header illustration for upcycling jeans

Upcycle Your Jeans

header illustration for upcycling jeans

Upcycle Your Jeans

Transform an old pair of jeans into a fun new item.

Upcycling your old clothing instead of throwing them out and buying new ones keeps waste out of landfills which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  • One or more pair of old or ruined Jeans
  • Scissors
  • Glue, tape or a needle and thread
  • A sewing machine (optional)
  • Optional: Recycled materials or fabrics, ribbon, glitter, embroidery floss, etc.
Bag made from jeans (marugod83, iStockphoto)
Bag made from jeans (marugod83, iStockphoto)

Denim is a great fabric because you can make so many things with it. When trying to decide what to make with your jeans, take a look at some inspiration ideas below. Decide how complicated you want your project to be. Also think about what kind of upcycled item you will actually use or wear. 

Closeup of jeans (Anne Nygård, Unsplash)
Closeup of jeans (Anne Nygård, Unsplash)

Different upcycling projects use different parts of a pair of jeans. Depending on what you decide to make you may want to think about which parts you will use. You could use the legs of the jeans, the pockets or even the zippers.

Make sure that before you start cutting, you know exactly which parts of the jeans you will need. 

Jeans on hangers (Jason Leung, Unsplash)
Jeans on hangers (Jason Leung, Unsplash)

Be sure to measure and mark exactly how much fabric you will need before you begin cutting. If you don't have enough for your upcycle, you can always grab another pair of old jeans for more fabric.

On the other hand, consider what you can do with any extra fabric you have. Can you make something small with it such as a scrunchie or bow-tie? Can someone else use your leftover fabric? 

Jeans and sewing tools (MurzikNata, iStockphoto)
Jeans and sewing tools (MurzikNata, iStockphoto)

Other than a pair of jeans, you will need at least a few other materials to make your creation come to life. If you plan to sew your project, you will need a needle and thread or a sewing machine. If you do not plan to sew, you will need some other adhesive such as glue, tape or staples.

Think about whether you will add decorations to your upcycle. Will you use recycled materials? Other preloved fabric? Things you find around your house? 

Denim shorts (chrupka, iStockphoto)
Denim shorts (chrupka, iStockphoto)

Upcycling is a great chance to express your creativity, culture and personal style!

When creating your project, you can add personal touches to make your project unique. These could be items such as iron-on patches, buttons, or interesting pieces of fabric. You might also think about how you can showcase important parts of your identity or cultural heritage. Think about incorporating meaningful symbols or fabrics when creating your upcycle. 

Inspiration for upcycling your jeans (No Sewing Machine Required)

Inspiration for upcycling your jeans (Sewing Machine Required)

  • Are you in love with your creation? Take it to the next level by selling your creations at a craft fair, on Etsy or Depop. You could even donate the profits to a charity or environmental organization. 
  • You could make denim items for your school such as denim aprons for the kindergarten class or denim tool belts for a makerspace.
  • Have you always wanted to get into the fashion industry? The FIDM Fashion Club mentors high school and college students who want to pursue careers in design and creative business. Check it out here: https://fashionclub.com/what-is-fidm-fashion-club/
  • If you love what you have created, make sure to enter our “Check out my Green Style” Challenge for the chance to win______.