Published on November 9th, 2010 | by Becky Striepe


Fab Fabrics: Repurposed Denim

pile of jeans

We’ve talked before about the high impact from denim production. While there are more sustainable denim options out there, the most eco-friendly option is probably second hand denim. Here are some tips for how to find and repurpose gently-used denim.

Where to Find Second-Hand Denim

Thrift stores are a great resource for old jeans, denim skirts, and denim dresses. Most thrift shops have a huge jeans selection, so you can hunt for just the finish you’re after.

You can also find denim in your very own closet from time to time. I recently shrunk a pair of my husband’s jeans (oops!), so we’re probably going to turn those into cutoffs. Why send the rest of the pants leg to the landfill when there are so many great craft projects you can make from that fabric?

Here are a few ideas to get you going. Remember: denim is pretty heavy fabric, so you want to make sure you’re using the right needle. Pick up a heavy weight needle to make life easier for yourself!

Next>> Miniskirt

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

4 Responses to Fab Fabrics: Repurposed Denim

  1. frogmama says:

    These are good ideas. I have a huge garbage bag full, basically, of “daisy dukes” left over from a sewing project where my mom needed the flat leg fabric. So I have pockets, waistlines and side/inseams and everything in between. I can’t stand the idea of just throwing it out. Any ideas for that? I only need so many purses (and these don’t fit anyone in my family so a skirt wouldn’t do)… I’ve thought of ebaying the back pockets to more talented crafters… but maybe use a few for trivets or coasters… am I missing a totally obvious use for these??

  2. I love working with denim and recycled denim is even better because it was loved [distressed ] in some way. I recycled my no longer fitting jeans into a grocery bag. Recycled a pair of overalls into a purse and I use the heavy weight stretch denim jeans from goodwill for dog booties.

    You could recycle the “daisy dukes” into hanging organizers for people with walkers. Sew up the legs, what are left of them and add ties. Attach to the walker or even wheelchair. You could donate them to a local senior center or a retirement home.

  3. Andi says:

    I love crafting with denim (and corduroy and khaki) pants and have a large pile of unwearables in a basket in my sewing room. (I can’t bear to craft with pants that might still have life in them, they usually get donated, but the ones with holes and stains are mine. I use the flat pieces (the good parts, of course) for making bags, purses, pillows, quilts and rag rugs. Sometimes I make up my own patterns and other times I use a commercial pattern and just treat the pants like regular fabric. Including the seams adds interest. The back pockets I use as interior pockets in purses or as “remote pockets” on casual throw pillows. The only part I don’t use is the waistband, front pockets and zippers. If there were an easy way to detach the zipper I might save them for another project, as my grandmother did (she saved all the buttons from every worn out shirt, too.) Hmm…frogmama I don’t know about an obvious use but all of those back pockets sewed onto another piece of fabric would make a great hanging wall organizer, or even a fun advent calendar if you celebrate Christmas.

  4. frogmama says:

    Wow – what original ideas! Thanks! I love them! – and Andi – I have a purse RIGHT NOW that I love the size because I can slip a novel into it or whatever, but my keys and cellphone get buried in it! I may have to try putting a few pockets from those jeans inside it!

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