5 Things I Upcycled from Old Denim Instead of Throwing it Away

Denim is one of my favorite fabrics. It’s sturdy (why else was it first used for the clothing worn by American gold miners’ during the Gold Rush of the 1800s), it comes in lots of different colors (especially blues) and it’s long-lasting. But let’s face it, whether it’s a pair of jeans that sustained too much damage on the playground, a denim skirt that’s out of style, or any garment with an unpleasant fit, we sometimes can find ourselves in excess. But before you throw those precious textiles away, consider transforming them into something impressive.

1. A tote.

Tote bags are versatile. Some people believe the bigger the better. But even at about 13 inches deep, this one does the job of carrying anything from library books to bottled water. It takes about 4 pairs of jeans cut into 8 equal strips. I toggled between dark and light strips to make the design more interesting, but trying different combinations to create new styles is always a lot of fun.

2. A triangle pouch.

Tote bags are versatile. Some people believe the bigger the better. But even at about 13 inches deep, this one does the job of carrying anything from library books to bottled water. It takes about 4 pairs of jeans cut into 8 equal strips. I toggled between dark and light strips to make the design more interesting, but trying different combinations to create new styles is always a lot of fun.

3. A bean bag pouf.

This convenient seat is best for kids or as an ottoman footstool. I cut a lawn bag down the side, spread it open, then traced the bottom of a circular clothes basket on it. I folded the circle until it was the size of a 1/8 pie shape. I used that pie shape as a template to cut 16 pieces. I used four pairs of jeans. I also cut 8 rectangles, matched them with the wide sides of the pie shapes at the top and bottom of each section, and sewed them together. Add a zipper opening and his idea would be great for storage of off-season casual clothes, bedding, or stuffed animals.

4. Distressed Hobo Bag

This bag won’t hold a lot, but it was a lot of fun to create. The ripping on these jeans I made this from was intentional and perfectly frayed. I used duck cloth for the lining. I love the way the bright, red color pops through the ripped holes.

5. A Baby Quilt

I created my first quilt with denim and I fell in love. With lining and backing these quilts are super warm and cozy. I was a little worried that the layering of the denim, the batting and the backing would be too thick to sew on my regular sewing machine, but it did surprisingly well. This smaller one measures about 36″ around. I used 100% bandana cotton on the flip side and 8″ squares cut from larger sized jeans. You can cut your squares any shape or size you like. Especially if you are working with youth or small jeans.

Denim is truly magnificent and can be up-cycled into some amazing and useful things. So before you decide to trash your denim duds, consider taking an inventory of what you have and make something new.

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