National Denim Day

Every day is a holiday! And Today is National Denim Day!

So in honor of National Denim Day, I’m providing this brief and general tutorial on making a tote from the leg of a pair of jeans. The good thing about using the legs is — each pair can yield you TWO tote bags! And they are soooo fun to make — and quick, too!

Here’s one I made:finishedtote

These instructions are very general, because there are so many different types and styles of jeans out there, that it’s impossible to give measurements. But you can adapt the instructions to fit whatever pair of jeans you want to use. Use kids jeans and make little girl’s purses! The other great thing is: the possibilities for embellishment are infinite! 

So here we go . . .

I first laid out the leg of the jeans on my cutting table and decided how deep I wanted my bag to be (in inches). Then I added 5 inches to this measurement to allow for closing the bottom and turning down the top.

cutting leg

Then I cut the leg off at this measurement, leaving the hem intact (cuz then some of the work is done for you!).


Then I embellished the front of my bag. I found these cute little applique flowers and tacked them on randomly. 


Now you’re ready to close the bottom of the bag. Turn it wrong side out and stitch the bottom cut edge closed. I used a half-inch seam for stability. It is up to you then if you just want to leave it flat or stitch across the corners to make the bag sit flat. I stitched across the corners of mine to make it just a little square on the bottom (not much).

Next, add your embellishment around the top edge. I used a piece of wide pink polka-dot ribbon and gathered the top edge to make it ruffly, and then overlaid a smaller piece of sheer ruffledy green trim on top of it. I actually stitched this to the jeans leg itself, in the position where the top would cover it when turned down (not to the hemmed edge) but you could do it either way. Then you’re ready to turn the top down to make a cuff and stitch it in place. I stitched just above the already stitched hem with navy thread so it wouldn’t show. Add some handles, and you’re ready to go! 


You could also make a lining for the tote if you wish, but it’s not necessary. I decided to get fancy and line mine with coordinating fabrics that matched my trims. I even added an inside pocket. To figure out the size of the piece to cut for the lining, I just measured my jeans leg width, doubled it, added 1/2″ for seam allowance, and then measured from top to bottom, adding 1/2″ for seams, and subtracting how far down inside the tote I wanted it to start. Then I stitched on the pocket, centered on one half, and sewed up the side and bottom seams and slid it down inside the tote and stitched around the top edge to hold it in place. It’s that easy! Here’s a picture of my lining wrong side out and ready to put inside my tote.


Here’s a picture of my lining finished, so you can see the pocket (not a very good picture).

inside pocket

Here’s another one I’m making, to satisfy the cowgirl side of me. I don’t have all my embellishments picked out yet. I want to put some rowels on it somewhere, or some conchos, or . . . this is so fun!

National Denim Day

And I have ideas for lots more, and by now, you probably have several ideas of your own spinning around in your head, so get out those old jeans and get to work. Send me pictures — I love seeing what other people’s imaginations can do! Have fun!

Published in: on October 3, 2009 at 8:37 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. That is one cute bag – almost two! Thanks for sharing.

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