I have a pile of jeans sitting in my closet right now that I just don’t wear anymore. For some reason, when it comes to jeans, I never want to toss them (or donate them). So they end of piling up until I can’t take it anymore. And that day has come! And actually, I was able to snag a few pairs of Jeff’s jeans too that are too big for him.
So, I brought all of our old jeans into work, bleached a pair to listen then up and give ’em a bit more visual texture, and Rachel helped me whip up an upcycled jean clutch that I’m officially obsessed with.
Want to make your own? Here’s how…
- 7 inch zipper
- old pair of non-stretch jeans
- straight pins
- chalk or disappearing ink pen
- sewing machine
1. (Optional) Before you get started, if you’re unhappy with the color of the jeans you are using, an easy solution is spraying them with bleach. This will lighten them up and give them a more uneven, realized look (which I like – but it’s a preference thing).
To bleach the jeans, put them in a large sink, add bleach to a spray bottle, and spray away. Be sure to wear gloves and give the jeans a few minutes to sit with the bleach on it before soaking them in water to stop the jeans from deteriorating. Do not soak the jeans in water until you can visibly see the change in color that you are looking for.
The jeans in the before photo are what they looked like after I bleached them (forgot to take a picture before the bleaching process).
2. Once the jeans are completely dry, create a template for your clutch. I wanted a half circle, so we laid the zipper down at the top of the fabric, then added an inch on each side of the zipper, and traced a circular object with chalk to get a good shape for the bottom (then connected that area to the top zipper area.
Keep in mind when you draw the shape that your finished clutch will be at least 1/2 smaller all the way around once sewn because of the seam allowance.
3. Next, cut out the chalk shape from your jeans, making sure to cut through both layers of the jeans (and being careful to keep both layers of the jean together while cutting, so they are exactly the same.
4. Now that you have the front and back pieces of the jean clutch ready to go, it’s time to start sewing. First up, is the zipper… Align the fabric edge of the zipper (right sides together) to the top edge of the clutch so the design and the zipper pull are on the same side.
5. Pin the zipper and the fabric together using straight pins (see photo). Then using your sewing machine, sew them together. Back-tack (stitch backwards for a few stitches to anchor the stitch) at the beginning and end to prevent unraveling. Repeat this for the opposite zipper edge and the other piece of denim fabric that was cut from the jeans.
6. Open the zipper halfway. Don’t skip this step.
7. Pin the clutch with the right sides together. Sew the clutch along the shape that you initially traced (which will give you at least a 1/2″ seam allowance). Again, back-tack at both the beginning and end to prevent unraveling.
8. Cut small vents along the sewn edge of the clutch, especially at curves and corners. The spacing between the cut vents will depend on the size of your clutch, just be careful to not cut through the sewn line.
9. Turn the clutch right side out and it’s ready to use.
I really like the small size for essentials when I’m headed out to lunch, etc. I just take it out of my bigger bag and head out.
Take it further: You could also add a little wrist handle, with a 1/2 wide leather strap to keep your hands free.
Sewing + styled photos by Rachel Brewer
Styling + tutorial photos by Brittni Mehlhoff
Do you have a pair of old jeans that would work for this DIY clutch idea? Can you think of any other ways to reuse old clothing like this? Would love to hear your ideas.