Denim redemption

Confession: My boys go through blue jeans like most people go through Kleenex.

Before I was a mom, I thought denim was one of the more durable fabrics. I am rethinking this.

I’m considering starting a new trend: patches on knees. I’m not sure it would go over well, but it would be worth a try.

We buy our sons’ jeans secondhand, which makes them affordable, but I always groan when it’s time to hit the Salvation Army again already, time to start praying my standard prayer: “Lord, you know what my family needs. Please prepare it for us…” Decent jeans in the right sizes are a precious commodity. When I ask Jesus to get them ready for us, three things happen:

a) I stop worrying, realizing He knows our sizes

b) I stop grasping, realizing He may intend that ‘perfect’ pair for another of His children, and

c) He really does it.

That’s one redeeming factor for worn-out jeans. The other is this: a something-from-nothing purse.

blue jean purse

I learned the trick from a local sewing wizard, Joanna Schlabach.

  • Cut off a pair of old jeans below the seat.
  • Invert, and sew a straight seam across the bottom. Turn right side out.
  • Add a strap as desired. Mine is simply strips of denim, braided. You could use wide ribbon instead, making the tote as boyish or girlish as you wish.
  • If desired, add a velcro or hook fastening to keep it closed.
  • Front and back pockets are already in place!

The only problem I see is that around our house, supply exceeds demand. I could outfit my entire church with blue jean purses, but… … … you know… you can only make so many.

Any other ideas for worn out jeans?

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Joanna Yoder
11 years ago

I have a big box that’s full of worn-out jeans, plus a large stack on my closet shelf. The plan is to turn them into denim comforters for my boys’ beds. Something like this:
*cough* {Please don’t ask me how long the jeans in that box have been awaiting their transformation.} *blush*

Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

I’m voting for making all the church ladies purses!!! Whatdya think? It’d be much easier than makin’ my own.

Mama Zook
11 years ago
Reply to  Mom Coblentz

…and Shari would be a very loved lady!!! (As if she isn’t already!)

11 years ago

Said local sewing wizard says that she knows some really smart tricks for patching jeans. I’m still planning to learn her trick one of the days.

You could consider making cloth napkins or hankies with the old jeans. 🙂

I have already seen some rather cute patch quilts made from jeans for a boy’s room. You’re welcome to my boy’s old jeans if you wish to do this, since I have vowed not to try to make anything that even resembles as blanket for another 5 years…………

My boys ALWAYS have a gracious storehouse of cut offs for summertime.

11 years ago

Cut strips and have rugs made. Best rugs ever!

Make doll clothes.

11 years ago

I don’t have little boys to shop for, but I do have a husband who wears an awkward size. I’ve prayed that prayer you mentioned a lot of times myself.

You should talk to Laura Nisley about the beautiful pillow she made out of recycled denim. 🙂

rosanna h
11 years ago

Or make your own rugs! Mom has made several of these – almost too cute to use as a rug beside the door.

Cathy M
11 years ago

I cut the bottoms off and my little boys love wearing them outside in the summer. Doesn’t Meadville have those yellow boxes around you can put clothes and shoes in? One of the thrift stores in town takes jeans and sends them on for recycling. I think it’s Salvation Army.

Mama Zook
11 years ago

Now, I wish I had taken the time to take pictures the last three days…two pair of denim jeans (one brown denim and the other blue) experienced salvation from the “denim block” piles. And it took the “sacrifice” of two more pairs that were also doomed to the same pile (that matched the colors quite well) to make them look like double-knee pants. The two that were “saved” didn’t look very worn, other than the two very big tears (clear across the front legs on either side), and the “sacrificed” ones looked about the same, but the back sides of the legs were very nice yet.
If you open the inseam (this should be the seam that is not double top stitched) on both pant legs (only as far as your patch is going to cover!) removing the finish stitching also, you have better access, and can sew more easily!
Lay your patch right side to right side along the double stitched seams, folding down a little on the top and bottom of the patch, so that you are not going to be dealing with fraying patches…(unless you like that look).
Stitch along, and just outside the double top stitched seam. Fold the patch across the front of the messy jeans, and topstitch along the seam you just sewed, then edge stitch the top and bottom of the patch across the front of the jeans to the inseam that has been taken apart. I also stitched two more lines parallel to these two.
Turn the pant leg inside out, trim the patch to match the original seam edges and resew the seam that you took out…(should now have three layers of denim) and then finish the edge with a zigzag or serger!
To keep youngsters from catching their toes in the preexisting holes when they put on their new pants, (while you have the pants turned inside out) trim away the offending denim ragginess to within a half inch of the seams you’ve sewn across the pant leg! That gives the denim enough room to fray inside without making the rent bigger.
Repeat for leg number 2.
I think they should be more durable than the original pants!
Hey, and if you really think this seems daunting, keep some to “save” and some to “sacrifice” and I’ll do them for you when we move out to PA! =)

Mama Zook
11 years ago
Reply to  Mama Zook

…it didn’t take three days to redo the pants, I was cutting up a kitchen garbage bag full of jeans someone donated to church sewing…and I cut enough 8″ blocks to make a 72″x90″ comforter, and as the pants got smaller, I cut them into 7″, 6 1/2″, 5″ and some 4″. That’s when I came across the ones really too nice to cut up! BTW, after three days of cutting denim, I had cramps in my hands and fingers! I wouldn’t recommend three days in a row for anyone!

11 years ago

With four guys in this family, I feel your desperation. So this is what we’ve been working on- -denim rag quilts with flannel backs. (Flannel from sheets found at Goodwill, of course!) So simple since there’s no batting, and the front and back squares are sewed together at the same time. I’m trying not to think what I’ll do once each boy has his own quilt…!

11 years ago

I have saved pants for a patchwork quilt then pitched them (with horror at my waste) before moving. My best use for worn out pants is patches for holes in other pants. 🙂 My best defense, though, is buying good pants. I think that new pants almost always hold up better than the ones from Goodwill. Our Goodwill stores charge $3 for boys’ pants, and the bigger the size needed the harder it is to find them in a good state. I can often find them new for $5-7 on clearance or even good sale days–the same as I’d pay at consignment sales. I still nab the $3 when I can, but I have had so many second hand pants split a knee hole the 1st-3rd time they’re worn that I got sick of it! Mostly I shop ahead for the next season–so I’ll be looking for pants for the fall within a month or two.

11 years ago

I made hot pads, two money belts for our market stand this summer, and a Leatherman knife holder so far. My mom makes really cool comforters, out of them, too.I love working with jeans!

11 years ago

Chrissy and I just used your instructions to make a CUTE jean bag for her. She adores it, and the seams were easy enough for her to sew– and she braided the handle. She is one happy gal! The only thing that would make it cuter, I think, is a flamboyant scarf or ribbon tied through the belt loops!

11 years ago

I’ve made a picnic blanket from patches of salvaged denim as well as a seat cover for my hubby’s pickup. When I forget how much work that was, I may decide to do another project. 🙂
Thanks for the patching tutorial, Mama Zook. Very sweet of you to offer to patch jeans for Shari. That is a great gift for a mother of boys!
(Yes, this is a shameless hint if anyone reading this knows who I am!)

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