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