As many of you know I love to upcycle jeans. There is no reason not too. I had an old pair of jeans with polka dots on them that my husband hated so I decided to make a tote bag out of these jeans. This upcycled jeans tote is very easy to make and you can use your own handles or pre-made handles. I decided to use leather strapping for my handle because I like the look of the simple leather straps and I can make them whatever length I like.
I used a remnant for my lining fabric because it was just enough for this handbag project. If you are not familiar with remnants they are the amount a yard or less that is left at the end of a bolt. You can generally find them in the remnant bin at your local fabric store and they are 50% off so you can get some fun fabrics for half price.
I also love colorful linings for my bags. They give you a nice little surprise every time you look inside. I had a yellow butterfly remnant that was perfect for this project but if you need fabrics for your lining check out Fabric.com and Hobby Lobby for the perfect fabric for your upcycled jeans project.
What you will Need:
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1/2 yd. remnant or other fabric
- Fusible interfacing like Pellon 808
- Leather strapping
- Rivets and setting tool
- Standard sewing supplies
Step 1: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Line up the jeans legs and cut off an 11″ piece from the legs. The piece will naturally be larger at the top than at the bottom. Make sure that the top of the legs including 1/4″ seam allowance on each side and the waistband are the same width because you will be using the waistband of the jeans as the top of the bag.
Step 2: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Turn the legs outside out and pick open one seam on each leg. I know this is a tedious process but you really need to do this to get a nice finish. Repeat this process for the waistband of the jeans. You will be using the waistband to finish off the top pf the bag. You will also want to remove the belt loops.
Step 3: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Cut two pieces of lining fabric and two pieces of interfacing using the opened jeans as a template.
Step 4: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the lining fabric. If you are unfamiliar with interfacing it is a product that provides structure to your bags and garments. It has glue on one side. Lay the wrong side of the lining fabric against the glue side of the interfacing and press with a hot iron so that the two pieces are fused together and can be sewn as one. There are instructions that come along with the interfacing on how to fuse it to your fabric.
Step 5: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Place the two jeans pieces right sides together and sew the sides and bottom together. Repeat with the lining pieces.
Step 6: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Now it is time to box your corners. Boxing the corners is an easy process. Simply line up the bottom seam with the side seam to make a point and pin. Measure down 1 1/2″ and sew a line across. Do the same for both sides of the jeans and the lining fabric. This will allow the tote to stand on its own.
Step 7: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Place the lining inside the jeans so that the wrong sides are facing. Baste along the top edge to keep secure.
Step 8: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
You will notice that the waistband is folded in the same way as double fold bias tape and you can sew it to the top of your bag in the same way. If you re unfamiliar with double fold bias tape it is a long piece of fabric that is cut on the bias grain. It is folded in the middle with the edges folded toward the center. The waistband on your jeans will be folded in a similar way. If you are unfamiliar with how to sew bias binding check out my tutorial here.
Start by unfolding one side of the waistband and pining it to the inside top pf the bag. My waistband was too large for my bag so I had to cut it down. I measured so that the new seam I was creating for the waistband lined up with the side seam of the bag so it would look less intrusive.
Sew along the fold line all the way around the bag.
Step 9: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Fold the waistband over the top edge so that it looks like the waistband on your jeans and covers the previous stitching. Pin. Sew along the previously sewn edge. You should now have the body of your bag complete with lining and waistband.
Step 10: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Measure two pieces of your 1/2″ leather strapping the length that you would like your handles to be. I measured mine to be 28″ long. Determine where you would like your handles to be. I measured in 4″ from each side to place my handles.
Step 11: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
Attach the handles using rivets. If you are not familiar with rivets they are very easy to install. Using a hole tool or an awl insert holes through the leather strapping and through the bag fabric. The rivet has two sides, one that has a post and the other has a hole for the post to fit in. you can purchase a rivet kit for this purpose. Place the side with the post through the holes that you made and place the other side of the rivet onto the post. Using the rivet tool hammer the two pieces together so that they are joined. Do this for all four of the rivets.
Step 12: Upcycled Jeans Tote Bag Pattern and Tutorial
You have now completed your upcycled jeans tote bag. This upcycled denim tote bag can easily be created in an afternoon. The most time consuming part of this project is picking out the seams and removing the waistband.
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