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upcycle before: jeans

upcycle before: jeans

Hi all, it’s Saskia from Vera Luna here. Let’s talk today about the most likely fabric in your upcycle stash: denim. I counted at least eight pairs of jeans in my own stash, ready to be upcycled. While going through them I realized how the wear and tear of each pair of jeans was very specific for their wearer. Obviously, my kids’ jeans always rip at the knees. The first parts to give way on my husband’s jeans are the pockets where he carries his phone and wallet. And the weak spot of my jeans is the inner thigh because – as a typical Dutch mom – I tend to cycle a lot. Apart from those localized rips, jeans offer great upcycling material: they are sturdy, come in various shades and colors, and usually have nice details to reuse. Here are some ideas to use this versatile fabric.

jeans collage

1. Extending Jeans Life, Mingo & Grace; 2. Fall style, Beth Being Crafty; 3. Charles pants, Boevenbende; 4. Upcycled jeans, Susanne Winters; 5. A little pair of jeans, Sewpony

The most logical thing to make of old jeans is new jeans… Note that you need quite a lot of fabric to create new jeans. I’m always surprised at how much of an adult pair of jeans is needed to make a kid sized version. If one pair doesn’t suffice, and you need multiple pairs, you could create some (subtle) color blocking by using jeans in different shades of blue. Or, for a bolder effect, use jeans in different colors. Furthermore, you can add detail by reusing original details such as pockets, seams, belt loops, and other interesting reusable parts. Suitable patterns for upcycling jeans into new jeans are the Small Fry Skinny Jeans, the Blank Slate W Pants, or Compagnie M’s Charles Pants. And look at this tutorial to create a cool pair of upcycled jeans.


1. Repurposed shorts, Tonya Staab; 2. Shortalls, Ikat Bag; 3. Bubble pocket shorts, Vera Luna; 4. Flowers and Frills, Tonya Staab

If you’re living on the southern hemisphere, or if you are already sewing ahead for warmer seasons, you might want to create shorts instead of pants. Do you have a pair that still fits at the waist? Then simply cut off the legs at the desired length and add a nice hem. Or create a new pair, using a basic pattern such as Dana’s KID shorts, or the fun Bubble Pocket Shorts from Elegance and Elephants.

denim jackets
1. One of a kind jacket, Petit a Petit and Family; 2. Boy vest, Naeh-Connection; 3. Upcycled jacket, Hommahuone; 4. Biker jacket, Vera Luna

Of course, you can also repurpose jeans into something else than pants or shorts. How about sewing a jacket or vest? Just look at the wonderful examples above and get inspired! I love the jacket on the bottom right. Such clever use of the original details! And the jacket at the top left is simply amazing, bleach dyed and all! I learned that the boy vest was actually made from jeans-colored jersey, but I guess you could totally make a similar vest with some lightweight denim.

Skirts and dresses


1. Paneled skirt, Vera Luna; 2. Maxi Smock, Trula Kids; 3. Swing skirt, Probably Actually

If you have some lightweight denim in your stash, think of using it to create a dress or skirt. When sewing for a toddler, you could make a simple pinafore; the legs of a pair of men’s jeans might just be wide enough. If you’re sewing for an older girl, you could create more width by cutting strips of fabric to create a paneled skirt. Or repurpose overalls into a fun dress by attaching a skirt. The possibilities are endless…
The tunic shown above could be recreated using Imagine Gnats Roly Poly pinafore pattern, and the pattern for the bottom skirt is Compagnie M’s Swing skirt. The paneled skirt is one of my own creations, and I’m planning on creating a small tutorial soon.

Small things
denim details

1. Feathered headband, Naeh-connection; 2. Denim cap, Beth Being Crafty; 3. UK flag patch, Make It and Love it; 4. Sweater with denim details, Vera Luna

Small pieces of denim can be upcycled into hats, caps, elbow or knee patches, appliques, flower brooches, and what else you can think of… Just use your imagination. Fun patterns for hats are the Elbsegler hat, E&E’s Fedora hat, or Oliver and S’ free bucket hat pattern.

That’s it for today. If you haven’t seen enough denim yet, go ahead and take a look on the Pinterest board I created during my search for inspiration for this post. I now have more ideas than I can make out of the eight pairs of jeans in my stash. How about you?