Eco Fashion: Upcycled Jeans Backpack DIY

Diy denim backpack from old jeans

Waste is one of the most damaging side effect of fast fashion, it fills up land, uses us our limited fossil fuels and creates a massive amount of pollution. Constantly buying and throwing out (or shoving stuff to the back of the closet) not only damages the environment but also our bank balances and clutters up our homes. I've decided to start a series of DIYs that will hopefully inspire you to create less waste and up-cycle your old, unwanted clothes into something new that you will get loads more use out them!
 Jeans are one of the most popular items of clothing, most of us have a pair (or two, or three) and we go through several in our lives. However that means ALOT gets thrown out which is a shame, denim is a very durable and versatile fabric that never goes out of fashion! Here I will show you how I gave an old pair of jeans and some scrap fabric new life by making a denim and faux leather backpack!

Old jeans and scrap fabric
Above is what I had to work with, some old jeans and scrap faux leather and cotton.
The first step was to remove the back pockets with an un-picker tool. I set these aside to add to the backpack later on.
Removing back pockets from jeans
The jeans needed to be opened out to create a large and flat surface to cut the backpack pieces out so I cut along the inside leg seams.
Opened out jeans
Next I made the pattern pieces and cut out the pieces, I'll write the dimensions and pieces below so that if you want to create a backpack the same size you can use my pattern. :)
Front and Back Upper - 29cm x 30.5cm / 11.4'' x 12'' (cut x 2 denim and x 2 lining)
Front and Back Lower - 29cm x 11.5cm / 11.4'' x 4.5 '' (cut x 4 leather)
Side Upper - 14.5cm x 30.5cm / 5.7'' x 12'' (cut x 2 denim and x 2 lining)
Side Lower -  14.5cm x 11.5cm / 5.7'' x 4.5'' (cut x 4 leather)
Base - 29cm x 14.5cm / 11.4'' x 5.7'' (cut x 2 leather)
Straps - 8cm x 70cm / 3'' x 27.5'' ( cut x 2 in preferred fabric- I split mine into sections).
Band - 8cm x 81cm / 3'' x 31.9'' (cut x 1)
I had 21 pieces at this point (straps and band aren't shown in picture below)

fabric pieces for backpack

Right sides facing, I sewed the front upper to the front lower and pressed to create to whole front piece!
Backpack front
I repeated this process with the other 'front and back' pieces and the 'side' pieces to create the back and sides!
Backpack side

To create a pocket feature on the front of the backpack I pinned one of the pockets I took from the jeans in the centre of the front backpack piece.

Pinned pocket to bag
Pocket sewn onto backpack

Time to start constructing the body of the backpack! To do this I sewed the side panels to the front piece with right sides facing. I made sure 1cm was left at the bottom to make it easier to attach the base later on!

Before attaching the back to the other pieces I took attached the straps. To make the straps I sewed both sides of one piece together to make a tube and turned them inside out. I folded the top of the straps over and stitched in place, about 4cm down from the top and 8cm in from the sides. The other end of the straps was sewn to the base of the back piece, as seen below.
Straps of backpack
To make the straps secure a square and diagonal line was stitched rather than just a couple of lines.

Then it was finally time to attach the back to the other pieces!

All sides of backpack sewn together

The last step to complete the outer part of the bag was to attach the base, this bit was a little more tricky so I went slowly when sewing this section!

Backpack base

This process (minus the straps) was repeated for the lining.

Backpack lining

Pocket in lining
Next was to slip in the lining and pin it around the top of the backpack and sew into place! No need to turn the lining inside out this time, a strap is going around the top to create a drawstring fastening!
Lining pinned to backpack

To make the drawstring fastening the two short ends of the band piece were sewn together right sides facing and then pressed in half lengthways.

Backback band

Band pressed in half

Two button holes were made for the string.

Buttonholes sewn into band

 Right sides facing, the band was pinned and sewn to the bag, I tried to make sure the two buttonholes were as central as possible on the front of the backpack.

Band pinned to backpack

Band sewn onto backpack

All that was left to do was sew down the other side of the band to hide the seam and thread through the string! I used some scrap ribbon for this :)

Finished backpack front view

Back view of backpack

Ta-da! One backpack made from an old pair of jeans! If you wanted to create this yourself you don't have to use leather for the lower sections, I just liked the way it looked!
I hope you enjoyed this DIY and it inspires you to make upcycle something that would have been thrown in the trash. I will have more tutorials coming soon!
Have you created anything from old clothing recently or completed any other upcycling projects? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this DIY :)
Steph xox


  1. Such a cute Bag! I love handmade!

  2. I will definitely try this out.So creative and it's a really cute bag

  3. Amazing post dear! You have a wonderful blog:)
    What about following each other on Instagram, bloglovin, Twitter?.. :)