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How to Turn a Pair of Jeans Into an Upcycled Tote Bag in 8 Easy Steps

The NOORISM Upcycled Denim Tote Bag has been one of my most popular upcycled denim pieces. It's just the right size to fit a laptop computer, groceries or even use as a purse which is how I use it these days. This is a great way to find a second life for an old pair of jeans or any other pants that you might otherwise donate. It also makes a fantastic gift!

This is a great example of simple design in upcycling that can be made at home or produced in large quantities by a manufacturer.

Watch the video tutorial and follow the 8 easy steps below:


  • One pair of jeans or pants and one extra waistband

  • Fabric scissors

  • Seam ripper

  • Lint brush

  • Pattern paper

  • Pencil

  • Fabric marker or pen

  • Sewing machine

  • Sewing thread

  • Iron


  • Start with opening the hem of the jeans.

  • Next, take apart the inseam. Most jeans have a double needle chain-stitch on the inseam that can be pulled out in one thread.

  • Remove the pockets and waistband.

  • Do not open up the side seam.

  • Cut the jeans in half so that you can lay out one leg flat on your table.

2. 0:15-0:31 IRONING

  • Iron all the pieces until they lay flat.

  • Make sure to press open the hem of the pockets and remove all loose threads.


  • Follow the diagram to measure out your patterns on paper.

  • Measurements include 3/8" seam allowance.

  • Feel free to adjust your measurements if you want your tote bag to be smaller or larger. [if you have a pair of jeans that are big enough]

  • Cut the pattern pieces out and place them on your deconstructed jean fabric.

  • Trace the pattern outlines on the deconstructed jean fabric.

4. 0:42-0:49 CUTTING

  • Cut out all your pieces from the deconstructed jean fabric.

5. 0:49- 1:09 POCKETS

  • Pin the pockets on the middle of the Upcycled Denim Tote Bag body.

  • One should be on each side and placed 3" from the top.

  • Sew the pockets onto the body with a double topstitch for extra reinforcement.

6. 1:09-1:27 BODY

  • Fold the body in half and pin the sides - right side facing in.

  • Sew the sides to create the sack.

  • Press the seams open and sew a topstitch 1/8" from the seam on both sides of the seam.

7. 1:27-1:30 FACING

  • Pin the 2 facing pieces together on the side seam. [narrow side]

  • Sew the facing sides together.

  • Press the seams open and add the same 1/8" topstitching as the sides of the body.


  • Measure and place the straps on the outside of the bag body.

  • Make sure the straps are facing down [looks like they are upside down]

  • Pin the facing on top, making sure to line up the side seams.

  • Sew the facing to the top of the bag with the straps sandwiched in between.

  • Flip the facing to the inside of the bag.

  • Press and add topstitching 1/4" from the finished top edge of the bag all around to finish.


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Hi, I'm Noor Bchara

I'm the founder of NOORISM, a repurposed denim brand where we create new, elevated pieces from second hand jeans. I'm an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where I teach about Upcycling and Repurposed design. 

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DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE GUIDE to Finding Upcycled Materials

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How to Find Upcycled Materials and Not Get Lost in the Process

"Noor's List": 25+ sources from around the world to find UPCYCLED materials


Enter your email to recieve your FREE DOWNLOAD

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