15 Ways to Repurpose Old Jeans

hand holds out multiple pairs of denim jeans stacked on top of each other in front of blank wall

Treehugger / Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

Put tough, leftover denim to good use with a variety of repurposing projects. Most require some knowledge of sewing.

It pains me to throw away old jeans, which is why I have a stash of holey, worn out pairs stored in the back of my closet. Part of it is emotional attachment; throwing them out feels like rejecting an old friend. It also feels wrong because the rest of the jeans are still intact, except for those darn holes, and I hate unnecessary waste.

This is why I’ve been searching for ways to repurpose beloved old jeans, rather than tossing them in the trash, or even in the local textile recycling bin. Denim is such a tough, resistant fabric that it’s great for repurposing. Here are some interesting ideas I found, which means those old jeans will soon find new life – and hopefully yours will, too.

1. Make Some Funky Denim Cocktail Napkins

hot cup of tea rests on upcycled denim jean cocktail napkin in kitchen

Treehugger / Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

I love the bleached stamps and decorate stitching along the edges, perfect for a casual get-together.

2. Make a Twisted Denim Headband

overhead shot of model in glasses wearing an upcycled denim jean headband

Treehugger / Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

No more bad hair days with this cool accessory that's bound to turn heads.

3. Make a Braided Denim Rug

Made of tough fabric, this rug will be able to stand up to any kind of human or animal use.

4. Turn Old Jeans Into Potholders

model in kitchen uses upcycled denim jean potholder to pour hot kettle of water

Treehugger / Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

Stitch together a few layers of denim and you won't be able to feel the heat. You could also use as a trivet.

5. Make Handy Little Craft Bins for Holding Supplies

Another simpler idea is just to cover empty cans with layers of denim for decoration.

6. Wear a ‘Shabby Chic’ Denim-Wire Bracelet

Or try a braided denim bracelet or cuffs made from the leftover seams of old jeans.

7. Make a Cute Heart-Shaped Corner Bookmark

This project requires minimal knowledge of sewing and would make a perfect stocking stuffer.

8. Stitch a Denim Case for Knitting Needles

No more frantic searching for the right size because this way you can have them all nicely sorted.

9. Check Out These Upcycled Denim Placemats

hand tucks fork into upcycled denim jean placemat with pocket for cutlery

Treehugger / Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

Complete with a pocket for cutlery. You'll have to save multiple pairs of old jeans to complete a full table setting.

10. Turn Old Jeans and T-Shirts Into Adorable Baby Bibs

Think of everything else your jeans have endured; they're probably the best fabric to handle spit-up and chewed food.

11. Convert Jeans Into Portable Fabric ‘Roads’ for Car-Loving Toddlers

I love this idea and wish I'd known about it a few years ago. Your kids will never be without entertainment, as long as they have a few vehicles to drive.

12. Decorate Your Home Office

Make a cool denim bulletin board and pencil cube.

13. Cover a Notebook With Old Denim

person tucks pen into pocket of upcycled denim jean turned into notebook cover

Treehugger / Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

I'm thinking this would be a fun group project for an older kid's birthday party.

14. Try Your Hand at These Cool Recycled Jean Slippers

I love these. They look so casual and comfortable, and are likely to create some interest.

15. Make a Pocket Organizer Using Old Jeans

denim jeans upcycled hanging into wall organizer with pockets for pens and scissors

Treehugger / Kaitlyn Kilpatrick

Stay organized with pre-made pockets simply rearranged on a new background.