Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bag from shorts - a tutorial

This year I'm focussing a lot on clothes upcycling - trying to work my way through the large pile of clothes that I have which are either no longer fit anyone, or are too worn out or broken to wear - but I just can't bear to part with.  I'm trying to find ways to upcycle them into something useable or wearable again.
This week, I made another bag
 (I've been making quite a lot of these at the moment - working through my scrap fabric boxes)
Here's what I came up with using an old pair of shorts and part of an old t-shirt:

Pockets on the outside..

And pockets on the inside too!

It was really simple to make - here's how:

This is what I started with: a pair of shorts which I used to wear all the time - I love them, but now I've lot weight, dropped a dress size and can no longer wear them!  Yippee!! (but sad as they were a favourite - worn and faded and well loved!)

First thing to do is to cut the front of the shorts away from the back:

I chose the back of the shorts to use as the main bag part, because the pockets were more central.  Fold the back part in half - as you want your bag, and straighten the edges with the scissors:

For the lining of the bag, cut 2 pieces  of fabric the same size as this.(I used an old t-shirt)

With the remaining front part of the shorts, cut strips from the legs to use for the strap.

And cut around the pockets too.

Pin the pockets to your two pieces of lining material.

Then stitch into place either using the applique setting on your machine,or just a zig-zag stitch.

Now take the main part of your 'bag' and fold in half, right sides together, and pin around three sides. (Part of this will already be joined together as the seam in the back of the shorts.

Then stitch around those 3sides.

Now to 'box out' the bottom corners and make a base for the bag, reach your hand inside and with your fingers right in the corner, flatten it out to a triangle like this, and stitch across around 5cm in.

Then cut the pointy triangle end off:

Repeat with the other corner.
Now join the 2 lining pieces of the bag together on three sides in the same way (pockets facing each other) and 'box out' your corners in the same way.

Now turn the outer bag right sides out, and push the lining inside it like this:

Fold the top edge of the lining under to hide the raw edge, and pin to the outer bag all the way round.

Then top stitch all the way round.

Now for the strap.
Stitch the strips you cut together to form one long strip:

Then folding it in on itself double, top stitch along the edges:

Here's how you're folding - in from either side a little to hide the raw edge, then fold in half.

Make sure you fold the ends over too and stitch:

Then to attach the strap, simply loop each end through a belt loop on either side of the bag and tie a simple granny knot:

And there you have a shorts-bag!

A little bit different - but definitely a 'useful' clothes upcycle!

What do you think?  Do you have a pair of shorts or trousers / pants you could transform into a bag?

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

For more ideas and tutorials for upcycling clothes, or to add your own ideas and tutorials to the list, visit this page right here on my blog. There are over 600 ideas linked up now and it's a fantastic resource offering plenty of upcycling inspiration.


  1. I absolutely adore these kind of bags I think I've made four. My two favorite are the pair that used two pairs of my husbands old cargo shorts (one pair on the inside and one on the outside so that it is loaded with pockets) and one that uses a pair of his old jeans and is lined with an old plaid wool skirt of mine.

    Yours looks great. These bags are awesome especially for going to the library and hauling books or crafts around.

  2. So very cute! I would totally carry this, love it, Jill!

  3. Found you via One Pretty Thing. I have a couple of pairs of old cargo pants I want to make into bags. This is a wonderful tute. Thank you!

  4. Love this! It would be great for my weekly Upcycled Crafting Party. http://tinyurl.com/upcycled41 I would love it if you would link up.

  5. love it! great idea. thanks for sharing this at my party!

  6. I too have a whole whack of clothes I have held onto with hopes of 'upcycling' them someday. This is super cute.
    Thanks for stopping by and visiting, and linking up!

  7. Jill this bag is AWESOME. I LOVE, it. The funky shorts, are the cutest bag ever. You really had a vision when you set out to create this.

    I'd love if you linked this up. Stop by anytime to say hello!!!
    Bella :)**AMAZE ME AUGUST** @ Bella Before and After

  8. Oh just wanted to let you know I added this to my PINTEREST board too. --- I wish I could SEW this.

    I would LOVE to invite you to check out my new PINTEREST BOARDS let me know what you think!!


    Bella :)

  9. Your ideas never cease to amaze me, Jill! A great bag and a great tutorial. My old jeans become gardening jeans and then rags, but I'm sure I could snaffle a pair from another family member.

  10. Wow, this is chic, stylistic and eco-friendly.

  11. I must say, this tutorial is very easy to follow. I have seen a handful of tutorial on making pants/shorts into a bag but none have been as clear as yours. I'm posting to Pinterest and I hope it becomes more popular than the more complicated tutorials.

    Thank you!


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