Mother’s Day Gift Idea- Up-cycled Denim Tote Bag

Here’s another idea for a Mother’s Day gift- one that you can make yourself! I first made one of these bags back in college for a Christmas gift for my roommate. Since then, I’ve made about a zillion more- for gifts, to sell at craft shows and when they were ordered by my co-workers. They’re fairly easy to make and can be made for under $10!

To start, gather some old jeans… I’ve used my own, have been given them by friends, and I’ve even bought some at second hand store’s bag sales. I find that men’s jeans work best because they don’t stretch like women’s jeans. You’ll also need some long pieces for your straps. Denim skirts or tall jeans or even a little yardage (1/3 yd should be good) work great for the straps.

Then, you have to cut them up! When I started, I used a cardstock pattern but now I just use a rotary cutter and ruler.  I make my bags in 2 sizes… for a small bag (which will finish at 12″x12″ square) cut out 48- 4″ squares. To make a large bag (which finishes at 16″x16″), cut out 48- 5″ squares.

Step 2: Cut your lining fabric into squares of the same size. 1 yard of the fabric is plenty for a bag.

Step 3: Arrange your denim squares into a larger square that is 4 squares by 4 squares.

Step 4: To start sewing the bag together, take a lining square and a denim square and line them up with wrong sides together. Do the same thing with a second set of denim and lining squares. Then, you’re going to line up all 4 squares with the lining fabric in the middle and the denim on the outside and sew down one side with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Step 5: Repeat step 4 to make all of your rows. Then, you’ll want to sew all of your rows together.

Step 6: Make the front and the back of the bag. Then sew strips together to be the sides and bottom of the bag. Then, you’re going to sew the sides, bottom, front and back together. Make sure all of the seams are 1/2″ big and to the outside of the bag.

Step 7: Now make and sew on your straps. You can do this in a number of ways but I usually sew the ends of the straps directly into the seam between the first and second row of the bag.

Step 8: Make sure you sew one more seam around the top of the bag to secure the straps in place and allow you to snip the top too.

Step 9: This is the hardest part. You now have to snip each and every seam into about 1/2″ chunks. Be careful not to cut into your stitching! I recommend these snip scissors…

Step 10: After you’ve snipped each seam, wash and dry the bag in the washing machine and dryer. (I recommend doing it by itself because it creates a prodigious amount of lint!) Then lint roll it and you’re done!

Have fun up-cycling your old jeans into something fun and useful!

Elise

 

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Categories: Gift Ideas, Tutorials

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2 Comments on “Mother’s Day Gift Idea- Up-cycled Denim Tote Bag”

  1. May 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    These are very cute!

  2. May 3, 2012 at 1:40 am #

    cool idea. i’m thinking of turning an old pair of my jeans into a strapless top, I hope it works out.
    I made my mom candles for mothers day instead!

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