I love my blue jeans. They’re a pain to find and when I do, I pay top dollar for something that fits and isn’t too fashionable. I then wear them till they’re holding on by mere threads. I do get good use out of my jeans, but the price I end up paying after a long hard search always comes to mind as I watch them fade away into tatters. I’d love to donate them when they’re gone, but when I can’t wear them, no one really can. Instead, I save my poor un-wearables, folded up on a shelf, until the right project comes along to recycle them. Here are some of the ways that you can use your old denim instead of throwing it out:
1. Make them into shorts. A good lesson from our mothers: any good pair of scissors and a bit of iron-on seaming tape and they’re now a comfortable pair of shorts after a long, hard winter.
2. Make the legs into pillows. I used grommets along the edges and laced the ends either with a fun knit-stitch with fun yarn or a straight lace-up with a belt. I then stuff with a pillow that has worn out its welcome on my bed, maybe with a bit of re-structuring to fit, and toss it in on the couch.
3. For kid-sized jeans, one leg and the waistband can team up to make a wine bag. I did this for a friend of mine by hacking the seat through the middle and one leg clean off, retaining the structure of the belt-loops and waistband for a handle. I turned the remaining leg inside out, folded it up on itself in half for layers, and stitched across the bottom a couple of times for strength. Righting it, I tucked a couple of re-freezable cooling packs between the layers and a pino grigo in the middle. You could also add the pocket from the removed leg as a place to keep a bottle opener.
4. Make a purse. Cut legs off in Daisy Duke-fashion. turn inside out, seam across the bottom. Take a strip of one leg that includes the seaming for strength and attach to the waistband with fasteners of your choice, or use a fashionable belt. There are great examples of this project on Etsy.
5. Make paper with your jeans. Take some time and cut your jeans into bits and strips (cutting with the long threads). Then shred them down using a wide-toothed comb. When you’ve turned your blue jeans into a pile of string and fluff, mix with the pulp made from shredded paper and water run through a food processor. Using a screen to lift the pulp, press the excess water out and lie flat to dry (iron for thinner sheets). Use as you would any hand-made recycled paper.
6. Denim coasters. Quick and easy: cut jeans into 3″x 3″ squares. Pour frosty beverage. Place denim between beverage and beautiful wood finish. For extra pizazz, cut denim into other shapes.
7. I love denim in the snow. If you turn a leg inside out, wrap with a layer of flannel or a fluffy fabric and stitch securely, when you right your project you have a beautifully recycled hand muff. Wear with your favorite denim jacket, or your white fur coat.
8. Somehow I missed when leg warmers came back in, but, you can make a pair with your old jeans’ legs. Cut to the desired length, then, for proper fit, up the inside seam and re-seam. Turn them inside out and embellish the ends with lace, a piece of t-shirt, or just hem the jeans neatly. Patch any holes in the jeans to match or contrast, and turn right-side in. Great with knit skirts, for a reversal.
9. Turn your jeans into a belt holder. With a leg of jean, rip out the side and inside seams. Sew horizontal lines across the leg making horizontal pockets in varying widths for the varying widths of your belts. Clamp the top of the jeans with a skirt hanger, and slide it neatly into your closet. This idea was inspired by a knitting needle holder.
10. Use your blue jeans for patches. Other clothes get holes in them, too. Patch your favorite sweater with denim elbows. To attach denim to knits, turn knit wrong side out and stitch twice around the hole before adding the patch. This will help keep the knit from unraveling, even when hemmed to another fabric. Add a pair of pockets to the sides of some pants for a twist on the cargo pant, or just add extra pockets to the cargos you have. And there’s nothing like shuffling around in a pair of jeans that are actually three or four of your favorite pairs of jeans patched together. (Note: Any denim sewing should be done with denim-grade needles and tough thread. Your machine will thank you.)
All over the crafting and recycling world, old jeans are a precious commodity. If nothing else, send your jeans to become Green Insulation, of the Blue Sort, by Bonded Logic. Where to recycle: GUESS by Marciano will have denim drop-off locations in select US stores during the month of April 2008 and in additional US and Canada stores during the month of May 2008.” In any case, your jeans can be worn, but good denim will never go out.
Image courtesy of aphasiafilms