How to DIY a Cute and Easy Upcycled Denim Bag

Romela Occaso
by Romela Occaso
9 Materials
1 Hour

Here’s how to make a large, soft lined tote bag from upcycled denim scraps.

I used different colors of denim for interest but you could make the bag from one pair of old jeans if you prefer.

This is a quick and easy project that’s perfect for beginners.

I’d suggest you use a jeans sewing needle in your sewing machine to avoid breaking your regular needle!

Best fabric scissors!

Cut any fabric smoothly and easily with these bestseller fabric scissors that Amazon reviewers swear by!

Tools and materials:

  • Denim scraps
  • 2 jeans pockets
  • Cotton lining fabric
  • Ruler
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
Cutting denim

1. Cut the denim

You can make the bag any size you like. I used four squares, each 10 inches by 10 inches (25 cm by 25 cm) for each of the front and back panels.

You also need two jeans pockets and two strips of denim each 4 inches (10 cm) wide by 20 inches (50 cm) long for the handles. 

Sewing main panels

2. Sew the main panels

With the right sides facing, join the squares in pairs.

Sewing main panels

Join two of the pairs along the long sides to make a large square panel.

Sewing main panels

Topstitch either side of both of the long seams.

Sewing main panels

Place the pocket in the center of the large panel and sew in place around the side and bottom edges.

Attaching handles

3. Make and attach the handles

Fold the long strip of fabric in half lengthways with the wrong side inside and press. 

Open out the strip and press the top and bottom edges to meet at the center crease.

Fold the strip in half again lengthways and press, then sew both the long edges.

Pin the handle in place at the top of the bag on the right side, with the ends extending 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the edge.

Sew the handles in place.

Attaching handles

Cut out a 2 inch (5 cm) square from the bottom corners of the panel.

Make a second panel to match.

Making the inside pocket and lining

4. Make the inside pocket and lining

Cut a piece of lining fabric 14 inches (35 cm) wide by 16 inches (40 cm) long. 

Making the inside pocket and lining

Fold it in half widthways with the right side inside.

Sew around the three open sides, leaving a 2 inch (5 cm) gap on the long edge.

Making the inside pocket and lining

Snip the corners and turn the pocket right side out through the gap.

Press the pocket and topstitch along the folded edge.

Making the inside pocket and lining

Cut a piece of lining fabric the same size as the main panel.

Making the inside pocket and lining

Place the pocket centrally on the lining with the folded edge at the top.

Sew in place around the side and lower edges and up the center of the pocket.

Repeat to make a second lining and pocket.

Lining panels

5. Line the panels

Place the lining over the main panel with the right sides facing and sew together along the top edge.

Repeat for the second panel and lining.

Lining panels

Open out the two parts and place them together with the right sides facing.

Matching the top seam, pin and sew the denim panels together along the side and bottom edges, excluding the cut outs.

Lining panels

Repeat for the lining panels, leaving an opening in the bottom edge of the lining.

Lining panels

Pin and sew the sides of each of the four cut outs, lining up the side and bottom seams.

Lining panels

Pin and sew the corner of the lining to the corner of the denim panel on each long side.

Finishing upcycled denim bag

6. Finishing

Pull the bag through the opening in the lining and sew the opening closed.

Finishing upcycled denim bag

Turn the bag right side out and tuck the lining inside it.

Finishing upcycled denim bag

Finger press the top edge and topstitch one or two rows around it.

Upcycled denim bag

Upcycled denim bag

Upcycled denim bag

As you see, this makes a fairly large tote bag that can hold quite a lot.

You can use these instructions to make a bag of any size from upcycled denim or any firm weave fabric.

To make it more secure, you could add a magnetic closure to the top edge and the outer pockets.

Do you like it? I’d love to hear what you think of it in the comments below.

Next, check out my Quick and Easy DIY Hair Scrunchie Tutorial.

Suggested materials:
  • Denim scraps
  • 2 jeans pockets
  • Cotton lining fabric
See all materials

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation