Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Messenger Bag from a Pair of Jeans

I have always loved anything denim.  You see so many projects where people are recycling jeans into shorts, skirts & purses.  Well, today I'm going to show you how I made messenger bag from a pair of men's jeans.   The jeans I am cutting up is a pair I found for my hubby at Target during a sale.  They were a really good deal, and my hubby dutifully wore them a couple of times, until he finally said, "I just can't stand the cut of these jeans!"  Hey, no problem, I can always use an almost new pair of jeans for something!  :0)

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Just a heads up.  I recommend reading through the entire post before beginning to cut up your jeans.  

First step?  Cut the legs apart!  You are going to cut through the crotch area, cutting a "U" shape.

Next, cut out each of the back pockets, to use for the top of the bag.  Cut them out as close to the edges as possible.  As you cut, make sure you don't destroy the waistband with the belt loops etc... because we are going to be using that for the strap.  You don't need to cut out a whole section of the pants like this picture shows.  Just the pocket.

Next, you are going to cut off one of the legs, right under the pockets.  So now you should have one long leg.  Open up the leg and cut a piece so that it is 18" wide by 15" long*.  This will be the flap.  Cut a second piece from that same leg 18" X 13" long.  This will be the back of the bag. This piece does not need to have a finished edge.

*You want the top of the flap piece to be the bottom hem of the leg.  That will allow your flap, when folded down, to have a finished edge.  

Cut off the other leg ( for some reason this sounds a little gruesome to say) and using the bottom hem again as the top, cut a piece that is 18" wide by 13" tall (or long).

Now cut three more piece from anywhere that is left.  These three will be the sides and bottom of the bag.  2 pieces at 13" x 2 1/2" for the sides.  One piece at 18" x  2 1/2" for the bottom.

Ok, we are going to dissect the pants a little more.  Remove the belt loops from the waistband, careful not to put holes in the waistband.  My seam ripper too seemed to work the best for this.  The belt loops are going to be placed on the bag front for holding pens, etc...

Now we need to cut apart the little side pocket on the front of the pants.  What we want is the little pocket on the inside.  So cut away the pocket shaped like a half moon, and then cut out, right next to the edges, the little pocket inside.  (It's that little pocket that no one ever uses because it is so tiny; and if you do decide to use it, you can never get your object back out unless you use tweezers. :0)

Cut the waist band off of the rest of the pants right up next to the seam.  Set this aside for later.

Since we have finished cutting apart our pants we are going to lay the accents on the proper pieces and sew them on before we begin to assemble the bag.

On the flap, place one of the large back pockets on either side of the center seam (in order for one of the back pockets to look a little more custom- I took off the brown tag on the back of the pants and sewed it to one of the pockets).    Next, place two belt loops above each pocket.  Lay that out the way you like.  You can play around with it first if you need to, then pin and sew the pockets and loops onto the bag.  Use the same brown/tan color thread and sew right on top of the existing outer seams of the pocket.  Do not sew the top closed, unless you'd rather not use the pocket.  ;0)

On the front piece you are going to lay out the remaining loops on one side of the seam, and the tiny pocket on the other side of the seam.  The center seam is the side seam of the pants leg.  I actually ended up with the pocket on the right side and the loops on the left.  Doesn't really matter.  Pin, and sew using like color thread and sewing right on top of the existing seams.

That part is done.  So now we are going to begin to assemble the bag.  Before we do, you will need to cut the following pieces from your lining and interfacing.  About 1 yard of each the lining and the interfacing should be sufficient- you will probably easily have some left over.  Cut out the interfacing and iron it on according to the manufacturer's instructions. But remember, you are going to have to turn this bag through a small hole, so the interfacing shouldn't be too stiff in order to accomplish that.  If you don't use a stabilizer the bag will flop a little

Here are the pieces:  These are the same as the main pieces we cut from the jeans.

Two 13" x 18" (front and back of bag)
One 15" x 18" ( flap)
Two 13" x 2 1/2" (sides of bag)
One 18" x 2 1/2" (bottom of bag)

First sew the lining 15" x 18" to the jean 15" x 18", right sides together.   Sew it together on three sides.  Do not sew the top closed (the part with the finished seam).  Turn it inside out.  Set aside for now.

 I got excited during this part and didn't take pictures so I am going to explain this part with drawings.

To assemble the bag, first take your jean pieces and....

1.  Sew the back and bottom pieces, right sides together.

2.  Sew the bottom to the front, right sides together.

3.  Sew the sides to the back, bottom and front.  Make sure you pin these well, because you don't want them to slide around.

4.  Pin the strap to each side with the strap sticking up about 1/4" higher, making sure to center it between the seams of the side piece.  Baste stitch.

Now repeat steps 1-3 for the lining.

Sew your flap to the back piece of your bag.  (Right sides together.)

 Now you need to put the body and the lining right sides together.   Turn the lining right side in, and then stuff the jean part inside the lining so that their right sides are facing each other.  The flap and strap should be stuffed down in between the two layers, so just tuck them in and smooth them down the inside so they stay out of the way of the stitching. Pin the body and lining together at the top, lining up the side seams and the raw edges. The strap ends will be sticking up out of both sides.

Sew the body and the lining together, making sure to leave an opening on the back next to the flap to turn it inside out.  Reinforce the stitches well over the straps.  Make sure to also backstitch at your opening.  Turn inside out through your hole, then topstitch along the top edge to close the opening and give it a finished look....and.......YOU'RE DONE!!!!


  1. This is adorable. New follower over from Swap Ideas Day! Love the bag... would make for a terrific giveaway!
    Hugs, Jen

  2. I love this messenger bag. I love recycling old jeans. Stopping by from Seven Thirty Three Sugar & Spice linky party. TFS!!

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  3. What a great way to repurpose an old pair of jeans! Nice job!

    T'onna @

  4. Cool.
    i Hope there is a way to make it as a backpack...
    nice post

  5. FYI, the little useless pocket inside the right front pocket is a coin pocket. Men use them, but women have purses.

  6. I'm working on making this bad but im stumped as to how the finished edges on that pants legs are stillnexposed after you sew the lining in. Help!

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  8. Love this bag! Would really like a video tutorial.

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  11. hi i am doing a project for school and i was just wondering what the materials you used where

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