I am an avid crafter, but as someone who cares about environmentalism, I am ashamed to admit how much I spend on buying new craft supplies.
I have kicked the dollar store habit because of the unknown toxins in the products, but with my list of crafting hobbies growing (knitting, bead making, DIY jewelry, card making, scrapbooking, sewing, embroidery, crochet, homemade personal care products) I often have to spend money to buy supplies to feed my habit.
There are so many reasons to be mindful when buying new supplies for crafting. First and foremost is that by purchasing at big box stores it feeds the never ending cycle of consumerism which is drowning the world in plastic waste, harmful production practices, human exploitation and carbon output. I am working on buying supplies from local artisans and craft stores, but this can be more expensive and does not eliminate all the issues.
When I am able, I try to upcycle supplies that I may have around the house or from other people, and Pinterest is perfect for generating ideas. Full disclosure: I am horribly addicted to Pinterest.
One recurring idea that I see on upcycling and crafting Pinterest boards is how to upcycle blue jeans. In the past when I have cleaned out my drawers and closets I have donated my clothes, but recently I have begun saving them to upcycle into something else.
For most projects using old jeans it is important to cut off the hems and other seams so that the material is not too thick, especially if you are machine sewing them. Depending on the size of the projects, if I plan ahead how I will cut the jeans, I can get two to even three projects out of each pair of jeans. I also save all unused parts of the jeans for future projects. For example, the thick bottom hem of each leg makes a perfect drawstring or rope, the zippers can be cut off and reused again, and the pockets (both front and back) are perfect for instant pockets on bags.
Here are some ways I have given old jeans (or other clothing and bedsheets) a second life as material and fabric in crafting projects:
I saw this project on Pinterest with no accompanying tutorial. For a novice sewer it was a challenge to deconstruct the pictures into a workable project, but I am proud I did it. Now I wish I had taken step-by-step photos so I could do my own tutorial. I can no longer find the original source, but a quick search will bring up many tutorials for doing something similar.
|The inner closure is a drawstring made from old shoelaces,|
and the flap closure is from the waistband button and buttonhole.
The outer pockets are the back pockets of the jeans.
Jean Baggies and Project Bags
These can be used for storing crafting supplies, knitting projects, snacks on the go, pencils, or whatever you need to stash somewhere out of sight. Blue jean material is great for these because they are sturdy and do not require lining or using interlining (fusible material). In each of these projects I used the wrong side of the jeans for a lighter colour so I could stamp images onto them.
|These baggies have zippers (upcycled from other clothing).|
They are great to make for reusable snack baggies.
|This project bag has a drawstring closure (the drawstring|
was made from a skinny cloth belt from an old skirt)and is big
enough to hold one of my larger knitting work in progress.
Jean Gardener Apron (No Sew)
It is difficult to use the top waistband on jeans because it is so thick (I've broken a few sewing needles using them), so I love this new sew idea to make an apron for gardening, or for whenever you need accessible pockets. Just cut down the side seams on both sides, cut up to the waistband on the front (trim off the pockets and zipper), and leave the waistband and button intact. To use simply button up the jeans and wear the back pockets in the front. Ingenious!
Garden Bunting Flags (minimal sewing required)
I cut up jeans (and up cycled bedsheets) into rectangles and decorated them with my daughters using fabric felts and paint (yes, I bought them new at the store). Then I sewed them together and decorated my garden.
|This was one of my daughters' favourite projects to do with|
me, and they proudly tell people they helped to make them.
Here are some good links for upcycled jean projects to get you started: