How to Make Tote Bags out of Jeans

Updated April 17, 2017

When your jeans wear out or get stained, you can recycle them and make them into attractive tote bags. Using a variety of accessories, you can make your bag unique and practical.

Lay the jeans on a flat surface and cut off the legs just below the crotch. Cut the leg pieces in half across at the knee. Cut each leg piece down the inside seam and cut off the seam edges. Open up these leg pieces and lay one on top of the other with the "good" sides facing in toward each other. Sew all the way around the sides and bottom.

Using the bottom half (the part not used) of one leg, cut two strips out of the main area approximately 12 inches long each (this depends on how much fabric you have and your preference). Fold both sides into the middle longways with the "good" side on the outside to make handles with the fabric, and pin the fabric. Sew down the middle.

Fold the edge at the top of the bag over while inside out and pin the handles on top of this fold. Sew the fold and the handles in place. Turn the back inside out so the outside of the denim is on the outside of the bag. You now have a plain denim tote bag. Each side should have a jean seam down the middle.

Enhance the bag by adding fringing around the edges. Alternatively, stitch on appliques or pin badges on it. You can line the bag with any spare cotton material you have by taking two pieces, measuring them against the bag and making them slightly larger. Put the pieces together inside out and sew around the bottom and sides. Turn the cotton the right way around and turn the bag inside out. Place the lining over the inside of the bag and fold the edge of the lining in at the top; stitch it in place.

Take the top part of the jeans and cut it open at the crotch. Cut the bottom to make it level. Sew up the middle of the front and back if necessary. Turn the fabric inside out and sew along the bottom. Make handles, following the directions in Step 2, from the other leftover bottom half of the leg and stitch them to the inside of the waistband. Alternatively you could add leather handles or make the handles from any spare fabric available. You now have two different tote bags from one pair of jeans.


You can add a button and create a small flap with some of the spare denim. Just attach the flap on the outside and put in a buttonhole. Choose a big, bold button for the other side.


For safety you could add a zipper in the top of the bag made with the legs of the jeans. Alternatively, always carry the tote over your shoulder with your arm over the opening.

Things You'll Need

  • Jeans
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Fringing (optional)
  • Appliques (optional)
  • Cotton fabric (optional)
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About the Author

Beverley Lee started freelance writing in 2005 while teaching journalism. Her work has been published in the "Leicester Mercury," the "Peterborough Evening Telegraph" and "Inside Time." She holds a diploma in journalism from the London School of Journalism and a teaching degree. She also has her own company for recruitment assistance.