Come Learn and Share Information about Recycling, Crocheting & Recycled Crafting

Denim Tote Bag Tutorial

Posted on November 1, 2007


Here is my completed recycled denim tote bag with tutorial. I recycled an old pair of my son’s jeans to create this tote bag pattern. I used just one pant leg for the body of the bag and the other pant leg to make the straps. I lined the bag with some thrift store material that I bought for only a dollar. I want to remind readers here that I have stated in the past that I am not a seamstress so if my tutorial isn’t quite right, please be gentle. First and far most I am a recycler who tries to crochet and sew green, eco-friendly products. So with that being said, here’s my step-by-step instructions on how you too can sew a recycled denim tote bag.

First get a pant leg as shown.
DenimBag1 All pictures are clickable complete tutorial click on the read more link here >

Cut off bottom hem as shown.

Open up and fold with side seams matching.

Trim panel to approx. 14″ wide by 28-1/2″ long for tote bag as shown.

Folded back to show bag body.

Denim edge pinned on inside as shown. Sew down folded hem.

Top edge sewn and ready for side seams. Make sure you use a heavy-duty denim sewing machine needle.

Inside seams before sewn.

Sewn down side seams on outside edge. Outside seams sown after sewn.

Finish the top edges of jean pocket as shown.
JeanPocket All pictures are clickable

Finished jean pocket.

Here are the strap strips which are 4-1/2″ wide by 29″ long each before sewing.

Here are the straps sewn and turned right side out. I then top-stitched along the both edges on the straps.

Inside corner prep which creates a flat bottom so the bag stands up.

Corner sewn on inside 2 inches deep on both sides of the denim shell.

Here is the finished corners from the outside.

Lining with 14″ zipper. Remember the right side of fabric will be on the inside so you can insert it into the finished denim bag shell.

Pin zipper to lining as shown. My zipper was a bit long but don’t worry, you can just hide the long end inside the bag once it’s sewn inside the denim shell.

Stitch along the edges of zipper and lining as shown.

Turn lining right side in once zipper is sewn in.

Finished lining shown.

Corner of lining sewn just like on denim corner to create flat bottom.

I wanted to have an inside pocket on my tote so I added this little pocket shown here pinned to the right side of fabric.
Finished measurement on pocket is 5-1/2″ wide by 6″ long.

Now you turned the lining (right side of fabric) to the inside.

Outside pocket that I stitched in place on the denim bag shell. I machine sewed this in place over the existing top-stitching on pocket.

Next I pinned the straps in place about 2-1/2″ from either side. I overlapped the ends of strap just a bit as shown here on the inside.

Stitch the handles in place by over-stitching carefully the prior stitches on the top outside edge.

Insert the finished lining inside the denim bag shell. Pin and hand sew the lining inside as shown.

Here is a view from inside the bag as you sew the lining in. I hand-stitched the lining to the bag edge.

Inside the bag with lining complete and sewn to denim shell.

Finished bag measurements taken flat are 12-1/2″ wide by 13-1/2″ long.
Standing up bag measures 12″ by 11-1/2″.
Straps finished measurements are 1-3/4″ wide by 28-1/2″ long.

****Please do not copy my patterns on your blog site or post my patterns on Internet sites. I do not allow my patterns to be republished without expressed written permission. Posting of my patterns, without written permission is in violation of my copyrights and is content theft.

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43 Responses to “Denim Tote Bag Tutorial”

  1. windyridge
    Nov 02, 2007

    This is so great and I am no seamstress either! I’d like to add you to my link round up that I do when I have a bunch of links saved up.

  2. HowToMe
    Nov 02, 2007

    Oh, that is pure genius! Well done!!

  3. Jaya
    Nov 02, 2007

    I have no talent or patience for sewing,
    so I won’t be making one of these. But
    I must say that I like it- Your son’s old
    jeans made a very cute tote bag! I like
    the pocket a lot, too. Well done.

  4. jesie
    Nov 04, 2007

    You are so creative. It’s a bright idea. And doesn’t take a long time to complete the project.

    If you want to see the purses I have made, come to my blog. I used more than 2000 beads and took about 3 days to complete each.

    Thanks for sharing. I may make one for myself one of these days. Haha! But I need to own a sewing machine first.

  5. AntiBarbie
    Nov 05, 2007

    I want someone to make one of these but the truth is that I can’t even manage to sew a small hole closed in my favorite jeans… I’m just useless at this stuff!

  6. Joanie
    Nov 06, 2007

    Excellent sewing tutorial for a non-seamstress – zipper and all! Lovely : )

  7. Silvia
    Nov 06, 2007

    Can I ask why you hand sew the lining to the bag, instead of machine stitching? Just wondering.

  8. Cindy
    Nov 06, 2007

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments.

    I had already machine-stitched down the edge on the denim shell and I didn’t trust myself to stitch around again without it showing to sew in the lining. By hand-stitching my lining in, I was able to carefully work around the top edge of the denim shell and lining to make it lay down smoothly. For anyone who is more skilled, I’m sure that machine sewing in the lining would work but for me the hand stitched method worked better. lol

  9. […] A tutorial for making a denim tote bag. Did I mention I’m crazy about this bag making thing? And have so many worn out pairs of jeans available. May have to try it soon. […]

  10. Stephanie
    Nov 08, 2007

    I love the lining fabric. Very pretty!

  11. […] Summer M. When I was looking at all the awesome recycled purses from my post earlier the cutest denim tote bag stuck out at me. I’m generally not a demin purse person myself. I just do not get into the […]

  12. john
    Nov 12, 2007

    Wow, your bags are great. We sell products at a farmers market and would like to work out a deal with you if possible to buy wholesale and we will sale them retail. Let me know if your interested.


  13. Cindy
    Nov 12, 2007

    Thanks for your interest in my bags. Unfortunately I make only a few crocheted bags for sale which are at my products link at the top. I have no way to mass produce my bags or sell them wholesale. This denim bag actually was made for me and I using it right now. 🙂

  14. missy
    Nov 16, 2007

    nice tutorial cindy. i think i might actually be able to do this. lol.

    i want a sewing machine bad, so i can make a bunch of stuff i have floating in my head. all from recycled clothing i have that either doesnt fit or is abit too worn. i hate to throw them out, so i keep them in a drawer.

    nice bag!

  15. Cindy
    Nov 16, 2007

    Good luck with your clothes recycling. I hope you can make this bag. I’m enjoying it every day as I use it. This is one that I truly made for me!

  16. kavitha
    Nov 28, 2007

    Wow… a great bag.. I am taking it to office…great recycling…

  17. Joan
    Nov 28, 2007

    Fantastic. I have seen them in specialty shops and the prices are really quite high. You have done a wonderful job. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Lynda
    Nov 28, 2007

    This is a precious REMAKE of the 60’s Denim bags I used to carry!!!
    Suggestion: Place denim side pockets INSIDE, TOO, as well as a zippered pocket inside. Since these bags are deep and dark, it would also be GREAT to somehow sew a DIVIDER-POCKET ACROSS THE MIDDLE END-TO-END ! I’ve filed your site under my “favorites> GREAT CRAFTS folder. Thanks so much for the memories! Keep those ideas flowing. God bless you. : )

  19. Lynda
    Nov 28, 2007

    P.S. Do you have a pattern for the denim brimmed “dome cap” that was worn with that bag? I had a black velvet one as well, and now Targets is selling that style but someone has taken my hat from my home, shame on them ! It was authentic 60’s, still in great shape and a winter favorite of mine, even when not particularly in style, because it was so becoming and comfortable. Even long hair could be fitted into it and it not show.
    (Sigh !)…for those days of comfy ATTRACTIVE clothes and accessories…..You know the reason America’s been both dumbed down and down-dressed? It’s so the fashion designers can make the Hollywood stars look so stunning with all their long gowns we dream of owning again, now that we are frimpy, wimpy, round and frowned. They seem more concerned about the outside rather than the heart of people.
    O.K., all you “stars” reading this….Go home an brighten your teeth again,
    then pretend you were born with them that way ! lol When the economy bottoms out, your sparkle will be a shadowy twinkle. (I’m just jealous that I can’t afford to whiten my teeth in any way. and lost my best and favorite winter cap!) : (

  20. Cindy
    Nov 29, 2007

    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I don’t have a dome cap pattern. I looked around on the Internet too and couldn’t find one either. Hope you find one.

  21. Marylee
    Jan 06, 2008

    Your list had several items I planned for my students to make this month. Especially wonderful- your user-friendly directions for the denim tote– thanks!! Marylee

  22. Robin
    Feb 06, 2008

    I love the look of this bag–I have been wanting to try zippers in the lining–but really couldn’t figure out how–after viewing your very nice easy to understand tutorial–I think I can do it!!
    Thanks ever so much.

  23. Samantha
    Feb 27, 2008

    JUst looked at your tutorial on jean bag. It looks more updated than the jeans bag that came out years ago. I actually like this version better, and have botched up a lot of jeans w/ the other style jean bag. I just made a cute jean bag (small) and the straps are going to be on the outside of this cute little bag. Problem is that the bag is made from a pant leg as well, and the seams of the jean leg are more toward the front of the bag, giving it a different look of interest, therefore, if I were to line the straps up with the seams, (as I said were more toward the front) the straps would and did come out lopsided (top heavy) shen I pinned them. Could you help me to figure out how I am to balance these straps out? The straps are not long, but of proportion to the cute jean bag, which is about the size of a long piece of computer paer cut in half. If you have a good formula for this strap placement, please let me know, for my purse has no actual side seams ( seams closer to front of bag. Thank you, Samantha

  24. Cindy
    Feb 27, 2008

    @Samantha – I just sent you a PM. Let me know what straps you are doing and how you want to attach them. I want to help…

  25. Abby
    Mar 07, 2008

    This is great. I have made various tote bags from a large variety of bag patterns. I’ve never tried making a bag from a pair of jeans before. I think it’d be cool to be able to try this out. I’d do the lining the way I learned from the pattern companies to do. (One side seam with a 6″ to 8″ hole in it, then right sides together with lining outside of bag, then sewn together at top. The hole in one side of the lining is to pull the bag through once you’ve sewn the top together. Then hand stitch just the hole in the side of the lining. (it’d be a lot shorter than trying to stitch all around the top of the bag, I think. But then, my hand sewing stinks)

  26. Abby
    Mar 16, 2008

    I have made one of these. I did manage to get it done. The idea of a side seam turning-hole was alright. I had to redo the zipper 3 times (To get it zipping from the right to the left when the bag is facing front. It’s a quirk of mine.) But it’s a terrifically roomy bag and I’ve garnered a lot of compliments on it. Thank you so much for the tutorial.

  27. Cindy
    Mar 16, 2008

    So glad it worked out for you and you’re enjoying your bag. Thanks so much for letting me know. Best wishes!

  28. gingerbreadgirl
    Oct 03, 2008

    wow, this is just what I was looking for in my search for denim projects. I have three kids and a seemingly endless supply of old worn jeans…. I am going to make this one first, I also want to make the little purses out of the torso portion of my daughters little jeans, and some draw string bags as well. do you have more tutorials, I have just begun to explore your great sight. thanks and great job!!

  29. Cindy
    Oct 03, 2008

    Hi GingerBreadGirl:
    Glad you liked the denim projects and here are all my denim links. I have several different projects that you can make using denim. Best wishes to you!

    Feb 14, 2009

    I just may have to fish my sewing machine out of the closet. This looks like a great project. Thanks for the idea!

  31. Carolyn
    Apr 23, 2009

    I can’t wait to try this out! Do you have a back pack pattern to make out of an old pair of jeans? I having been trying to locate one. I have not been able to locate one.


    I don’t have a denim backpack pattern at my site at this time. But if you just find a regular sewing pattern for one, you could just use it to make your backpack with recycled denim. Just open the legs of the jeans and sew two pieces together to create a wider piece of denim. Then just cut out your pattern pieces from the denim. Good luck.

  32. JasminP
    Apr 26, 2009

    Cindy, thank you very much for this great idea! I’ve been thinking about something like for a while, cos I don’t like plastic bags any more and I don’t want to use and throw hundreds of them every week.
    I’m going to use your wonderful idea for at least a couple of grocery totes.
    Thank you very very much! And may God bless you with a long and healthy life!

  33. Sharon Hudson
    Jan 17, 2010

    I did this bag this afternoon and I love it. I did somethings diferent. I took the legseam and cut out the stitching and resewed it so it wasn’t so bulky. I didn’t put in a zipper I used a button and a tab . The pocket in front was from another pair of jeans and they were striped so in all it turned out good. I thank you for this pattern and totorial. your friend Sharon

  34. Mary Scott
    Mar 12, 2010

    For a quicker tote unlined or line if you want, make a deeper bag by cutting the legs off longer and cutting out the center seam. Then, stitch the front legs together and stitch the back legs to gether. You can do the bottom the same way as above for more width. This will give you 4 outside pockets. If you find a good pair of jeans at the thrift store for a buck, the leg left can usually make a nice wide strap or handle which I often line with the same fabric as the liner if I am lining it. If you find jeans with extra pockets OR CAMO pants with extra pockets, they make great totes which my friends love because of all the pockets. This past fall I picked up a small size of overall shorts and thought why not. I simply sewed the bottom shut and legs together as above, and I used the straps as a handle. I sold one for $20 and made a trade with another. The Trade was a Christmas gift for a college student who has gotten many lovely comments on her unique bag.

  35. Grace
    Aug 25, 2010

    Thanks for a great idea!! What a wonderful project!!

  36. […] Denim Tote Bag Tutorial Star Dishcloth Quick Crocheted Baby Sweater Crocheted Jar Helper Popsicle Stick Bracelets […]

  37. […] Eski kotlar bize yeni yeni üretimler için yardım etmekte.. Bende evde bulunan eski kot pantolonlardan bir ÅŸeyler yapmak istiyorum diyorsanız nasıl yapıldığıyla ilgili resimli bilgiyi detaylarıyla buradan öğrenebilirsiniz. […]

  38. jane
    Jun 19, 2012

    wow, this is one of the cutest recycled denim bags I’ve seen . Now I know exactly what to do and how to do it . thats for sharing .

  39. Mary Rogers
    Nov 11, 2012

    A friend recently lost her father to leukemia and asked if I would make several of these bags for her using his old blue jeans. They are my TO DO project for this week. What a wonderful rememberance of a loved one.

  40. Vickie Robinson
    Apr 22, 2013

    I thank you so much for these patterns, I made a denim quilt for my grandson,then he was 16,now he is 24 and still has it and uses it, i was trying to figure out what to make his quilt out of to with stand a 16 year old. At the time I made it, I was working in a factory, so I put the word out that I would take all denim jeans no matter what shape they were in,I did put a solid piece of denim for the back,there was no need to put anything in the middle,because it was heavy enough as is,I also used some denim from a pair of his old jeans and put his name and the date on it. I got alot of material to work with, but now I check out yard sales and remind the family to save them for me, I love making things out of things we normally throw away, as my kids would say I never throw anything away. Thanks again

  41. Jeans | Epsiej
    Aug 10, 2013

    […] nog meer draagplezier te hebben van je spijkerbroek, kun je er ook een tas van […]

  42. Peggy
    Jun 10, 2014

    Love this bag it looks very simple, must try it soon

  43. jojo
    Jun 17, 2014

    I have been saving mine and my husbands old jeans. I use them for patching up his “holey” jeans and I have cut up quite a few into 6 x 6 squares, to make a quilt one day. 🙂 Now I can make a few totes also. The denium wears like iron,(at least the old ones do). Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] A tutorial for making a denim tote bag. Did I mention I’m crazy about this bag making thing? And have so many worn out pairs of jeans available. May have to try it soon. […]

  2. […] Summer M. When I was looking at all the awesome recycled purses from my post earlier the cutest denim tote bag stuck out at me. I’m generally not a demin purse person myself. I just do not get into the […]

  3. […] Denim Tote Bag Tutorial Star Dishcloth Quick Crocheted Baby Sweater Crocheted Jar Helper Popsicle Stick Bracelets […]

  4. […] Eski kotlar bize yeni yeni üretimler için yardım etmekte.. Bende evde bulunan eski kot pantolonlardan bir ÅŸeyler yapmak istiyorum diyorsanız nasıl yapıldığıyla ilgili resimli bilgiyi detaylarıyla buradan öğrenebilirsiniz. […]

  5. […] nog meer draagplezier te hebben van je spijkerbroek, kun je er ook een tas van […]

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About Me

Hello, I’m Cindy or aka RecycleCindy. Welcome to my blog site that is dedicated to recycling and crafting. I love to crochet and create crafts and other useful things from recycled materials. I share many free tutorials and patterns for creating recycled projects as well as other handmade items.

Here is a direct link to all my free patterns available here on My Recycled Bags.

Thank you for stopping by to visit and for your interest in My Recycled Bags!