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10 New Ways to Revive Old Denim

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My family lives in a rural area, and we all wear jeans…a lot! My daughter grows fast and my son plays hard, which means we are constantly dealing with the question of what to do with old denim jeans.

Some of our old jeans are in good shape, but too short. Other jeans, those belonging to my son, usually have holes in the knees. Over the years I’ve gotten creative about ways to use my old denim. You can too.

You might be wondering why you’d want to reuse denim in the first place. I’m a big believer in reduce/reuse/recycle. If your jeans are in good shape, you could always donate them to a thrift store. However, if your family is like mine, most of your old denim is not suitable for donation.

Most of the time when jeans wear out, though, it’s only in one or two specific areas: the knees and maybe the seat or the hems. There’s still a ton of good, durable fabric left, and it’s a shame to let such good quality fabric go to waste in a landfill. So I like to find new uses for my old jeans.

10 Ways to Revive Old Denim

1. Make shorts or capris. If they still fit around the waist, I like to cut them off into shorts (or capris for my daughter). For girls, you can sew some lace or other decorative trim onto the bottom of the shorts to dress them up a bit.

2. Make a purse. My daughter’s friend did this as a craft at her birthday party. Cut the jeans off just below the seat and sew the front to the back along the bottom, making a denim purse with the zipper on one side and the back pockets on the other. Then dress it up by sewing or ironing on patches of colorful fabric, cut into flower or butterfly shapes. You can even recycle an old belt for the strap!

3. Hair scrunchies. If your daughter has long hair, you can easily make a denim scrunchie by cutting a strip of denim, folding it in half (inside-out) and sewing the long side together. Add a piece of elastic and sew the two sides together, forming a circle. Leave an opening, so you can turn the scrunchie rightside-out. Hand sew the opening together, then use the scruncie to hold your daughter’s ponytails.

4.Make an organizer. You can use this idea for either small tools or small toys. Take a big piece of fabric and sew the back pockets of several pairs of jeans to the fabric. Hang it on the wall, and you have a ton of pocket storage.

5. Like to crochet? I found a great pattern online for making a denim rag bag out of denim strips. It looks great!

6. This idea is for those who can’t sew. Make a scarecrow. That’s right. Scarecrows are make great decorations in the fall!

7. Make old denim jeans into a denim skirt! My daughter thought this was really cute! It’s easy, too!

8. Make a braided denim rug. Braided rugs give your home a country feel, and denim is a very sturdy fabric for rug-making. Frugal Veggie Mama has excellent instructions for braiding a denim rug.

9. Use old denim jeans to hold your plastic bags. Cut off a piece of one leg. Sew a little hem and insert a string or cord. Pull it tight, but leave a little opening to pull out bags as you need them. Do the same on the top end, but leave a bigger opening, so you can insert bags easily. Attach a loop of string or cord, so you can hang your bag, and you’re set!

10. Make denim appliques to spruce up your children’s rooms. Cut your denim into fun shapes (cars, flowers, airplanes….if you have a die cut machine for crafting, it’s even easier). Then press them onto children’s curtains or lampshades, using heat n bond or craft glue.

If you applique your child’s curtains and add a braided denim rug and a denim pocket organizer, your child’s room will have a whole new look, and you won’t have any more denim to recycle!

What are your favorite things to do with old denim?

(Photo: ephotion)

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9 Responses to “10 New Ways to Revive Old Denim”

  1. Andrea says:

    This is such a timely post for me. My 3 year old actually wore through a pair of jeans recently. (Usually she just grows out of them so fast.) They’ve been sitting around waiting for me to do something with them. I basically want to find a cool patch to put over the knee to make them wearable again, but neat-looking. Anybody know of a website that sells fun-looking patches?

    • My family used to just buy crazy handkerchiefs at Hobby Lobby and then sew them into the holes – different colors of the standard, or smiley faces, or dollar signs or whatever. They usually turned out pretty well.

  2. DjFarout says:

    My mom made throws out of our old jeans. My brother and I both have 2 each. They are really soft and warm!

  3. katy says:

    Potholders. Cut them off below the knee.

  4. Great ideas, Lynnae! I really wish I could sew – I can knit and crochet all day long, but I’m terrible with a small needle and thread (and I’ve never owned a sewing machine to learn on). I always keep my old denim though, in hopes that someday I’ll become best friends with someone who sews! :)

  5. RecycleCindy says:

    I saw the link back to my crochet denim rag bag and came over to read your post. Great ideas and crafting with old denim and recycled material is so fun and frugal. I love it because the materials are free and one can be so innovating when creating something new from old stuff. It’s truly trash to treasures!

  6. carla says:

    I made slippers and pot holders out of my own denim.

  7. Rob says:

    My roommate in college had a denim blanket. His grandmother took all his worn out old jeans, cut them into 6′x6″ squares that didn’t contain any seams. She then sewed them together with a soft red fabric on the bottom side. On one end I think 2 of the squares were back pockets. He would stick things like chap stick and his ID card in the back pockets so he wouldn’t lose them.

    Everybody that came to our room and saw it thought it was the coolest thing. It was pretty heavy blanket, but it looked cool and it apparently kept him warm.

    • Splendor says:

      My Mom made me a denim quilt like this. She used super-soft fleece on the backside of the denim. It’s the heaviest and warmest blanket I own.


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