Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Homemade Pocketbook From Jean Skirt- Upcycled Craft Tutorial

My pocketbook desperately needs to be replaced. It was on its last legs a good while ago, and is far beyond that now. I've wanted to purchase a new bag already for a while, but the fact that nice pocketbooks are so overpriced made me push off the purchase more and more. But now, I simply had no choice- my pocketbook is garbage. (Click here for a pic.)
But I still didn't want to have to spend 25 dollars on a half decent looking bag that serves my needs. I decided to make my own.

At first I thought I'd crochet my own pocketbook out of sock yarn (like I did with my backpack), but I kept on procrastinating and not making that, and it was a project that involved a bit of commitment, so I just didn't make it.
But why not sew my own pocketbook? Making a pocket is just about the easiest type of sewing job there is- making a pocketbook shouldn't be hard at all!
Inspired by Bianca, I went to the thrift store to see what they had-using old clothes to sew new things is much cheaper than buying the materials new, and it's much more fun to work with it.
I looked through the clothes rack, trying to find some good, sturdy material to work with, and ended up at the skirt section.
I had read that you could make a pocketbook out of an old pair of jeans, so when I found this cute kid's jean skirt, I decided I'd use it to make a pocketbook. You can make the same thing with an old pair of torn jeans, so long as the tears are all below the inseam area.
Skirt front.
Skirt back.
It was pretty simple to make my pocketbook, was done entirely by hand in under 2 hours, and cost me a grand total of 50 cents to make. A fraction of the cost of a store bought pocketbook, and in my opinion, much cuter. I had a zipper already in my home that came with my sewing machine, but if you don't have one, you can either leave it out, buy one new, or remove a zipper from an item from the thrift store using seam rippers.

To make a pocketbook from jeans or a jean skirt, all you need are:
A kid's jean skirt or adult jean pants.
A long belt.
Matches or a stovetop.
Zipper (optional).


1. Flip the skirt inside out. If there is elastic in the waistband, cut and remove the elastic. The skirt that I used had an adjustable elastic waistband (like in this picture) so the elastic strip was in a sleeve and was easily removable, but you might need to open up the hem of the skirt if it has a different type of elastic. If you're using a bigger skirt or pants, cut to the right length.

2. If using a short skirt, pin the bottom of the skirt shut.

3. Sew along the length of the bottom. For extra strength, I sewed across three times, but it probably wasn't necessary. I used a back stitch, but regular, closely positioned stitches is fine as well. You can also do this in a machine.


4. Flip the skirt right side out. Sew the fly shut.

5. Here's what it looks like now- front, and back. The bag is nearly finished, it just needs a strap to hold it.

6. I took a long, funky belt that I got at the thrift store, and cut off both ends, to cut off the clasp. Only it started fraying really badly. Because of the weave, it would be very hard to hem that to stop it from fraying.

7. Taking a chance because so many things nowadays are made out of synthetic materials, I assumed that, though it looked natural, it probably had something like polyester in it. Which would mean it would melt.

8. Take the belt and put the frayed end into the flames on the burner of a stove. Be careful, because if its not polyester, it'll burn.

9. Even if it is polyester, it might burn, so be prepared with something to put out the fire. I just blew mine out.

10. Smash the melted, frayed end together with something like a hot knife to fuse the fibers together. Here's the final view.

11. Position the belt, one end on either side of the bag. You can pin it in place; I just sewed it on.  First sew in a square/rectangle.

12. Sew an X across the middle for extra reinforcement.

Voila- the completed bag. Front, and back.

13. Now if you want to, you can add a zipper. I'm definitely not skilled in zippers- this was only the second zipper I ever sewed on in my life, so bear that in mind.

14. What you want to do is place the zipper UPSIDE DOWN onto where you want one side to be. The bottom half of the zipper is what you'll be attaching to this side, and then later, you'll attach the top half to the other side.

15. Unzip the zipper.

16. Pin the side of the zipper in place. The teeth should be facing upward.

17. Pin across the length of one side of the bag. You'll then have the end of the zipper where the two sides meet. Leave that loose a little bit, then attach the other side of the zipper to the other side of the bag. Make sure that you're pinning the zipper symetrically, so that each of the sides of the unpinned zipper end are the same length. It should form a sort of T.

18. Pin all the way across the other side of the bag, also making sure to keep the teeth of the zipper upward.

19. Sew the zipper onto the bag, trying to sew as far from the teeth as possible, so that there is some room for the zipper to close. I used a back stitch, but closely positioned regular hand stitches could work, as would a zipper foot on a sewing machine.

20. Take the zipper tab out of the inside of the bag, from the T formed with the zipper in step 17.

21. Zip your zipper all the way shut.

Enjoy your new dirt cheap bag!

Use any pockets on the outside of your skirt/jeans as pockets to hold things like cell phones or keys or anything else you need quick access to.

I did make one mistake with this bag that you can't really see so well in the pictures, but because of where the straps and the zipper are, the top seam and the bottom seam of the bag don't align 100% so it's a bit twisted. I needed to move the bag straps a little more over to the side, so they're not centered exactly on the sides, but rather, so one strap is on the side front and the other is side back, so that the zipper can go exactly from one side to the other. Eventually I'll probably redo that.

The one issue I have with this bag is that its a little more sporty/casual than my last bag, so I can't wear it for all occasions. I'm actually in the middle of making another, more fancy pocketbook for those occasions, which I'll share with you when the project is completed.

In case you were wondering how much this cost me- 50 cents total. 25 cents for the belt, 25 cents for the skirt, and everything else I already had at home. I do realize that not every thrift store costs the same amount.

How often do you typically wear a pocketbook or purse? All the time, or do you usually stick things in a pocket, backpack, or diaper bag if leaving the house? How much do you usually pay for yours, how often do you buy new purses, and where do you typically buy yours?
Have you ever seen a pocketbook made from old jeans or a jean skirt before?
Does this look like something you'd make or something you'd wear?

Linking up to WFMW

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