How to Make an Upcycled Jeans Purse

My mom had mentioned that in the 70’s they used to make upcycled jeans purses. It sounded like the perfect upcycled sewing project so I decided to give it a whirl (and finished it just in time to give to her for a belated mother’s day present since she came in for a visit last week). It turned out beautifully so I thought I would write up a tutorial in case you’re interested in making one yourself! I really like the yellow and blue color combo of this one, it looks so summery!

I loved the yellow and white striped t-shirt that I used for the lining and embellishments and it showed – it had several small holes in it. So this is a perfect upcycled project for a well loved t-shirt and an old pair of jeans that you don’t wear anymore but can’t bear to part with.materials to make upcycled denim purse

Making the Upcycled Jeans Purse

I started off by cutting the legs off of the jeans as high up as possible but making sure that you’re not cutting through the pockets.cut the legs off the jeans

At this point you will probably need to align the top edges and trim the bottom edges. I wanted it to look more like a purse than just a cut off pair of jeans with a seam on the bottom so I curved the bottom corners and added an elliptical bottom panel.rounded corners of jean purse

Cut a curve out of one of the corners (pic above) and use the scrap piece to copy the curve to the other corner (pic below).copy curve on opposite corner

At this point with both the top and bottom open, hand stitch any embellishments.  The flowers that I used on the purse I had just cut off of the t-shirt.

hand stitch embellishments

Next measure and cut the bottom panel from one of the legs that you cut off of the jeans.  For this purse I ran the tape measure across the bottom opening of the purse and added an inch on each side to make sure I had plenty of seam allowance to work with.  I used this measurement for the length of my ellipse and measured 5 inches across the middle and curving down to 1 inch on either end.

measure and cut panel for bottom of purse

Turn the purse inside out and pin the bottom panel to the bottom of the purse, right sides together.  Straight stitch the panel in place and then zigzag the seam allowance to prevent raveling.

pin and sew bottom panel onto purse

Cut a shoulder strap out of one of the legs of the jeans.  For comfort and ease of turning cut a wide strap.  I used the bottom hem of the jeans for one end so that I only had to hem the other end of the strap.  Once hemmed, fold the strap in half right sides together and straight stitch leaving 1/2″ seam allowance and several inches in the middle for turning.cut, sew, and turn purse handle from jean leg

Top stitch around the strap.  Pin the strap in place at each end of the purse avoiding belt loops if possible as they can be tricky to sew through.  I sewed the strap in place using a rectangle of stitching with an “X” in the center for reinforcement.

pin and sew strap onto purse

Adding the Lining

Once the strap is sewn to the body of the purse it’s time to add the lining.  I used the bottom hem of the shirt to slightly stick out of the top of the finished purse. Turn the shirt inside out and lay flat.  Place the purse on top of the shirt aligning the top of the purse with the bottom hem of the shirt and loosely trace around the purse using a water soluble marking pen.

trace lining

Move the purse, pin around the markings and stitch.  I used a zigzag stitch since the knit fabric is so stretchy. I also switched to a stretch needle.

pin and sew purse lining

Once it’s stitched cut away the excess fabric.  I used the extra t-shirt fabric to make the sash that I ran through the belt loops of the finished purse but I failed to get a picture of that part.  But it works pretty much the same way as the strap.

Once you have the lining sewn it’s time to position it inside the purse, pin, and sew into place.  Make sure if you want the lining to peek out above the rim of the denim that you pin it evenly peeking out the whole way around.  I also hid the side seams of the lining behind the shoulder straps.  Also make sure that you are pinning wrong sides together. And when you sew the lining in place try to hide the stitches in the top stitching on the waist band of the jeans.

pin and sew upcycled t-shirt lining in place

Now it’s time to sit back and admire your handiwork!

upcycled denim purse lined with a t-shirt

I looked up a tutorial for tying a Burberry trench coat knot for the sash because I thought it needed a little something special.  A bow just wasn’t cutting it for this bag. Of course you can use a regular belt through the belt loops too, but I am really partial to all the yellow highlights on this upcycled jeans purse.

upcycled jean purse

I think this would be a great project to try with little girls’ jeans too! Have you ever made an upcycled jeans purse? Did you sew a bottom panel or just a straight seam where you cut the legs off?

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DIY Felt Paper Dolls with a Fold and Carry Doll House

felt doll pin

Fold and Carry Felt Doll HouseI’m always a fan of handmade gifts for kids so when I saw this free fold and carry doll house pattern on Pinterest I knew that I had to make one for my daughter along with some felt paper dolls to live in it. I had fun picking out the fabrics (most of which came from my stash, but a few were from a fat eighth quilters sample pack). It was the first time I’ve ever done applique and I’d have to say that it was quite a successful first project – but very time consuming!  Inside of Fold and Carry Felt Doll HouseIt was fun and easy designing and appliqueing the individual panels, but sewing the panels together and attaching the binding was a bit tricky.  The areas where multiple corners came together got a bit bunchy, but for the most part the binding did a good job of covering the imperfections.  Just make sure that you clip off any excess before wrapping and sewing the binding.

I also decided to add an accordion pocket to the back of the house to store the dolls and doll clothes in. As an added bonus the pocket has a button down flap to keep it shut and my daughter loves practicing buttoning with it.  To make the flap I cut 2 identical pieces of fabric slightly shorter across the top than the width of the pocket it will cover, and slightly wider at the bottom than the pocket width.  I would suggest adding a layer of interfacing to the pocket flap too to give it a bit more stiffness.  With right sides together and the interfacing on top sew around the edge leaving an opening to turn.  Turn right side out and close the turn opening while topstitching around the whole edge of the flap.  Position the flap where you want it over the pocket and stitch in place along the top edge.  Add a button hole to the flap and sew a button on the pocket.Flat Doll House with Accordion Pocket on Back

I used the fusible web and Annie’s Soft and Stable like the pattern recommends, but the template plastic wasn’t necessary – I just used cardboard instead.

Of course once I was done making the house I had to make a couple felt “paper” dolls and outfits to go with it! I searched the internet for a while and settled on these dolls to make, but I came up with a face I liked better to embroider onto the dolls. I used 2 strands of thread for the backstitching and french knots on the eyes and mouth and only 1 strand of thread for the backstitching on the nose. You can see the resulting felt paper doll below.  I think she turned out pretty cute! What do you think?Embroidered Felt Paper Doll FaceDoll clothes are easy enough to make, just use your doll to trace out patterns for clothes. You can use any fabric that you want, just make sure to sew felt onto the back so that the clothes will self stick to your felt dolls.

Felt Paper Dolls