Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

My recycle project- jeans purses

sewornate | Posted in General Discussion on

I was asked to do a demonstration at our fair on recycling jeans into purses along with another lady.  She did larger totes patchwork style and I did the smaller purses made mostly from the tops of jeans.  I can get two purses from 1 pair of jeans if the tops are in good shape.

I trimmed the jeans purses with other discards; men’s neckties, ladies’ scarves, kerchiefs, and jewelry such as brooch pins and chain necklaces.  The straps I made from the flat-felled leg seam of the jeans.  Some I made from shorts and I used belts, or chain necklaces for the strap.

One thing leads to another, and since I had a lot of pieces left that were usable, I made crazy patch and log cabin patchwork totes and pillows.

These were a big hit at the fair demo, and many people asked if I would sell them.  Since I was having fun with the project I decided to make up some to sell.  I took them to a Senior Citizens’ Bazaar.  I had a goal to keep the cost down so I could sell them for $10.00 each. I have a lot of stuff left over from a sewing business before I retired and this helped me keep the cost down.  Given the economic climate now, that was a good decision as I did better that day than other venders did.


  1. katina | | #1

    Oh what a treat at the end of a cold sleety day! Thanks very much - most inspiring and well done.


  2. Josefly | | #2

    Very attractive trims, too. Can't imagine how you could sell them for so little. Nice work!
    Thanks for showing us.

    1. sewornate | | #4

      You save a lot using used fabrics.  I had a bolt of nylon goverrnment surplus fabric given to me, so any of them I lined (not many that way) all have an army green lining, but it is very sturdy.  Thread is a major expense, but having closed down a business it will be some time before I have to buy thread.  The brooch pins and chain necklaces I picked up at a flea market or had a drawer of them here I never used.  My husband brought me a box of men's neckties he picked up at an auction for $1.00.  Seeing those set there is what gave me the idea of using them.  I used to do clothing alterations and I kept old jeans around for those that wanted their favorite jeans patched.  Some of my customers saved their old jeans and gave them to me. Even though I am not working they still drop off their discarded jeans.  ( I could match the colors of their denim that way.)

      I know others may not be able to make 50 of these as cheap as I did, but most people will make a couple. I did not make on labor what I was used to getting when I ws working either!  My sister is making them for all her grandchildren for Christmas and she is using the project in a Church sewing group she belongs to.

      1. Josefly | | #6

        Well, I'm even more impressed knowing of your use of gov't surplus nylon. I like your bags more than any "jeans" bags I had seen before, and your stylish and whimsical trims are a nice touch. I think you could get more for them, but maybe the important thing is that you've done a great service just by re-using all those things that might've just been thrown away.

        1. sewornate | | #7

          I am aware that on the internet--Ebay perhaps, jeans bags sell for $35 on up.  So my $10 is a real bargain.  I used to go to craft shows with my mother to help her sell her baby quilts.  I would make something just mostly to spend time with her doing something she loved.  So I never saw craft shows as a way to make money, even though I made pretty good money making draperies and  doing clothing alterations.  I used to try to get her to raise her prices on her quilts.  She sold things by what people were willing to pay, not considering what she had in them.  I am not that bad yet.  I at least get back what I have in the project and a little more.

      2. MaryinColorado | | #9

        What an excellent use of all those materials, waste not want not, right?  Were you in business with your sister?  Sounds like you have a talented creative family and your husband thoughtful enough to think of you and pick up the ties.  Super thrifty!  Love the way you embellished them too.  Mary

        1. sewornate | | #10

          I was in business alone.  I asked my sister to assist me in doing the fair demo.  She decided it was a neat project to make for her grandchildren and children, so she made up some.  Then they were so popular, she decided to teach the project to her church sewing group.  She picked up some jeans at a garage sale for $.25 each and took them to her church sewing group. 

          The original jeans purse was patterned after one she bought at a craft show.  But that one, they used a piece of old quilt that covered the neat jeans detailing, and I redesigned the project to show off the jeans detailing and use all those wonderful pockets, belt loops etc.  She is retired now after working as a corporate accountant, and now has time to do this fun stuff. 

          1. MaryinColorado | | #12

            It's so great to hear these stories of inspiration and sharing our love of sewing.  You gals are both very thrifty too, which is another inspiration.  Mary

          2. sewornate | | #14

            "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."  If I had a nickel for everytime my grandmother said that, I would be rich.

            Edited 11/20/2008 6:05 pm ET by sewornate

            Edited 11/20/2008 6:06 pm ET by sewornate

          3. MaryinColorado | | #15

            We'd all be rolling in the dough, or lots more goodies to create wondrous things!  Mary

          4. User avater
            Dass | | #19

            Cool, I love this say...  "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" .... going to try to keep it in mind.

      3. nmt60174 | | #20

        Did you put any pockets in your lining? I find that inside pockets come
        in handy for small items that I like to carry like a pen, etc. I appreciate all the pictures and info that you have provided to all.

        1. sewornate | | #21

          I did  not put pockets on the inside of the ones I pictured here.  These are not lined at all for the most part.  If the denim was very light weight, I lined them.  These have a narrow top and they hold a clutch purse or billfold, and a checkbook, but the pockets on the outside are more usable.  If I made one out of wide legged jeans and used the bottoms of the legs for the main part of the bag, those I sometimes lined and put a pocket in.  I made patchwork tote bags and lined them and some of them I put pockets on the inside. 

          I was making a project to be able to sell them for $10.00, so I tried to keep the time down on them.  When you start adding all that stuff, you end up with more time, perhaps zippers etc. in them.

          The original project was to demonstrate at our county fair how to make a purse from jeans.  This was to be so people without a lot of skill could try their hand at it. 

          You can definitely add pockets to the inside of the larger ones.  The outside pockets would be handier on these, though.

          Edited 12/1/2008 5:05 pm ET by sewornate

          1. nmt60174 | | #22

            Thanks for the info.

  3. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #3

    Wonderful bags!  I adore the pillows.  Great gift idea for my daughter's new appartment for christmas.  Thanks!  I am glad you did so well.  I think the embellishment ideas you have make a huge difference too.  They take your bags into the realm of the extraordinary. Bravo!  Cathy

  4. User avater
    rodezzy2 | | #5

    Great projects.  Great lady too!

    Edited 11/19/2008 5:30 pm ET by rodezzy2

  5. MaryinColorado | | #8

    Love those pillows!  The purses must be a big hit with teens too.  Thanks for sharing your great ideas and lovely workmanship.  Mary

    1. sewornate | | #11

      My sister and I went shopping together for my birthday.  The clerks in one store we were in called other clrks over to see the purses we were carrying and loved that they were made from jeans.  I would say teens and young women love them.  Older women tended to pick the larger patchwork totes I made or the ones I made of the legs of the jeans which were larger at the top.  Some of these are narrow at the top.  I test the jeans before I make them.  I pinch the back sean and zipper seam together allowing for a seam and see if I have enough room to get my hand in. 

      I recently made a couple out of children's trimmed jeans and used the full jeans top more like the original jeans purses.  They are so cute! 

      I used to carry a purse with tons of stuff I never used in case I might need it I guess.  This has gotten me down to the necessities and so far I haven't missed all that stuff I was used to carrying around!

      1. MaryinColorado | | #13

        It is so rewarding when people notice our creations.  I usually carry a smaller purse too.  To get used to this I put a tote bag in the trunk of my car with all those things I thought were "necessities".  It's amazing how quickly I realised that I didn't need all that "stuff", let alone the large heavy purse on my shoulder.  Mary

      2. sue7429 | | #16

        Where did you find the pattern for the jeans purse?  Did you use a pattern from Threads or did I just image reading instructions for a jeans purse.  I was trying to find the article in one of the issues but couldn't find the right one

        1. sewornate | | #17

          I didn't have a pattern.  Basically, what you do is pinch the zipper front and the back seam together to see if you could get your hand into the space allowed.  Most jeans you can do this.  Then you cut the jeans along the back seam to the crotch and the front zipper area you cut out.  Line up the top evenly disregarding grain of fabric.  Measure down for desired length plus seam allowance (about 14 inches on adult jeans)  cut across.  Then you shape the bottom of the back and the sides - just eye-ball it and cut.  The jeans side seam will not fall at the side of the purse at the bottom.  You have two edges to sew-one side and the bottom.  I sew a 1/4 inch seam.  Then I zigzag over the edge. I box the bottom about an inch up (pinch in the side seam with the bottom and stitch across.

          The seaming is quite thick at the waistband area.  You need a size 16 or 18 jeans needle and a gadget like "jeans-a-ma-jig" or a rolled piece of cardboard to lift the pressure foot and keep it even.  This will help you sew over bulky seams without breaking a needle. You can use it inback of the pressure foot to sew until the presser foot starts to tilt back down, then move it to the front.

          The strap can be made from the flat-fell seam down the leg of the jeans.  On the side with the fold cut 1/2 inch away from the seam.  From that same fold edge measure the other side 1-3/4 inches and cut.  It doesn't matter which side of the leg this seam is on; both will work.  Then turn under the 1/2 side and press.  fold the other side to meet that edge and fold.  Using a thread the same color as the fabric, stitch along the topstitch thread to secure the layers.  This stitching will not show as it blends in with he fabric. 

          If you are using shorts you may be able to use the bottom hem for the strap.  If this won't be long enough you can use fabric above the hem if it is not needed for the body of the purse and piece two pieces together.  Or you can use a belt or a chain necklace or anything you can think of.  This is a recycle project and I made 50 of these purses and no two are alike.

          You can get two purses from the top of the jeans.  You cut out the zipper and the back seam.  Leave belt loops there to put your trims through.  (Back seam loop will be cut off.  If you want an extra loop for some purpose, you can remove it and use it.

          I have taken the zipper out and taken it apart and used the metal teeth like a braid trim.  This is a lot of work though.

          I have given demonstrations on making these, and it is hard to tell you how to do it without showing you.  If something is not clear let me know and I will try to explain it.  I might be able to take a picture of a step you don't understand.

          You can add trims.  My daughter gave me some jeans she wore to work and they had ink spots on them but the fabric was in very good shape.  I took a strip of lace and randomly laid it around the purse or so it seemed--it covered the ink spots and really was quite nice when I got done.  She was suprised when she saw it.  She thought I was going to have to throw them out.  If you are into machine embroidery, you could probably add that to cover stains etc.  Some of my best stuff happened when I didn't know what to do and just started in -- after all what is the worst that can happen?  A junk pair of jeans could end up in the junk!  I haven't lost any yet.



          1. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #18

            Another jeanious!  Great jeans to purse and jeans to designer jean ideas.  Thanks.

          2. sue7429 | | #23

            Thank you for your help... I'm looking forward to trying it. 

          3. sewornate | | #24

            You will have fun.  It is a fun project.  I made some today out of children's jeans with studs and sparkly things on them and they were so cute.  They are a smaller version to be sure.  I had to work around torn out knees!  That is not a problem with these, though.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All