12 Crafty Uses for Old Jeans

Don’t throw out your old jeans. Upcycle them to make coasters, placemats, journal covers, tote bags, and more.

By Deirdre Mundorf | Published Jan 17, 2023 1:24 PM

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iStock-1316029561 upcycling denim woman making pocket on bag with old jeans.jpg

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you have any old or unwearable pairs of jeans lying around, you don’t have to throw them away. Repurposing household items by turning them into something new—known as upcycling—is becoming increasingly popular. By upcycling your worn-out pair of jeans into something both functional and attractive, you’ll not only save money, but also reduce the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill, thereby helping to minimize your environmental impact.

You may have heard that old jeans can be used for insulation and other commercial purposes, but did you know that you can also turn your worn out jeans into a new purse, quilt, stuffed animal, and more? You don’t even need to know how to sew. Try fabric glue or fusible bonding tape like this Stitch Witchery by Dritz at Amazon that adheres fabric using a steam iron. There’s nothing holding you back from upcycling your jeans for a creative new use.

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Denim Journal Cover

Etsy upcycling denim journal cover

Photo: Etsy viaPlumbumBindery

With a little bit of time and some basic sewing skills, you can make a journal cover from an old pair of jeans. Lay out your design to center one of the back pockets on the front cover to create a built-in pen holder, like this denim spiral bound journal by PlumBumBindery at Etsy.

Jeans Pocket Silverware Holder

Etsy upcycling denim jeans pocket silverware holder

Photo: Etsy via UpcycledTextileCo

These silverware holders made from jeans pockets by UpcycledTextileCo at Etsy are as functional as they are cute. Simply cut out the back pocket from a pair of jeans, add a few stitches to reinforce the seams, and they’ll be ready to go. They’re perfect for an outdoor summer gathering or a casual meal at home with the family.

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Fabric and Denim Bins

Etsy upcycling denim fabric bins

Photo: Etsy via AddieJeanQuilts

If you need organizing bins and have a worn-out pair of jeans, you can use them to make an attractive set of catch-alls, like this set of three floral and denim bins by AddieJeanQuilts at Etsy. Cut the pant legs of the jeans into sections, line with fabric, sew the bottom closed, and roll down the fabric cuff. Use the new bin to hold personal items, home office supplies, or even a small planter.

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Upcycled Jeans Bibs

Etsy upcycling denim jeans bibs

Photo: Etsy via BeckyAnnsSewing

Whether you have your own baby or toddler or are looking for a cute and original baby shower gift, consider making an adorable upcycled jeans bib, like these denim toddler bibs by BeckyAnnsSewing at Etsy. Cut the fabric to the desired size and shape, hem the edges, and then add a few snaps or a hook and eye fastener to close the bib around the back of the neck. Get fancy by sewing on a backing of flannel, old pajamas, or bandanna fabric. You could even place the pocket in the middle of the bib to add more character to the design.

RELATED: 12 Ingenious Ways to Upcycle Old Pillowcases

Denim Tote Bag

Etsy upcycling denim denim tote bag

Photo: Etsy via careforus

You can also turn old jeans into denim tote bags for carrying books, electronics, or other necessities. Consider incorporating patches or strips of different denim colors to add more visual appeal to the bag, like this recycled denim tote bag by CareForUs at Etsy. If you’re more ambitious, you could even add a zipper or interior pockets to make the bag more functional.

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Denim Pouch

Etsy upcycling denim denim pouch

Photo: Etsy via

A denim pouch can offer the perfect spot to store makeup, toiletries, writing utensils, or other small accessories. By making your own denim pouch, you can easily customize the dimensions to suit your specific storage needs. Sew a zipper along the top of the pouch to keep your belongings secure, like this zippered denim pouch by MariaAndOliEcoDesign at Etsy, or make things simple by adding a flap with a snap.

Denim Placemats

Etsy upcycling denim denim placemats

Photo: Etsy via

Get ready for your next dinner party with these jeans placemats. Grab a few pairs of old jeans—some darker and some lighter—so you can make geometric patterns with the different shades of denim. You can even use the back pockets of the jeans to create a built-in silverware holder on each placemat, like these quilted denim placemats by SweetHomeAmerica at Etsy.

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Denim Quilt

Etsy upcycling denim denim quilt

Photo: Etsy via

If you have several old pairs of jeans, think bigger by making a beautiful and warm denim quilt from squares of fabric. With an assortment of shades of denim, you can create patterns or designs that will make the quilt more visually interesting, like this upcycled denim rag quilt by CrookedSeamz at Etsy. A large upcycled denim quilt can be a wonderful gift for a friend or family member, or you may want to keep it all to yourself.

RELATED: 10 Smart Ways to Upcycle Old Tablecloths

Denim Wreath

Etsy upcycling denim denim wreath

Photo: Etsy via

With old jeans and a wire wreath form, you can create a delightful piece of art to welcome guests to your home. Wrap strips of denim around the wire frame, and then add jeans belt loops, faux flowers, seasonal accessories, or other flourishes that provide color, texture, and depth. We like this jeans loop wreath by JEANONupcycling at Etsy that you can decorate for any season.

Denim Stuffed Animal

Etsy upcycling denim denim stuffed whale

Photo: Etsy via

If your favorite pair of jeans has seen better days, turn those much-loved pants into a stuffed animal like this stuffed denim whale by DenimFelt at Etsy. You can find printable patterns online to make fish, teddy bears, and other shapes. Proudly display your stuffed creation on a dresser or bookshelf, or pass it on to a child to play with and enjoy.

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Denim Purse

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Etsy upcycling denim denim purse

Photo: Etsy via

se strips of denim to make a purse that is as functional as it is fashionable, like this navy and light blue denim purse by NeverEndingDenim at Etsy. For this project, you’ll want to use a few pairs of old jeans, each of a different color. Cut the jeans into long, 1-inch-wide strips, then arrange the strips into a geometric pattern. Add a lining and denim handles, and then fill ‘er up.

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Denim Coasters

Etsy upcycling denim denim coasters

Photo: Etsy via

Protect your tables while bringing a homespun touch to your decor with a set of denim coasters. You can customize the shape and design of the coasters according to your preferences and sewing skills. For an easier project, simply sew some batting between two layers of denim. If you want to try something more challenging, use patches of different denim shades to create a geometric design for the top layer of the coaster, like these square denim coasters by SecondLifeDenim at Etsy.