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Top Five Things to do With Old Jeans

Updated on November 28, 2016
An old pair of jeans, before I turned them into something else.
An old pair of jeans, before I turned them into something else. | Source

Jeans are one of the most popular articles of clothing today. They’re comfortable, durable and just plain look good. However, they, like all things, eventually wear out, and can be mended only so many times.

You don’t need to throw them out when they get to be in too rough shape, though. With a little innovation, you can use them for quite a few different things.

Make A New Jeans Skirt or Cut Off Shorts

Since the first place that usually gets worn out in a pair of jeans is the knees, one of the easiest things to do with an old pair is to cut them off at the knee and turn them into a new pair of shorts. As long as the waist and hips still fit, there's no reason why you can't convert them into summer wear.

If you don't care for the ragged look, you can hem them relatively easily, as well. All you'd need to do is cut off the worst of the fraying, fold the edge over by about a quarter inch and press that fold in place. Then, fold it over again, press the fold and pin it in place. You can then hop on over to your sewing machine, and secure it with the default single line stitch. It's also possible to hem them by hand, but sewing machines save on time, energy and pin-pricked fingers.

Provided you don't mind a little extra effort, it's surprisingly easy to turn an old pair of jeans into a skirt, instead. There are many different ways of converting jeans into a skirt, which means you can make your new skirt in any style you'd like.

Ideas for further customization include a crochet hem, embroidered detailing and sewn on patches. Patches are fun, because you can either make them on your own, remove them from something you no longer use or buy them from quirky shops around town.

These are especially great options if your jeans have pockets or belt loops you're especially fond of. Instead of giving up on wearing something you love, you can keep rocking it with a whole new style.

The fun, flippy skirt I've linked to in the text.
The fun, flippy skirt I've linked to in the text. | Source
A simple handbag made out of an old pair of jeans.
A simple handbag made out of an old pair of jeans. | Source

DIY Bags

One of the easiest things to make on your own is the handbag. There are free patterns all over the internet, and if you have any old purses that you don’t use any more, it’s easy enough to use them as a template for new ones. I personally like this idea, because my husband's jeans get ripped up so severely, I can't convert them to something that requires a lot of fabric anymore.

You can make messenger bags from the body of the jeans, and the legs provide fabric for smaller bags. It's also possible to use parts from different pairs of pants, if you have multiple pairs that need to be disposed of.

The little handbag I regularly use was made from an old pair of my hubby’s jeans and fabric scraps from an old project. It’s held up well, and is casual enough to match with almost everything I happen to be wearing.

Depending on how much fabric you can salvage from your jeans, your handmade bags can be an impressive range of sizes. The pictured bag is great for a wallet, cell phone, keys and a couple of other small essentials. You loop it around your wrist and off you go.

Messenger bags, on the other hand, can be used as shopping bags or book bags. I take mine out on thrift store outings, and I've even carried it around a local convention to carry extra food, water and whatever goodies I purchased.

I got a lot of comments and compliments on it. People were always impressed when I let them know I made it myself, out of upcycled clothing, too.

Lining a Bag or Making Patches

Because denim is thick, but still flexible, it’s great to use as lining for fabric bags. It offers them the shape they need without being too rigid. It also adds a little more durability, and depending on the color, won’t show through thinner fabrics.

For crochet or knit bags, it stops things like pencils falling through. If the crochet stitch is big enough, the denim can add an interesting backdrop to the yarn.

It's also easy to make patches out of the scraps you've cut from the old jeans, as well. Those can be used to mend clothing you still want to use, or as decoration for one of your new creations. By using scraps as patches, you're wasting very little while developing a fashion all your own.

While bag linings might take a little more fabric, patches are great, because you can make them out of jeans that are otherwise unusable. If you're layering your patch over something, just hem around the edges for a nice, clean look.

You can customize them with other pieces of fabric, fabric paint, beads or even embroidery.

I've also had fun putting patches under tears in the knees of other jeans. You can reinforce the patch with some sewing tape, and then stitch around the frayed tear with thread that matches your jeans. You'll then have that interesting frayed look with denim peeking out of the tear. Then, you can add further customization.

Get creative, and have fun with it!

This is just the pocket from an old pair of my jeans. I punched holes in the corners and tied a length of suede through them.
This is just the pocket from an old pair of my jeans. I punched holes in the corners and tied a length of suede through them. | Source

DIY Wall Art

Jeans pockets have an interesting look to them. Women’s pockets, in particular, usually have some sort of ornamental stitching or embroidery.

Cut around the pocket without actually cutting into it. When you're done, you'll have a tiny, flat bag. Then, punch two holes into the top at either corner, and thread cording through it. I used some old leather cording, but things like hemp or even yarn are possibilities. If you know how to do macrame, you can probably come up with some very unique knot work patterns.

There we have it: a simple bag to hang on your wall. It's a fun accent, and storage for small objects. Who doesn't love multifunctional decoration?

There are countless ideas. Another option is to cut the waistline of the jeans from the body, while keeping the belt loops intact. You can then secure the fabric to a wooden base to help it keep its shape, run a belt through the loops and use cloths pins to hang pictures off of the belt.

Sew Pillows

You can make all sorts of pillows. The round pillows used for back support are especially suitable for jeans conversion. Although jeans legs taper, they’re still very handy for making this type of pillow.

Since denim has such a rustic look, it fits in with many family rooms and bedrooms with minimal ornamentation. This type of pillow also offers great support to the lower back.

Other ideas you can look into for reusing your old jeans are:

  • Patches for quilts
  • Cat toys
  • Bedding for small animals
  • Handmade paper

When you stop to think about it, there are countless options to check out for your used jeans.

A very comfortable pillow for back support. This only took me about fifteen minutes to make.
A very comfortable pillow for back support. This only took me about fifteen minutes to make. | Source
Fiskars 8 Inch Razor-edge Softgrip Scissors (175800-1002)
Fiskars 8 Inch Razor-edge Softgrip Scissors (175800-1002)

Fiskars are amazing scissors. I highly suggest the brand.

 

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    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you! The pocket holders are a lot of fun. :)

      Have fun with the ideas!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      These are wonderful ideas! I especially liked the pocket, which you turn into a pen/ pencil holder. I am definitely going to try some of those ideas.

      Thanks!

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy them! :)

    • joym7 profile image

      Joy 4 years ago from United States

      wow...great ideas and I am going to apply these.

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Have fun with them! :)

    • followthestray profile image

      Samantha Harris 4 years ago from New York

      Oh I'm definitely going to try out the pillow and bag ideas!

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you very much!

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you! I hope the ideas work out, and have fun with them!

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you! With the number of jeans the hubby shreds during landscaping season, I figured I better do something with them other than toss 'em.

      If you get the chance to post a picture of the finished product on pinterest or somewhere, it would be great to see what you came up with. :)

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very interesting and useful ideas here. Thank you for sharing!

      Voted up and sharing!

    • rachitha profile image

      RACHITHA CABRAL 4 years ago from Mangalore

      : ) Loved the Creativity of old jeans being used. Regretting giving away many that didn't fit. Will definitely try your ideas out! Thank You

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Great ideas. I am in the process of making a denim quilt and we always have old jeans around. Shared and pinned.

    • ESPeck1919 profile image
      Author

      ESPeck1919 4 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you! I hope they work out for you. :)

      I kept coming up with more, but I'm lacking some of the materials to try them out.

    • Emmyboy profile image

      Emmyboy 4 years ago from Nigeria

      Very nice ideas. I might try them out one of these days...