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.
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.
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?