With Earth Day just a few days away, what better way to honor it than to make a reusable tote from an old pair of jeans so you can celebrate in style! I have 3 active boys, and you can imagine how many pairs of jeans they go through. Instead of getting rid of them I upcycle them into projects like this tote bag. It’s a sustainable approach to sewing and a practical project. You can use this for grocery runs to beach trips and everything in between. Get the details below on how to make your own Reusable Tote Bag from Upcycled Jeans.
Old pair of jeans
Gold Jeans Thread
3 Yards Cotton Webbing
bias tape (optional)
General sewing supplies
The pattern is basically 2 squares and 1 rectangle for the pocket. The above measurements were used to create my tote bag. This can be altered to go smaller or larger. You can adjust these measurements based off the jeans you’re upcycling.
For my fabric, I used a pile of scraps of old jeans and pieced them together. You can use an old pair of jeans and patch together to create a cool pattern, or just simply cut the bottom portion of a pair of jeans off for a front and back main piece. This was how my front piece was made. Cut open at the inside seams (this doesn’t have the cool topstitch the outer seam has). For the pocket piece, add a portion from the top. Try the back upper pockets to give the bag some texture and detail or even a different color of denim. As long as you make 2 squares you will be good to go as that is all the pattern is.
Tip: Use the original hem of the jeans to be the finished top edge of your bag.
Once you have your pieces, you will measure and mark a 3” square at the bottom corners of both front and back. Cut the squares.
For the pocket, fold over the top edge of your pocket ½” press and hem the top edge.Tip: Use gold jeans thread to hem the edge of the pocket.
Tip: Use a jeans needle when sewing with denim, it will come in handy when working with this heavy-weight material.
Place and pin the pocket onto the front piece, so it’s centered in the middle about 1” in from the corners. Edge stitch down the sides.
Pin the cotton webbing starting at the bottom hem and covering the pocket raw edges following that up to the top of edge of the bag and repeat for the other side. Topstitch starting at the bottom outer sides, sewing up across the top edge, and back down to the bottom. Repeat for the other side.
Repeat this step for the back. You will want to measure where to place the webbing because you won’t have a pocket to help guide you. Just make sure it’s visually equal to your front piece.
Place front and back right sides together sew along the side seams and bottom edge.
Because I’m not adding a liner a tip is to add bias tape to sew along the seam allowance.If you have a serger, you can clean up the edges this way which is the option I went with.
Fold the bottom corners together, so the bottom seam and side seam meet. Pin together, so the seam allowances are going in the same direction. Continue to pin the opening closed.Sew closed with a ¼” seam allowance.Repeat for the other side.
Clean up the seam allowance with a serger or bias tape.Now you have a quality reusable tote bag! What I love is I think of my boys when I’m using this. I can’t help but giggle when someone asks, “where I got my bag?” Oh, from my son’s old jeans…