon, Lace, Buttons, Bows, Beads, etc. for Embellishments
 Instructions for Making a Denim Purse or Bag from an Old Pair of Jeans 
  1. Prepare the denim bag body. The body of the bag will come from the seat and front of the recycled denim jeans. Simply cut the jeans across the legs, removing the legs just below the seat and crotch area of the jeans. Simple enough? You’ll simply open up the crotch area completely, turn the jean top inside out, pin a straight seam along the opened edge and stitch closed with a standard sewing stitch.
  2. Create the purse or bag strap. Using the material
    from the old jean legs, cut two strips the length of each remaining leg approximately two to three inches wide depending on the desired width of the strap. We opted for two inches of material, finished the edges, and stitched with a ¼ inch seam allowance on the “wrong side” of the fabric and turned it inside out to hide and further protect our stitching. 
  3. Attach the strap to the bag body. Pin the strap to the inside side seam of the bag at an equal depth on each side. We stitched each about 2 inches down the seam on both sides. Be sure to use a heavy duty sewing machine needle—intended for layers of thick denim fabric, and securely stitch the strap to each side of the bag. Don’t forget to backstitch to finish the seam! (Failing to backstitch was my daughter’s greatest source of frustration throughout the project!) 
  4. Create a closure for the top. We simply chose a three inch strip of ½” elastic that had been dyed blue during a past crafting adventure. We created a half loop with the elastic and stitched each end, side by side, to the inside back of the bag—making sure that the resulting loop would correspond to, reach and fasten to the front button of the jeans! You could create the same effect with ribbon—but we wanted the strength of the elasticity. Alternatively, creating Velcro closures on the inside of the bag per package instructions works well also. 
  5. Embellish. The embellishment of our bag is waiting for a later date (actually an upcoming 4 day weekend). My daughter is planning to attach denim bows, flowers and leaves, created from the remaining fabric, decorated with beads and craft ribbon roses. A flower and leaf patch will secure the hole in the “seat” of the bag as she did not want to line the bag with additional fabric.
This was an easy sewing project for a free afternoon—and a neat way to give some new life to an old worn out favorite pair of jeans!

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