DIY: Denim clutch from your old jeans!

Hello there readers! I was looking through my pile of scrap fabric the other day in the hope I might discover something useful and I stumbled upon some of my old jeans that don't fit any more. Seeing them, I was reminded of a web article that I read some number of years ago which was all about ways to recycle old jeans (I wish I'd saved that article!). One thing I remembered from the article was a denim bag and so I thought I'd tweak the method a little and make a clutch.

So, here's a little DIY project for you to try if you find yourself with a pair of old jeans and don't know what to do with them (if you're not crafty, giving them to the poor is also a great option!)

Note: This project is meant to be quite quick and as a result I haven't bothered too much with exact measurements (or perfect edges, as it turns out!). Please feel free to adapt these instructions to suit your own needs.

First, gather all of the supplies you'll need (as above!)
I highly recommend using a sewing machine for this project, since denim can be pretty tough to sew through by hand - but that's up to you of course!
I've cut my old jeans along the seams into four 'leg' sections. For this project I'm going to use one of the 'back leg' sections (the back part of my jeans with a pocket on it!)

First, fold your jean leg back over itself to the size that you want your clutch to be.
Then trim off the excess from around your bag shape so it's roughly a square (make sure you don't trim off the top seam of the jeans!)
Next, get your secondary fabric (the one you're going to use for the top flap of your clutch). I thrifted this cool oriental fabric from Vinnies for $3.

Place your square jean shape on top of the fabric and cut around the outside, so you have a square (of the secondary fabric)
Then repeat this process, so you have two squares of the secondary fabric!
Put your secondary fabric aside for now and get the denim square again.
Turn it 'inside out' (so the outside pocket is now on the inside) and sew along the outer edges of your jeans - as shown in the picture!
Alright - back to that secondary fabric.
Put the two squares together so the 'right' sides are facing inwards to each other (see the above picture for a guide!).

Note: the 'right' side of a fabric is the outer-facing side; usually more boldly printed. It's the side you want people to see. The 'wrong' side is the ugly side, haha.
Then, sew the two squares together along the two outer sides and the top side (leave the bottom unstitched because the next step is to turn it right-side out!)

After that's done, you should have what looks like a little pillowcase. Turn it right-side out so you can see the right side of the fabric again (the nice side).
Next, line up your 'pillowcase' with the top edge of the denim pouch that you made earlier. 
Make sure there's about 2cm of overlap - I didn't sew my oriental fabric right along the seam line of the top of my jeans and you'll see why soon!

Note the position of the denim part - we're going to sew the oriental fabric to the outside back of the denim - above the pocket.

This part's a little tricky - once you've lined up your 'pillowcases', sew them together ONLY ALONG ONE SIDE of your denim pouch. You definitely don't want to be sewing your bag shut.
Next, flip your bag around. It should look something like the above picture!
Note the overlap of the oriental fabric on the denim - it's not sewn right to the edge.
Now you're going to sew along the line indicated in the picture, to really lock your clutch flap in place!
Now, when you turn the bag over again, it should look something like the above picture!
You should have two seams going straight across the back of your clutch. 

(Mine are dismally lopsided because I had to take the foot off my sewing machine because the oriental fabric was too thick to fit underneath it when combined with the denim! haha)
How are you going? Alright? Good job.

Now flip your bag over once more. This is a bit tricky too. You're going to fold the frayed edge of the jeans underneath itself and pin it, like in the picture. 
(You can see on the right-hand side of the picture what the frayed edge looks like before you pin it under)

Once you've done that, sew along that edge so that it's secure (then you can take the pins out!)
Next, flip your bag over (as in the picture) and sew straight along the edge marked in the picture.

You can fold this edge under (like in the last step) if you like, but I'm not going to bother since my stitches and paper fasteners will hold this one in place!
Now when you fold the flap down, you should have something that looks like this!
Next we're going to attach our brads or paper fasteners (like in the picture above). 
You can get these from any scrapbooking or craft store (I got mine from Spotlight for about $4.50).

Make sure you push them into the fabric as close as you can to the edge. Use your seam as a guideline for where to pin them so they make a straight line.
Once pushed into the fabric, you can turn the fabric over and secure the brads by pulling their 'legs' apart. Make sure you pull them horizontally and not vertically, otherwise they'll stick out and poke you!
Then, when all your brads are fastened in place, flip your bag over and grab your fabric glue! Make a line of it along the edge of your fabric (where the undersides of your brads are).
Cut a strip of velcro to fit the edge of your bag and stick it down on top of the line of glue you made.
You'll need to wait a little while for this to dry before you test the flap.
(I ended up swapping to shoe glue because it's stronger and I didn't want to wait long for it to dry, haha)
Next, turn your clutch to face you, face up, and cut another piece of velcro (the same length as the one you cut before!)
Stick this one down on your bag wherever you'd like your flap to end up. Remember that if you have lots of things in your bag, it's going to be harder to close. So it might be a good idea to leave a little bit of room for that!

Once that's dried completely, you can try closing your clutch...
There you have it! A lovely little recycled denim clutch. And the best bit? You made it!
I also really like the fact that there's already a pocket there to store your phone, keys etc. 
Thanks, old jeans! :)
There are a bunch of ways you can decorate your clutch from here - you might attach some buttons, or even a strap or a chain, or you could iron on some designs... the possibilities are almost endless.

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed this little project!
Please let me know if you try this out - I would love to see what wonderful things you come up with :)

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  1. Good job Jenna, 10 points for creativity!
    However I dont have the skills for such a mean feat, i gave up on textiles years ago when it took me three hours to sew a button on my school shirt. :)

    1. Haha! What a solid effort! School shirt buttons can be quite tricky.
      Thanks for the comment! :)