Upcycling denim jeans

Denim is a good strong fabric, and I hate throwing out jeans when they are worn or otherwise unwearable and therefore un-donate-able (is that even a word?!?). So I’ve had my old jeans in the bottom of my wardrobe for a while, waiting to find a project that they could be used on.

But who has room to store clothes that you can’t wear? Certainly not me! So it was time to do something. A look through Pinterest, and it seems the main way to reuse jeans is to make them into a bag. But that wasn’t really what I was after, I have no use for a denim bag. 

I pinned a couple of ideas on my Craft board. And the first project I chose to make was a (kind of) bag. Who’dathunkit. But there we go 🙂 I’m going to call them baskets.

Then I looked for some tassel jewellery ideas. That was fun!

upcycled jean earrings

The little bags were so easy to make, they only took a few minutes! The YouTube tutorial is very easy to follow, and here is what I did:

Cut the bottom off one of the legs of your jeans. How big you make this piece will depend on the final size of your basket. Make sure to allow for the seam at the base, and the cuff foldover at the top.

upcycled jean cutoff

First you turn the fabric inside out, then sew along the cut edge.

In the Youtube video she sews this by hand, but I used my sewing machine since I had it out making produce bags, and a cushion cover. It really only took a few minutes!

upcycled jean cutoff 1

Put the 2 side seams together and flatten it out to see where your edge seams will go. Hard to explain, but watch the video if you can’t see what I did from these photos

Try and get the sides equal and the corners where you sew the same size. This will make your basket a more even size. The first one I did I just sewed without taking too much notice, and I can see it is higher on one side than the other.

Also, the further in you sew these corner seams, the more square your basket will be. If you sew closer to the edge, your basket will be more rectangular.

upcycled jean cutoff 4

That’s it! Turn it back the right way, fold the cuff top over, and decide what you’re going to keep in it!

upcycled jean cutoff 5

They are a bit ‘slouchy’ when empty, but stand up nicely with something inside.

Decorate simply with a badge or brooch, or use your imagination!

upcycled jean basket 2.1upcycled jean basket 1

You can see how I made the flower brooch here.

It was pointed out that these would make great little Easter baskets! Taking that further, you could theme for any occasion!

I made up another basket from further up the leg, so there wasn’t the cuff already on it. I used some scrap fabric to add my own

upcycled jean basket hem

This is where you can personalise them, and make them suitable for boys or girls. Or use Easter/Christmas/birthday themed fabric…

upcycled jean baskets 2

There are also plenty of posts of how to line the baskets if want to give that a go. Just search Pinterest!

Next I noticed tassels made from jeans. Yes, please!

I found the tutorial at Pillar Box Blue very easy to follow. These take quite a bit more time to create than the baskets.

Cut a piece of denim, and work out which way the threads are running.

upcycled jean tassels

You want to pull out the white threads, leaving a blue tassel. But you can certainly do it the other way, pulling out the blue threads and have a white tassel.

Pull out the threads, using a pin to help tease out any that get lost. Leave a centimetre or two at the top, depending on how big you are making the tassel. I left about 1cm for my earrings, but leave more if making a larger one.

Put a line of glue along the top edge and tightly roll it up into a tassel.

upcycled jean tasselYou can stitch and wrap the tops in embroidery thread instead of gluing, as Claire did, and they look so bright and fun!

Even though I glued rather than stitched, I still wrapped with some bright embroidery thread, and topped with a matching bead to make my earrings

upcycled jean beaded earrings

I also made some tassels the more traditional way, as in this tutorial.

Cut thin strips of fabric, and run your fingers along the edges to fray them a bit. I added a couple of lengths of yarn and ribbon for extra texture and colour. Thread the strips through a jump ring. Fold them in half, centring the ring, and wrap around the top with string or thread and tie tightly.

upcycled jean fluffy earrings

These are quick to make, and very funky!

Where else would you attach a denim tassel? The corners of cushions, a handbag, scarf, a jacket, hang from a doorknob…

Check out Pinterest for lots of ideas on how to upcycle your old jeans, you’ll never throw another pair out! What have you made?

2 thoughts on “Upcycling denim jeans

Thanks for visiting my blog! I'd love to know what you think of my posts, so please leave a comment xx Fiona

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