How to Upcycle 1 Pair of Jeans 3 Different Ways

We all have our kryptonite. Mine? Hair clips. Mini skirts. Iced Coffee. Luckily for me, 2/3 of those things can be DIY’ed with a single pair of old jeans! I also had the most delicious lavender vanilla latte a couple of hours ago so all of my boxes have been checked. Grab your denim, it’s game time.

Image via @katiiekleiin

Denim Hair Clips 

This first DIY took maybe 60 seconds and resulted in the absolute cutest denim hair clips I’ve ever seen. All you need is some fabric scissors, fabric glue, a marker, and however many hair clips you’d like to jean-ify. I used a couple of clips I already owned that I wanted to switch up a little bit. Remember, this is always an option! I love taking pieces I already have and giving them a revamp as it’s both sustainable and fun. I had these darker denim scraps saved from a previous denim skirt DIY so all I had to do was reverse the material inside out to marker outline the clips I wanted to transform. I cut the outlines out with my fabric scissors and used fabric glue to attach the jean cutouts to the hair clips. Voila! In just one minute, I created my new favorite hair accessory. Seriously, how cute are these? Your turn.

Image via @katiiekleiin

Jean Skirt

Denim skirts are the perfect wardrobe staple for two reasons: you can easily dress them up or down, and denim goes with everything (team denim on denim, I said what I said) making it the perfect addition to your closet. And good news! You probably have what you need for this project already. For this simple denim DIY, grab a pair of old jeans, a ruler, the same marker, fabric scissors, and fabric glue from our hair clips above. Are you ready to construct the perfect mini skirt? I know I am.

To mark the length for my jean skirt, I used another mini skirt in my closet for reference. I laid the skirt on top of the jeans I would be using and marked the bottom of the skirt with a pen. Then, I used the ruler to draw a straight line on the jeans where the skirt would end, and cut along this line with my fabric scissors. So far so good, fashionistas!

At this point, your jean skirt might be looking more like a pair of jean shorts. Also a super easy DIY. After all, it is summertime, and who doesn’t love a pair of good jean cutoffs? To continue with our mini skirt DIY however, you’ll want to now cut up the seams of your jeans. Your skirt should be looking a little something like this:

Image via @katiiekleiin

Now that you have one open piece of material, you’ll want to flip your skirt to the back and push the seam to one side. Once you have modeled that folded-over seam, you can use the fabric glue to attach the two previously open pieces of denim to create the skirt back. Just like this!

Flipping the skirt back to the front, take one of the pant legs that was cut off at the start of our project and place it underneath the top layer of the skirt. You can use your pen to mark how much material you will need to cover the opening- this cutout will look somewhat like a triangle. That’s right, I passed geometry. Once you have the outline for this insert, you can cut it out and place it underneath the top layer in the middle where you are going to attach it. 

Image via @katiiekleiin

Final steps: use your fabric glue to attach this insert piece to the skirt so there is no longer an opening. After this piece has been attached, you’ll want to fold the front seam to one side the same way you did the back of the skirt and glue this down as well. Do you see the vision!? Leave a couple of newspaper pages in between the two layers of fabric so no glue seeps through and let the fabric glue dry for a couple of hours while you do your happy dance. Long happy dance, I know, but you won’t be able to help it! After my skirt dried, I took my fabric scissors one more time to straighten out the bottom of the skirt. You can always go over the sections you fabric glued with a simple running stitch for extra security. 

Image via @katiiekleiin

Tada! Your skirt is complete and almost too cute. Almost. Now it’s time to style your DIY and take on the day!

Denim Purse

Finally, we meet jean DIY #3. You used the top part of the jeans for the denim skirt, some scraps for the hair clips, and now you can use the bottom leg of the jeans to make a little purse! Use the jean legs and cut off the entire bottom of one leg into a square shape; I used about a 10-inch square for this. I used the jean leg with the stitch as the top of the bag for a cleaner look. Next, you’ll want to cut another piece of jean, similar in length but just a couple of inches wide. This part will be used to cover the bottom of the pant leg you cut and serve as the bottom of the bag. I turned the jean leg inside out and fabric glued the cutout piece to the bottom of the continuous leg. 

Image via @katiiekleiin
Image via @katiiekleiin

For my purse, I used the same darker denim I used for the hair clip DIY for my bag straps to add some contrast. To create your bag straps, you’ll want to cut off the seams of the pant leg you have left in a continuous loop. From this loop of jean fabric, cut the loop in half so you have two straps for your bag, matching in length. With the bag still inside out, I attached these straps to the inside with fabric glue so the denim would be showing once I reversed the bag. I let my bag dry for a couple of hours before turning it right side out and I love the way it turned out! 

Just like the denim skirt, if you want a sturdier hold, you can use a simple running stitch on the inside of the bag to ensure the bottom and the straps hold up if you intend to carry a heavier load. This adorable little bag is perfect for your phone, car keys, favorite lip gloss, and your wallet. Keep this bag simple like mine, classic denim, or feel free to dress up this denim dream with lace, patches, buttons, or whatever else your creative mind desires! 

There we have it! 1 pair of jeans upcycled in 3 different ways! I for one had so much fun with these projects and I just know you’re going to have a blast as well. Best of luck trying out these 3 ways to upcycle old jeans to achieve the jean dream!

If you decide to try any of these simple, no-sew DIYs, tag @cfashionista on Instagram to show off your denim dreams –  Upcycling looks good on you!