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.
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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.