close up of blue jean fabric rectangles sewn together for a picnic blanket

5 Things I've Made From Old Blue Jeans (Reuse and Upcycle!)

What can a bin full of old jeans become?

I had been saving old blue jeans. I had a plastic bin full of them. Some had rips in the knees. Fraying at the pockets. Hems that were coming unstitched. But in between the bits that were falling apart was plenty of good denim.

What could I make?

1. Children's satchels

We spend a lot of time at parks and out in nature. As you might expect, my kids enjoy collecting the pinecones, rocks, sticks, lichen, moss, bits of bark, and all sorts of other things. In hopes that I could encourage them to carry their own collected objects, I made each child a unique satchel.

For each bag, I used part of a pant leg for each bag, cutting out a tube with a flap. I sewed across the bottom of the tube to close the bottom of the bag. I hemmed around the edge of the flap. I also added extra pockets, and used a piece of durable ribbon from my scrap ribbon bin as a strap.

front view of two small satchels made from old jeans
Front view.
two small satchels made from old jeans, open so you can see the extra pockets
back view of two small satchels made from old jeans
Back view.

2. Plastic bag holder

This was easy and straightforward. I cut off one pant leg. The hemmed edge became the top of the tube. I hemmed and gathered the opposite end of the tube. Then I attached a ribbon across the top for hanging it.

How to use: Stuff the tube full of plastic bags. Retrieve them through the smaller gap at the bottom as needed (e.g., as small trash can liners or for dirty diapers). Very useful for keeping excess plastic bags contained.

blue jean fabric tube used as a plastic bag holder hanging on the back of a wooden door
The plastic bag holder.
bottom edge of a tube of blue jean fabric gathered to make a smaller opening
The gathered bottom edge.

3. Aprons

I needed a good apron, and what better material than denim? Sturdy. A nice dark color so it wouldn't show stains too easily. Pockets.

I used a pant leg and a half to make it wide enough. Freehanded the shape; it works! Colorful ribbons for ties.

adult size apron made from older blue jeans laying flat on the floor
My (wrinkly) apron.
close up of a double blue jean pocket on an apron
The double pocket.

I made smaller aprons for the kids, too. And of course, all of them have pockets!

kids size apron made from old blue jeans laying flat on the floor
One (wrinkly) child size apron.
kids size apron made from old brown pants laying flat on the floor
The other (wrinkly) child size apron.

4. Picnic blanket

This was a bigger project! I used approximately three pairs of jeans and a few other scraps. I cut them into strips. I've seen other people's picnic blankets made with nice squares or perfectly even rectangles, but I didn't want to bother being that precise and square; plus, I liked the look of the pockets and edges. Less hemming for me to do, too.

The decision to keep entire pant legs backfired a little. I had to add unusual triangle sections to connect the waist edges. It doesn't look as clean or neat as I would have liked, but it's durable and works great.

a section of blue jean fabric shaped like a triangle connecting the flat waistbands of two old pairs of jeans
One of the triangles connecting the waists.
old blue jeans seen flat with patches sewn on the knees
I patched some knees for the blanket.
a picnic blanket made from old blue jeans, laid flat on the floor
The entire picnic blanket, wrinkly, because who has time for ironing?

The back is a shower curtain liner. This was an amazing idea I found on someone else's blog (I looked at a bunch when planning the project)—it works fantastically for keeping you dry on wet grass! Honestly, it's one of my favorite things about the picnic blanket.

The quilting part, in which I attached the liner to the denim, could have gone more smoothly. It's a bit wonky; shh, don't tell—turns out quilting is harder when you do it on the floor of your living room with a baby crawling back and forth over it.

a section of a picnic blanket made of old blue jeans, with a corner flipped to show that the backside is made from shower curtain liner
Light brown shower curtain liner on the back.

I made it big enough for all of us to sit on it! I can lie down and read a book, and all the kids can climb on me while I do so.

a baby and a toddler laying on a blue jean picnic blanket in the shade
In the backyard.
baby toes on the corner of a blue jean picnic blanket in the grass
We spent a lot of time on the picnic blanket.

5. Patches for other jeans

In addition to making new things from old jeans, I've been patching existing pairs of jeans. For this pair, I cut a rectangle from a scrap pair of jeans and hand-sewed it to the knee I was fixing. Then, since I've been learning embroidery, I embellished the patch with a lovely yellow flower.

embroidered yellow flower with a brown stem and yellow dotted swirl around the flower over a rectangular patched knee of a pair of blue jeans

closeup of gold wedding rings on a lace table

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We're Jacqueline and Randy, a blogging duo with backgrounds in tech, robots, art, and writing, now raising our family in northern Idaho.

Our goal is to encourage deliberate choices, individual responsibility, and lifelong curiosity by sharing stories about our adventures in living, loving, and learning.

Learn more about us.


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Curious about our life and journey? Here are some good places to start reading:

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