How to Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans – Heart Up-Cycling!

How to Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans into a pincushion, scissors case, glasses case and - just for fun - a raggedy rabbit.

There is a LOT of material in an old pair of denim jeans.  With a little ingenuity, you can turn them into all sorts of things.

Use what you make from your old jeans as something useful for yourself, to give as a gift or donate it to your local charity shop.  Whatever you decide to do with it, it is going to be far more satisfying than just tossing your once loved jeans into the dustbin!

Take 1 Old Pair of Jeans ...

Obviously, the larger the jeans, the more scope you have for up-cycling them.  A pair of size 8 skinny jeans will offer less scope than a generously sized pair of men’s jeans!  Whatever the size though, they all offer great potential for a recycling project.

For my project, I used the back of one leg to make a jolly raggedy rabbit, the back of the second leg to make the glasses case and the fronts (with the worn knees discarded) to make the smaller pincushion and scissors case.

What You Will Need:

The amount of denim you will need is:

  • Raggedy Rabbit – 1 fat quarter (50cm x 55cm – 18″ x 22″)
  • Owl Glasses Case – 2 pieces 6″ x 8″ and 1 piece 6″ x 14″
  • Pincushion – 2 pieces 7″ x 5″
  • Scissors Case – 2 pieces 7″ x 5″

You will also need:

Raggedy Rabbit:

  • Small fabric remnants for ears/feet/upper body.
  • Small pieces of felt – for ears/eyes
  • 30mm plastic safety joint
  • Two pipe cleaners (optional – but posable ears are such fun?!)
  • Embroidery thread – for his nose
  • A length of very strong thread/dental floss

Owl Glasses Case:

  • A piece of batting 6″ x 8″
  • Fabric remnants for the wings

Mouse Pincushion:

Scissors Case:

  • A small button
  • Wash away stabiliser

For all projects:

  • Matching thread
  • Embroidery thread
  • Polyester stuffing – mine was recycled
  • Tear away embroidery stabiliser
  • Iron-on fusible interfacing (if your denim is stretchy)
  • A sewing machine needle designed for sewing denim jeans is really helpful.
I used a sewing machine capable of machine embroidery to make the glasses case, pincushion and scissors case.  Raggedy rabbit is much more straightforward and can be made on any sewing machine.

Raggedy Rabbit

I used a pattern from

The instructions are easy to follow and great for a beginner with little sewing experience.  Making the ears and feet from fabric remnants is a really good way of using up scrap fabric.

I particularly like the poseble ears on this rabbit – achieved using two pipe cleaners.

Using a plastic safety joint was new to me too.  They are really easy to insert into the head/body joint and – after a very firm press and a few clicks – make a nice joint and give Raggedy Rabbit the useful ability to look in all directions and check where his next carrot is coming from.

Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Raggedy Rabbit Pattern
Pattern for Raggedy Rabbit -
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Meet Raggedy Rabbit
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Meet Raggedy Rabbit
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Meet Raggedy Rabbit
A plastic safety joint in his neck gives Raggedy Rabbit a 360 degree view.

Raggedy Rabbit - Tips and Tricks

I always like to include lots of tips and tricks in my posts to help you complete your own project.

  1. Remember to pattern match your fabric before you cut it.  I like the way my rabbit’s ears and feet both have matching flowers?
  2. Adding a felt insert to the feet and ears helps to give stability and shape.
  3. I found easing the fabric around raggedy rabbit’s foot was the trickiest part of this pattern.  I used LOTS of pins and tacked before I sewed.
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Raggedy Rabbit's Foot
Raggedy Rabbit's Foot - A felt insert adds stability and shape.
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Raggedy Rabbit's Foot
Raggedy Rabbit's Foot - Use lots of Pins!

Owl Glasses Case

I used the pattern from one of my previous posts – see the link below for full instructions:

Mouse Pincushion

I really needed a new pincushion.  The one I have been using for many years was made when I was just seven years old.  He has been my trusty companion for a long time, but all good things must come to an end and I think everyone deserves to retire – eventually?

First, I made myself a smart new mouse pincushion from red linen fabric.

Once I had got used to the pattern – which I purchased from The Embroidery Library – I used it again to create a denim mouse pincushion that I could sell to raise funds for Birmingham St. Mary’s Hospice.

You can see from the pattern below that a little denim goes a long way!

Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Mouse Pincushion
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Mouse Pincushion
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Mouse Pincushion
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Mouse Pincushion
Mouse Pincushion - A Little Denim Goes a Long Way!

Mouse Pincushion - Tips and Tricks

  1. If your denim is stretchy, you will need to stabilise it first.  I used some iron on lightweight fusible interfacing left over from previous projects.
  2. You will also need to use tear away embroidery stabiliser.  Cut away the stabiliser rather than tearing it though – leave some in the seams to strengthen them before you turn the mouse out.
  3. Tack all around before sewing – pinning just isn’t sufficient for an accurate sewing line.
  4. Using a clear machine foot really helps you to see where you are sewing and get the stitching line accurate.
  5. I cut the jump threads between each of the elements in the delicate embroidery as I sewed them.  That way, you can easily backtrack into the design to re-stitch any threads that don’t trim easily or come undone. Also, you don’t miss any jump threads either.  Remember that with machine embroidery, once you have removed the fabric from the hoop, you can never go back to exactly the same place and redo any of  your stitching.
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Mouse Pincushion Embroidery
Mouse Pincushion - Pretty Embroidery covers his back and sides
Up-Cycle a Pair of Jeans - Mouse Pincushion Pre Turning Out
Mouse Pincushion Pre Turning Out - Tack before you Sew!

Scissors Case

The scissors case was also made from a pattern used in one of my previous posts – see the link below for full instructions:

Heart Up-Cycling!

Heart Upcycling Logo

All of these projects were made using fabrics that had been donated or consigned to the rag bag.  Jeans are often tatty and worn by the time they reach the rag bag/dustbin – but there are always useful bits that can be salvaged.

The fabric for Raggedy Rabbit’s Ears was donated.  Thanks so much Debbie!

Debbie Dalston
Thanks so much Debbie!
Debbie Dalston's Dreamy Donation
Debbie Dalston's Dreamy Donation

No time to make your own?

If you like what you see on this post but don’t have time/resources to make them all for yourself, then visit my Etsy shop.

Working with up-cycled fabrics means everything I make is unique – you will never find another like it.  When they are gone, they are gone!

I donate all my profits to support the valuable work at Birmingham St. Mary’s Hospice.

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