Upcycled Denim Bag Tutorial

If you have some tired looking jeans, their destination doesn’t need to be the charity rag bag yet. Give them a new lease of life with a transformation into this fabulous handbag using this upcycled denim bag tutorial.

Treat yourself to a new bag – from old jeans!

There is a massive selection of bag hardware & accessories here at Plush Addict, so let your creativity flow and produce a one of a kind masterpiece.

Skill level: Intermediate Seam-Star

You will need:

Want to follow along with printed instructions instead? We’ve got you covered!

Click the button below to download this step-by-step printable upcycled denim bag tutorial.

Boring Legal Bit: If you follow any tutorial or guidance found in this post, or on this blog, you agree to be bound by our disclaimer which can be viewed here

Important notes for sewing the upcycled denim bag:

1.5 cm seam allowance throughout, unless directed.

For steps using machine sewing, straight stitch, backstitching at the start & end using stitch length 2.5 unless otherwise stated.

Pre-wash your fabrics

You will need a strong sewing machine for steps 19 and 24, some machines may struggle with these steps

Please note: The images and video clips were taken during pattern testing, if the pattern pieces appear a different size to your’s and the steps sequenced differently, don’t panic & trust the instructions!

Print and cut the pattern

1. Sign up here to be emailed the pattern piece file.

Use the 1” test square to check the sizing. If the sizing is incorrect check print settings. Depending on the device used, select ‘actual size’ or deselect the ‘fit to page’ option.

Cut your fabrics

2. Using the pattern, cut out the following from BOTH outer & lining fabrics:

2 Side panels
2 Top panels
1 Base panel
From outer only:
2 D ring tabs

If you would like to read our full guide with tips on sewing denim fabric, check out our fabric guide here

Top tips:

  • Some denim has graduated fading, before sewing lay out the pieces and plan which direction you want the graduations to flow on your finished denim upcycled bag.
  • Unpick the inside leg seams on jeans to lie them flat

Check your zip

3. Open and close the zip to ensure it moves freely.

Assemble the zip panel

4. Place one top panel outer piece right side up. Align the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the top panel right side down. Set the open end of the zip 1.5cm back from the end of the panel. Clip the zip in place

5. Baste along the edge of the zipper tape, the full length of the top panel, with a 5mm seam allowance. Use a zipper foot, stitch length 4.

6. Align a top panel lining piece right side down with the basted seam and outer top panel piece. The 2 top panel pieces should be right sides facing with the zip sandwiched between them.

7. Using a zipper foot sew the three layers together with a 1cm seam allowance.

8. Top stitch alongside the zip on the outer fabric only; using a zipper foot sew along the outer fabric 2mm from the edge.

9. Repeat steps 4 to 8 for the other side of the zip using the remaining top panel pieces.

10. At the end of the zip panel (not the end where the pull lies when the zip is fastened), hand-sew several stitches around the end of the zipper teeth as a zip bar. Any excess zipper tape can then be cut off; be careful and use domestic scissors when cutting through the teeth.

11. Measure the total width of the assembled zip panel. If the width exceeds 10cm trim equal amounts of each side to achieve the correct width. For example, if the total panel width is 12cm, trim 1cm off each side.

Form the D ring tabs

12. Fold each piece in half along the long edge wrong sides together and press.

13. Open the tabs back out and fold the short edges to the central crease and press.

14. Fold the tabs in half again with the raw edges tucked inside and press.

15. Top stitch 2mm from the edge along the 2 longest sides.

16. Lay the base panel outer piece over the zip panel. Fold a D ring tab in half and thread one of the D rings onto it so the straight edge of the D ring sits in the crease.

17. Position the D ring tab along the short edge of the base panel. Using the zip panel as a guide, position the tab so it sits to one side of the zipper teeth and clip in place on the base panel only.

18. Repeat steps 16 and 17 with the other D ring tab, positioning it at the other end of the base panel on the other side of the zipper teeth.

19. Sew the D ring tabs in place with a 1cm seam allowance. Backstitch over each one twice to create 4 lines of stitching.

Want to follow along with printed instructions instead? We’ve got you covered!

Click the button below to download this step-by-step printable upcycled denim bag tutorial.

Assemble the central panel

20. At each corner of the outer base panel on the wrong side, make a mark 1.5cm in from the long edge.

21. Align the pieces in the following order:

  • Base panel lining, right side up
  • Zip panel, right side up
  • Base panel outer, right side down

22. Line up the short edges at one end and clip them together.

23. Line up and clip the short edges at the other end together.

24. Sew along the short edges between the markings from step 20.

We have used a zipper with plastic chunky teeth (we love this look!) When sewing over the ends of this type of zip the fabric may need moving forward manually to create a longer stitch:

To do this – Sew to the side of the zipper teeth, raise the needle, lift the presser foot and move the fabric enough for the needle to enter the fabric on the other side of the zipper teeth. If you are using a zip with nylon coil teeth then you should be able to sew straight over the zip teeth.

Reverse this step to go back over the zipper then come forward again to give added strength.

Caution: trying to sew through zipper teeth can break sewing needles, which may result in injury.

25. Turn the base panel outer piece to the back forming the finished central panel. Then turn the whole central panel inside out so the lining fabric is around the outside

26. Assemble the bag: Undo the zip then take one outer side panel and fold it in half along the long edge to find the centre bottom.

27. Find the centre of the bottom panel by lining up the 2 side seams from step 24 and folding the outer bottom panel in half.

28. Line up the 2 centre bottom points and clip right sides together. Continue clipping the central panel around the side panel piece.

29. At the corners make 1cm cuts into the central panel edge for ease around the curves.

Denim bag tutorial

30. Sew all the way around the bag side panel. To sew alongside the joins in the central panel (step 24) cast off and switch to a zipper foot and sew avoiding the lining fabric. Then switch back to a standard presser foot to continue sewing round.

31. At the 4 curved corners, make V shaped cuts in the seam allowance at 1cm intervals. They should be 5mm wide then narrow to a point just before the seam line. Then trim the corner seam allowance down to approx. 5mm

32. Repeat steps 26 to 31 with a lining piece.

33. Turn the bag to access the other side of the central panel and repeat steps 26 to 32. When sewing the final lining piece leave a 10cm opening along the bottom edge for turning.

Finishing touches

34. Turn the bag out the right way and press the seams, avoid the zipper teeth as the heat may damage them.

35. Find the opening in the lining and clip the 2 sides together. Either machine sew the opening or hand sew with ladder stitch.

Upcycled denim bag

36. Clip the strap through the 2 D rings and the upcycled denim bag is complete!

Upcycled denim bag

We used:

Want to follow along with printed instructions instead? We’ve got you covered!

Click the button below to download this step-by-step printable upcycled denim bag tutorial.

Pin For Later!

Upcycled denim bag tutorial

We hope you found this upcycled fabric tray tutorial useful!

Let us know how you get along in the comments below 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Upcycled Denim Bag Tutorial”

    1. This was sized so the bag could comfortably come from the fabric in a jeans leg 🙂

      There are lots of tutorials out there on how to make patterns larger if you have a Google

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