Upcycle Your Cargo Pants: Here are 13 projects!

Here are my favorite ways to upcycle your cargo pants!

Cargo pants can be kind of hard to upcycle. They get worn as hard as jeans do, but they’re half the weight. They don’t lend themselves to the sorts of heavyweight projects that denim is best for, but because they’re pants, you don’t think of them when you’re making lightweight projects.

Poor cargo pants!

Well, I happen to be a BIG fan of cargo pants as the butch alternative to shorts, and so I always have plenty of beat-up pairs to upcycle. Here, then, are my favorite ways to upcycle your cargo pants–some are easy, some are more complex, but all are awesome, and all are great ways to craft green.

Here are my favorite ways to upcycle your cargo pants.

13 Ways to Upcycle Your Cargo Pants

1. cargo skirtThis tutorial actually forms the skirt’s cargo pockets from the pants legs, but it would also work with existing cargo pants pockets.

2. ditty bagThis bag isn’t super cute, but who cares? Not you, when you see how much stuff it holds!

3. dog cooling vest and backpackYou know you want your dog to carry some of your stuff. But that will make it hot, so you’ll also want to help it stay cool. You can do both using cargo pants!

4. drawstring baby pantsI LOVE cutting down adult clothes into kids’ clothes. All those finished hems and pockets and details make sewing a breeze!

5. e-reader bagThis e-reader bag looks great, and it has a handy carrying strap.

6. messenger bagThis is my FAVORITE way to upcycle your cargo pants! I think that this project, more than any other, is suited to the particular style and fabric weight of cargo pants, and that side pocket? Of course it goes on the front flap!

7. patchwork cargo skirtIt’s okay to piece your skirt together; this one, for instance, uses the technique to create a cute ruffle at the bottom of the cargo skirt.

8. pocket belt. Make a multi-tool belt out of your old pair of cargo pants.

9. reversible bucket bagHere’s a nice, big reversible bag that will hold all your things.

10. shorts bagThis project is a great one for cargo shorts, or for cargo pants that have had the pants legs cut away for other uses.

11. toddler romperPiece part of a pair of cargo pants with some cutely contrasting fabric to make an adorable toddler-sized romper dress.

12. water bottle slingBecause sometimes you don’t want to carry a backpack or other bag, but you ALWAYS want to carry a water bottle.

13. yoga mat bagPants legs are made for yoga mats, Friends. And once again, cargo pants legs give you a bonus present of extra pockets!

Photo credit: cargo pants image via Shutterstock

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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