Tag Archives: repurposed jeans

Matterhorn T-shirt Shoulder Bag

15 Jun

Based on anecdotal evidence I’ve gathered at countless thrift shops, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people come home from Disney with t-shirts that made sense at the time, but quickly lose their appeal once the vacation is over. For some reason this seems especially true of Eeyore shirts, but I digress.

If you’ve got some t-shirts like that yourself, or if you’re willing to scavenge the thrift shops for other people’s purchases, there’s plenty of ways to transform a discarded t-shirt into something you’d actually like to wear.

Cashing in on the green and DIY aesthetic of books such as Sew Subversive: Down and Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista and Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, Simplicity has a “go green” line of sewing patterns which incorporate re-purposed materials. I made the bag pictured below using Simplicity 2972, using a t-shirt I’d found in a local thrift shop, an old pair of jeans, and about $4 worth of interfacing and lining. Strictly speaking, it’s not a Disney t-shirt…but this girl grew up with Disneyland’s Matterhorn, you know what I’m sayin’? And amusingly enough, I just so happened to finish the project on the Matterhorn’s 50th birthday.

Matterhorn shoulder bag

Matterhorn Shoulder Bag Detail: Strap

Matterhorn Shoulder Bag Detail: Lining

Now, I do have a couple complaints about the pattern. For one thing, the packaging (of course) heavily stresses the “go green” angle, but only one of the five bags pictured is actually made from recycled materials. Also, while they tell you any men’s L or XL t-shirt will have sufficient fabric for the required pieces of the bag, this simply wasn’t the case. I don’t think even a XXL would have made it, as there simply wasn’t a long enough piece of shirt to cut the main front/back piece from. Instead, I needed to throw that old pair of jeans into the mix to have enough fabric, in large enough pieces.

But those quibbles aside, I’m quite happy with my bag. And actually I kinda like it with the denim in the mix, though making the straps was a little trickier than it would have been with jersey. (Also, the interfacing simply wasn’t necessary with the denim, which saved me a step or two.)

If I were to do this project over again, I’d likely use the t-shirt only for the flap, and perhaps use the rest of the t-shirt fabric as lining (more re-use, more better), using denim for the side pieces. I’m a bit concerned that the denim strap attached to the jersey sides of the bag may not hold up well over time, even with the interfacing to support the jersey. Or, I’d buy a couple t-shirts that color-coordinate and work well together thematically, and make the entire bag out of jersey (as Simplicity envisioned), but that would be a much slouchier bag than I prefer.

Disney DIY Duds: Re-constructing and Re-purposing Jeans

27 Feb

During the last batch of major reductions at Disney Outlet online, I succumbed to the allure of a couple pairs of jeans. I’d had an eye on them for a while, but hadn’t ventured out to my local Disney Store to try them on . . . and this was, in fact, a mistake. The waist was super-high, and the seat/hips super-baggy. I refuse to call them “Mom Jeans” because I find that an unnecessarily demeaning term, but I think you know what I’m talking about, right?

Instead of dealing with the return/exchange shipping and all, I considered it a $25 investment in craft and sewing materials, and an opportunity to experiment a bit. I’l share these experiments here, including things that didn’t work too well. Either one is a fairly simple project, and could surely be improved upon.

Reconstruction: Shorten the rise

I simply removed the belt loops and waist band, then sewed the belt loops back onto the jeans, leaving the raw edge relatively unfinished. The jeans came out okay, but the rise is still a bit too high, and the seat a bit too baggy. Here are the steps I took, and what I’d do differently next time:

  1. I removed the belt loops with a seam ripper.
  2. I removed the waist band using a seam ripper. Next time, I’d simply re-cut the rise with a good pair of cutting shears, and customize the rise and angle based on my own measurements.
  3. Using special “jeans” thread, I reinforced/finished the new “waistband” the same way one would finish the edges of raw fabric after cutting out pattern pieces: I sewed right on the edge, using an overlock stitch. I did two rows of overlock stitch, partly because denim unravels easily but also because I wanted more of a visual contrast.
  4. I reattached the belt loops to the waist of the jeans, and called it a day.
  5. Next time, I’d do a little reading on pants construction, and see if I could take in the seat a bit, in addition to recutting the waist.

Re-purposing: Denim handbag, with pockets

This one was a little trickier, but no more time-consuming. I’m much happier with the results, and have been carrying this bag nearly every day.

I’d been poking around online at various jean purse projects, and was inspired by an electronics pouch I saw on Instructables. I changed the approach significantly, but was inspired by the basic shape of the bag, and the leverage of existing pockets. I wanted to include the front pocket as well as the back, because I really like the embellishment on the front of the jeans. It’s also turned out to be very handy; the watch pocket is perfect for keeping track of my lip gloss.

  1. I ripped out the center seam (ie, crotch from front to back). This basically splits the pants into two completely separate legs, only one of which was used for the purse.
    1. In retrospect, I could have just cut it, I didn’t need to save that extra 5/8″ of fabric.
  2. I took the pant leg that I wanted to use for the purse (in this case, the leg with both front and back pockets decorated). I split that pant leg open on the inside seam (ie, the seam that would have run down the inside of my leg).
  3. Measuring carefully, I cut a rectangle from the top of the pants. I was careful not to accidentally cut through the front pocket, since I wanted to keep it intact. The size of the rectangle could vary, depending on the size of the pants (mine were a 12) and the dimensions of the purse. I chose to cut the bottom of the rectangle about 2″ below the bottom of the back pocket.
    1. Special note: Because jeans are not rectangular, the hip seam will likely not be the side of your purse.
  4. Using special “jeans” thread (in this case, I used the “denim” color thread rather than the gold), I finished the edges with an overlock stitch, since denim loves to unravel.
  5. I sewed a zipper into the waistband, to be able to zip the purse closed. This was the trickiest part, and an experienced seamster would do it way better than I did! Basically I bought a 7″ zipper, and sewed first one side, and then the other, to the inside of the appropriate sections of waistband.
    1. In retrospect, I should have shortened the zipper, because it’s a little too long and creates a little bulge on one end. Or, if I didn’t want to learn how to shorten zippers, next time I’d err on the side of putting the extra length on the bottom of the zipper (ie, the part that’s always closed).
  6. I folded the rectangle in half, right-side to right-side, and seamed the side and bottom, using 5/8″ seam allowance on the side and 1.5″ on the bottom. I then stitched the bottom a second time, 1/4″ into the seam allowance, for extra strenth.
  7. I’d had all kind of fancy ideas about making a shoulder strap from another piece of denim . . . but it didn’t work quite right. So, I poked around the house a little and found an old piece of clothesline. I cut three pieces, of about 1.5 times the length I wanted the strap to be. I braided the clothesline, and then tied it onto a couple belt loops to make a strap. It’s held up better than I’d expected!
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