Upcycled Denim Bag with Buttons

I’ve wanted to create an upcycled denim bag from an old pair of jeans for a very long time. This project has been a decade in the making! Really! I’ve been holding on to this old pair of jeans that I received as a birthday gift in 1997. They were those cool “elephant jeans” or super-wide-leg jeans that were trendy back then. I knew that even if they did come back in style, there was no way I could wear these jeans again. The fabric was so worn out from wearing them so much! What can I say? I loved them! And I still do, that’s why I collaborated with Taylor to finally create this bag.

I made a visit to Joann’s Fabrics and collected all the fabric I needed. I chose 3 different fabric prints.  You can also purchase all the buttons you need here too! Then I took photos of the fabrics and the buttons to create a digital mock up of the bag. Since this project was marinating in my mind for SOOO many years, I knew exactly how I wanted it to look! Along with a crazy document of instructions this is the computer mock-up I sent Taylor:


I wanted the design of the original pocket to stand out – these are Paris Blue Jeans.  I have no idea who the character is on the pocket, but I just like the illustration.  I knew I wanted different fabrics to be squared together like a quilt almost…  I also mentioned to Taylor that I liked how a seam looks when the thread shows… she told me that’s known as a “top stitch” (I know nothing about sewing lol).  And you know, as a creative person it can be pretty frustrating to have ideas in your head and not be able to make them a reality.  But I am glad to say that this can finally leave my head… and now I can share the idea with you!

These are the AMAZING results Taylor presented me with:

Button Bag Collage 3 (800x496)

Creating something like this is not only awesome and fun but it allows your old jeans to continue to be used and loved well past their original purpose.

How to make an upcycled denim bag from an old pair of jeans (Taylor’s Sewing Instructions)

For this project, I’ve used a variety of button embellishments. La Mode style #24790, #24811 and Iron-On Labels #2554, La Petite #1079, Favorite Findings #1576, Funtastics Purple Stars #Q233 and the Purple Button Jar.

Button Bag 4 (800x600)

To start, using a seam ripper, begin ripping the inseam of the jeans. You will then be able to trim the leg of your jeans to the size you want, clipping the waistband as well.

Button Bag 1 (800x600)

Once you have determined the length of your bag, you can make your side patches that will then be attached to create the outer body of your upcycled bag. Once your patches are sewn together in your desired pattern, press your seams open and the top-stitch along each side. I’ve used a thick double-stitch for my top-stitching to allow for more visible stitching and durability of construction.

Button Bag 2

Button Bag 3 (800x600)

Next you will begin to add your button embellishments however you choose. By stitching your buttons in place at this step, the inner threads will be hidden between the bags outer layer and lining.

Button Bag 5 (800x600)

Your are now ready to sew your outer bag with right sides together at your side patches.

Now to make your strap and lining. Measure your outer bag to determine the size of your lining. Once your lining is cut, this is the time to create your inner pocket with your label added.  For this I used the iron on labels Love Labels that say “handmade with love”. Attach the pocket to your lining. Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of one of your strap pieces to create a more sturdy strap. Sew your strap pieces with right sides facing, then turn and top-stitch.

Button Bag Collage 1 (800x400)

Hem the top edge and stitch your lining fabric together at the sides, insert it into your outer bag with the wrong sides together, and stitch along the top of your bag to attach. I suggest reinforcing the handles with extra stitching.

IMG_7755 (800x600)

Time to show off your upcycled denim bag!  Hooray!

Button Bag Collage 2 (800x330)

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