Upcycled Denim Jean Shopping Bag Holder

I’m really getting interested in reusing old clothes or fabrics to make something new and useful and this is my first tutorial.

Finished Holder
Finished Holder

I found these jean legs a few weeks ago while I was making shopping bag holders out of fat quarters and I got the idea to make some out of the jean legs. I used patchwork that I’ve hand-embroidered on to decorate the legs and elastic to bunch up the top and bottom.

If anything isn’t clear or you’d like more photos, please let me know!

What I did:

Materials:

Jean Leg
assorted fabric patches to fit the leg, mine have been cut with pinking shears
embroidery floss to match the fabric
1/2″ elastic, about 30″
1″ white double-sided ribbon, about 20″
Vilene or other fusible web, enough to iron to the patchwork patches
sewing thread

Step 1: Arrange your patches on the jean leg however you like. I’ve used 5 but you can put on as many as you like. Then cut out pieces of the fusible web about 1/4″ smaller all around than the patches. Mine were originally smaller than that as you can see in the photo, but I added more as the edges moved too much when I started to sew the edges.

Arranging the patches
Arranging the patches

Step 2:
Iron on the fusible web onto the patches according to the directions, let cool and take off the paper. Put back on the denim and iron the patches onto the denim.

Removing the backing
Removing the backing
All ironed on.
All ironed on.

Step 3:
Next pick your colour of embroidery floss – the one I used on the holder in the photos is a lilac colour that matches the patches. Use 3 strands, with a sharp-pointed needle, and knot one end, leaving the other end loose. Bring up from the back, about 4-5mm in from the edge, and stitch down along the edge of the patch, then come up 4-5mm from the 1st stitch. Sew along the edge of each patch, going through both patches if you have overlapped them like I have and stitch along the edge of the topmost one.

This step takes the longest. Make sure your patches stay flat where they meet up and overlap. I kept 1 hand inside the leg and put the needle into the fabric along the edge then brought it up into the patch for the bottom of the next stitch, pulling through, with the other.

Hand-stitching the edges.
Hand-stitching the edges.
Overlapped patches
Overlapped patches

Step 4:
Next, stay-stitch the top rough edge of the leg, I’ve used a straight stretch-stitch but you could also use a narrow zig-zag too. You can hem the top instead.

Step 5:
Measure the elastic for the bottom just above the hem of the leg, adding on 1.5″- 2″ more than the width.

Measuring the elastic
Measuring the elastic

Step 6:

Hand sew the elastic ends together overlapping about 1cm. Turn the leg inside out and pin the elastic just above the hem. To do this, mark the elastic loop into 4, I’ve used the seam and 3 pins. Pin the seam to 1 seam on the jean leg, then pin the 2nd pin on the other side of the elastic circle to the other seam. Pin in between the seams, pulling the elastic so it’s flat to the denim. Sew with a straight stitch, going back and forth on the overlap on the elastic and pulling the elastic and denim as you sew. Take your time.

Hand-sewing the elastic.
Hand-sewing the elastic.
Divide the elastic into 4's
Divide the elastic into 4’s
stitch the elastic to the denim.
stitch the elastic to the denim.

Step 7: Repeat steps 5 & 6 with the elastic to the top of the leg. You can hem the top first, or leave it as I have.

Step 7: Cut the length of ribbon as long as you want, I made it long so you can put things inside the leg without taking it off from where you have it hanging. Run the edges through a lighter so it doesn’t fray then fold over about 5mm twice. Stitch to the inside of the top of the leg, about where the elastic is.

Ta Da! You’re done. Depending on how big the jeans were, you can put shopping bags, small toys, scarves and gloves, tea towels….

Finished!
Finished!

If you’d like the ones in the photos, they are listed in my Folksy Shop here and here.

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