How to turn your old jeans into bags

Mike Aspinall 17 September 2021

Give your old jeans a new lease on life in ten easy steps 

Last year, a pair of my trousers got a rip in them. I sewed it up, of course. But after a few more wears, the hole kept reopening (and the fabric was getting threadbare). Try as I might, there was no salvaging them!

But instead of throwing them away, I stashed them with my craft supplies, knowing that I would cut them up and use the fabric one day. That day has come!

Instead of simply cutting up the fabric and sewing it into something new, I wanted to maintain original elements of the trousers and use them in a different way. Inspired by some drawstring shorts I made recently, I figured out a way to remove the back pockets and transform them into a small, no-sew drawstring bag. That’s right—absolutely no sewing is required to make these upcycled bags! Just a seam ripper and a dab of glue. Easy.

A small bag made out of old jeans

You will need:

• Old trousers with a back pocket
• Seam ripper
• Fabric scissors
• Fabric glue
• Drawstring, rope or ribbon

What to do:

1 Turn the back pocket of your trousers inside out, and pull the lining as far out as possible. You’ll see that the pocket is basically a little bag, stitched into a hole in the trousers.

2 Using a seam ripper, unpick all of the seams that are holding the pocket to the trousers. There’s no neat way to do this—just keep going until there’s nothing left to unpick!

3 When you’ve finished unpicking, there might be a few sections that you’ll need to cut through to remove the pocket completely. Carefully cut these with fabric scissors to release 
the pocket.

4 Remove all of the loose threads and bits of fabric from the pocket.

5 Unpick the top 3cm of the side seams (on both sides).

6 Turn the pocket the right way round (if it’s not already), so the raw side seam edges are hidden on the inside.

7 Lay the bag flat. Fold over the top edges by 3cm (ie, up to the point that you unpicked in the previous step).

8 Apply a thin strip of strong fabric glue to the edge of this folded section, to fix it in place (alternatively, you can sew it). Make sure not to glue the entire fold, as you’ll need to thread a drawstring through it—you’re basically creating a long tunnel with open ends.

9 Turn the bag over and repeat for the other side, folding over the edge and glueing in place.

10 When the glue has completely dried, thread a drawstring through both sides of the bag and tie a knot.

This upcycled drawstring bag is great for storing small things like loose change or charger cables. And I love the fact that it’s made from fabric that might otherwise have ended up going in the bin.

Read more: The dogs that are helping us beat cancer

Read more: 7 effective shields against COVID


Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter