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

How To Weave Ribbon Around A Vase

DIY ballerina inspired vaseMy daughter loves to pick flowers.  She also loves everything girly, especially ballerinas.  So when she received some chocolate covered oreos for her birthday (another girly thing that she loves: chocolate!) that came in a clear plastic cylinder we decided to turn it into a ballerina inspired vase by weaving ribbons on it that match her bedroom colors.

The materials are pretty straight forward for this one:

  • Ballerina vase materials list

Start off by cutting the ribbons so that they can wrap around the vase 1.5 times from the bottom to the top (picture below). Tack it at the top and at the bottom with hot glue.  tack ribbon swirl on vase with hot glueDispense a drop of glue and dab it on the end of the ribbon.  Don’t touch the hot tip of the glue gun to the ribbon or you will burn/melt it.  You also don’t want to glue the middle of the ribbon down so you will be able to weave under it as necessary. Continue to tack swirled ribbons around the vase leaving about an inch gap between each one. Once you have ribbons swirling in the same direction the whole way around the vase you are ready to start weaving them in the opposite direction.  Tack a ribbon at the base, swirling in the opposite direction but using the same angle of swirl. Weave the free end over and under the previously swirled ribbons until you reach the top.  Keep adjusting your swirl angle and pulling tight as you go, and when you are satisfied tack it down at the top.  Keep going until your vase is full of a beautiful swirl of woven ribbons.

To finish off the look glue a band of ribbon around the bottom and around the top to cover up the ribbon ends.  We decided that ours needed a bow too. To make the bow, cut a section of ribbon and loop it, leaving an even amount of excess out of each side of the intersection.  Glue to intersection (see photo below).how to make a ribbon bow

Below is a photo of what it looks like when you dab glue to the top of the loop and flip it under to glue down to the intersection.DIY ribbon bow  I made another slightly smaller bow to glue on top of this one, and then looped another small section of ribbon around the middle to come up with a bow like this:ribbon double bow

Glue the bow (if desired) to the top band of ribbon on the vase, making sure to pick your favorite spot in the weaving for the front. Go pick some flowers and enjoy your new vase!  Happy spring everyone!
ballerina inspired vase

Train Storage from a Cassette Tape Holder

I was born in the 80’s so I know what a cassette tape is, however, the first music that I ever purchased was in the form of a CD. That said, I really didn’t have a good use for this cassette tape holder that we inherited with the house. It had been hanging, empty, in the coat closet until today when I glanced at it and thought what a perfect train storage unit it would be with some slight modifications. And my kids have recently been gifted a lot of hand me down trains so they will definitely put a train storage unit to good use! The most satisfying projects are turning unloved items that you already own into something either you or a loved one will adore, don’t you think?

This is what the cassette tape holder looked like before the modifications.

Upcycled Thomas Train Storage

The width of the columns are perfect to fit the Thomas engines, but to accommodate the height of the engines 2 out of every 3 shelves need to be removed.  The shelves of this unit are made of balsa wood so I just used a pair of tin snips to clip the shelves out.

Here’s a picture of the unit as I was clipping out the shelves.  Look how perfectly those engines sit in the new openings!

Thomas train storage unit

After clipping out the remaining shelves that were in the way all that was left to do was to hang it by the train table.  Of course you could paint it if you want, but we have lots of this color wood in the play room so I didn’t bother with that.

Thomas train storage-

The kids got to work right away filling their new train storage unit with all of their trains (and even some construction trucks and matchbox cars!).

train garage pin

Sock Puppet Unicorn Tutorial

sock puppet pin
Unicorn sock puppet
sock puppet pin

I’ve recently been going through the kids’ clothes and clearing out the stuff that they have outgrown.  Most of the items we pass along to friends and family with smaller kids, but, seeing how much my kids have been putting their socks on their hands just for fun lately, I decided to try making a sock puppet.  It was a fun, quick project and the kids both love “Candy the Unicorn.”  I’m sure there will be a boy puppet in production shortly!


  • 2 socks
  • embroidery floss
  • needle
  • tiny bit of polyfill
  • hot glue gun with glue
  • thin cardboard (cereal box)
  • water soluble fabric marking pen
  • I did a small amount of machine stitching, but if you don’t have a sewing machine you could easily hand stitch it

For this project I  used 2 different socks.
One frilly ankle sock which made a really cute frilly base for the puppet, and one striped sock for the horn and the inside of the mouth.  Socks used to make puppet

I started by tracing the curve of the toe onto the thin cardboard.  The cardboard will give structure to the inside of the mouth.Trace the curve of the toe onto the cardboard

Measure the distance from toe to heel of the sock that will be the inside of the mouth so that you will know how long to make the cardboard inner mouth structure.  I found that using the parts of the sock that naturally curve made it easier to glue it to the cardboard.  Plus this measurement worked out just perfectly for little hands.  measure heel to toe

In this case (using 2T-3T socks) the measurement from toe to heel was 4 inches, so on the cardboard piece I measured half the distance (2 inches) from the curve to the fold line.Prepare cardboard for mouth

Fold the cardboard on the fold line and cut out the shape along the curved line (do not cut the fold line).


At this point I turned the mouth/horn sock inside out and straight stitched a long triangle out of the front ankle portion of the sock to make the horn of the unicorn.  Once you stitch it, cut it off of the body of the sock. Unicorn hornTrim the fabric close the the point of the horn to make it easier to turn.  Turn the horn right side out and stuff with a tiny bit of polyfill.  Turn the remainder of the sock right side out and fit the cardboard between the toe and the heel.  Fit cardboard mouth to the sock

Make a small incision on the heel of the white sock (which will be the top of the head of the unicorn) to fit the horn through.  Turn the sock inside out and poke the base of the horn out through the hole in the heel while the point of the horn is hidden inside the sock (see picture below). Use a straight stitch to sew the horn to the white sock, and at the same time sewing the hole of the white sock closed and securing the polyfill into the horn.  Now that’s multitasking!Sew horn in place

Fit the cutout cardboard into the toe of the sock that will be the head of the puppet and use it as a guide to slice open the toe of the sock (soon to be mouth of the puppet). Cut open the mouthI drew on nostrils and eyes with a water soluble fabric marking pen and embroidered them.  I used a satin stitch for the nostrils and combination of satin and back stitches for the eyes.  Buttons probably would have looked cute for eyes too, and would be less work and more uniform (unless of course you are a pro at embroidery.  I am not, so our unicorn has character, and maybe a lazy eye.) I also added a mane using a rainbow of colored embroidery floss.  I threaded all 6 strands of the floss through a needle, stitched it through (see needle stitching through top of puppet in the picture below) where I wanted it, made a knot and cut the ends off about 1.5 inches away from the knot.  I made 2 rows of 5 knots for each color and felt it was a sufficient amount for the mane.  The rows probably could have been spaced out a little bit more to take up more space down the length of the sock and still look good. Or you can just keep adding more rows the whole way down, but it does start to get a bit tedious.Embroider the face and knot the mane threads

Next comes the hot glue assembly of the puppet!  First hot glue the inner mouth fabric to the valley side of the folded cardboard. Work in small sections to get the best bond.Glue the inner mouth to the outer lips Turn the mouth piece over and glue down the flap on the backside.  Finally, line the outside edge of the lips up with the inside mouth piece and glue them together right at the edge (do not glue the entire piece down, you need to leave room for little fingers to get in there!)

Have fun playing with your new puppet!

The best part is watching the kids enjoy their new, custom sock puppet!

Upcycled Dinosaur Tail from a Button Down Shirt


Thursday evening as I was checking the weather for the St. Patty’s day parade to take place on Saturday morning I realized that we had RSVP’d to a toddler birthday party for Saturday morning.  We had committed weeks ago to the party, and immediately after I sent the “Yes, we are so excited to come to the party!” response I completely forgot about the party. And, being a terrible shopper, I briefly panicked that we had no gift!  Then I saw the pile of my husband’s discarded button down shirts and I decided to make a dinosaur tail out of one (after all, the party invitation did have dinosaurs on it, so this has got to be a birthday boy pleaser!)  dino tail

I used the tutorial from Running With Scissors, except that for the fabric I cut apart my husband’s stained shirt and used the large piece of fabric cut from the back of the shirt.  It was a striped shirt, so I aligned the pattern so that the stripes would wrap around the tail giving it a ringed look.  And instead of using Velcro for the belt part, I cut off and hemmed the button placket from the front of the shirt.  Buttons and holes already sewn on, easy peasy!  The stuffing I actually already had on hand from disassembling some old, smooshed pillows.  This was the kimik tailnd of project that was so satisfying because I put it together in a couple hours using items that I already had sitting around (which meant absolutely zero shopping required for this gift!)  My kids both lovedcal tail the tail (and had to try it on, of course!), and we can’t wait to give it to our little friend on Saturday!  I know he will just love it!