Ideas for upcycled denim

Written by sharon guy
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Ideas for upcycled denim
Denim is sturdy and can be upcycled into a new creation. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Old denim clothing can be upcycled or recycled into something new. You can convert used jeans into bags, skirts or shorts. Save the leftover denim fabric to make quilts, pot holders, organisers and other household items. If you need a lot of denim fabric for a project, try collecting old denim clothes from family and friends. With a little sewing skill and creativity, you can help the environment while making something useful.


Use an old pair of jeans to make into a skirt. Make sure the jeans still fit at the waist and hips. This project can be done with a sewing machine or by hand. Pick a skirt that you already own and measure the jeans against it to find the right length.

Cut the legs off. Cut the crotch open along the inner seam, and cut up to the bottom of the zipper. Fold the thick seam on the right side over the edge of the left side, and pin the fabric. Smooth any puckered areas. Repeat on the back side. Stitch the seams until they are closed.

Shoulder Bag

Use jeans or shorts to make a shoulder bag. Cut off the legs to make it the size you want. Turn the garment inside-out. Sew the leg openings closed with sturdy thread. Sew across the legs in the same area several times to reinforce.

Make a shoulder strap by cutting out the waistband from another pair of jeans or shorts. Sew the edges of the strap inside the top edges of the bag. Turn the bag outside-in so the belt loops are showing. Run a cloth belt or ribbon through the belt loops. Sew a strip of Velcro on the inside to keep the bag closed.


Save leftover pieces of denim to make a quilt. Cut blocks of the denim into the same size if you want a block pattern. For example, you could use four-inch square blocks. Alternate different colours of denim to make an interesting design.

Decide what size quilt you want to make in order to figure out how many blocks you need. Cut a piece of cotton or an old sheet to use as the backing. Sew the blocks together and tie them to the backing with pieces of colourful yarn.

You can make a crazy quilt with different size pieces of denim. Experiment with different types of recycled fabric of a similar weight, such as corduroy. The squares can also be decorated with fabric paints, stamping or embroidery.


Convert jeans that are too short into a pair of shorts or capri pants. Lay the trousers against a favourite pair of shorts or capri pants. Mark the length and cut off the legs. Turn the garment inside-out. Fold the edges of each leg inside about one-half inch and pin to make a hem. Sew the hem with sturdy thread. Use colourful thread if you want a decorative seam. Press the hem flat with an iron.

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