Big Projects

Up-cycled Denim Bag – Part 1

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Have an old pair of jeans? Or have a pair that you just don’t wear anymore? Well why not turn them into a handy little bag!

What you’ll need to get started:

  • Pattern drafting paper2015-09-25 10.48.51 Refit

  • Ruler

  • Pencil

  • Protractor (This isn’t necessary, it just makes your pattern more accurate)

  • Scissors

  • Iron

  • Hemming tape (Not necessary, just adds strength)

  • Fabric Shears

  • Pins

The first step towards making this bag is to draw the pattern. We’ll start with the main section of the bag and for this you’ll need to draw a square measuring 26cm x 26cm. Now, we have a square, I decided with mine that I wanted the corners to be shaped. If you wish to do this too, measure 3.5cm from one of the corners along both the joining sides and mark this measurement. Then to create the diagonal line, join your markings up. Repeat this for the adjacent corner and this will be the bottom of the bag! These measurements include a seam allowance of 1cm but you can adapt them if you want to. (This picture is just showing you the shape but don’t cut yours out just yet!)

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Now we need to draw the flap that will actually close the bag. For this step we need to add 3cm on the top of our bag on both sides, then using the protractor measure a 45° angle on the line you have just drawn and mark the angle with a dot. Using a ruler, match up the end of the 3cm line with the dot and draw a line measuring 14cm. Do this step for the other side as well. Then simply join the two diagonal lines with a straight line and there you have it, your own bag pattern!

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The next step is to get our fabric ready! For my own bag, I will be using a pair of jeans with a waist measurement of 83cm and a hip measurement of 107.5cm. The pattern we have drawn will fit perfectly onto these size jeans however, if you have smaller jeans you will need to adapt your pattern by downsizing it. I chose to unpick the seams on my pair of jeans just to get a little bit more fabric but this step isn’t completely necessary! Also, if you have any leftover fabric or seams, leave them to one side either for decoration or more future projects! I have unpicked the back pockets on the jeans because I want one to be on the inside of the bag and one to be on the outside.

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Fabric cutting time! Lay your pattern on the jeans length ways so that the natural grain of the fabric runs down the bag. Go ahead and pin the pattern on, then cut out your first section of the bag. Repeat this same step on the lining fabric. Now we are going to fold the pattern along the line separating the triangle and the square that we drew, so that now from the front we can just see the square shape. Pin and cut out this shape from both the denim and the lining fabric. Make sure when cutting the denim that you only use one of the trouser legs because we will be using the other for the strap!

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To make the bag strap, we will be using the whole length of the trouser leg so we won’t need to make a pattern for this step. Using tailors chalk or a fabric marker, mark 4cm going across the leg (this will be the width of the strap but this also gives us a seam allowance). Repeat this all the way up the leg and connect the marks up with a straight line. Directly beside the first strap, draw the exact same again so you’ll have two lengths of denim measuring 4cm across. Once you have finished drawing, cut the straps out using fabric shears. At this point, I decided that I wanted to make my strap a little more sturdy so I’ve used a bit of hemming tape (WonderWeb).

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So let’s take everything over to the iron, give everything a good press to get all the creases out of your fabric then we can continue with the strap.

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Position the hemming tape directly down the centre of your strap and then fold the remaining fabric over to meet the middle. Smooth the iron over, setting the fold in. Do this all the way up the strap and on the second piece of strap that you have (don’t worry if you get any hemming tape stuck on the iron like I did!)

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And that is all of our preparation done! Now we just have to stitch everything together! Check out Part 2 to get started!

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(Part 2 will be uploaded on Monday 19th October)

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