Sustainable Ways To Give Your Old Jeans New Life (Denim DIY Incoming)

It's hard to bid adieu to our favorite pair of jeans. Whether you've grown out of them, or they've grown out of style, you might feel both nostalgic and also sort of guilty that they might not ever be worn again. Consider, however, that there are plenty of other ways to upcycle your old jeans and give them new life. All it requires is a creative spark, patience, and ideally a sewing machine (though it's possible to hand-stitch denim, too, with a special denim needle). 


You can refashion your jeans into another clothing item or create various household items. You can even give your pets a chance to participate in sustainable trends. Here, we've compiled a few DIY ideas for you when you feel as though you're out of options. Using your old clothes for DIY projects is a great way to extend the life of your garments and get the most mileage out of every piece in your wardrobe. And because denim is such a durable, versatile textile, it holds many possibilities for repurposing. 

Make a DIY denim bag

Repurposing clothing items into other clothing items is extremely satisfying — not just because the garment transforms, but because we know we're saving cash and the environment by doing so. Case in point: turn your denim jeans into a DIY denim bag. Now, this might seem like a heavy lift for those who are not acquainted with a sewing machine, but TikTok user BriLashae' (@brilashae__) demonstrates the steps to this metamorphosis in a video. 


She first uses two different pairs of jeans to create a cool, two-toned, reversible effect. After she cuts the waistband from the jeans, she cuts the jeans off at the height she likes. She then places the jeans on the side seam and spreads out the fabric. She cuts the handle out of the legs and repeats the process for both pairs. After detaching the pockets from the jeans, she sews them back on where she wants them to be placed on the new purse. She then flips each pattern inside out and sews the bag together so that it can be reversible. As a final step, she stitches up any remaining openings and flips the bag inside out. What results is a beautiful, DIY denim bag. 

Go for DIY denim leg warmers

One of our favorite ways to style any cool pair of shoes is with denim leg warmers. This accessory is easy to make, and it instantly gives your old jeans, as well as your shoe collection, new life. First, decide which shoes you are going to wear your leg warmers with. A pair of knee-high boots or ankle booties work well for this look. Cut the bottoms of your jeans off so they will cover the shoe at the length you desire. Then, simply slide on your shoes, slip the pant legs over them with the cut edge facing up, and tuck the top of the leg warmer into your shoe to keep it in place. There you have it! 


Fashion digital creator Maya (@spacecowboymaya) takes an inventive approach to create her perfect pair of denim leg warmers. First, she wears them inside out so the seams show, which really plays up the DIY aesthetic. Then, she attaches small, ribbon bows to the side of each denim leg warmer, sewing on the bows to ensure they last as long as possible. Here, you can be creative in making your denim leg warmers feel like your own. 

DIY denim koozies and coasters

Drink koozies and coasters are two items that should be designed to last. Rather than buying cheap ones that will have a short life in your home before living a long one in the landfill, you can create your own versions that are both durable and sustainable — not to mention, cute!  Consider also crafting some DIY denim coasters to match. Nina's Ideas has a wonderful tutorial for DIY denim coasters on YouTube. The two together could create a set either for your own home or as a gift. 


While this craft will be easier to complete with a sewing machine, the simplest version outlined by DIY blog Exquisitely Unremarkable only requires the tapered bottoms of the skinny jeans you've neglected. Plus, you'll still have the rest left to make them into a pair of jean shorts for summer

First, determine which size cup or mug you will use your koozie for. Then, take your pair of jeans and cut the bottom of the leg off, leaving extra fabric to work with. Now, you will be left with a small denim tube. Fit the tube around your cup — there should be some stretch to the jeans — and assess the areas that are not perfectly fit. Then, make adjustments, tightening the tube in spots as needed, either with a sewing machine or by hand. From there, you can embellish your koozie with embroidery or other fun decorations. And the best part is, the denim material makes them washable. 


DIY denim pet products

Pets of all kinds and creeds love toys. But, as many pet owners may know, our mouthiest monsters can shred through toys in a matter of days — if not hours. Sometimes it's hard to know how to keep our pets engaged long-term after selecting and spending on quality products, just for them to be rather instantly destroyed. This is where DIY, denim pet products come in. 


This DIY denim cat puzzle created by TikTok user @noordinaryhousecat is nothing short of genius, making use of every part of the jeans for maximum feline playtime. After supergluing together pockets, rolling pant-legs, and creating denim jean tubes, they secure each element to a board, then hide treats within each feature. The cats seem to love rummaging through the denim for their rewards. Plus, cat owners will love how this enrichment toy can be spot-cleaned and used over and over again. 

But dog owners can also get in on the DIY denim pet action. You might have a pooch that would much rather play with its dog bed than sleep in it. This DIY denim dog bed project from Better Homes & Gardens is a durable solution for any dog owner struggling to keep the stuffing inside, or anyone who simply wants to repurpose a pair of jeans. Depending on the size of your dog, you can make a durable pillow out of repurposed jeans that your dog is sure to snooze on. 


Craft a DIY denim pillow

But your pets aren't the only ones who can enjoy a repurposed place to rest their heads. DIY denim pillows are a fun way to add character to your decor, all while supporting the environment with a sustainable craft. Fashion TikToker Lea (@leawald_) demonstrates how to make one with a sewing machine. First, she gathers her materials, which include several pairs of denim jeans. 


She decides to go with a patchwork pattern for her pillow and arranges her cut patches of jeans as she likes. Then, she sews them together and duplicates the process for the other side of the pillow. Should you not have enough denim scraps to make two full sides, consider using other garments or textiles you no longer wear for the other side, creating a thoroughly upcycled pillow. Remember that, where some pillow stuffing is made of materials that are not biodegradable, opt for natural materials to fill your pillow with, such as a cotton insert.