Recycled Jeans=Crafty New Sewing Projects

Recycled Demin Nancy Zieman 3 3

Recycled Jeans=Crafty New Sewing Projects

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Recycled Demin Nancy Zieman 3 3
“Who uses minutes has hours to use; who loses minutes whole years must lose.”  That great quote sums up how I sew—10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I use this minutes-to-sew sewing principle for fashion sewing, quilting, and craft sewing, including recycling jeans—the topic of this current series. In part two of the new Sewing With Nancy TV mini-series, 10-20-30 Minutes to Recycle Jeans and in the book by the same name, I’ll show you how!

10 20 30 Minute Recycled Denim by Nancy Zieman

Soft-Sided Bins

Store craft items, sewing supplies, toiletries, or stationery in these flexible bins. The ready-made pockets give double the storage space. Plus, the bins can be stored flat when not in use. This is recycling at it’s bestWhen you watch online, you’ll learn the basics of taking apart cast-off jeans, and making something creative.

           Bins NancyZieman1


Double Duty Mat

When you need flexibility in sewing, create the Double Duty Mat to use as a sewing station and pressing mat. First the sewing station: Set the machine on the largest portion of the mat, which provides a handy area of notions to be stored directly below the mat. Or, slide the mat to a flat surface and use as a pressing area, again with storage options. Outdated jeans provide the stability and pockets for this upcycled project.

Sewing Machine Apron Denim NancyZieman1

Crossbody Jeans Bag

Create a casual bag that’s just the right size to carry essentials—wallet, keys, phone or a tablet. A recycled pair of jeans provides automatic pocket space without any extra sewing time. You’ll soon see that the crossbody bag can easily be made in a little over 2-hours.

Cross Body Bag Nancy Zieman Denim

Two-for-One Apron

Make two aprons from one pair of jeans—a recycling bonus! One apron will feature the front pockets while the other apron features the back pockets. Add binding, a ruffle, and a fabric belt for functionality and a little frill.

Recycled Apron Nancy Zieman DenimSee more practical and fresh projects in the new book, 10-20-30 Minutes to Recycle Jeans.

10 20 30 Minute Recycled Denim by Nancy Zieman

Restyle your worn out jeans into clever and useful accessories. Learn 30 Minutes to Sew techniques to create 13 durable projects for your home and closet. Give new life to well-loved denim by sewing bags, home organizers, kitchen essentials, and children’s projects.
  • Walk through denim deconstruction before jumping right in with projects you’ll love. Discover new and novel finishing techniques as you sew up a variety of gifts in minutes.
  • These projects are perfect for the beginning sewist, or anyone who wants to refresh their skills. This new book walks you through it all, with full-color, step-by-step instructions in my easy-to-understand manner. Build your skill set and confidence from one project to the next.
  • Follow along with the 50-minute DVD, as I guide you from deconstruction to lovely gifts in no time flat.

Watch 10-20-20 Minutes to Recycle Jeans (Part One and Part Two) on Sewing With Nancy online.

Recycle Jeans Sewing With Nancy Part Two

What types of clothing do you save for recycle-based sewing or quilting projects? Leave your answers in the comment section for a chance to win the book 10-20-30 Minutes to Recycle Jeans.

10 20 30 Minute Recycled Denim by Nancy Zieman

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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  • Robin
    September 29, 2016

    I love to recycle clothing from the thrift store for myself and lil granddaughter (5) she loves being able to twirl like all girls do! It just makes sense to recycle, buttons, zippers collars, it’s all there ready for someone to recreate!

  • Michele Russ
    September 29, 2016

    I save buttons, jeans, wool sweaters, attractive bodices, quilts or anything that has life left in it for a new project.

  • Mary
    September 29, 2016

    LOL, so far I’ve only made pants into shorts or or capris. Now I’m inspired to step it up and really get creative! Thanks Nancy

  • Bylli
    September 29, 2016

    I like to save jeans, pants, shirts, blankets, or really anything that can still be used again. I love the crafty things you can upcycle with.

  • Wanda Harrison
    September 29, 2016

    I save/collect men’s shirts to use in quilting projects. Also, jeans — which I recently used as the border for a t-shirt quilt!

  • BevM
    September 29, 2016

    For recycled and embellished projects, I of course save blue jeans. I also save buttons and cuffs from old shirts. When I made a T-shirt quilt, I saved pieces and ribbing to make doll clothes.

  • carole hendricks
    September 29, 2016

    I save my husbands old underwear. The elastic is great. I have a clothesline outside so I make the strips of elastic into a “hanger keeper”. I also save buttons and zippers and pockets to make into organizers. Waste not, want not is what my grandma used to say.

  • Margaret Wyszinski
    September 29, 2016

    I save cotton blouses for quilting projects along with buttons, lace & interesting embellishments

  • Susan Guderjohn
    September 29, 2016

    I am my mother’s daughter! She & my dad would be over 103 this year (they passed in their mid 90’s … gude track record, right?), but they “survived” Depression Era years by not wasting useable parts of shirts, pants, tableclothes, and other textiles (and buttons for necklaces). I adapt by using long-edge scraps from fleece projects as edging on terrycloth baby bath towels … it’s as flexible as bias tape and actually is quite durable for years of weekly washings. I have a stash of washed, used jeans set aside to start making some Christmas saleables for a Christmas Bazaar fundraising event. Wish me luck! And thanks for the inspiration AND motivation! –SueG

  • Helen Hawthorne
    September 29, 2016

    I try to recycle everything. However I love buttons and have been known to purchase an item at Goodwill or at a yard sale just for the buttons or other fancy closures. Then I have to think of a clever use for the rest of the item. Needless to say I make a lot of doll clothes for the Grand-daughters !!

  • Joyce Fitzgerald
    September 29, 2016

    I’ve been recycling clothes for 50 yrs, I used my sisters 1956 dresses to make shifts and mini shirts in the late ’60’s . I thank my mom for those “older “sisters. I’ve taught my gdaughter to use sheets, shirts, pants and jackets to create cosplay costumes.

  • Edye Cameron McMillwn
    September 29, 2016

    I save everything. I have lots of jeans and would love to have ideas for them. I have lots of cottons with plans for lots of quilts. I have clear vases filled with colorful buttons; they look pretty in my sewing room.

  • Dorothy Urberg
    September 29, 2016

    I save buttons ribbons zippers old jeans anything that I think can be recycled.

  • Sharie
    September 29, 2016

    I save a lot of clothing to recycle but my favorite is to use old sweatshirts, especially team football shirts, to make pillows to throw on the couch in the game room

  • Donna
    September 29, 2016

    I save jeans, men’s shirts, and have collected large size tee-shirts and women’s skirts for taking apart to use in making children’s garments. I also save buttons and metal zippers.

  • Florence Dupuis
    September 29, 2016

    I am soon to be a great grandmother and I would love to make a denim bib. When I find out what it will be, I can customize for a boy or girl.

  • Brenda Ackerman
    September 29, 2016

    I save jeans, sweaters and sweatshirts. They all have wonderful uses for so many sewing/quilting projects plus a variety of craft projects. Thank you for sharing all of these fantastic ideas and the opportunity to win this great prize!

  • Enid
    September 29, 2016

    I like the idea of recycling. I have made pot holders out of old jeans. Love the new ideas.

  • Suzanne Reese
    September 29, 2016

    I have saved jeans for years but haven’t used them much because I didn’t have the imagination to think up projects for them… except a purse once.

    I would love to see all your great ideas and use up my jeans stash!

  • Greta
    September 29, 2016

    My Goodness I save jeans, men’s shirts (all cotton of course) my grandchildren’s baby clothes and well about anything! You can tell the stories of your life when putting the grandkids to bed and they ask you about the different quilt blocks…

  • Tonni
    September 29, 2016

    I save most clothing, old blankets, etc. I reuse everything in scrappy quilted items and so much more. I used to get bags from thrift stores when they had too much and wash them. I’d use the fabric in so many ways.

  • Cheryl Scott
    September 29, 2016

    My parents were wonderful role models for finding new ways to recycle things. This was because we lived well below the poverty line. I never heard them complain once. At the age of 17 I spent a summer working for the forest service in MN in a conservation program. Both experiences cemented my desire to think twice before throwing anything out. Yesterday I’d thrown out a broken umbrella that was beyond repair. A few minutes later I realized I could save all of that water repellant fabric as well as the small closure strips with Velcro already attached. I now have waterproof fabric for backing a picnic blanket, making storage bags for camping, shoe bags for travel and more. I can’t wait to let my friends know to start saving umbrellas for me so I can make more items to give to family and friends. I love the old saying ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ I’d love to have this book because I have already cut apart more than 20 pairs of jeans friends have given me to repurpose for all the projects I have in my head!

  • Kathy
    September 29, 2016

    I have up cycled a t shirt into a toddler t shirt. I also have been saving jeans to make into something when I get “time”!

  • Kat Knapp
    September 29, 2016

    I up cycle anything I can get under the needle of my machine or serger….I love all these ideas….thanks for sharing.

  • Jade
    September 29, 2016

    I just save jeans, and this book is the answer to what to do with them all!

  • June
    September 29, 2016

    How do I watch sewing recycled jeans part 2? The only video that comes up is part 1. Thank you.

  • Regina Harris
    September 29, 2016

    I have recycled T-shirts and sweatshirts by combining into jackets. I also reuse buttons from any clothing that get turned into rags for cleaning and garate.

  • Cheryl
    September 29, 2016

    Unfortunately, I save almost everything. I just went through my stash to purge and still ended up with 8 totes and one small bag of trash.

  • Susan Spiers
    September 29, 2016

    Jeans-most definitely-shirts/blouses no longer being worn, especially cotton for quilting!

  • Leona
    September 29, 2016

    I save buttons from shirts & sweaters, zippers, old denim jeans, husbands shirts & T shirts.
    I have made 2 T-shirt quilts and quilts using various pieces from denim jeans (Front zippers to open, waist bands with a piece of red flannel, pockets with flaps & closers, etc.) I love the denim quilts as you can dress them up by using every part of the jeans. These make great quilts for kids as you have buttons, zippers, snaps, ties, etc. for them to learn how to use.

  • Teckla
    September 29, 2016

    I save all sorts of things; anything I think I can use to make something else. I have lots of buttons, fabric for clothes, quilts, totes, etc., lace from curtains and sewing projects, ribbons, yarn . . . the list is endless. I’m always looking for ways to make old things into new things, whether an exact pattern or ideas to modify into something specific to me. Thanks for this opportunity to win a new book. PS: I really enjoyed Seams Unlikely! We never know where life is going to take us, do we.

  • Maria H
    September 29, 2016

    I save scaps for one of a kind bags or quilts from a loved ones clothing so their love can wrap around you.

  • Carol Spears
    September 29, 2016

    I save denim and have made one quilt, but want to try some of the small projects. I save cotton and linen clothing and hope to make some pretty dish towels and pillows. Also save buttons. So many ideas, but I seem think and collect more than I sew – so far. This book could be my motivation/inspiration to get going!

  • Amy Brant
    September 29, 2016

    I save everything – buttons, zippers, dresses with beautiful fabric. I just never know when I need a frayed tshirt for rags; or the fabric, buttons, shoulder pads, or 16 inch red zipper from an old silk dress for a new dress; or old sheets to use as handbag linings, and pillowcases for “Little dresses for Africa”; the list is endless. My favorite is cutting down old knit or woven tops to make doll clothes.

  • Mary Anne Ahtye
    September 29, 2016

    I’ve lost 20 lbs and two dress sizes so have been saving all my larger sized jeans and now to add to my collection thrift store finds too. I have been a faithful “Sewing with Nancy” follower for 30 years and was thrilled you produced a book about sewing with jeans. Perfect! I need and want the book.

  • Diana
    September 29, 2016

    I have a big bunch of jeans to recycle, getting the time is my problem!! Also have a huge bunch of tshirts too large for anyone since my son lost a lot of weight. I hope to make some of them into a tshirt quilt for him, and cut up the rest to make the tshirt yarn, then crochet rugs, etc. from that. Would LOVE to win a copy of your book!!

  • Marjory W
    September 29, 2016

    I save the family’s jeans, wool clothing for felting, skirts and dresses which no longer fit, knit clothing in good shape, and anything else that might be useful for trim, etc. I also save sweaters, and children’s clothing from resale shops to refashion into doll clothing. Needless to say, I have many bins of such saves—-and not enough storage space! Little gets thrown away.

  • Debra A Armstrong
    September 29, 2016

    In addition to all denim and TShirts I cut out around the decorative trims or embroidery on items to use for Crazy Quilts. Also I save buttons for crafting.

  • Esther
    September 29, 2016

    I have a wall hanging above my cutting board made of recycled
    jean pockets, about 35″ by 27″, 13 pockets, plus a 14th
    pocket that fits behind 3 of the 13 and holds my 26 x 5 ruler.
    All pockets are full of notions, very handy for marking pens
    scissors, cutting blade, etc.

  • Joyce
    September 29, 2016

    I’m collecting/recycling the fabric from men’s cotton plaid shirts to make a quilt. I love the look of a scrappy plaid quilt.

  • Rhonda D in KY
    September 29, 2016

    I pretty much save all clothing items to use in all sorts of sewing and quilting projects. I’ll remove buttons and zippers for future use and depending on the type of fabric I’ll either store it in one whole garment or cut various strips, squares, etc.

  • Deej
    September 29, 2016

    I am a long-standing Nancy fan, have attended her seminars, watch her TV series and devour her books. Like many commenting here, I recycle and repurpose and have my share of recovered denim waiting for the opportunity to become something new and exciting.

  • Jamie Todhunter
    September 29, 2016

    I have not recycle old clothes into new projects as much as I have donated them to the local thrift shop. I did turn a halloween jedi robe into a shorter shirt for my son when he outgrew the length, but it could still fit. I also have some old flannel clothes that I have made that I am currently thinking about using to use as lining in some small bags that I am thinking about making. I love the ideas in this post and the one from last week.

  • Arlene Burger
    September 29, 2016

    Any odd or interesting piece of clothing goes into my stash. I recycle into gift sacks instead of using gift boxes. They are especially great for odd. size items.

  • Tina Jeo
    September 29, 2016

    I reuse purse straps, rings and closures. I save t shirts for a t shirt quilt. Even plain ones for dashing and borders. I am saving jeans and anything denim. I reuse dresses and jumpers for aprons. I use clothes I’ve sewn for my daughter to make doll clothes and hot pads. Thanks for more ideas.

  • Beverley Hancox
    September 29, 2016

    It’s so affirming to read all the emails and realize that I’m not alone in saving all the zippers, buttons, trims and old clothes with interesting fabrics (I had to share this with my husband!). The biggest issue I have is storing them so that I know where to find them again when I need them.

  • Vicki Alter
    September 29, 2016

    I just made Bible covers out of my old jean skirt for a friend who liked the one I had made with embroidery on it, and then wanted one for her sister-in-law. I also save buttons to decorate items and old shirts to use for appliqué.

  • Edna M
    September 29, 2016

    Jeans, old shirts, buttons off anything are my favorite to save for recycling.

  • Peggy
    September 29, 2016

    I save jeans, t-shirts, any type of clothing I think can be recycled. I’ve already complete a jean quilt for someone who was struggling to make ends meet. I would love a chance to win your book.

  • Beverly Plowright
    September 29, 2016

    I use recycled jeans in bags and rag quilts and have used a pair of leather pants to put non slip soles on homemade slippers.

  • Jackie Taxter
    September 29, 2016

    I save buttons & all pieces of material from quilts. The really small pieces go for stuffing pads for the animal shelter.

  • Christine
    September 29, 2016

    I don’t save much, except a few jeans. My daughter saved her TShirts and made a beautiful quilt from them.

  • Dawn Weideman
    September 29, 2016

    I have been saving worn out and jeans I can’t get into for years because “some day,” I am going to make something with them. I moved them with me went I relocated to North Carolina and brought them back with me when I returned to my home state of Wisconsin. In a few weeks, they will travel with me again, but fortunately less than a mile to my new home. Love the ideas presented in your new book and I would love the book!

  • Gail Beam
    September 29, 2016

    I save old jeans, buttons, purse straps, rhinestone jewelry, metal sewing parts, prom dresses,, fur, and leather pieces for possible future projects . I save new hose never worn that would be to old wear for doll panty hose. I would love to win this book to whittle down my Huge box of old jeans into useable projects.

  • Bonnye
    September 29, 2016

    I save everything. I have vintage buttons, fabric scraps of silk, satin, lace and unusual fabrics. And of course I save jeans. I would love to have the book.

  • Angie langer
    September 29, 2016

    I have been making tote bags and little girl purses for operation christmas (OCC) from old jeans. They really turn out cute by adding some buttons or other accent. I enjoy watching your show and have learned a lot from you. Thank you.

  • Jean Archer
    September 29, 2016

    I enjoy recycling anything denim plus old linens. I’ve made many teddy bears out to recycled jeans, which were given to charity. The denim is soft and familiar to kids. It’s fun to embroider on the denim. For example a pocket watch with fob next to a small pocket.

  • Iantha Folkman
    September 29, 2016

    I save scraps of fabrics from my sewing projects, collect fabrics for period Victorian reenactment, selvage edges from material, etc. I also save bits of lace and lace yardage embellishing projects. That helps me have something on hand for that little gift that I need, or costumes for the grandchildren. My parents and grandparents taught me how to be thrifty.

  • Gretchen Berg
    September 30, 2016

    I have used old jeans for years to make pot holders. I make them in multiple sizes and with batting in the middle they work great. Plus they wash up easily and don’t shrink.
    I also used them to make a paint shirt/smock for my children, stirching their names on it as they grew into it. Now my grandchildren use it!

  • angi harrell
    September 30, 2016

    Jeans, Sweatshirts, Buttons, D-Ring and catches.

  • Theresa Cussimanio
    September 30, 2016

    T-shirts for a quilt then the left over shirt into a chemo cap which is very loved and soft.

  • Patti
    September 30, 2016

    Jean, don’t we all!

  • Patti
    September 30, 2016

    Jeans, don’t we all!

  • Debe
    September 30, 2016

    Jeans, fancy dresses/blouses to salvage fabric for crazy patch & plaid shirts

  • Elizabeth Pangle
    September 30, 2016

    Jeans!!! I have been saving jeans for years for quilts for my nephews. 2 done, 1 left to make! I’m always looking for new ways to utilize jeans from my stash!

  • Mary H
    September 30, 2016

    I save denim, cotton knits (T shirts, sheets, etc) and men’s shirts. Good stuff for fun sewing!!

  • Martha Hood
    September 30, 2016

    Been saving jeans for quite a spell , also saving my son in laws bvd- not sure what using it for- thought of a blanket= but like the ideas your are showing- thanks

  • Marsha
    September 30, 2016

    I save old and new jeans from anyone and everyone. I am the sewer in the family. I am saving my grandson’s one of a kind t-shirts and football jersey and whatever else he wants for his quilt. He’s only 7 so I have a long way to go. I also save anything for leather and quilted bags plus fabrics for applique. That will be another quilt for my grandson. You name it and I may have one. My favorite is the denim mat for under the sewing machine. What a clever idea. Nancy, thanks for sharing.

  • Linda wise
    October 1, 2016

    I am saving all my shirts from work with our logo so when I retire I can make a quilt with them.

  • Clovis
    October 1, 2016

    I used to watch you back when my kids were little. I just started back watching you. I have saved buttons, zippers, fabrics (cotton, denim, silk, linen), clothes from the kids. You never know when you can add a pop of color to a project. I don’t have many jeans saved, but I do like your projects for the Double Duty Mat and the Cross Body Jean bag.

  • Lynda A.
    October 1, 2016

    I look carefully at any clothing that I or my husband may have that hasn’t been worn in the last 3 years or longer. Usually, it no longer fits, and has already been replaced with a new garment. I give most of outgrown clothes to charity, but will save the ones that I feel can be “reborn” into something useful. I do love denim, pretty sheets/pillowcases/curtains/linens, men’s dress shirts, and my skirts and tops that have as much as 1/2 yard or more of good usable fabric that is not faded or stained. I have noticed that most of my favorite items that I sew are from these slightly used and recycled items. It is a good feeling to reuse fabric that you already have on hand, as well as thrifty.

  • Ann Marie Oblas
    October 2, 2016

    I saved my father’s wool suit jackets and used the material to make a rag quilt. There’s nothing like relaxing with a lap quilt that makes me smile when remembering the wonderful man who raised me! And, I used sleeves from some of his shirts to make wine bottle bags for my siblings. They recognized them right away!

  • Sheila
    October 2, 2016

    I save old and new jeans, my husbands old shirts, old wool clothing, buttons and even the selvage edges from fabric to use for quilts or other projects that I find,

  • Louise Johnson
    October 3, 2016

    I save almost any kind of fabric and clothing item for possible use in a future project. My favorite is to find an item (especially jackets) that might be too big for me and remake it to my size or preferred style for my body shape (pear.) Interesting textures are hard to find in fabric shops but easier to find in thrift shops.

  • Sherry Peaslee
    October 6, 2016

    I save all kinds of fabrics for sewing projects. I even saved scraps of cotton quilting fabrics to make “Crumb”quilts. Lately I’ve been going to thrift stores for any items made from wool to use in quilt blocks for a homespun look wall hanging.

  • Jan Carnes
    October 7, 2016

    Jeans seem to take up the most space in my sewing room, but I also save anything else that seems usable. I agree with Carole above – elastic from men’s underwear is great. I’ve used it for replacing old elastic on fitted sheets.

  • Jan Carnes
    October 7, 2016

    Jeans seem to take up the most space in my sewing room, but I also save anything else that may be usable (buttons, zippers, shirts, etc.). I agree with Carole, men’s underwear elastic is great. Among other things, I have used it to replace worn out elastic on fitted sheets.

  • Wendy Kennedy
    October 8, 2016

    I’ve worked in a hospital for over 30 years. I use old scrub tops and pants to make beautiful vivid colored items . Quilts to smaller projects are just fun with the vibrant patterns and colors in those scrubs!

  • Mary Jane
    October 16, 2016

    I use men’s shirts and old towels to make “shirt protectors” for a local VA Hospital and just people I know! I have extra material for my stash too!!

  • Kathy
    October 24, 2016

    My family considers me a packrat because I don’t send much to Goodwill because I’m always thinking of how I can reuse items. Here’s a few of them.
    RUGS: blue jeans, t-shirts, sheets, blankets, towels, socks and wool clothing (felted)
    FLOWERS: blue jeans, t-shirts, any clothing (sheers, cotton, pretty much anything) and wool clothing (felted) and any old jewelry for bling
    PURSES & TOTES: blue jeans, corduroys, t-shirts, and wool clothing (felted)
    CROCHETING & KNITTING: I unravel old sweaters and reuse the yarn.
    QUILTS: blue jeans, sheets, blankets, and any clothing (especially flannel shirts and pants)
    BASKETS: t-shirts, blue jeans, sheets (mostly stripped and woven, crocheted, or knitted)
    Hummm…now that I’ve put it in black and white…maybe my family it right…lol 🙂

  • Brenda Pedersen
    October 30, 2016

    I’ve saved knit shirts for embroidery stitch-outs, jeans for hand bags, vests & pockets; shirts for grocery bag holders & pantihose to tie up tomato plants. I also reuse buttons, zippers, & trims for various projects.

  • Debbie
    November 25, 2016

    I always save jeans, flannel shirts and ties to use in my quilting. Love the ideas in this book!!

  • Francine Shea
    February 23, 2017

    I save my daughters promotional t shirts and my husbands shirts, jeans, sheets, and fabric from sample books from a local drapery and Upolstry store. They give me the discontinued books for free.

    June 27, 2017

    joann fabric coupons in store weekly ad “joann fabric coupons in store weekly ad

  • Laurie Scheck
    July 9, 2017

    I love to recycle old clothes to make table runners, placemats, blankets, wheel chair lap blankets, walker bags, purses, etc. I have also made burlap Roman shades for a cousin. I have made some of these items with denim too. I was given a whole batch of denim jeans recently by family members and have been trying to decide what to make with them and your book has given some great ideas. I would love to win your book. Thanks for inspiring me.

  • Phoebe Mcnayr
    December 24, 2017

    My wish friend code iskbxmphc

  • Martha Dopkowski
    July 27, 2020

    I want to buy the “10 20 30 minutes to recycle jeans” book but Google won’t let me find one (probably because they can’t get a fee out of it.) HELP!!!

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