January 23, 2012

Repurposing an old pair of jeans :: a DIY

Repurposing an old pair of jeans :: a DIY

Yesterday, I felt like sewing a new bag. Only problem: I didn't have any of my favorite oatmeal colored linen left. It took me some rummaging through my stash to come up with something else: an old pair of jeans. We like a little challenge once in awhile!

Since our last move, I keep a whole stash of jeans in a box in my crafts cabinet. Originally, the idea was to keep the jeans until I had enough for making a quilt. However, with one quilt still waiting for the binding to get finished and the quilting as well, I must admit I'm not much of a quilter. Not when it comes to the bigger projects, anyway. Too intimidating, I'm afraid....

Anyway, since that quilt probably never is going to happen, I figured I might as well cut one pair to pieces for another project without doing much harm. This particular pair was a high-rise (!) that never really felt comfortable - probably because of its high-rise but mainly because of its unreliable zipper. Very annoying, even with a long shirt!

 Repurposing an old pair of jeans :: a DIY

So, I cut the ugly thing to pieces and made this - not so ugly, if I may say so myself - tote.  I used the same bag pattern as for this one, this one and this one. Its shape basically comes down to a rounded slightly trapezoid rectangle with darts at the bottom corners, combined with a rectangular panel in between the front and back panel.
For the handles, I cut a cheap natural leather belt to pieces (H&M) which I still had lying around from when I was doing this tutorial. The lining is a left over from this project and this one as well. So basically, I didn't have to leave the house or spend another dime on this project, which is rather unique as usually there's always something missing. Not this time - instead, I got rid of something - a total win-win! How cool is that!

Repurposing an old pair of jeans :: a DIY
Repurposing an old pair of jeans :: a DIY

Now, in case you want to try this. Here are some notes on how I proceeded, which might be helpful.
  • cutting the jeans: I cut mine open from front to back to separate the two legs. Next, I cut each leg open along the inner leg seam, to obtain two flat pieces of fabric. I used the top part of each leg to cut the front panel and back panel, the front pockets and back pockets nicely centered. I was extremely careful not to cut the inner pockets to pieces while cutting each panel. That way all pockets are still fully operational! From the lower leg parts I cut the bag's middle panel (2 pieces joined together, about 15cm wide), as well as a strip for the facing of the bag (2 pieces joined together, about 7 cm wide). There was enough fabric left to make handles as well, but I decided to go with leather handles instead.
  • lining: originally, I intended not to line the bag, and finish the seams off with some bias tape. However, with all the seams already there, and the new ones and the inner pockets this would have looked rather unfinished, something I do not like. And I needed to hide the handles' rivets in some way or the other. So, I went for a lining instead. I'm not sure I chose the best way to do this, with a facing and lining, however. Because of the thickness of the fabric the top looks a bit bulky - it doesn't bother me, I own a bag from GAP with that same kind of bulky finishing, matter-of-factly, but it might bother the perfectionists amongst you. One might opt for a lining going all the way up, without the facing, and whip stitch it to the denim instead.
  • the handles: the main reason I went for leather handles is because I like the denim - natural leather combination and because I happened to have the right color of hardware (rivets) to go with it (sewing wasn't an option given the thickness of both the denim and the leather).  This is the first time I used this type of rivets. I didn't exactly have the right tools (no rivet gun) but I managed to get them in using pliers (a hammer didn't work and was too loud anyway - I did this past 10:00p.m. - not sure if the neighbors would have liked it). This is what I learned:
    • you'll hardly ever find the right size of rivets matching the thickness of leather and fabric. You can solve this problem by adding a small piece of leather (or fabric) in the back. Additionally, this will make it more sturdy as well as it reinforces the fabric of the bag.
    • prepare both the fabric and the leather by making the appropriate holes in them with a punch, corresponding to the rivet's parts (top part is wider than the bottom part) - this will reduce the effort needed to secure the rivet and makes sure you get them in at the exact right spot.
    • in order not to damage the rivets while using your pliers make sure to use at least a cloth in between. I found a piece of cork to be extremely helpful. Never put the pliers directly to the rivets!
 This being said, both my girls loved the bag. M. is desperate for another book bag for school and asked me if I could make another tote like this one... Please, mommy? Please?

I guess I'll have to take out that box one more time...  What else can I say to a sweet little request like that...?

Repurposing an old pair of jeans :: a DIY


Kanchan Karai said...

This is absolutely beautiful. I liked the bag. You have written a detailed post about the bag. That's nice.

Yesterday, I saw a similar bag in one shopping mall. The price was approx. $12.00. So, repurposing old jeans is anytime beneficial. I am a new subscriber of your blog posts.

Seaweed and Raine said...

Great contrast between the fabrics and the handles. Totally goes. :)

nicole/brussels said...

mooi gedaan, leuke tas, was een goed idee!!

Karena said...

The leather handles really make the bag, Very fun tote!! Plus thank you for the tutorial!

Art by Karena

Frances said...

What a clever and stylish recycling project. We will soon be seeing a version in Anthropologie. Guaranteed!


patsquared said...

Thanks for the nice idea and tips. My favorite pair of jeans has 3 patches and 2 new holes...will be repurposing them for a bag thanks to this post!

M.M.E. said...

It turned out really nice! My boyfriend collects jeans and then slowly turns them into aprons for our art projects. Haha. I think I'd like a purse to match now. :)

blue moss said...

love the shape and how big it is!!

Rachel Sue said...

This is such a great idea! I would love to feature this on Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks!

Winnie said...

Very beautiful! I really like it!



cucicucicoo said...

lovely repurposing! i've been meaning to make a jeans-bag for years and just have never gotten around to it. :) lisa

lisaellen said...

a tutorial PLEASE!!! I am new to the sewing world!

audrey (grenierd'IDEES) said...

I love it!!! I think I will steal one of my boyfriend jeans...

Mirka said...

Great idea! I had to pin it!


Jan said...

Love this! I've made jean bags matching front to back, but hadn't laid it side to side before! Great idea and eliminates having to worry about that curve right under the zipper.

canimçektipişirdim said...

wonderfull..can you give details with photo please..

Ina Kossatz said...

Hey there....
i was wondering if you could share a PDf file with the pattern ? Or something like that. I understand that more easily than the words. (german) :-)



Agnieszka said...

You're incredible!
I swe my bag :) thanks!


Deanna said...

i KNOW THIS IS AN OLD POST BUT WILL YOU BE MAKING SOME TO SEll in your etsy shop by any chance?

Andrea Bomar said...

How many cm or inches did you cut down from he pockets. I'm a beginner and I don't trust myself with measurements. I hope you get this message in time ... trying to complete this project before the holiday... Thank you!! :)

Troye said...

What a hand bag. I have made bags before and I am always happy to see what other people are doing. I love the learn as you go approach too. Best of luck


onel said...

What a smart way to repurpose the old jeans! Love it :D

Anonymous said...

I like your tutorial - it's a fun project. Thank you for sharing! I have made 2 quilts with jeans but this is definately my next jeans project. Dad's jeans become his daughters' Green Grocery Bags. They'll love the grease and paint stains.

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