How to Make a Purse from Old Denim Jeans

Jeans Purse Refashion watermarked

I’ve been trying to limit myself to sewing with fabrics and patterns I already own instead of adding more to my collections. For support in accomplishing this goal I joined a Facebook group called Stashbusting Sewalong 2014. Stashbusting Sewalong members dedicate themselves to sewing from their current fabric stashes rather than buying new fabrics. A worthy goal, and one I’m seriously working on. But recently I realized that in addition to my fabric and pattern hoards I have another guilty stash secret: my sewing books! So I’m also pledging to quit using my sewing books just as dust collectors. I’m going to sew at least one project from each of the sewing books I already own before I buy any additional sewing books. 

My first sewing book project, pictured above, is a jeans purse I made from the book denim redesign by Amy Barickman. I purchased this book when it was published in 2007 because I wanted to repurpose jeans that no longer fit me. Of course I’ve long since gotten rid of all those ill-fitting jeans, so I had to purchase a thrift store pair in order to make this purse. Sigh, why does procrastination have to be my greatest talent?

I like several of the 20 projects included in denim redesign so I believe I’ll use this book again in the future. (And by then I’ll have some of my own jeans to repurpose.) The first project I chose to make from this book was the 2 pocket denim purse, and it was super easy to sew. The purse is made from a pair of men’s 38″ waist blue jeans. However, I wanted to make a black purse, so I used the only black denims I could find at my local thrift store with a large enough waistband: women’s capris in size 2X. So for this particular project none of my old jeans would have worked anyway since a 38″ waistband is necessary to make the purse handle the correct length.

To create this purse, measure 10.5″ up from the jeans hem on both the legs and cut off. Then cut down the center back of each of the 10.5″ leg portions. Remove the watch and back pockets from the jeans. Detach the belt loops and remove the waistband. Lay the 10.5″ leg portions flat with right sides together and hems at the top and stitch a 1/2″ seam on both sides, leaving the bottom open. Press the seams open and turn right side out. This will be the body of your purse.

Sew the jean pockets on the purse body 3″ down from the top, centering each pocket on each purse side seam. Remember to leave the tops of the pockets open! Turn the purse wrong side out and sew a 1/2″ seam across the bottom. Cut 6″ off the buttonhole end of the waistband and set aside. Pin the long waistband ends about 1.5″ inside each of the pockets, being careful not to twist the waistband. Stitch in place. The long waistband piece is now your purse handle.

Remove the metal button from the 6″ piece of waistband by cutting around the fabric at the base of the button and pulling on the button. This is the hardest part of the project – you’ll have to pull hard! Place the raw end of the 6″ piece 1.5″ down from the top center back of your purse, zigzagging across the raw edge. This is your closure flap. Center one of the belt loops over the stitched edge of the closure flap and sew the ends of the belt loop down, concealing the zigzagged flap edge. Flip the closure flap over the top of the purse opening and mark where you want the buttonhole to button closed on the purse body. Sew a button that fits through the existing buttonhole to the purse at that spot. Stitch the ends of another belt loop 2″ above the button on the purse. Above that add another belt loop to the top edge of the purse – the flap closure will pass through these loops and create an extra secure closure. Sew 2 more belt loops on either sides of the purse, concealing the ends of the purse handle.

For the purse lining, cut 2 pieces of fabric 11″ high by 14″ wide. (I used left over quilting cotton for my lining.) For a small pocket on the purse interior sew the jeans watch pocket closed across the bottom and stitch this pocket onto the right side of one the lining pieces. Then with the lining pieces right sides together stitch the sides and bottom with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Clip corners and press seams open. Press a 1/2″ hem to the wrong side of the lining top opening. With the wrong sides together put the lining inside the purse and handstitch around the top of the purse, securing the lining to the jeans fabric. And you’re done! Enjoy your cute jeans purse!


  1. I love the idea of sewing at least one project from each of my sewing books because, like you, I have *way* too many sewing books that I’ve never done anything with! (And I keep collecting more!) Nice job with the purse. You should consider embellishing it with some flowers like you did with that denim skirt you made!


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