Jeans are one of the best items of clothing for upcycling. The fabric is tough and there is plenty of it, and all the different parts of the jeans can be used for all sorts of different projects as I'll show you with some amazing ideas.
Here was just one pair of jeans I used before Christmas last year to make some gifts..
And again, another pair and another 5 gifts!
But before we get to the individual jeans upcycling projects, I wanted to share some ...
Jeans were initially made as workwear for labourers in America in the late 19th century.
Blue Jeans have an official birthday - May 20th.
Indigo is the dye used to colour blue jeans. It doesn't go through the whole fabric which is why jeans are white on the inside. It also explains the wear 'lines' on denim that appear over time - as the molecules of indigo gradually chip and fall off!
The name denim comes from the French
'Serge de Nimes'.
The fabric was originally made in Nimes and was called Serge!
During World War 2, men's jeans had a zip down the front but women's jeans had a zip down the side!
So why upcycle jeans?
For a start there's the reason to upcycle any kind of clothes - the amount of water, electricity, chemicals etc used in the production of the fabric and the clothes in the first place. The landfill old clothes take up and the same things again used to make new fabric and clothes to replace those old ones.
So upcycle - reuse and recycle!
Jeans are also loved all over the world by all kinds of people. Cowboys wear them, housewives wear them, supermodels and celebrities wear them - even presidents wear them.
They are comfortable, durable and fade and wear in a such a way that they often become more loved the more worn they get!
Jeans are cool, durable and as you're about to see - so, so versatile!
So, let's get to some ideas for upcycling.
Using the denim fabric from jeans
First of all some ideas for simply using the denim fabric from jeans. There is plenty of it - mostly in the legs:
Here's some nifty ideas:
A fun and durable idea for kids!
My own Lesa bag, which I made using most of the fabric from a pair of adult jeans:
Lots of cute pouches from Mami Made Me:
Aprons - also from Sewing for Utange:
A denim pouf - (my picture - made from the excellent tutorial from Michele Made Me)
Pencil cases and notebook folders by me:
Finally - cute monster pouches - also from Sewing for Utange:
You may have noticed several of these features are from the site Sewing for Utange. Caroline makes lots of amazing things from old jeans - and also includes tutorials on her blog. All here creations she sells to raise money for The Sure Foundation, which feeds starving children in the village of Utange, near Mombasa, in Kenya.
So please do go and take a look at her blog - what an amazing lady and such a worthwhile cause!
When cutting the denim fabric from jeans to re-use, the possibilities really are limitless!
But it's just more eco-friendly and of course cheaper to upcycle the denim from old jeans rather than go out and buy a new piece of denim fabric!
Using particular parts of jeans
Next I wanted to show some ways to upcycle particular parts of the jeans - so making use of the structure of the clothes in what you make.
1. Using the main part - or 'body' of the jeans:
This is a great way to upcycle a pair of jeans, as it requires very little alteration other than removing the legs and it keeps all the features and pockets of the jeans intact!
Here are some examples:
2. Using the entire front or back of the jeans:
Cutting the front or back portion of the jeans and stitching the legs together gives you an unusual rectangle of fabric which can be used, perhaps like this:
3. Using the legs:
The ready made tube of the legs makes them perfect for bags and baskets:
4. Using the Pockets:
The pockets can be used for all sorts of things that require...well a pocket, or somewhere to slip your hand...
5. The leg seams:
The seams are good sturdy strips that could be re-used in many ways...like this:
I braided some seams together to use as a bag strap:
And I also use pieces of the seams when making various things I want to attach to keychains:
6. The Waistband:
A great way to reuse the waistband and also the top part of the jeans is to make them into a cute skirt:
I've also seen waistbands stitched together to make bags and rugs and even a cushion cover which look really effective!
To see pictures of these plus LOTS more fabulous jeans upcycling ideas - including denim jeans art and furniture you can check out my
I hope this post have given you lots of inspiration and ideas for upcycling your jeans! They are my favourite thing to upcycle and you can find lots more denim upcycles - many with tutorials if you explore my blog too!
For lots more ideas and inspiration on upcycling clothes - check out the ongoing
There are over 600 ideas linked up just now and more are being added all the time. Please feel free to add any of your own clothes upcycling projects too!