Fun Summer Projects: Upcycling Denim

July 14, 2022

We get it. We all have that favorite pair of old jeans or jean jacket that we just cannot part with. Those old blue jeans have been with you through thick and thin, whether you wear them to hang out with friends or at work. Your denim jeans and jackets have become a part of you.

If you have old denim that means a lot to you, or you just do not want to throw it away, there are many ways you can repurpose your old jeans, jackets, and other denim wear. Check out our top 6 fun and inventive ideas you can do to upcycle denim.

Denim made into recycled symbol

An Endless List of Denim Upcycling Possibilities

Denim is such a versatile and durable fabric that can be upcycled into many practical items, including DIY coasters, a denim rug, a tote bag, pot holders, a denim basket, and so much more.

Not only can upcycling denim reduce waste, but it can also get your creative juices flowing. It’s a win for everyone! Upcycled jeans can give new life to your home and wardrobe.

Are you interested in getting the most out of your denim before it gets upcycled? Check out our blog post on the best denim care tips and tricks.

1. Denim Photo Frame

Glam up your drab picture frame with scraps from your old jeans. There are so many ways to upcycle jeans into picture frames. Here is where you can let your imagination run wild.

If you need some inspiration to get you started, try out this jean spiral picture frame idea.

You will need an old pair of jeans, scissors, and water-based glue.

Start by cutting strips from your jeans about 2 inches high in various lengths and shades of denim to create a striking gradient effect.

Wrap each denim strip into tight spirals and keep them in place with a drop of glue. You willl end up with spirals of different diameters. That’s okay. They will add an interesting dimension to the picture frame.

Now, all you need to do is stick them on the picture frame with glue, ensuring you completely cover the frame. This creates an offbeat and stylish frame you can use for your favorite photos to cherish for a long time.

2. Denim Jean Planters

Person watering jean covered plant

Crafting fun and quirky planters with denim is an eco-friendly way to liven up your garden and upcycle your jeans.

Interested in making a chic recycled jean planter for your succulents?

You will need some tin cans, the hems and seams of jeans, scissors, pins, and Mod Podge or a watered-down PVA glue if Mod Podge is not available.

Start by cutting the seams and hems off old jeans to the exact circumference of the tin can and apply Mod Podge to the outside of the can and inside of the hem or seam.

Wrap the seam around the tin can and hold it in place with a pin. Go all the way through until your can is completely covered in denim. It will look neater if all the strips join in the same place.

After the Mod Podge has dried, you can remove the pins and add a denim strip with Mod Podge and a pin over where the seams meet.

These planters work best with succulents since they do not require frequent watering and can be planted directly in the cans. If you have a plant that needs regular watering, place it inside a planter with drainage holes and then inside the can.

3. Denim Baby Bibs

Your old denim may have overstayed its welcome in your closet, but that does not mean it can’t serve a purpose. Denim’s durable quality makes it the perfect material for making upcycled denim bibs.

Plus, they make an excellent baby shower gift. Although you will need a sewing machine, all you need is basic sewing skills that can be learned in under a week.

Here is how easy they are to make.

Grab an old pair of jeans. You will need a pant leg for every bib and another fabric for the reverse side for comfort. This can be flannel or an old t-shirt. You will also need a sewing machine, scissors, velcro, and an old bib to make a template.

Start by tracing your template bib on a piece of paper and add a quarter-inch seam allowance. Cut out the bib template. Then, cut off the bottom of the pant leg and cut down the pant leg along the thickest inseam.

Here is where you can cut your T-shirt open, lay it over the denim with the correct sides together, add the bib template on top, and pin them in place. Cut around the pattern and then remove the template, so your bib layers remain held in place.

It is time to sew the pieces together, leaving a one-and-a-half-inch hole on one side of the bib so it can turn right-side out. Turn your bib right-side out to iron it flat. Use a pin to seal the hole and stitch it closed.

Top stitch around the edge of the bib to keep the layers from shifting with regular use. As a finishing touch, sew a couple of velcro squares at the bib’s ends to fasten them.

Now you have an upcycled denim bib for your little ones.

4. Frayed Denim Pouch

Person sewing denim together

Old denim jeans are the perfect material for a wide range of upcycled ideas, including bags, totes, and purses.

For an easy way to reuse your denim fabric, we suggest this upcycled frayed denim pouch project.

Your pouch can be any size, but this idea keeps things small. This frayed pouch will be big enough to fit your lip balm, coins, credit cards, or any other small everyday items.

For this one, you will need a pair of jeans, a sewing machine, tweezers, and a zipper. If you do not have a sewing machine, you can use a hot glue gun.

Begin by cutting two rectangles out of your jean legs. Iron fold on the side of each piece, where the seam will be.

Pin the denim square to the zipper and do the same for the other square. Pull some fabric out of the seam on the edges of the squares to make both ends of them meet and pin them in place.

Sew a straight stitch on each side of the denim fabric square along the zipper. Now, fold the squares together with the wrong side facing outward and stitch a zig-zag stitch across the bottom of the pouch.

Turn the pouch right-side-out and sew a straight stitch across the sides. Leave about an inch or so of seam allowance for the fraying portion.

After you sew everything in place, you can fray the edges with tweezers by pulling out the horizontal threads.

5. Denim Feather Hanging

Jeans being cut with scissors

Add a bohemian touch to your home decor with a DIY denim feather hanging.

You will need big denim scraps to get the size of feather you want. You will also need twine, fabric Mod Podge, wooden beads (10-12 mm) with a 5 mm hole, drawing pins, and a stick to hang the denim feathers from.

Start by cutting out the shape of a feather from your scrap denim. Download a template if necessary. Ensure the template is placed in the same direction as the denim weave.

Cut out a piece of twine a couple of inches longer than the feather’s shape. Cover the twine with fabric glue sticking it to the center of the denim feather to create the spine.

Glue works, but you can also stitch it in place. Glue is slightly better since it can stiffen the center of the feather to help it keep its shape better.

Now you can fray the denim by pulling out threads of a single color. Removing the white threads yields a blue feather while removing blue threads yields white feathers. Make several feathers in white and blue variations and different sizes.

To make the wall decor, thread the twine of a blue and white feather together through a wooden bead. Hang the feathers from a wooden stick, attaching them with a drawing pin at the back. The feathers can also be used to make charms and earrings.

6. DIY Denim Wine Bottle Gift Bag

Upcycle your denim jeans into a cute denim wine bottle gift bag to bring to your latest get-together.

Start by getting a pair of old jeans and cutting off the pant leg about 15 inches from the bottom hem. Skinny jeans work best for this project, but you can make the pant leg thinner. The openings should be about 6 inches wide.

You can go slightly taller or shorter, depending on the wine bottle size. Wine bottles are about 13 inches tall.

You will use the bottom of the jean as the top of the wine tote. You can turn the pant leg inside out and sew a seam across the bottom.

Turn the bag right-side out and slide in your favorite wine bottle. Add some ribbon, flowers, gift tag, and other fun accessories to give the wine bag more personality.


Shop for a New Pair of Denim Jeans at Wilco Farm Stores

After upcycling your old denim jeans, find a premium replacement at Wilco Farm Stores. We carry a wide selection of jeans for men, women, and children from the most popular brands, including Ariat, Rock & Roll, Wrangler, Carhartt, Kimes Ranch, Levi’s, Key, and Cinch.

Recycle your old jeans during the month of July to get $10 off a new pair of jeans ($39.99+)