As a denim obsessive, it hurts when a pair of jeans have completed their service and are sent out to pasture. If a pair of jeans don’t fit anymore, or are damaged beyond repair, I find it difficult to let them go. As an amateur crafter and mediocre seamstress, I hang on to my old jeans and use them in my craft projects —some are successful, some are less successful, and some are completely unuseable, but it’s always fun expressing some creativity, and getting a new use out of some pre-loved denim.
So if you feel like having a go at repurposing your old jeans, here are my seven favorite ways to try. Plus you don’t need to be a master at the sewing machine, which is good for me, as I have sewn through my finger on a number of occasions.
Denim Baby or Toddler Bib
No one is too young to start their obsession with denim. This adorable denim bib is the perfect way to get the little one in your life started on denim, or it would make a really thoughtful gift for any mini denim fan. Denim is a great material for a bib, as it is durable, strong, and washable, and as we all know, little ones love to make a mess. You don’t need a pattern, just an old bib to use as a template.
What You Need
- The leg of a pair of jeans (you can get at 3 bibs out of a single leg).
- Some lining fabric.
- Fabric scissors
- A fastening mechanism
- A sewing machine, or a needle and thread and some patience.
- Cut open your leg of denim down the outside seam, and pin onto your lining fabric, right sides together.
- Pin your template bib to your fabrics, and cut around it, leaving an extra centimetre for seam allowance.
- With right sides together, stitch around the sides of the bib, leaving the neck area open for now. Turn your bib the right way out.
- Cut another rectangle of denim, and pin on to the front of the bib to create a pocket. Feel free to get creative here —you could use a different denim, or use a piece that you have personalized for your favorite little person.
- Stitch the pocket onto the bib, and then sew a line of stitching down the center of the pocket, to make two different compartments for cutlery. Don’t worry if your top stitch is not perfect, mine certainly isn’t
- Whilst inside out, sew up the neck area, leaving a hole/gap of about two inches. Turn the bib right side out through the hole, and give the bib a good press to flatten down the seams. Fold in the seams of the open area, and top stitch it closed.
- Sew on your fastening, I chose a press stud closing, but a velcro or ribbon would work just as well. Cut off all the loose threads and voila, a bib made from recycled denim.
Denim Rag Wreath
Create a unique decoration for your home with a denim rag wreath. It doesn’t require any sewing, just a few wire hangers, some scissors and fabric scissors. Start by snipping off the hook off the wire hangers and shaping the hangers into circles. Tape them together so they are nice and sturdy. Cut your old denim jeans into strips, around half an inch wide and 6 inches long. Tie the ‘rags’ of denim around the wire hangers in knots and secure the knots with fabric glue. Repeat all around the hangers until you have a unique wreath.
If you didn’t know, the 1980s icon, the scrunchie, is back on trend, and even if they weren’t they are still pretty great —nothing adds more bounce to a ponytail, than a scrunchie. Furthermore, they are really easy to make, within ten minutes you can have a new denim scrunchie.
Cut a strip of denim 2 inches wide and around 20 inches long. Fold in half vertically with right sides of the denim together and stitch down the long side, leaving both edges open. Turn the tube of fabric inside out to get the seam on the inside. Cut 10 inches of quarter inch thick elastic and attach a safety pin to one end, which can be used to feed the elastic through the tube of denim. Stitch the ends of elastic together in a circle, then close the denim edges together, and you have your denim scrunchie.
Denim Makeup Brush Holder
Sometimes it is a struggle to keep things organised, especially when it comes to makeup. Things end up shoved in a makeup bag to be ruined or completely lost. This simple denim brush holder, will keep all of your brushes together and help to keep them in good condition. As the design is so simple it could be used to store a number of things, such as pens, toothbrushes and razors in your suitcase, or even tools if made on a larger scale.
What You Need
- Some old denim
- Fabric scissors
- Contrasting fabric (scraps will do)
- Fabric chalk
- Sewing Machine if you have one
- Cut a long strip of denim 5.5 inches wide and twice as long as your longest makeup brush. A tuler and some fabric chalk will help you to cut an accurate rectangle.
- Fold in half and join the right sides together, leaving the top open.
- Turn the right way put and press flat, pushing out the corners from the inside with the tip of a pencil, so they are nice and crisp.
- Cut an inch wide strip of your contrasting fabric and stitch around the opening, trying to keep even all the way round
- Measure even lengthwise sections, and mark the straight lines with fabric chalk and a ruler
- Sew lines of stitching down each of the chalk marks, through both sides of denim, this will create different sections for each of your brushes
- I also made a smaller one to stoke my lipsticks and other makeup bits, that are always getting lost in my bag.
Repurposed Denim Summer Top or Skirt
When your jeans are no longer wearable, why not turn them into something that you can wear. This design can be turned into both a top or skirt, depending on what you want to add to your wardrobe. If you have enough denim from your jeans, and other fabric, you could do both and make a complete outfit. What I love about this idea is that there is plenty of room for creativity, and it really shows that each part of your old jeans can be utilised.
What You Need
- As much old denim as you have.
- Some fabric you love.
- Fabric scissors
- Fabric chalk
- Sewing machine.
- Measure the area from the center of the side of your hip, to the center of the other side and add 5 inches for extra room and seam allowance. Mark this measurement horizontally on your chosen fabric. Mark the center of this line and draw a vertical line how long you would like your top or skirt to be. The bottom measurement of the skirt will be an added 3 inches to either side of the hip measurement. See the diagram for further information.
- Place the right sides of your chosen fabric together and cut around your measurements for two identical pieces.
- Cut two strips of denim three inches wide and the same length as your skirt/top, and pin one on each side of one of your fabric pieces, right sides together. Sew down the seams, and add the other piece of chosen fabric between the two denim strips. This will create your skirt/top base piece.
- From here you can either construct a top or skirt. If you want to make a top, you will need to cut two triangles that will cover the bust area. To get the measurement, the base of the triangle is half the hip width, and the height is the base of the breastbone to the collar bone, plus two inches.
- Line up the triangles with the top and pin right sides together, along the base of the triangles and sew together. To create shape in the bust pieces, sew vertical pintucks along the seam at 1 inch intervals.
- The outside seam of a pair of jeans makes for a really durable strap, and there you have it, a summer to. If you don’t want the back to hang down low, fold over the top of the back piece half an inch, and sew a channel that elastic can be threaded through with a safety pin.
- I decided to make a skirt, and as I had some denim left, I sewed an additional denim panel down the center of the front.
- Sew a waistband around the top hem, leaving two small holes where the hipbones would sit. Feed the outside seam of a pair of jeans, through the two holes using a safety pin, and this will form the tie waist. You could use elastic, or add a zip if you prefer.
- As a finishing detail, and utilising as much of the old jeans as possible, stitch the back pockets onto the front of the skirt. Sew a hem around the bottom of the skirt, and you are all done.
If your old jeans are still in good condition, but just are not right for you for whatever reason, one of the best things you can do with them, is donate them. By taking them to Goodwill, or another charity, you will be helping raise money for a good cause, as well as giving your jeans a new loving owner. Perhaps, you could even donate some of the crafts you make with your old jeans, or raise some money for a good cause by selling them on behalf of your favorite charity.
If you do complete any crafts using your old denim, we would love to see them, so get in touch with your images.