[This Instructable was written by the Mrs. DPeach.]
It all started when I was about to throw out an old pair of my son's jeans. I thought, "I bet I can make a purse out of these." I could.
I was going to use his pants, but even at only a 30” waist it would have been a larger bag than I wanted to carry. Even though, in the end, I didn’t use his jeans the idea was there and I wanted to try it. So I went to a local thrift store and found a smaller pair of jeans. It made a great bag with lots of pockets and room.
For this Instructable I chose and even smaller pair of jeans (girls size 8) to make a small handbag. I chose these because of the butterfly pattern on them (if you have a selection chose something decorative). Again, I bought these at a local thrift store for $3.
What you’ll need:
- A pair of jeans
- 1 to 3 different patterned materials (depending on how much variety you want) – I use 2 in this Instructable.
- Sewing machine
- Scissors and other basic sewing tools
Step 1: Cutting the Jeans
Lay the jeans out flat with the legs together, pull the front waist band up as far as it goes. Most women’s/girls jeans dip in the front, that is fine.
Cut the jeans straight across just below the crotch. I ripped out the seam in the crotch.
Step 2: Sewing the Bag
Because of the way the jeans are cut there is a pucker in the front seam. You can fold this to the side and tack it, or sew a straight seam and trim off the extra. I chose to sew a straight seam and trim it.
Trim the crotch area evenly with the leg cuts. Sew across the bottom. Because the back will have more material than the front, the side seams will not be exactly at the side. I suggest zig-zagging across the bottom because of the way jean material unravels.
Next, to help the bag sit well, fold the side seam down to the bottom seam and sew across the corner. Because this bag is small I sewed 1” from the peak of the corner for a larger bag I would sew 1 1/2”.
Step 3: Sewing the Lining
I added a lining with a divider to make 2 pockets in the interior. You can leave out the divider and just have 1 pocket if you wish. I felt having 2 pockets at least gave me a chance of finding something easily.
Cut 2 pieces of material using your bag as a measuring guide. Place the bag on top of the liner material. Allow 1/4” extra across the top and bottom of the bag. The sides of the liner should be cut so that it makes a rectangle. The liner width will be the same as the widest part of the bag even though that will add quite a bit of material at the waist band. You need the extra material. Having the liner be a little big in the waist is much better than a little small.
For the divider, cut 1 piece of the same material, shorter and slightly narrower on the sides. If it is the same width as the main liner it will sag in the bag. I made it 1-1/2” shorter than the lining. Hem this piece along the top.
Sandwich the hemmed piece between the lining pieces with the hem at the top. Line up the bottom edges. Sew each side then across the bottom. You will have to add a couple small tucks in the bottom because the lining is slightly larger than the divider.
Once this is done fold the top of the liner down 1/2” to the seam side and iron.
Step 4: Inserting the Lining
Before sewing in the lining, rip out the top seam of each belt loop and pin it down out of the way.
Tuck the lining—seam sides out—into the jean bag. Line up the side seams. Pin the top of the lining along the bottom of the waist band. Be sure to mark where the metal grommets are so you don’t run over them.
For sewing in the lining I used 2 different colored threads, blue on bottom and purple on top. Sew as close to the bottom seam of the waist band as you can. You will not be able to sew across the zipper this will have to be hand stitched.
Step 5: Making the Shoulder Strap
Measure how long to cut your shoulder strap from the top of your shoulder to where you like your purse to sit. Because I used such a small pair of jeans I was limited to a shorter length.
I’ve generally cut the width to 3” all the way. But this time, because I wanted to use as much of the butterfly pattern on the leg as I could, I cut the bottom at 4” and tapered to 3” at the top . This keeps the strap from being so bulky across my shoulder. It looks nice to use the hem of the jeans but is not necessary, if you don’t use the hem simply hem the piece you cut out.
Cut a lining out of material, either the same as your lining or a coordinating one. I chose another pattern from some material I had left over from a previous project. It has a nice butterfly motif on it.
I stitched my jeans pieces together at the shoulder and pressed it.
Place the jean strap and lining right sides together. Fold the strap lining down below the edge of the jean strap. Sew along the sides. Turn right sides out and press.
Center the strap on the side, line it up with the bottom corner. Align the bottom of the strap with the bottom seam of the waist. Sew across the bottom and the top to secure it. (If you haven’t been using a heavy needle you will need it for this part.)
Once the straps are attached, un-pin the belt loops and re-sew them into place.
Step 6: Adding a Belt. (That's What Belt Loops Are For!)
A belt can be cut from a 3rd fabric or one of the ones already used. I made a bow to stick with the butterfly theme, it can also be a knot, buckle or just a simple band.
To make the bow I measured the width of my belt loops (1-1/2”) and doubled it, 3”. Then I cut a doubled strip of fabric 3" wide and twice as long as the waist. I notched the end because I want it to be tapered.
Fold this strip in half, long way, right sides together. Stitch and turn right side out. Press and stitch the open end closed.
Thread it through the loops and tie or fasten.