Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Denim Makeovers-Turn old Jeans into Something New - Tutorial

At our April Sew What! class, which met on April 28, we took old, worn out jeans and made them into something new and useable.  The following is a tutorial and photos of an across-the-body bag/pouch (not sure what the correct name is for these little bags) that I made from a pair of old rust-colored jeans that have bleach spots all over them.

These jeans are the cargo style that have a pocket on each leg. 
I cut one pocket off a jeans leg, leaving 1/2" to 1" around all four edges for seam allowance.  I chose this pocket because it has a second pocket on the outside with snap closures.  It will give me added storage in my bag.  I plan to use the upper part of the jeans for a bag as a future project.

Here, I placed the pocket on top of the fabric I used for the back of the bag, cutting it the same size as the pocket, including seam allowances.
Next, I have sewn the two layers together, around the sides and the bottom, with a straight stitch first, then with a zig-zag stitch to clean-finish the edges.  The excess fabric is trimmed away from the zig-zag stitching.  I could have used my serger, here, but I needed to use this project as a teaching tool for my Sew What! class, and most of the students don't have a serger.

The corners are clipped at the bottom two corners.

Turn and press as flat as possible.

This is a strip of coordinating fabric I used for a binding across the top of the bag, simply to cover the raw edges on both the pocket side and the back side.  I wasn't sure it would work out, but it did!

Using a pressing guide, I pressed the edge of the binding strip up 1/2" on both edges.  One edge is sewn, right sides together, to the top edge of the pocket unit.  I used the press mark as a stitching guide.
The binding strip is pinned to the top edge, right sides together.  Leave the strip open about two inches from the end so the strip can be sewn together to a size that matches the top edge of the pocket unit.  If that doesn't make sense, I think the pictures will show how it was done.  (Please forgive my explanation!)

Next, the strip ends are stitched.

Here, I'm checking to see if the strip will fit the top edge of the pocket unit.  You could actually measure the pocket unit edge in order to get the strip length measurement, but I don't always have success with that method.  Use whatever works for you!

Finger-press the seam you just stitched open.  
The next step is to stitch the binding strip to the pocket unit.

Fold the binding strip down over the raw edge of the unit, folding under the raw edge of the binding strip evenly all around and pin.

I used a decorative stitch to top-stitch the binding down.  I chose #27 from the list below.  It gave good coverage for the binding edge and added some interest to the top of the pocket unit.

I cut a third coordinating strip of fabric about 3" wide.  The length was determined by draping a tape measure across my body, from one shoulder to the opposite side of my body.  I wanted the finished bag to hit right below my waistline, so use this as your guide.  Fold and press both sides so they meet at the center of the strip.

Then, I folded the strip so the fold edges match.  I top-stitched the strip on both sides about 1/4" away from the edges, with a little longer straight stitch.  I like to use a longer (about 3.0) stitch length when top-stitching because it looks more professional.
The length of my strip happened to be the entire width of the fabric.  Because of that, I was able to have the selvedge edges at each end of the strip, therefore not needing any clean finishing for the ends.  One step eliminated!  Whoo-hoo!!!  Notice in this picture, as well as the one below, the ends are tied in a knot to give an added design element.  (This was actually in the original directions I used.  I liked it, so I used it.)

I stitched the (now) strap to the bag sides with a row of straight stitching, stitching across it twice for stability.  

You could stitch in a box formation, if you like.

The finished bag!
Now, I have a small bag that I can throw over my shoulder for quick trips out and I won't have to be challenged with a large purse or bag!

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