upcycled jeans and sweater backpack

I have seen a lot of cute jean bags over the years but this design using the inseams for straps and an old sweater ribbing for the top is truly ingenious!  I can brag a little about this because it is not my design… this is another idea my mom woke up with!  She is so resourceful using parts of jeans that are often discarded and I love how she added pops of color with some scraps of fabrics that she had leftover from past projects.  So let’s see how she pulled this recycled jean backpack all together…

recycled jean backpack materials

(We didn’t end up using the flowers in picture above.)

denim jean inseam


Old jeans- belt loops, assorted pockets, 66″ French seam peace (shown above) you may need to piece these, we found the inseam on men’s jeans were perfect,   and material from legs of jeans to piece purse.

Contrasting material to piece with the jeans. (If using lightweight material, be sure to double it for durability.)

Sweater ribbing (May use light weight material folded in half instead, but I love the texture of the sweater.)

Lining material 16″ * 31″ (Best to use medium weight fabric close to jean weight.)


Use 1/2″ seams

Use a #16 needle for sewing machine

inside peak of recycled jean backpack


Cut 4 pieces from contrasting material 4″ x 16″

Cut jean material 8″ x 11″- with front pocket optional ( in picture above)  If using front pocket section, make sure you do not sew or cut inner pocket.

Cut a 6″ x 8″ and 7″ x 16″ pieces of denim

Cut 8″ x 6″ piece of floral fabric and checked fabric

recycled jean backpack pieces

With 1/2″ seam allowance, sew pieces together as shown above.

recyceld jean backpack

Iron seams flat.

recyceld jean backpack

Trim bottom edge even on front side piece.  Trim back to match.

Sew pockets to front section, again remembering not to sew pocket lining.  Do not place pockets lower than 2 1/2″ from bottom edge or higher than 2″ from top edge.


Recycled Jean Backpack

Take two 7″ x 3″ pieces of a lightweight cotton and fold in half lengthwise.  Then open and fold sides in to meet in the middle and fold in half lengthwise to make a 7″ strip.  Sew open edge closed.

recycled jean backpack

Fold ends of this long piece to middle.  Fold in half at middle.

Recyceld Jean Backpack

This will provide you with two open tabs on each side to thread cords through after you attach tabs 3″ from bottom along sides.

recycled jean backpack

Sew front to back along sides.

recycled jean backpack

Recycled jean backpackCut bottom ribbing from sweater.  Placing right sides together, sew ribbing to top edge overlapping ends.

recycled jean backpack with sweater trim

Sew ends down.

recycled jean backpack


Measure bag from side to side, double that and add one inch for seam allowance.  This is your lining width and length will be 16 inches.  (Our total piece of lining measured 16″ x 31″.

Recycled Jean Backpack

Fold lining in half and sew one pocket on each half at least 2 1/2″ down from top edge.

Lining needs to be slightly smaller so take a 3/4″ seam when you sew it together along side.  Keep 1/2″ seam at bottom.

Turn bottom of bag inside out and lie flat.  Sew 1/2″ seam at bottom edge.

Recyceld jean backpack

To square off bottom, pull out bottom corners.  Flatten and sew across 1 1/2″ in from point.  Repeat on other side.

Finish lining bottom in the same way.

Turn bag right side out.  Leave lining inside out and slip inside bag.  Adjust, smooth, and turn down upper edge of lining to meet seam on ribbing.  Pin in place and then sew .

recycled jean backpack


Recycled Jean Backpack

Make sure one belt loop is sewn at each back side seam (This is the loop your straps will cross at.) on to ribbing.  Place other six loops evenly around.


Thread French seam strip through bottom tab at side of bag.  Then from back to front through belt loop sewn at back side seam.  Thread around through all loops and through back side loop again.  Then down through other tab at side bottom.

Recyceld Jean Backpack

Recycled Jean Backpack

Sew ends together one inch up from bottom.  Thread strip through other side same way, making sure strap is not twisted.

recycled jean boho backpack

If you still have some recycled jeans, check out these tutorials…





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Cyber hugs,

Amy- joyfuldaisyforever@gmail.com

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  1. Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle

    Very nice and so stylish. What a great idea of using material you have on hand.

  2. becky

    I just “discovered” your great site today through craft gossip and boy am I glad I did really like your back pack; after subscribing to your news letter I have a fun new bag to get to work on.

    1. joyfuldaisyforever@gmail.com

      Hi Becky! Thanks a bunch & welcome to Joyful Daisy!

  3. Bobbi - 3GLOL

    This is soooo cute. Wish I had one!

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Kimberlee

    This is really cute. I have made a few bags from old jeans but have never used a sweater with the jeans – great idea – I like the look with the sweater part at the top.

  5. Erlene

    What a great way to use old jeans and some left over fabrics. Pinned to my sewing board and a group board. Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday.

  6. Samantha

    You’re so creative! I just love seeing what awesome thing you come up with every week! Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday

  7. creativekkids

    That is really cute! Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned it to the Bloggers Brags PInterest Board.

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