Introduction: Recycle Denim/Jeans Into Reusable Parts With No Waste.

Why waste? You can turn your forgotten, out-of-style, or unwearable jeans into a ready to use crafter's dream!

Use these steps to efficiently deconstruct a pair of jeans into all reusable parts. This process yields minimum scraps and a host of useful materials.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

A pair of Jeans
Sturdy Sewing shears

Step 2: Remove Belt Loops

Begin by removing the belt loops. pull the loop away from the stitching and work scissors under the belt loop. try to cut away the stitching leaving the waist band and denim intact, but if you make a hole, don't worry about it too much, the pieces are still useful.

often these loops end up in the scrap pile, but there are uses for them if you get creative. I have sewn beads and feathers onto these and then sewn them to a standard hair clip. You can sew them horizontally on a wall hanging for attaching key rings to, hanging tools from, or there are always creative decorative uses!

Step 3: Waist Band

Remove the waist band. Cut very close to the seam and be sure to cut above the zipper stop to insure that the zipper remains usable.

(to spice up your selection of materials, try throwing old jeans into the wash with a packet of RIT fabric dye, like these pink jeans!)

waist bands make sturdy handles for denim hand bags, and they can be sewn together to create a very sturdy fabric. You can also use them as funky belts, with embellishment of course (the trick is finding one the right size) You can sew a denim apron front to the waist band for a craft apron, or attach a circle skirt for a quick fashion project.

Step 4: Zipper Fly

Next cut out the zipper fly, cut close to the seams, but leave the inner and outer flaps intact. You can sew in the zipper as-is to make a coin purse closure etc. or your can seam rip the zipper out completely.

In the case of this blue pair, the reason they are being recycled is a broken zipper. I remove and collect the zipper heads, they make fun jewelry charms.

Step 5: Front Pockets

Cut out and save the front pockets. There are two ways to do this. You can flip the jeans inside out and lay the pocket flat, Cut the fabric in a rectangle, about an inch from the end of the pocket. Cut through the side hip seam, the cut following the seam to the waist. This leaves a flat square pocket that can be sewn onto anything. These large pockets make a great addition to a crafting apron.

You can also remove the decorative fifth pocket, on jeans that have them, but in so doing you sacrifice the larger pocket.

Step 6: Seams

Cut and remove the thick double fold seams from the back yoke and center back. cut as close to the seam as possible, through the crotch and up to the base of where the zipper used to be, separating the two legs. Cut the double fold inseam out of each leg. On some jeans the inseam is a regular flat seam, and the outside seam is double fold. only remove the thick folded seams, regardless of their location. Cut off the cuffs of the jeans as well, if they are in good condition, as always following as closely to the seam as possible

variation: starting at the base of one leg cut along the inseam, throuogh the crotch, and along the second leg. Removing one very long denim cord.

The seams are actually really useful. they can be used as cordage as is, as purse straps. Sewn together side by side they make a very sturdy fabric that is great for making hot pads from. or sew three or four together lengthwise (use a zig zag stitch that alternates from one to the other and a size 16 needle. Most sewing machines will go through four layers of denim, but for eight you will need an industrial machine)

Step 7: Back Pockets

Remove the back pockets by cutting close to the seam. For pockets with a flap, like the ones shown, cut close to the seam all the way around. For regular pockets, leave the fabric at the top of the pocket to the cut you made when taking out the yoke. By doing this you leave enough fabric to fold under and stitch when you attach it to something else.

Pockets are very useful. Try sewing several pockets to a wall hanging for a key holder at the front door, or a notion holder at your craft table. Use them to decorate handbags and totes. Sew both pockets from the same pants together and add a zipper or button closure for a coin purse or small satchel, or make a very fun denim quilt!

Step 8: Viola!

You should be left with the two legs of the pants each with a soft seam running down the center. These pieces can be used to make anything you can think of. Denim makes a great cover for furniture, it is sturdy and easy to clean.

There will be a small pile of scraps left, the piece between the yoke and the waist band, and the small scraps around the back pockets can be set aside for patching and repairs. Anything too small for that should be saved in a scrap bin for stuffing. (denim pillows stuffed with scraps are dense and great for sitting on the floor) the only real waste are the rivets, which have little practical use. I still set them aside, because i am obsessed with using all the parts of an item. Maybe I'll use them to make an abstract art-deco collage one day. In the mean time I cut them out and keep them in a peanut jar.

Comments

author
lac82452 (author)2015-10-07

If you have available a metal recycling place, you may recycle the rivets for cash!!!

author
maxford (author)2015-08-25

just fyi, 'viola' is a flower or a musical instrument. the word you're looking for is 'voila'.

author
AmberA5 (author)2015-07-08

This is great! I have a whole box of old jeans that I've been wondering what to do with! I love the idea of a denim quilt or furniture cover, definitely gotta keep this in mind!

author
carolyn.janse (author)2015-04-15

luv this my dearest friend and I sew for the salvation army stores reusing jeans and anything else we can rescue we decorate our jeans bags with broken jewellery badges etc

author
tukas (author)2014-11-13

I have done this too! One suggestion if you are planning on using the back pockets, leave a half inch border around the pocket (for a possible seam allowance). :)

author
dragontearsoflove (author)2014-10-14

Thank you for taking the time to post this. So much quicker than using a seam ripper just to watch pieces fall apart as I'm ripping out seams. These jeans had some wear and tear in them, but they'll make a great log-cabin bookwrap quilt....and if not, I'll find something else to make them into.

author
rstrawn (author)2014-09-08

I like all the suggestions of what to do with the pieces.

author
kylara70 (author)2013-04-14

Respect on making the MOST out of your jean cast-offs. I went through this last year when making a project and I kept all the pockets because I just COULD NOT bear to throw them away. There is some GOOD inspiration here. Also, denim can be composted so the little scraps can go back to the earth. It takes a while to breakdown but it does eventually. :)

author
gearhead1951 (author)2013-01-14

When I was a child growing up in the shadow of the smoky mts in east tn my mother would use every last scrap of clothing that none of us could wear any more to make new clothing (there was 5 of us kids) or other usefull things !

She used blue jean material for quilts because the material gave so many shades of blue , from washed out and nearly white to brand new denim blue

author
love4pds (author)2011-06-28

You can cut the fabric into strips and crochet or braid with them then stitch together in a circle, great for rugs or handbags. My 2 cents,

author
reginainqc (author)2010-09-05

It is possible to put in a new zipper if you have a sewing machine or are willing to sew by hand. On a pair of jeans you are willing to sacrifice cut out all the seams pertaining to the zipper, paying attention to the sequence. Find a new or used zipper and sew everything up in reverse order of taking apart. Work yes,but not necessarily difficult. And you'd get quite some additional wear out of your pants. I have a mountain of old jeans accumulated and will use your suggestion to glue the double stitched seams on a base to make a carpet.

author
Faynilla (author)2010-03-22

 said before already, but i have to add my two cents. this is a great tut because people like me wouldnt have thought of using the seams. my machine prob wouldnt be able to sew it, and i would need to get a zigzag foot to even try but other projects would work. and the mat you made was amazing! i guess i could in a pinch, use some good glue to a sturdy fabric base as a matt with the same concept in mind. maybe i just need a better machine :) have a blog i can check out????

author
passionfly (author)Faynilla2010-03-25

your idea for gluing is a good one! especially if you use a rubberized backing so that it will stay in place on smooth flooring! No blog to follow but THanks for the compliment!

author
orksecurity (author)2010-03-24

Hm. Seat covers from seat covers. That's an interesting idea, and in fact I do have some chairs which need to be re-upholstered.

author
lady4feet (author)2010-02-06

Thank you for posting this. I never thought to cut the seams off to use as cording.

author
passionfly (author)lady4feet2010-02-08

:D you should check out the recycled floor mat I made out of seams and waistbands. you can sew a bunch of seams together into a neat durable, flexible material that is textured nicely. There is an instructable for it if you search "recycled denim floor mat".

author
mslaynie (author)2010-01-30

You know, I just did this with a pair of worn out jeans last week. I wish I'd seen this then, I'd have more usable parts! Great suggestions for using all the parts, by the way!

author
passionfly (author)mslaynie2010-02-01

thanks!

author
irrilia (author)2009-08-25

Great idea on saving everything, no waste! :)

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