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Repurpose Vintage Denim: Make a Purse

Updated on November 17, 2018
That Grrl profile image

Laura likes retro, vintage, old things. Choosing to preserve or repurpose is her dilemma - can't change your mind once started.

A denim purse has great looks, great style and does great when it comes to wear and tear. Wouldn't you like a denim purse, backpack, book bag, or some other denim purse sort of thing for yourself?

Almost every purse or backpack I have bought myself has been denim. My Mother made me a denim purse when I was a high school kid too. I remember how often people commented about that purse, in good ways.

I do my own sewing but I've stuck with embroidery and sewing by hand. Most of the sewing I do is mending, hemming and Christmas crafts/ ornaments. I do have a sewing machine but I've hardly done more than unpack it and pack it up again each time I move to a new address. I always intend to use it, get comfortable with how it works. There are so many craft projects I could be taking on if I was using the machine and sewing patterns. Now sewing patterns are so much easier to get, for free even, online. There really is not good reason not to get that sewing machine out and make great things with it.

I want to make my own purse, backpack or bookbag from recycled (upcycled) denim and trimmings. I'm going to start by looking at patterns and ideas. I like a purse with lots of pockets and niches to stash things and keep from having everything tossed into one central big pouch. I also want good straps, since they seem to wear out sooner than anything else on the purses I use. So those are the things I will be looking for in patterns.


General Plan for Sewing a Denim Purse

Start by giving the old jeans you want to use a wash in the machine. Dry them well and if they are wrinkled give them a touch of the iron to smooth them out.

Look at patterns for purses or backpacks or laundry bags, etc. You can do this without a pattern but the pattern is a good thing when it comes to the logistics and having a plan of how to pull it all together. Especially if you want extras like pockets, lining, inside pockets and dividers.

Don't begin cutting the jeans until you have a plan for the purse, backpack or bag you want to make. Draw a pattern for the main bag and extras like a handle. Fit them by pinning the pieces together and see how they hang - is a purse strap going to be too long or too short? Will you be able to fit your books into the book bag? Do you need a lining - which will mean cutting extra denim or recycling something else to have a different fabric for the lining.

Once you have your plan cut out the pieces, give extra space around the edge for the seam once they are sewn together. Cut the denim for the handle and any side pockets and such.

Sew on pockets and extras as you want them, not the purse strap however. Once you have the body of the purse all set and ready to be sewn together (including a lining if you want one) put the main pieces back to back (they should be inside out). Begin sewing around the edges. Leave the top open - but hem it if you have rough edges there.

Sew the purse strap on before you finish sewing the two parts of the body together. You should have left some room to tuck the ends of the strap into your seams. Or, sew extra seam and double sew over the straps for extra strength. Look at patterns for ideas on how to attach the strap to the purse if you aren't certain. Of course, if you use plastic handles it will be different from using a length from the jeans.

You can still decorate the purse with extras like pins, brooches and whatever else you dream up.

Found at a broken link. Including it because it's such a pretty idea.
Found at a broken link. Including it because it's such a pretty idea.


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    • That Grrl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Brown 

      7 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I have made denim purses and bags but I gave them all away before I thought to take a photo. Some of these I found online are so much fancier than the ones I made. I have so many new ideas to work on next time I work with old jeans.

    • sleepylog profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Great hub. You explained everything very well. Voted up, useful and interesting and shared on Twitter, Stumble Upon, Pinterest and Tumblr.

      Have you made such a bag yourself? If you have you should include a picture of it.


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