Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Sewing - Repurposed Denim Purses

I was walking through Goodwill awhile ago, saw these gorgeous little girls' denim shorts, and immediately had a purse pop into my head.  I'm probably not the first to come up with this idea, but it was new to me!  After a few adjustments, this turned out to be a super easy way to make a great purse.

Materials List:

*denim shorts or skirt (the kind without pants sewn in) - girls' sizes or very small women's sizes work best for a normal sized purse
*adult sized jeans (for purse strap)
*piece of lining fabric
*heavy duty or denim sewing machine needle
*optional - size 10 crochet thread and size 7 or 8 steel crochet hook

1.  Using a seam ripper, open up the crotch seam - this is only if you're using shorts.  If you are using a skirt, go to step 4!

2.  Lay back of shorts on a flat surface and pull up the piece you just undid (just the back one).  Draw a line with a disappearing fabric pen that is a continuation from the back seam to the hem line.  Do the same with the front of the shorts.

3.  Sew continuation of front and back seams along the line you marked.  Trim seams.

4.  Lay shorts/skirt on top of lining fabric.  Trace around 5/8 " from the outside edge of shorts/skirt (you're giving yourself a seam allowance).  Cut lining along traced line.

5.  With right sides together, pin lining sides and bottom.  Sew with a 5/8 inch seam allowance.  Don't turn the lining right side out - we're going to use it as it is.

6.  With chalk or some other marking tool, draw a 28" by 3" rectangle on one leg of an old pair of jeans.  I like to use the side seam as one of my edges - it looks nice and saves me from having to sew one edge!

7.  Cut out strap, turn inside out, and sew the remaining long edge.  Turn the tube right side out and iron.  This step will probably take you the longest of any - turning the denim tube takes time and none of my "turning tricks" worked on fabric this thick.

8.  Remove any buttons along the bottom and top edges.  If your shorts or skirt have a non-removable fastener, you'll probably have to use a zipper foot when you sew the top edge (step 14).

9.  Put your lining into your shorts/skirt (make sure the right of the fabric is the inside of the purse so you don't have a seam allowance showing).  Line it up on the bottom just above the hemline - about 1/8".

10.  Pin all the way across the bottom.

11.  Set your stitch length to 3.5 or 4.  Sew along the bottom about 1/8" from the edge, making sure you catch the lining in the seam.  It's difficult to begin sewing on thick edges, so I sew from the middle to one edge and then turn the shorts/skirt around and sew from the middle to the other edge.

You are most likely going to have a few thick places your sewing machine will complain about sewing over.  When you reach one of these (like the bottom edge in the photo on the right), sew by turning the hand wheel - not using the foot pedal.  You'll be able to adjust where the needle is going this way.  I had some pretty thick areas to sew and by doing this and taking it slow, things went fine.

If you have a Brother 6000i like me and it gives you an E6 error - while scream beeping at you - turn the machine off and then on again and continue, turning the hand wheel this time.

12.  Smooth the lining and fold under on the top edge.  Pin to the top edge of the purse.

13.  Insert the strap between the lining and the purse and pin in place.

14.  Before you sew the top edge, hold the purse up to make sure the lining is smoothed and the strap is where you want it to be.  Sew top edge.  Sew buttons back on.

15.  Now you're either done, like the purse below, or you can add a crochet edging along the top (and pocket edges if you want).

16.  See the zigzag crochet edging post for instructions on adding crochet edgings.  I did it exactly the same by using the crochet thread to sew the top edge in a blanket stitch and then crocheting onto that.  You can use the zigzag edging or the one I did on this purse.  In the first space make 3 double crochet stitches, in the next space do one single crochet, skip a space and repeat to the end.

I'm kind of going crazy with these purses now!  I've been scouring all Goodwills in my area and have a stack of shorts and skirts to work on.  Look at past posts on fabric painting, dying, and embellishing for more ideas on what you can do to the denim before you sew the purse.  I dyed this skirt purple (instructions here), used a bleach pen (instructions here) to make stars, and will add embroidery.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

1 comment:

  1. This is adorable! I am not a very good seamstress, but these are so cute I may just give one a try. Thank you so much for sharing the pattern.