This past week I made two purses/bags from old worn out jeans which is something we don’t run out of here at this house. Besides the ones John wears out I have been given old jeans by friends and family so have a supply on hand for what ever I want to use them for. Here are the finished bags – made using pretty much the same pieces but constructed differently.
The strap isn’t finished on the light colored bag, it is to be a gift and I will make the strap the length the recipient wants so for now it is just tied in a square knot.
Like I said the two were made with pretty much the same patterns. Each bag needs two pieces cut from the back pockets of a pair of jeans. The larger the size of jeans the better, you might be able to make a little larger bag with a larger pair of jeans. As you can see from the bags above the darker bag is made from a pair of Wrangler jeans and the lighter bag is made from a pair of Levi jeans. I found that the Levi jeans had more space between the pocket and the yoke seam than the Wrangler jeans. The bag pieces are cut 1” larger than the sides and bottom of the jeans pocket and 1 1/2” above the pockets on the light colored bag and approximately 2” above the pockets on the Wrangler bag. I wanted to avoid that thick seam when putting the zipper in the top of the bag so just cut the top a little bigger.
The main difference in the two bags is that the Wrangler bag has the seams on the inside of the bag – all seams were zig-zagged to prevent fraying. The Levi bag is constructed with the seams on the outside then clipped about every 3/8”. Neither bag is lined and seem to have enough body the way they are.
I put zippers in the top of both bags. Red Zipper – the edges of the pockets were tuned under and stitched to the zipper. Gold Zipper - the top edges of the pockets were zig-zagged the the zipper was placed on the raw edges and stitched down. Both applications were easy and I used zippers that were way too long for the space on each. I do this all the time as they are cut down after they are stitched in.
Since the zipper teeth are polyester the sewing machine can sew right through them with no problem. I don’t like using metal teeth zippers for several reasons. You have to get the correct length of zipper in the correct color and stitch carefully on the ends so you don’t hit the metal stop and break a needle or worse yet mess up the timing of your sewing machine. I have scratched my hand on a metal zipper in one bag I made so am very careful now. If you buy the longer polyester zippers they can be cut to any size so you can have some on hand for when you need them and only buy one long length. Of course maybe you live close to where you can just pop over to a store and home in a short time but for me it is a 45 minute drive one way to get supplies so I like to have things on hand.
I purchased a lot of zippers in lots of colors when the JoAnn’s store was moving. They were not going to move any of the merchandise from the old store to the new and at the end of the sale I got zippers for 10 to 12 cents each so bought lots. I pretty much have zippers covered for the rest of my life I do believe. Of course that is another “stash” my daughters will have to clean out if I don’t use them all.
This is a “fly by the pants” bag so I just cut pieces and stitched them together and kept my fingers crossed it would work. I wanted more space on the inside of my bag so stitched a gusset to both bags. The one pictured above is the Wrangler bag with the seams on the inside and it was cut 2 1/4” wide and a little longer than the three sides it was to be stitched to. All the edges were zig-zagged in the Wrangler bag to prevent fraying as there is no lining in these bags.
Here is the Wrangler bag turned inside out and you can see I added some embroidery stitches around the pocket on this bag. These were stitched around 3 sides of the pocket using stock embroidery stitches in my machine – no special embroidery machine or module and I stitched before the gusset was stitched. I used different stitches on the front and back and like the design detail they added to the bag.
Straps – for the Wrangler I cut one layer of denim from the old jeans and selected a gold fabric for the inside of the strap. The edges are folded twice over the denim and stitched down. The strap on the Levi bag is the flat felled inside leg seam from the jeans that I trimmed all the excess fabric away and it left a very strong narrow strap.
Well that is it – No pattern, just cut and stitch and I am happy how they turned out. If I were to make them again I might have added D rings at the top of the gusset instead of trying to stitch the straps onto the gusset. Was thick and a little tricky to get it all under the machine but got it finished.
Well on to another bag. If you are wondering why I am making so many bags it is because I am giving a program for my quilt guild in January so am making some more bags and making samples of ways to sew zippers into bags, strap options, pocket options, types and styles of bags to hopefully inspire my guild members to make bags to fit their needs.
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