In this article, we’ll be teaching you how to make a backpack out of jeans, and here’s why. Every now and then, people let themselves go. If it hasn’t happened to you before, you must have seen it happen to someone you know. They start stress-eating a bit more than they should. Afterward, nature takes its course and adds a few bits of extra weight in the right (or wrong) places.
Eventually, they’ll realize that they need to get back in shape, and they do it. Unfortunately, along with their newly acquired summer body comes unfitting old jeans.
Whether or not this scenario has ever happened to you, throwing old jeans out might not be the best idea, especially when there is an innovative way to recycle them. Thankfully, in a few simple steps, you, too, can learn how to make a backpack out of jeans.
Two different ways of making jeans bags at home?
While homemade jean bags serve virtually every basic function bag should, there are still two broad ways of creating them.
As implied by the name, this kind involves using a sewing machine, thread, and pretty much every other thing you’ll need to sew. If you know how to sew a backpack out of jeans properly, you can make really stylish designs.
2. Without sewing
This kind of jeans bag making does not involve a sewing machine and all of that. It consists of a lot fewer steps and some glue. However, you are a tad limited in what you can do. Nonetheless, it is an excellent idea if you aren’t too passionate about sewing, and you just want to get the job done.
Items needed to learn how to make a backpack out of jeans?
Before we get started on our stylish backpacks, you might want to gather a few supplies.
1. Denim fabric
Considering that we are learning how to make a backpack out of jeans, this part kind of goes without saying. We’ll advise that you get about a square meter of this before we get started. For jean jackets, you don’t really have much to worry about, but for trousers, you might want to sew two different pieces together if you wish to get that one-meter size.
2. Two webbing adjusters
We’d say you should get plastic ones. It just feels right. Also, and very importantly, you should get two pieces of webbing to match the width. About 28cm in length oughtta do the trick.
3. Two straps
The ideal length for this is between 45 to 48 centimetres. However, feel free to look for something smaller or larger to suit your body size.
4. Zipper and zipper foot
For your zipper, 42cm will be just fine. For your zipper foot, you could use the regular foot that comes with the sewing machine. This is assuming that you don’t have one yourself.
5. A bit of contrasting fabric
This part is just for aesthetics. We’ll use it to add a bit of detail to the front of the backpack to make it look extra good. You can easily do without it. We, however, chose the other direction, and we’ll be using a bit of squared repurposed leather to do it. If you are interested in adding a bit of extra finesse to your backpack with leather and it has a bit of plastic, you can use tin snips to get rid of that.
Other important things you’ll need include:
- A pair of scissors
- A marking pen
- A box of matches, a lighter or pretty much anything that can bring the heat, besides yourself, of course?.
- Contrasting thread
- A ruler
- A seam ripper
- Cutting board
- A pressing iron
- A sewing machine.
There are times when you learn something online, and the picture looks so different from your end result. To avoid the confusion that comes with that, you should keep a couple of things in mind before we get started on this DIY denim backpack. They are:
- Iron your jeans often during the process. In the end, it makes it look a lot better. An alternative is to get out all the wrinkles without a pressing iron.
- Always locate the midpoint of any jeans material you’re working with and use a pen to mark it. It’ll aid easy reference later on when you are lining up pieces.
- Don’t haphazardly remove seams you’re not pleased with. That’s the whole purpose of the seam ripper.
- The measurements we gave above are for a little backpack. If you want something larger, you can get more creative with the sizes.
- Your seam allowance should be smaller when you start attaching handles as well as straps, among others. This will help you prevent those visible stitches at the end of the project.
How do you make a bag out of old jeans?
Now that you have gathered all the materials you need and noted the important things, it’s time we get started. To make it easier, we’ve broken things down into a fourteen-step guide. Keep in mind that this section is only for you if you just want to learn how to make a backpack out of jeans by sewing. Without further ado, this is how to make bags from old jeans step by step:
1. Cut two pieces to form the back and front of your bag
This is kind of a no-brainer as you cannot have or complete a backpack without these parts. Carve out two rectangles for this part. They should be identical. we’ll be using a measurement of 38cm by 25.5cm. However, you should increase that size if you’re going for something bigger. Put the two pieces atop themselves and fold them in half lengthwise. You don’t want a complete box, do you? That’s not very fashionable. As such, adjust the top corners by cutting a smooth curve around them. The bottom, however, should have a bit more sharpness in its curves. This will end up giving you a properly shaped backpack if done right.
2. Make your front pocket
This part is optional unless you want to have a bit of extra space on your backpack for all that loose luggage. Cut out a square with comfortable measurements from a piece of fabric. To add a little bit more style, choose a color that contrasts that of your denim, preferably white. Fold the square’s upper part two different times. Afterward, sew down the folded part.
Then, ensure that you halve the pocket vertically. When you have this done, make an outward angular cut on the lower end of the pocket to get that nice pocket shape.
Measure no more than 0.5cm of every edge. This excludes the pocket’s upper part. Pin the pocket to the center of the front part of your backpack and sew it down with the contrasting thread.
3. Cut and sew the backpack sides
The next step on how to make a backpack out of jeans is to cut out three strips from your old jeans. An appropriate measurement, if you’ve been following ours from the start, is about 42.5cm x 9.5cm.
While it isn’t compulsory, with two of the pieces, you can face the wrong side to the right and sew them together. The sewing should be done along the smaller side. We’re saying it is not compulsory because we just prefer to do it that way. It looks better and helps us achieve a more fashionable look. If you’re going to walk out with a hand-made bag, you might as well look pretty good wearing it.
Now, spread out both pieces flat and stitch down the seam allowance. You must do so to prevent the material from fraying inside.
4. Insert the bag’s zipper
Remember that third strip from the previous step? Well, this is where it comes into play. Find its lengthwise center and make a cut down its middle. On your sewing machine, you’ll want to change to the zipper foot. Also, make an adjustment to the placement of the needle such that it is positioned on the side. That way, you won’t be hitting the zipper foot. If you don’t have one, though, don’t worry about this part.
Now that you have your halved zipper strip, pin them to the zipper. Then, sew very closely to teeth without ruining or damaging anything. If you want different tones, you can choose to sew only one side up. After that, ensure that the fabric is folded again over its seams. Then, sew it on both zipper sides.
5. Sew your side pieces together
Pick up all the side pieces and sew them together in such a way that you end up with a loop. This loop will eventually serve as the place where your front and back fabric will be attached to form a bag. To achieve that loop, put together the sides meant to go on the right and sew the other pieces that make up the side to the zipper piece along the two ends.
6. Sew the bag’s sides and front together
For this, the bag’s front piece should be facing the side of the zipper piece. This should be done with their right sides together, of course. Line the zipper’s middle up to the upper center part on the frontal part. Pin it all around and ease up the fabric about its curves. Afterwards, head to your machine and sew this part up. Ensure that you don’t catch rolls of fabric in the process. The seam allowance should then be top stitched to the side piece.
7. Make your handle loop
We hope you didn’t discard the material you used for your front pocket because you’ll be needing it here. Cut out two rectangles from that same fabric. Any measurement will be fine, depending on how large you want your handle loop to be. However, for the sake of fashion and everything holy, please don’t overdo it. We’d recommend 10.5cm x 7cm. After cutting it out, sew it up on the end that’s shorter.
When you’ve sewn the shorter ends together, open it out and fold lengthwise such that the right sides are together. Sew these sides together to get a tube that’s about twice the length of the initial rectangle.
With a safety pin attached to one extreme of your handle loop tube, push it into itself. Then, pull it out to reveal the side that’s meant to be on the outside. It’ll take a bit of gentle tugging. Just don’t go Bruce Banner on the poor piece of fabric.
Fold the two sides over so that they meet at a midpoint such that when you turn it over, there’s a little equilateral triangle on the back. Iron this triangle down to smoothen it out and then sew it down to the back piece’s outward-facing part.
8. Make the inserts for your strap
If we spend this entire time teaching you step after step of how to make a backpack out of jeans without going through this one, we’d have done our job only halfway. As such, cut an 11cm (or more) sized square from the jean fabric.
Using the ruler we asked you to get earlier, draw a diagonal line between two opposing corners of the square and then cut through that line. One of the webbing pieces from earlier should be laid along the triangle’s longer side. Afterward, fold the triangle in half to form a 90-degree triangle around your webbing. Ensure that you allow for a small tail at the triangle’s end, which you will sew a line over.
Around the corner of the jean and webbing, do a top-stitch after pulling them to the right side. When that’s done, sew another square over the tail you left out earlier to reinforce it. Do the same thing for the opposing side and then sew them down the end of the backpack’s back piece at equal lengths.
9. Make your webbing adjuster
Cut two other webbing pieces. Afterwards, melt their ends to prevent fraying. About 8cm oughtta do it. While melting with your lighter, ensure there is no fuel around you. You want to kill it with your fashionable backpack, not yourself in a fire accident.
To end up with an adjuster on a relatively short loop, thread your webbing through the adjuster. When that’s done, thread it again on itself and then sew it.
Attach the ends of the webbing to one of your straps. To avoid the whole issue of making straps from the start, we’d advise that you recycle one from an old bag. If, however, you’d like to make straps from scratch, simply repeat the same process for making handle loops, as seen in step 7. The only difference is you will need much bigger measurements for your strap. Also, you don’t need to iron to form a small triangle on the back as you did with the loop.
10. Make an inner pocket
How many bags have you seen without an inner pocket for keeping your keys, among others? Not a lot, huh? Good. This is the tenth step on how to make a backpack out of jeans, but don’t worry, we’ll be done soon.
To make a pocket for the inner side of your backpack, cut out a rectangle from the jeans of about 24cm x 9cm. Again, go higher if you want bigger. Now, flip it and fold up the pocket. Ensure that the side that is facing inside is the right side and then sew both sides down.
Make two tiny slits on both sides of the right-facing way of the pocket. Do it in such a way that those seams you turned inward are lying flat. Go beneath the small flaps you created earlier by cutting those slits and, around the edges, topstitch with a contrasting thread.
11. Make a few finishing touches before you sew up the bag
You’ll need the back-panel of your backpack here, where you sewed your handle loop to. On both sides of those handle loops, put down your straps such that the right side looks outward and then sew them down.
Put your inner pocket at the center of the top part of the side zipper piece alongside the part that’s meant to hold your keys and whatnot facing outward for easy reach. When you’re sure you have placed it properly, and it isn’t crooked, sew it down. In the end, the inner pocket lies above the inner part of the back panel.
12. Sew up your bag
Here, you’ll really need to put your pins to work. It’s where it all comes together, like the end of your favorite mystery novel, and you need it to be accurate. Line up the middle of the top and bottom parts of the zipper panel as well as the back panel. They’ll be the first parts for you to pin together. After securing those locations, pin everything else very carefully and sew around it in like manner.
Before you zigzag stitch the entire thing about the seam, ensure that you feel comfortable with the way the back looks on the outside. When you are sure, stitch away. This will protect it from any form of fray, and that’s just about enough rhymes for today.
When you’re done with that, reinforce the part of the bag where the straps come out on top. You should do so by topstitching the seam allowance on the outer part of the right side. This is important due to the amount of pressure this part of the bag has to take.
13. Add some detail to the front
Remember the aesthetics we spoke of before delving fully into how to make a backpack out of jeans? Well, this is where it comes in. You are free to get as creative as you want. However, for us, we’ll be using a small leather piece of about 3.5cm x 3.5cm. If you’d like to join us, halve it. Afterward, curve the edges by using your scissors to cut them to shape.
Cut out two slits diagonally behind the leather. Afterward, position the square such that it is reasonably distanced from the top and is at an equal distance from both sides. Secure this position with as many pins as you deem necessary.
Very carefully, sew around the entire thing. Slow and steady cannot be more appropriate here because you are working with so many curves.
14. Finish it up
Put the webbing through the adjusters. Afterward, fold them just once and then sew them up so that they don’t incessantly slip out of the adjuster. Zip your backpack up, stretch a little bit, and pat yourself on the back because this is a darn good job you’ve done. At this point, all you have to do is ensure that you clean and maintain the backpack properly. That way, it will keep looking good for as long as it serves you.
How to make a bag out of jeans without sewing?
It is totally understandable if you don’t have the equipment to sew a jean backpack yourself. Even we won’t go well out of our way to buy an entire sewing machine just to sew one backpack. As such, we’ll be giving you five short and precise steps on how to make a backpack out of jeans without sewing:
- Gather your materials. To do this, you’ll need one of your old pairs of jeans, a pair of scissors and some fabric glue.
- Measure a length that you are comfortable with from the waist to the legs of your jeans and cut it off. When you do that, cut open the crotch’s seams.
- Glue the seams together such that you have a skirt in the end. Afterward, turn it inside out and use a pair of scissors to trim out the excess.
- Fold the bottom part of the skirt and apply glue to the bottom and top flap. Put them together to stick and wait a few minutes to dry. If you took too much length for the glue, you could use a pair of scissors to trim off the excess.
- With what remains of the jeans, cut two strips that you can repurpose for a handle. Fold the edges before gluing them. Afterward, fold the strips in half. When you’ve done that, turn the bag inside out and decide which part you want to attach the handles to. Make your attachment by gluing the handles there, and your bag is good to go.
Note that whether you are sewing or using glue, there are different jean backpack patterns. Ours is just one of them. Feel free to find which one works best for you and get creative with it.
Recycling is great for you, the earth, and pretty much everyone else on the planet. As such, we cannot overemphasize the importance of reusing old things instead of just throwing them out. After reading this guide on how to make a backpack out of jeans, we’re sure that you can now reuse those old jeans and look good with the end product too.
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