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Recycle Jeans for Green Quilting and Sewing Projects

So can you recycle jeans for quilting and sewing?  You bet you can!  Repurposing items is a hot trend right now.  Quilters have been repurposing things for years.  Quilters used feed sacks, the good portions of worn out clothing, and more.  Denim quilts are fabulous to have.  They put up with just about anything.  Think about what a pair of jeans will put up with and how long they last?  There's no reason to head to the store to buy new denim by the yard.  I bet your family has enough jeans laying around that can be recycled to make several quilting and sewing projects.

recyling jeans

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Paul is hard on a pair of jeans.  He will wear the knees out long before any other part of the jeans are worn out.  I started stockpiling them for future projects.  He ended up using them before I did.  He made a denim quilt as his first quilt.  Before we start cutting up our jeans I have a few tips about dealing with denim.

Handling Denim Tips

  • Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance
  • Use Sharp Scissors
  • Watch out for rivets, cut around them
  •  Leave portions with stains in you can cut around them once you have a project
  • Cut out portions with holes
  • Keep the back pockets
So that's pretty easy, right?  So gather up all those jeans that don't fit, have worn out knees, and have a stain or two, and let's get to recycling some jeans.  Also, don't forget to check garage sales and let your friends and extended family know you are recycling jeans.

Steps To Recycling Jeans

We are going to start by removing the legs and dealing with the top portion of the jeans.

cutting legs off jeans

I just whack the legs off using my rotary cutter.  After I just the legs off I put the rotary cutter away.  I go as close to the crotch seam as I can get and angle the cut slightly.  I'm just trying to get the most fabric possible.

legs removed from jeans

See the seam there for the crotch?  Cut that out.  We don't need it and frankly if they aren't jeans from my family it kinda grosses me out. 

hip seam of jeans

At this point, I turn the jeans inside out and work that way.  We start by cutting out the side seam up to the waistband. Follow the waistband on the back side of the jeans to the next hip seam.  Just cut through the belt loops.

other hip seam

Cut down the next hip seam to separate the front from the back.  If you jeans have a label on your jeans you can either cut through it or around it.  It's your choice. 

back of jeans

front half of jeans

That's what we should have now.  Now we need to get rid of that zipper.  Cut right by the zipper on the jeans side not on the zipper side.

pocket seam

Now, we need to get rid of the pockets.  If your jeans have rivets be careful you don't want to damage your scissors.  Cut off the seam.

remove pocket top stitching

Now flip over to the right side of the fabric.  You may have noticed that your pocket didn't come out when you cut the seam off.  That's because it's attached to the front too.  We need to just the top stitching off.  Follow the bottom edge of stitching around.  Repeat the last two steps with the other side.

We now have to deal with the legs.  This is where we will get the bulk of our fabric.  This goes fairly quickly.

cutting off jean hem

We need to get rid of the hem.  You can see the small notch I made to get to the leg.  It is easier to cut on the pant leg because it is thinner than the hem.

flat felled seam

This is a flat felled seam.  It is super strong but it we don't want to sew over it so it has to go.

removing the flat felled seam

Cut on both side of the seam.  There's a nice groove for your scissors to follow.  

outside seam

The last thing we do is cut the outside seam off.  Just following the stitching.  Repeat with the other leg.

That's it!!  Even kid jeans will give you a lot of fabric to work with here.

recycling denim for future projects

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Would you like to comment?

  1. I dont get into redoing jeans...But when the men and boys was wearing them big baggy jeans with big pockets...They made great levie bags for my hubbys tool made him 10 of them and he gave one to every one of his guys....It made them all happy.......ohhhhh and a few wood halling totes too....

  2. I have a box full of denim, I need to pull it out and make another denim quilt.

  3. Great tips! Thanks for sharing! #sustainablesundays

  4. I love upcycling jeans... so much. I have been staring longingly at the ripped jeans my husband is still wearing and I keep hinting, "Sooooo when are you going to stop wearing those..."

    1. Oh and thanks for linking up at #SustainableSundays