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This post is frequently updated so it now contains far more the original 25 ideas for reusing your old jeans! Enjoy!
Jeans are a quintessential wardrobe staple. Because of that most people end up with at least a pair or two of denim blue jeans that don’t fit anymore or they don’t wear because they’ve gone out of style or been worn out in places.
We’ve collated a list of great upcycling ideas for your old jeans from useful bags to home decor items.
Denim Clutch Purse with Outer Pocket
These clutch or coin purses from old jeans are the cutest little project. We especially love the outer pockets pre-built into the fabric. Imagine them with a fun contrasting print as the inner lining too! The most helpful tutorial we’ve found for this isn’t in English but you can just choose translate on google and their are loads of helpful photos too. The tutorial uses regular fabric but just swap out your cut up denim jeans for the outer layer and perhaps use a denim needle to sew through your denim! You can find the tutorial here and you can find the clutch clasps that finish it off here.
Upholster it with Denim!
Denim is certainly a tough wearing fabric.
So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that many keen upcyclers have used it as upholstery fabric.
You could even strategically place the pockets to give you somewhere to put the tv remote!
If you are looking for a tutorial on how to have a go at upholstering your own armchair check out ours here.
All you need to do is substitute the upholstery fabric for your old jeans by cutting it apart at the seams and either finding pieces that match the shape of your chair or sewing it together into bigger pieces as needed.
Sofa Organiser from Old Jeans
Don’t you just love the idea of using the pockets and openings already in your old pair of jeans to make a super useful over arm sofa organiser to store your remote controls and magazines?
Muy Ingenioso has a great tutorial (just hit translate) for the basic pattern using a pretty thin denim.
Instead of cutting the panels for the pockets like they have you could measure to see if you can cut the larger panel from the back of your jeans to keep the two back pockets in situ and then sew the legs together to get the length.
Then you can add the front panel like they have (in the first photo above) for your magazine pocket.
I loved this organiser idea so much that I made some bedside pocket organisers for my two kids with the back pockets of some old denim jeans.
The organiser attaches to the bed slats with some ribbons so it’s super easy to keep them in place.
You can find the tutorial here.
Upcycled Jeans Doorstop
Here at Upcycle My Stuff we love a detailed Vicky Myers Tutorial, so when we found this one for a denim doorstop upcycled from old jeans with a super cute leather handle we just had to add it to this list!
Jewellery made from Upcycled Denim
When you cut up your jeans to use them for a doorstop or as upholstery fabric or even a change purse, you will have scraps, seams, waistbands and other parts of your jeans left on the floor.
These are the perfect bits to use to create some eye-catching upcycled jewellery.
We found some great examples in the photos above from some brilliant upcycling small businesses selling on Etsy.
While all these sellers are clearly super talented and creative, the techniques they are using are relatively simple and you could do the same with some jewellery findings (the clasps, earring hooks and choker bases) and a few tools.
The simplest of the ideas above are clearly the earrings and all you would need to recreate them is a needle and thread (invisible thread would work will for this) and some jewellery making earring hooks.
That bit of denim looks to me like the loops on the belt band of an old pair of jeans – what do you think?
Chevron Patterned Denim Pillow
If you have a few pairs of old jeans of a similar weight this fab chevron patterned cushion cover project could be for you. Ashlee Marie has a fab tutorial that you could scale to different sizes and either use one colour denim or several.
Denim Diamonds Slow Quilting Project
This is a super impressive denim quilt made by Dan Rouse. He said it was a 5 year work in progress.
The diamonds are 3.5″ each side, plus 3/8″ seam allowance.
He used a ‘jeans stitch’ by topstitching with heavy gold-colored thread similar to how jeans are finished.
Isn’t it gorgeous! You can find Dan Rouse on Instagram here.
Reversible denim quilt pIcnic Blanket
I loved the idea of a denim quilt so much that I made my own!
It’s a reversible picnic blanket with a classic quilt pattern on top and a scrappy improv backing.
You can find out more about my denim quilt here.
Denim Yarn Woven Rug
If you are looking to upcycle your old jeans without making it super obvious that is what you’ve done, Liljan Lumo’s tutorial on how to weave a rug from denim yarn made from your old jeans might be just the project you’ve been looking for.
Not the easiest one on the list, but the result could be a work of art to be proud of! You can find her tutorial here (just hit translate to get it in English).
Denim Soft Toy Balls
Who wouldn’t fall in love with these cute children soft toy balls.
This is the perfect gift idea for babies learning to grip or grandchildren who have started toddling and need some soft balls to play with.
There is a great tutorial on wikiHow for making the denim baseball pictured above. You can find it here.
More ideas for kid’s gifts you can sew:
Upcycled Denim Teddy Bear
Another gift idea for your old jeans that would be a hit with the grandchildren or nieces and nephews in your life is this sweet little teddy bear.
Check out the placement of the pocket in front where you could put an even smaller toy or a special note from Grandma!
They didn’t use denim but the tutorial is meant to work for any type of fabric so as long as you are using a proper denim needle and strong thread there is no reason you couldn’t use it to make your own huggable bear from your old blue jeans.
Denim Heart Bunting
This simple project doesn’t require many materials and is super easy to recreate.
What you need:
- your old jeans
- some twine
- a sewing needle large enough for your twine
- some stuffing (optional).
First cut your jeans to the desired shape (one for the back and one for the front of each piece).
Then sew almost all the way around with your twine as pictured.
Next close it up and add the bow, stuff it with either some soft toy stuffing, quilt batting or better yet some more denim scraps.
Once you have the number of hearts you want in your garland simply thread them together with a long piece of twine (thread through the back of each heart).
You can tie two small knots where the twine exits the hearts to keep them steady or leave them untied so you can readjust their position by sliding them along the twine.
The rustic finish of this project means you don’t even have to hem the edges. Easy peasy!
If you’d rather buy a garland ready made the one above is from a lovely Etsy shop called Denimshire Dumpling.
Footwear from Old Jeans
We found quite a number of cute ideas for reusing parts of your old jeans as sandals, slip on shoes and baby booties.
Mending Kid’s Jeans
Let’s face it, kid’s wear out their jeans far faster than we do!
If you have active youngsters running about who tear wholes in their blue jeans on a weekly basis you might want to consider upcycling them by mending them rather than rushing out for a new pair every time!
There are lots of visible mending techniques (as well as less visible ones!) that you can try depending how small or large the tears are. This tutorial (before and after pictured above) was a colourful reverse applique mending project for some particularly big knee gashes!
And now for something completely different as they say.
You might have heard of denim effect paint finishes before but chances are you haven’t come across using actual denim as wallpaper or wall covering!
What do you think?
Getting a glue strong enough to hold it up would probably be the trick but perhaps that is what the trim is for at the top in this photo. Perhaps this was applied using upholstery techniques?
The pocket placement where you could pop your phone into charge is pure brilliance too!
Obviously this photo doesn’t look like an upcycled pair of jeans but more like denim fabric. However there is no reason you couldn’t sew together a few pairs to get this amount of fabric.
Cowboy themed living room anyone?
Geometric Denim Wall Hangings
These geometric denim wall hangings add a great pop of blue on the blank wall behind. There is a full tutorial for each one on the Joann Fabrics website here. If you are looking for more upcycling ideas to fill your blank walls then check out our article full of fun ideas.
Craft Apron from Old Blue Jeans
This idea is so obvious when you see it you think to yourself – why didn’t I think of that?
But we didn’t, and Adirondack Girl did – just genius to turn your old jeans around to transform them into a crafting apron complete with ready made pockets!
This is an especially good one if it is some rips at the knees that caused you to discard your old jeans in the first place!
Wine Bottle Gift Bag from Jeans
This is a great idea for the calf part of your old jeans leg if you’ve gone ahead and used the top half for your craft apron or another project.
A great idea and a lovely gift to receive – wine plus a reusable denim gift bag!
See more ideas for upcycled gift bags and gift wrap here.
Denim Pocket Organiser
The pockets of old jeans are perfect for repurposing as many of the ideas above do. We think these craft station and home office wall organisers from old jeans are good examples of how these kind of upcycled organiser boards can actually look super chic (trust us we’ve seen a lot that don’t!). The Sisters of the Wild West have a tutorial for their version here.
Upcycled Bags from Old Jeans
What roundup of ideas for upcycling your old jeans would be complete without a bag made from old jeans?
We found many examples from backpacks to satchels and tote bags.
In truth you can go wild with this one and copy the pattern of any bag shape you like.
If you are looking for a pattern specifically for making a bag from old jeans Gamma Studio sell one here.
The photo above with the grey and yellow tree fabric on it is one of our tutorials which you can find here. It uses the back pockets of several pairs of jeans, some fabric scraps and even an upcycled leather belt for the strap.
The photo of the two drawstring bags is an Upcycle My Stuff Tutorial as well as the large denim holdall bag made from an old denim skirt.
More ideas for upcycled handbags:
- DIY Handbag Ideas – 10 Upcycled Bags you can Make Yourself
- 18 Upcycled DIY Tote Bag Ideas for Beginners
Have you tried any of these ideas? How did it go? We’d love to hear your comments!
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Cutting your old Jeans
- Old Jeans
- Pinking Shears
- First consider what you want to make with your old jeans so you don’t separate parts of the jeans that you later want to use together.
- Undo the button and zip and begin to cut just underneath the waistband in one direction. A good pair of fabric pinking shears should have no problem cutting through thick seams and even the zipper.
- Follow the line of the waistband cutting around things like belt loops.
- Hold the front pocket lining up against the back of the waistband to keep it out of the way – then cut along just under the opening of the front pocket – this leaves you with the most useable denim from the
front leg section.
- When you reach the first outer leg seam cut down as close to it as possible until you almost reach the bottom cuff of your jeans.
- Cut off the whole bottom cuff (bottom seam) at once so your left with a thin loop of denim – set aside for other projects.
- Return to the top of the jeans on the side you cut the waistband away – now cut just outside the zipper placket.
- Cut down until you reach the crotch seam and then keep cutting just to one side of that thick seam until you are back up at the back of the waistband.
- Decide if you want to keep the waistband in one piece for.a particular project. If you do then don’t cut through it when you cut up the back seam and instead stop just before the waistband and cut along the edge until you reach the side seam again.
- Cut down along the side seam to cut the first leg away from the waistband section.
- Depending on your project needs you might want to cut off the back pocket from that first leg now. Leave roughly 3-5” all the way around the pocket to make sure you have enough of a seam allowance for any
projects that need it.
- If you want you can cut down the inseam from the first leg to remove all the thick seams and have two long pieces of denim or leave the inseam in place for a larger wider piece of fabric depending on your project goals.
- Next continue to cut along the bottom edge of the waistband until you reach the second front pocket. Repeat the cutting technique from leg one to cut the waistband and crotch seam away from the second leg of your jeans.
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