Monday, February 5, 2024

Aurifil Artisan Challenge :: Upcycling

After focusing on a long-term project for months, once it was done, there were all sorts of smaller projects I wanted to catch up on and dive into. Rather than put it off for a few weeks, an upcycling project for February's Aurifil Artisan Challenge sounded inviting. It seemed the perfect timing to try Svetlana's @sotakhandmade video tutorial to Learn How to turn a pair of Old Jeans into a Stylish Tote Bag.

The exterior fabric was a simple choice as I'd already had a pair of hubby's old denim jeans stashed for a project. For the lining, I chose some Alexander Henry Fashion for Home Heath decorator-weight fabric. Since it was not the canvas suggested, I went ahead and interfaced it with fusible Pellon SF101, just like I did the jeans.

I followed Svetlana's tutorial pretty closely for the first exterior panel. For the second, I veered off a bit, knowing what size it needed to be.

For the handles, I used 25" lengths of 1" wide webbing, and the bag finished at 13" wide on bottom x 11" tall x 5" deep. I used Aurifil Forty3 2360 [Chocolate] for piecing and topstitching and 40wt 2360 [Chocolate] in the bobbin. The pair worked just great on the denim. In the side shown above, there was a small rip near the pocket label, and I used Aurifil 12wt 1126 [Blue Grey] for simple mending. It was an awkward spot, so I chose not to make the mending overly visible; ie. the Blue Grey thread was a pretty good match. Just for the record, I also used a 100/16 sewing machine needle for all the machine stitching, and had no trouble at all sewing through the denim - just had to take it slow once in a while.

Included in Svetlana's tutorial was the removal of several belt loops with a sharp seam ripper, so they could be sewn onto the bag elsewhere. I was reminded that seam rippers do wear out, and took the opportunity to replace mine with a new one. That definitely made the loop removal easier.

I confess I haven't upcycled garments very often, but really enjoyed this project. It's a nice size bag - not too big, not too small - and I look forward to putting it into use.


  1. Your upcycled project looks great. I love the idea of using sturdy old jeans for a bag.

  2. Nice knowing that the 100/16 needle and 40/3 paired with 40wt in the bobbin worked well for you for this project. It looks like quite a few layers in places. Enjoy your new tote!

  3. I've considered making one of these since I have a stack of old jeans, but keep putting it off because of the sewing through the denim. Thanks for sharing the info on the thread and needle, I might have to reconsider!

  4. Your bag turned out great! Doesn't it make you feel good to know you can take something old and make it new? Very rewarding. I like the tip about saving belt loops to use elsewhere. They're not only decorative, but can be useful - a clip for keys. I also appreciate your point about seam rippers going dull. You're so right! It needs to be periodically changed, just as sewing machine needles. I bought my seam ripper in March 2020 (it's odd how I remember that so clearly) as the pandemic began, so I appreciate your reminder that I need a refresh!