Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Repurposing Cut-off Legs of Jeans

My sixteen year old daughter came to me with a pair of jeans and asked me if I could cut a straight line. She needed a pair of shorts "right now" and wanted me to do it. Upon examining these jeans, I realized they were a hardly worn pair of American Eagle jeans but they didn't "fit right". Not wanting to spoil these jeans completely, I cut them off according to her specific instructions regarding length. She wanted to be able to roll the leg up once with raw edges.

Not thrilled that I had just cut off the legs of a perfectly fine pair of jeans ($39.99 on sale), I knew I was going to have to salvage them by repurposing them into something. Hmmmmmm.
I have been wanting to make a bag to take shopping that would allow just enough room for a wallet and glasses, and with a long strap that would allow me to wear it diagonally across my chest. I have had neck problems for years and I have always paid dearly for carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder.
So an idea was born. The denim fabric was like new. I gathered some other fabric scraps that I could line the bag with and make pockets for the outside front and back. Little pockets are an ideal place for all those little business cards that I pick up at craft fairs and gift shops.
I started with the legs and cut off hems on both sides.

I cut two rectangles 11 1/2" long by 9" wide from the denim fabric (using just one leg) and two rectangles with the same dimensions from the lining fabric.

From the denim I cut another rectangle that was 5" long and 9"wide. (Inside pocket)

From another scrap of fabric (coordinating) I cut two pockets by tracing around an actual pocket
on the pair of jeans.  I placed the pocket right side down on the ironing board and ironed all raw edges over 1/4" and then once again and ironed.  I placed the pocket slightly above the center of the front of the bag and top stitiched it around both sides and the bottom. I repeated this step for the back side.

Next I placed the denim pocket on the front of the lining and sewed the sides. No need to worry about the raw edges since they will get sewn into the side seam of the bag. I zig-zagged the bottom of the pocket to avoid too much thickness but it can be folded over under once and stitched in place.

I then cut about a 1 1/2" square out of the left and right bottom corners on all 4 pieces. This will allow some extra width at the bottom of the bag.

Using a 1/4" seam allowance, I sewed the denim pieces, right-sides together, on each side. Across the bottom, I sewed from the right corner approximately 3" toward the center and reinforced the stitching. I repeated this step for the left side of the bottom as well. The center is left open a few inches to turn the bag right side out at the end.

Next I opened up the bag and matched the corners sideways and stitched close on both the right and left sides.

This is how the bag should look from the right side.

From the remaining pant leg, I cut 2 fabric strips (for the strap) approximately 2" wide and the entire length of the pant leg.  I knew I wanted the strap to be long enough to wear the bag diagonally. I placed it right side down on the ironing board and rolled in a good 1/4"  to the center on each long side and ironed. Then I folded the strip once again completely in half, lengthwise to achieve a narrow strap width. I ironed, pinned and stitiched it close to the open edge.

At this point my camera ran out of batteries so I will insert photos from the next bag that I make. For placement of the straps, I took the end of the strap and placed the right side of the strap to the right side of the bag top, at the side seam with the raw edge of the bag slightly extending over the top raw edge of the bag and pinned. I repeated this step the left side of the bag. Then I sewed the strap in place on both sides at the 1/4" seam allowance and reinforced the stitiching several times. I almost sewed the strap in place twisted, so you'll want to be sure the strap is sewn on both sides in the right position without any twists.

Now place the lining of the bag right side inside the denim bag that is turned wrong side out. If you have done this correctly, the right sides of both pieces will be touching each other. Be sure that the straps are not in the way and are flat inside the bag. Pin the tops edges together and sew all the way around the top of the bag using a 1/4" seam.

Reach inside the bag and pull the bag through the opening that you left while sewing the bottom of the lining. Turn the bag completely right side out. Iron. Then top stitch the bag opening all the way around. I actually left a tiny bit of the lining fabric showing. Whipstitch the inside lining opening closed or feel free to use your sewing machine. You will want to press at this point as well. It leaves a very nice, neat finish.

This is a perfect first-time sewing project. It is easy and can be completed quickly for all you people that need instant gratification. I will put up a few more of these simple to create bags completed in more interesting colors when I have the time.

Since I just cleaned out my daughter's closet, I found many hardly worn clothing items that I intend to repurpose. This bag would be cute made out of cargo pants as well, plus there is the added benefit of reusing the pockets that are already on the pants. Just be careful while cutting out the pockets. You may want to zig-zag the raw edges if you decide to use the pockets.

"I'm also all about comfort. Just hanging out and wearing jeans."
Sung Hi Lee

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