Upcycle Old Denim Into a Market Tote

DIY Market Bag Made from Old JeansThis DIY market bag does double duty: recycles old denim and reduces your single use plastic consumption!This DIY market bag does double duty: recycles old denim and reduces your single use plastic consumption!

You’ve now cut your old jeans to make a sexy upcycled mini skirtcraft supply organizer or I-pod case– what do you do with all those…well, leg scraps laying around? In a few simple and experimental steps you can create this super eco craft  hat has double the Earth-loving power: an upcycled denim BYOB (bring your own bag) tote!

Not only is a DIY market bag a great way to reuse your old jeans but this crafty shopper will help stop the plastic bag litter that is poisoning ground water and soil.  This sassy project deserves twp green stars!

DIY Market Bag

You Will Need:

  • legs left over from your last denim craft project
  • scissors
  • sewing machine or turn of the century hand sewing skills
  • thread of a fun contrasting color

DIY Market Bag Made from Old JeansThis DIY market bag does double duty: recycles old denim and reduces your single use plastic consumption!STEP #1: Choosing – I chose legs from two different stone washed jeans to make subtle contrasting stripes, but you can use any number scrap colors. You can also go for the mono color look, and let the thread be your main contrast.

STEP #2: Cutting – Now is the time to lay out those jean legs and cut them open. You will want to save the thick seams for the straps of the bag, so cut directly up the seams on both sides and remove them. Then cut 9 rectangles at 13inch X 5 inch  ( you can make them larger or smaller if you’d like to change the size of the bag, as long as every rectangle is the same exact size.)

STEP #3: Sewing– This is the fun part, that you can be experimental with! I took this as an opportunity to try out every bizarre stitch on my sewing machine, you know all those stitches that are zig zaggy, wavy and you don’t always know what they are for. I laid each jean strip right edge on top left edge, and then used a new (yet tight) stitch to sew each of the four front panels together. Repeat this step for the back four panels also. All eight stitch lines are totally different and unique, which makes the bag extra attractive. Now you have two pieces (each made of four panels), which you will turn inside out and prepare to sew the left and right sides, leaving the bottom and top completely open. (Kind of like making a pillow.) The one left over panel can now be sewn into the bottom. I put this in by centering the panel in the middle of the front piece and then simply sewing an inner seam by following along the edges (including the sharp turning edges).

STEP #4: Finishing Touches – The last of your finishing touches will be the straps and a snazzy decorative item. I turned the seam-line straps with the inside facing out, and placed them on the very inside corners of the bag (right and left) & used a very tight stitch over them. Make sure they are not twisted when you do this (cause that would stink). Now throw this BYOB baby in your wash & dry cycle with your next laundry load and let it make the 80’s fray. For the perfect finishing touch put an old and preferably gaudy broach from the thrift store on it and use as a clasp. Adorable!

Now go out and flaunt your DIY market bag at your local grocery store and famer’s market!

Written by Leslie Richard

I live and breathe everything eco , from organic gardening, organic food, to green crafting, minimalist decorating and nature made art. On an average day you can find me planting seeds, loving on my kitty, working on my eco fashion store The Oko Box (www.theokobox.com), and blogging about something green. I love promoting eco lifestyles and participating in changing the future, for a greener earth. xoxo


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  1. AWESOME, AWESOME oh and did I mention AWESOME idea! My hubby just retired about 6 pairs of jeans, I am all over creating a few totes today. thanks for the creative inspiration, I love your blog so much :~)

  2. Hey! Thanks for all the great info. I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and earthlab.com. I especially like EarthLab.com’s carbon calculator (http://www.earthlab.com/signupprofile/). I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it). Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).

  3. I just blogged about upcycling today as a matter of fact and have recently made attempts to find small ways to minimize my personal impact. I just love your idea!

  4. I received a picnic blanket as a wedding gift made from old jeans. It is the best! She used all the pockets as well so that kids can stash stuff in there. Just another idea. 🙂

  5. I made the bag like you said & used a fancy Stitch in a different Bright Color. I added Val-Cor for the top.
    You have “Great Idea’s”.
    Thank You.
    Also made 3 for the Grand’s with their name on each. Also added pom-poms. You’d think I bought them An expensive TOY!

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