Recycle Denim: Floor Mat From Waistbands and Inseams




Introduction: Recycle Denim: Floor Mat From Waistbands and Inseams

This comfy floor mat is made from recycled waistbands, hem cuffs, and inseams from old jeans. These are often the wasted scraps left after other projects with recycled denim. To see how to efficiently harvest these materials from a pair old pants see this instructable:

This mat is great to take outside as a sitting mat, as a meditation mat, or (with added carpet tape or rubberized backing) an indoor rug. It is thick and dense, making it comfortable on hard ground, and extra durable.

Step 1: Materials

You will Need:

An assortment of waistbands, inseams, and cuffs from old jeans.
For this mat I used eight waistbands, 2 1" wide hem cuffs, and eight inseams.

Leave tags on the waistbands to add an element of design.

Sewing Shears
Sewing Machine with a #16 needle (ofter labeled "leather")
Cotton Thread (use a contrasting color if you like for added aesthetic appeal)
Basic sewing skills

3"x4" patch of cotton muslin
permanent black fabric marker.

Step 2: Arrange Peices

Lay the strips in the arrangement you want them for the mat. Line up the edges.

Pay attention to color, width variation, tag placement, to create a balanced and pleasing mat. Trim all pieces to the same length, I matched the length of the shortest waist band, about 32".

Be sure to trim away the buttons from the waist bands, as they are very uncomfortable to sit or stand on.

Save enough inseam material aside to edge the entire mat. I used both inseams from a pair of pink jeans to do this, for contrast and a splash of color. For a more colorful mat, You can dye your materials with standard fabric dye. I recommend dyeing pants prior to dismantling them. The dyeing process requires washing, which will heavily fray cut denim.

for directions on efficiently dismantling pants, see the instructable link in the intro.

Step 3: Sew

Sew the strips together using a zig-zag stitch, where the needle presses through one strip at a time, alternating. Work from right to left (adding strips to the left hand side) for ease of stitching

A number 16 needle will go through four layers of denim (the thickness of an inseam or waist band) but not much more without an industrial machine. The trick to this mat is stitching in a way that draws the pieces together tightly, without overlapping them, allowing you to work a very dense material with a standard sewing machine.

Be careful to feed the strips through the machine so that the needle is pushing through inside the stitching already present on the seam or waistband. The fabric outside this seam will fray away quickly and your strips will not hold together.

Go slowly on your standard machine, you are asking a lot out of it and tugging or forcing the fabric will cause the needle to jam the faceplate and break. This is bad for the mechanism as well as destroying the needle and scratching the face plate.

Step 4: Trim

add trim to your mat to increase durability. The short sides of your mat are made up of un-stitched denim, which will fray without reinforcement.

Tie off and trim all the thread ends from sewing the strips together. Trim away any uneven edges with your sewing shears.

Begin by sewing trim along the left side of the mat in the same way you added the strips. When you get to the end of your first long side, drop the needle, lift your machine foot, and rotate the mat to begin adding trim down the short side. Line up the next piece of trim with the edge of the trim you just added, to make an even rectangle. Sew back and forth over the two trim pieces several times to join them securely to each other. Continue sewing trim down the short side.

Add trim and join corners in the same fashion, working around the mat clockwise. If you need to join two shorter pieces of trim on the same side, rotate the mat and sew over the joint several times before rotating back and continuing along the side.

When you reach the beginning of your first piece of trim, join it to the rest of the trim. Sew your zig zag stitch all the way around the mat a second time. Pay close attention the needle placement to ensure all pieces are being joined securely to the trim. Because you are working with fray-able ends, it is important to make the second, reinforcing stitch around the mat.

Step 5: Finish and Customize

To finish you mat tie and snip all thread ends from trimming, as well as any denim fibers that are sticking out at odd angles. Press the entire mat flat with an iron set to cotton (it is safe to use your hottest setting, and may be necessary for this thick of a material)

The mat I made was a bridal shower gift for my best friend, so I added a custom fabric patch. To do this, write or draw your customization on a piece of cotton muslin (or similar light, stiff fabric) with a permanent fabric marker. Leave at least an inch all the way around your message. Fold and press edges inward with a 3/4" fold. Top stitch to the mat.

Enjoy this lovely reminder of how creativity breeds sustainability.



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    29 Discussions

    You can also use the waist bands to make this convienant credit card holder. Just take a seam ripper and open the waist band were it is folded in half. Then measure your credit card and fold and sew.

    See the line down the middle that is from when it was a waist band. So this is showing the inside and outside of a waist band from a pair of jeans.

    I can fit 15 credit cards in my from pocket. I just push up the bottom to push the cards out to get the card I need. This is My most used jean project that I make over and over again.


    this is really great. thanks for sharing this idea! :-)

    I'll bet you could weave the seams, it would be really thick , and you would need to sew or bind the edges somehow. try it out. if it works... make an instructable ;)

    If I were weaving, I'd use a heavy cotton warp, widely spaced, and use the strips of denim as the weft. If you didn't finish the raw edges of the denim strips, you'd probably get an interestingly "fuzzy" effect as the weaving aged and the edges unraveled, but with the sewn parts (waistband and inseam stitching) it wouldn't fall apart.
    I think it was Pinterest, not here, but someone had a post about making baskets by crocheting or basket-stitching with heavy cotton rug warp around "rope" made of various materials. (Think "coil pot" construction, with the coil held together with the stitching/crocheting instead of the natural sticky-ness of clay.) Strips of inseams/side-seams cut from repurposed jeans would be perfect for this, too. Probably not the waistbands; too wide, and they'd be better for a project like this, where they'd lie flat and show their interesting details... :-)

    If your sewing machine balks at this, you could sew the strips together by hand with a BIG embroidery needle, using embroidery floss (don't separate the 6-strand floss into smaller thicknesses), or even pearl or crochet cotton. You could get a great "patchwork" effect just using up random left-overs from your floss or crocheting stash. (If you don't embroider or crochet, just ask a friend who does, and you'll probably be gifted with a PILE of pretty string in lengths too short to finish a more formal project!)

    This is a really nice floor mat. You are very talented. Thank you for sharing. I am attempting to make this project.

    I have been trying to think of a denim rug idea for my bf...this is PEFECT

    This rug is great! You should look into using old yoga mats for the rubber backing...they're so versatile and still useful when no longer viable as a yoga mat.

    1 reply

    What great ideas, thank you. I've been making jeans bags and using the seams for garden ties, but can't wait to make a mat. My sewing machine was a bit reluctant to sew on very thick denim, but now I just use the walking foot all the time, no matter what Is sew, and it works great.

    Very beautiful & resourceful. I might use for a piano bench or foot stool cover. Sitting on the ground isn't for the less than limber, but reusing old jeans that are usually free or very inexpensive, is such a good idea.

    Wow, this is such a beautiful, thoughtful gift! I am absolutely amazed at how well the different, unrelated pieces come together into one cohesive piece. You've done a fabulous job on this. I second the suggestion to make these (and other items) for sale. Have you considered selling on Etsy or Artfire? I love the idea of taking something that most people could consider trash and turning it into something beautiful that can be loved again! Thanks for the inspiration!

    4 replies

    thanks ms laynie! I haven't sold on etsy, but I own my own clothing shop in bellingham WA where I sell alot of my handmade items. I also am attracted to making the unwanted beautiful again, and have committed to using only recycled mediums. It is challenging but often inspires unusual designs (like this one) I probably wouldn't have thought of if I wasn't constrained slightly by the size and shape of my materials. Happy crafting!

    Eek! I just saw this reply.

    I totally understand your drive to use recycled media. While sure, it's fun to run out and buy fresh new things to work with, it's also extremely satisfying for me to take something that was destined for the junk heap and turn it into something beautiful, something new, something valuable. It's not just a nod at recycling, it's a repurposing, and it revitalizes not just what I worked on but myself as well.

    That's why this totally resonated with me. Of course, I already said that. *laughs* I'm such a goober, forgive me. :D

    there is something primally satisfying about leaving no trace, having no waste. Something I feel like my grandmother tried to teach me, and her mother taught her etc. etc.

    That's very true. Almost impossible in this society, which makes it that much better when you find ways to improve what you're doing. :D

    cool idea but if this laura sits on the ground 2 much she is going to ruin her jeans but i guess you will have more materials to work with