Are you wondering what to do with old jeans?

Are you wondering what to do with old jeans? Over time your favorite pair of denim jeans can fade or rip. Personally old blue jeans are one of my all-time favorite resources to craft with. They are so versatile, hard wearing and a readily available resource for craft projects.  But before we start with my list of craft ideas for old jeans (I love upcycling) let me share a little bit of history about jeans (feel free to scroll down the page to craft ideas if you prefer).

A potted history of jeans

Jeans are a design of trousers generally made from denim or a dungaree cloth. The term “jeans” refers to a style of trouser invented by Jacob Davis in partnership with Levi Strauss in 1873. Originally created for miners and cowboys jeans became popular in the 1950’s amongst teenagers.  Today they are one of the most popular type of trousers in Western culture. The cloth is sturdy, originally designed with a cotton warp and wool weft, although nowadays the weft is usually cotton too.  Originally dyed with indigo jeans are now dyed with synthetic dye.



Prolonging the life of your favorite jeans

The first thought re what to do with old jeans is to see if their life as jeans can be extended. With the average blue jeans taking 919 gallons (3479 litres) of water during its life cycle from irrigating the cotton crop to manufacturing the jeans, to washing them as the consumer prolonging the life of your old jeans can only be good for the environment. Wearing a garment for an extra nine months can reduce its environmental impact by 20-30% (source Wrap).

There are many ways you can keep your jeans alive as jeans for a little longer, from a simple redying in your washing machine with a kit such as Dylon to replacing the zip. This is far easier than you anticipate, learn how to replace the zip and keep the original topstitching.

For torn jeans consider repairing with a visible or invisible repair. An invisible repair works well for the inner thigh area, whereas a knee you may wish to patch, personally, I love sashiko inspired repairs to jeans. 

Visible mending, sashiko stitching to repair worn knee on jeans

Alternatively, refashion them into a new garment, here are some quick ideas:-  shorten them to create shorts, restyle to make a fitted jean skirt, a box pleated skirt or alter them to become skinny jeans.

Sewing jeans can be tricky. Its important to use a denim sewing machine needle and a long stitch. If your sewing machine is reluctant to sew denim check out my top tips for sewing denim video.


Craft ideas for old jeans

Are you wondering what to do with old jeans that are laying around in your closet? Check out these 25 ideas for crafting with your jeans.

How to make a Christmas Stocking

Use your old jeans and fabric scraps to make a stunning sashiko inspired stocking

How to make an advent calendar out of old jeans

Use old denim pockets to create a stunning advent calendar

DIY Denim Curtains - how to make lined curtains

These curtains are thick and warm, plus they are great for blocking out daylight - perfect for the bedroom or a draughty door.

DIY Denim Cushion - Chevron

Use your denim scraps to make this fun denim rag cushion.

Denim Upcycled Bedroom Chair

Never tried upholstery? Have a go with this written and video tutorial - update your chairs.

Denim Embroidery Hoop Art Tutorial

Love embroidery? Using just simple french knots and the free template create denim embroidery hoop art.

DIY Denim Box Bag - Box Bag Tutorial

Love box bags? These denim box bags are fully lined - video and written tutorial.

Recycled Denim Foot Pouf

Large square floor pouf - complete with pockets - perfect for your living room, or a child's bedroom.

Upcycled Denim Tablet Case 

Learn how to make a tablet case which fits your tablet

How to make a Denim Floor Cushion

Make a large denim floor cushion, using bleach to create shibori like effects on the denim.

Super Easy DIY Denim Rag Quilt

You need no quilt making skills to make this easy denim rag quilt

Recycled Denim Waistband Cushion

Use the waistbands of old jeans to make a pompom cushion cover

How to reupholster a dining room chair with denim pockets

If looking for something a simple first upholstery project then updating a dining room chair is the project for you.

Shibori Trend - DIY Denim Heart Pencil Case

Create denim pencil cases, complete with hand-embroidered applique hearts

How to make a large denim tote bag

This large denim tote uses a variety of fabrics to create a beautiful, roomy, bag.

Denim Peg Bag Pattern

My sister in laws peg bag flew away,t his bag is designed with a clip to remain securely fastened to your washing line.

DIY Denim Oven Gloves

Whip up some oven gloves using one leg of a pair of jeans.

DIY Laptop Case

Learn how to measure your laptop and create the perfect fitting laptop case

Denim DIY Mini Stocking Advent Calendar, Reusable Advent Calendar

Make a fun stocking advent calendar using your old jeans

How to make Denim Christmas Decorations

Sew up some fun Christmas decorations using old jeans, add a touch of hand embroidery

How to make a doormat using old jeans

How to make a hardwearing doormat, repurposing denim pockets and waistbands. Includes video as well as written instructions.

DIY Doorstop with handle

Learn how to make a denim doorstop, with leather handle

How to make a Sashiko Denim Tote Bag

Use your denim scraps to create this beautiful, slow stitch, sashiko tote bag

Upcycled Denim Apron - DIY Gift

Denim aprons make great gifts for children, perfect for messy crafts, cooking or helping with DIY projects.

DIY Lunch Bag

Use your old jeans and fabric scraps to make this handy lunch bag.

Easy DIY messenger bag - free denim bag pattern

Sew up a denim messenger bag complete with several zip pockets.

How to make a Denim Rag Quilt

Photo Credit:

Making a rag quilt is super easy, don't be intimidated - all you need is lots of old jeans.

Sashiko-Inspired Denim Tote Bag Pattern

Photo Credit:

This is a super cute small bag, the perfect size for all your essentials.

DIY Denim Mirror Frame, a perfect no sew old jeans craft project

Do you love using old jeans to craft? This no sew denim project makes the most of the seams from your old jeans

Feeling inspired by this fabulous collection of creative ideas for jeans? Wondering where to source old jeans?

Are you inspired by this wide range of craft ideas for your blue jeans? Do you need to source jeans to make your favorite craft idea? I am fortunate and regularly receive donations from work colleagues, school Mums, family members so spread the word you are on the lookout, all donations appreciated! But some projects take more than the odd pair, what then? 

  • A call out to friends and family can be lucrative
  • If you use social media a quick post on Facebook generally results in a few donations.
  • Jumble sales, car boots, yard sales can all be a cheap source of denim
  • Charity shops/Thrift stores –  it is worth asking if they have some jeans they cannot be put out for sale, do they have a rag bin you can rummage through?

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