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What to do with old jeans – 45+ upcycle sewing tutorials

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What to do with old jeans - sewing tutorialsI love working with denim. Bright colors, varied shades, distressed, stretchy, all of it is fun to sew with and transform into something else. Even better, it’s easy to find! If you post asking friends & family to save you their worn out jeans, be ready for a deluge. Which is why I’m sharing a bunch of ideas for what to do with old jeans, sewing tutorials for upcycled denim bags, home dec items, other clothes, toys for kids, Christmas decorations, & quilts! If you have any brilliant ideas that I missed, please leave them in the comments so I can add them.

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upcycled denim ideas

What to do with old jeans – sewing tutorials

how to reuse jeans to make new clothes

I’ve loved this vest for years and am excited to share it, an upcycled refashion from Vera Luna, isn’t is gorgeous!

diy iron on patch free pattern

Use old denim to repair other denim with this diy knee patch tutorial here on Swoodson Says! I made a sweet little kitty but you could do any shape.

upcycled baby shoe

Upcycled denim baby shoe pattern from Heather Handmade.


How to sew a bookmark - a beginner sewing tutorial

Another bookmark idea – using fabric scraps and old jeans! How to sew a bookmark here on Swoodson Says.

See how to turn pant legs into a cute little denim skirt, with this tutorial from Sewing Novice.

upcycled cat toy tutorial

Use old jeans to make fun diy cat toys with my free sewing patterns here on Swoodson Says!

See how to turn old jeans into a handy gardening apron with this upcycle tutorial at Practically Functional.

 upcycled denim apron tutorial

We could use some of these! See how to turn old jeans into an apron, for adults and kids, over at Girl and a Glue Gun.

I’m obsessed with this pieced denim upcycle vest with a pretty ombre, from Vera Luna.

how to use old jeans to make a bag

I love the stitching on this upcycled denim boro bag tutorial from Vicky Myers Creations.

A pretty, modern purse tutorial made from upcycled denim, at Simple Practical Beautiful.

I like the look of this upcycled jean bag, with a video tutorial from DIY Crafts TV.

geometric denim upcycle bag

The geometric lines in this cross-body purse at Creating My Way to Success.

Check out this chic, minimalist lunch bag made from an old jeans leg, at Between the lines.

I don’t drink beer, but this upcycled growler tote is pretty nifty, from ManMadeDIY.

how to repurpose old jeans into home dec projects

I love the shades in this handmade upcycled denim pouf, from Michele Made Me.

fabric plant pot tutorial

Turn the bottoms of pant legs into fun little planters, with my upcycled DIY fabric planter tutorial here on Swoodson Says.


Upcycle old jeans into a patchwork pincushion with this upcycle sewing tutorial here on my site!

These would be great for a basement or hangout room, upcycled denim curtains from Vicky Myers Creations.

I love this upcycled twist on a patchwork classic, see how to make a log cabin denim pillow from Underground Crafter.


Make a durable hexagon rug from old jeans with this tutorial from A Beautiful Mess.

Fun no sew denim upcycled basket from Oh Oh Deco.

upcycled gift tag eco friendly gift wrap with jeans

Next time you’re wrapping a gift, skip the disposable tag and make a fabric gift tag from old jeans instead! Free pattern & tutorial here on Swoodson Says.

Perfect for teens, this upcycled jeans pocket pillow is so clever. Tutorial at Pillar Box Blue.

upcycled denim rug circle

I love the creativity of this upcycled denim rug! Tutorial over at Oh Oh Deco.

We can never have too many coasters in our house, and I love how she added fringe to these! Tutorial at Scratch & Stitch.

I love how these turned out, denim decorated tin cans used as planters, over at Pillar Box Blue.

Such a fun organizer, perfect for holding treasures! Upcycled denim organizer tutorial from Pillar Box Blue.

I love the simplicity of this upcycled jeans pocket advent calendar, tutorial over at Vicky Myers Creations.

I love this map floor pillow,  but I’d recommend using heat n bond (as seen here), over on Pillar Box Blue.

I’m obsessed with this braided denim rug, doesn’t it look amazing! Over at Not Just A Housewife.

How clever is this reupholstered chair from old jeans, at Between Naps on the Porch.

Dying over these beautiful whale stuffed animals upcycled from old jeans, at All My Friends Are Flowers.

Here is another coaster option with woven denim, at Simple Things Notebook.

how to upcycle denim into quilts

The hand stitching details on this upcycled denim quilt tutorial is so pretty, over at Mollie Makes. [2024 edit note – this website appears to be down, leaving it up for visual inspiration]

simple upcycled denim quilt

A simple upcycled denim quilt tutorial from Its Always Autumn.

Obsessed with this denim triangle quilt! There’s no tutorial but click through for inspiration and to see more photos, by Modern Handcraft.

See how to make a fuzzy denim rag quilt, with this tutorial from Vicky Myers Creations.

Love the details on this upcycled denim picnic quilt, it rolls up! Tutorial at Cutesy Crafts.

I have a stack of colorful denim awaiting its fate, so naturally I love this bright quilt tutorial from old jeans, by Maker Mama at Andrea’s Notebook.

upcycled denim quilt pattern

If you prefer a PDF pattern, here is a pretty giant star quilt pattern designed for denim upcycling, from Stitch and Yarn Store.

Check out this clever applique & jean pocket quilt design, from Rachael Daisy Designs.

how to repurpose old jeans into kid toys

Sew a fun upcycled memory game with upcycled denim scraps, tutorial here on Swoodson Says.

upcycled toy from jeans

Old jeans make for great beanbags! Free pattern & tutorial here on Swoodson Says.

christmas stocking stuffer to sew idea

Denim is a great weight for making crayon rolls; see how to make them with this crayon roll tutorial on Swoodson Says.

These are DOG toys but toys nonetheless, with cool, braided upcycled denim ideas from Sew Historically.

how to upcycle old jeans into Christmas decorations

upcycled old jean christmas craft

I was so pleased with turning a jeans pocket into a cute little house ornament! I have the pattern for free download and a full tutorial here on Swoodson Says.

I love these creative upcycled Christmas Trees, from Pillar Box Blue.

Another fun upcycled ornament idea, this one from Vicky Myers Creations.

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Friday 6th of January 2023

On the kitty knee patch - how to you machine sew a knee patch? I can't wrap my head around how to the get machine inside!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 8th of January 2023

Hi Bonnie! Did you click through to the full tutorial? I have a tip or two in that post! The easiest way is to seam rip one side - but you can also kinda carefully smoosh it around making sure to not catch both layers. Maybe I need to do a video...


Tuesday 29th of December 2020

What a wonderful post! So many useful ideas for keeping those old jeans out of the landfills. I'm going to make the rounds next week of my local thrift shops and friends' closets (!!) for old jeans. I've been looking for a king bedspread but am now going to make one!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

Yes, if you put a call out to friends and neighbors I bet you will be full up! So happy to have inspired ya Pam!


Tuesday 14th of April 2020

Thanks for including my coasters. We use them every day! There are so many other good ideas here too :)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Hope it sends you some traffic :) They're so cute!

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