person wearing blue denim jeans

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I love upcycling old blue jeans so today I thought I’d share some tips on how to cut up + deconstruct your jeans to salvage all kinds of materials you can use in so many ways!

1. Deal With Zippers, Waist Bands and Pockets First

The first place I start is with the waist band, zipper and pockets. Waist bands make for great straps for tote bags and their thickness can make them suitable for other projects as well!

The zippers on most jeans are pretty small, but there are many things you can do with them, whether you use the zipper to be a pocket later or you salvage the metal of the zipper itself for other projects.

Also – the pockets! Pockets are great! The inside lining of blue jean pockets is usually a thinner material – and covered with lint if not completely worn through in the case of older well-worn pants.

The back pockets are always the most useful, as they can be repurposed for bags, wall hangers and more.

2. Cut Off the Seams

With the waist band + pockets + zipper out of the way, the next place to start when cutting up old blue jeans is the seams.

Once you cut off the seams on a pair of jeans, you’ll find you have nice big sections of raw denim material to work with!

The seams themselves can also be useful for various projects – you can use them for rag rugs, crochet them, couch around them in sewing projects and more!

3. Decide How to Cut Your Larger Pieces of Denim

Every pair of jeans is a different size + cut – not to mention you may have different types of projects you want to work on – but cutting the fabric in a way you want to use it is pretty easy.

If I don’t have an immediate project planned, I will usually simply leave the denim intact exactly as it is – this way I can use it however I like later.

I mostly create fabric collages, crazy quilts, tote bags and upcycled clothes with denim fabric. If you know you will be working on making something such as a rag blanket or patchwork, you can always cut them up into squares or rectangles for whatever sizes you like.

Another fun option with denim is to use a Sizzix Big Shot Plus to cut out whatever shapes you might like!

Sizzix Big Shot Plus 660340 Manual Die Cutting & Embossing Machine for Arts & Crafts, Scrapbooking & Cardmaking, 9” Opening

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Denim circles + hearts are a great way to use smaller scraps in all kinds of projects. I often will cut these to use in our journal kits we sell in our shop – they are great + so versatile for whatever you might like to make!

4. Loose Threads? Save Those Too!

When you’re cutting up denim, you’ll probably find you have a lot of unraveling + loose threads. I keep a thread basket where all these loose threads are kept until I’m ready to card them into fun + funky fibers for spinning art yarn.

The key with recycling jeans is to use every scrap you possibly can! There are so many different ways to upcycle your old jeans, whether you use them for collage, slow stitch, journal covers, tote bags, upcycled clothes and more!

Have any questions? Share your thoughts below!

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