DIY Garden Apron / Made From Recycled Jeans / Quick and Simple Project

DIY recycled jeans garaden apron

This DIY garden apron is a quick and simple project made from upcycled jeans. The apron is handy for working in the garden, around the house, and even as a vendor’s apron.

recycled jeans garden apron

As some of you know, I LOVE to recycle, especially a pair of jeans.

There are so many fun things you can make with denim. At the end of the post, I’ll give you some other project ideas where you can use a pair of recycled jeans.

You can get fancy and edge the bottom of the apron with bias tape, which is really easy to do, or you can just leave it and finish the edge with a serger or even just use a little fray check.

recycled jeans garden apron

Garden Apron Materials & Items Needed

Here are the items and things that you’ll need for the project.

  • 10 inches of (3/8 – ½ inch) Elastic
  • Pair of jeans
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Fabric clips/pins
  • Double fold bias tape (optional) approximately 2 yards
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Fray Check (optional)
bias tape diy

If you want to make your own bias tape that has prints or different colors, I have a tutorial showing you how to do that.

When you make your bias tape, you can use fun, colorful prints you’ll never see in a fabric store.

Garden Apron Instructions

1- Take your jeans and cut off the pant legs.

Cut straight across just below the crotch seam. ***** If your pants have a front pocket hanging lower than the cut, fold the pocket so you don’t cut it.

After cutting off one pant leg, fold the pants in half and use the cut leg as a template.

Don’t worry too much about straightening the edges; you’ll line that up later.

upcycled jeans garden apronDON’T THROW AWAY THE JEAN LEGS! Please put them in a tote with all your other jeans scraps for OTHER FUN PROJECTS.

2- Cut out a section of the front pants just below the waistband.

On that left side, take your scissors and cut across just below the waistband, not into the waistband, but over about two inches, and then cut straight down towards the edge of the pant leg.

3- On the zipper side, you’ll cut away the extra fabric around the zipper.

Take your scissors and cut around that area so it looks like this.

4- To square off the bottom of the apron

Fold the pants in half and cut a parallel line straight across, leaving the length as long as possible.

Make sure you don’t cut into the pocket. Fold it up out of the way while you make the cut.

5- Finishing the garden apron bottom:

Open up the apron at the center back seam. There tends to be a little triangle piece of fabric that may stick out; just cut that off.

I like to round the corners, especially using bias tape. You can also leave it square if you want.

recycled jeans garden apron

Cut a curved rounded edge on one corner, then fold it over and use that as a template to cut the other side.

6- Pinning the bias tape:

Place the apron wrong side, facing up. Open up the bias tape, and smooth it out.

Fold the top edge of the bias tape over about a half inch, and then apply the RIGHT SIDE of the bias tape with the fold just below the zipper tab and clip it in place. I LOVE THESE LITTLE FABRIC CLIPS.

You can use the clips or pins to apply the bias tape all the way around, or can just apply the tape and sew as you go.

Do not cut the bias tape to length quite yet. You’ll do that in just a minute to make sure that you get an accurate fit. (It’s not a good thing if you cut it and then find out you cut it short).

When you get to the other side, measure just below the waistband then ADD 3 inches in length just to be safe and give you some wiggle room.

garden apron bias tape sewing

7- GARDEN APRON Bias Tape Application

Using a straight stitch, go to the sewing machine, and sew the bias tape to the apron.

Bring the needle down just to the RIGHT of the crease in the bias tape. Don’t sew in the crease.

That’ll give you a little more playroom with your bias tape when you fold it around all the fabric. The beautiful thing about bias tape is it’ will curve and work well around the curved edges.

Backstitch and sew all the way around. TAKE YOUR TIME, especially around the corners, stopping and starting as you need.

And if you mess up, go ahead and use your seam ripper and undo that portion that didn’t work out too well and adjust and re-sew.

Bias tape is really fun to work with. It may seem a little intimidating, but it’s really fun once you get used to it.

Adding bias tape adds character to your projects, especially if you have some fun prints to work with.

garaden apron

When you start to get a little closer to the other end, you can leave your needle down and then cut the bias tape to the length that you need.

Fold it over again ½ inch, and then cut it off there, make sure that that fold is just below the waistband. Finish and back stitch.

8- Top Stitch Bias Tape

Flip it over and topstitch. Use a regular straight stitch. When top stitching, I increase the length of the stitch to a 3. It gives a better-looking topstitch.

Fold the folded edge of the bias tape over the previous stitching so it covers that, and sew along the edge., just inside the fold of the bias tape. (about 1/8 inch from the left side. Make sure to catch the edge.

Take your time around the corners, and then when you get to the other side, top stitch over that folded edge.

9- Garden Apron Pockets

Let me show you what to do with the pockets if they are too long.

Not all pockets are going to be this long. Take the pocket and see how much you need to cut off so it doesn’t hang lower than the bottom of the apron.

Take your scissors and cut a curve angling off to match the side of the pocket. Sew a regular straight seam using a ¼ inch seam allowance. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Finish off the edge using a big zigzag stitch. This will keep the pocket from fraying.

Do that with both pockets.

10- Garden Apron Closure

Let me show you how to apply the elastic to the waistband.

I recommend trying on the apron and seeing how long you need to make the elastic.

Once you have the length, take the elastic, fold it in half, line up the edges of the elastic, and stick it through from the front to the back with the edges lined up.

Secure it in place and sew along the edges of the elastic using a big zigzag stitch. I like to go back and forth a few times to ensure it is secure.

So that’s all there is to it. Grab a pair of jeans, some elastic, your garden tools, and whatever else you need to shove in a pocket in the garden, and have fun sewing!






Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

Upcycling Love | Thrift Store & Consignment Shopping Tips

upcycled love thrift store items

Upcycling and recycling used items is one of my passions and something I do frequently. Thrift stores, consignment shops and garage sales are just a few places where you can find items to repurpose. In this post I am going to give you some awesome tips on what to look for, and some ideas on how to use the items you find.

Upcycling, recycling, repurposed; what does that mean and what’s the difference?

These words are thrown around all the time and in ways mean the same thing, however there are a few distinct differences. Let’s go over them.


Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. This process usually involves breaking the product down and making something else with it.

Some examples include: changing glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, batteries, and electronics into something else.


Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming  useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value. The keyword here is TRANSFORMING.

I love transforming things! There is something so fun about taking an item that is normally used for one thing and using it for another purpose.

Some examples include:

Taking a wool sweater, felting it down and making mittens from them. The sweater was originally used as clothing to keep you warm, and the new product is still clothing, but now it is used to keep your hands warm. Another example would be to take a piece of furniture and changing the paint color or even altering its size or shape.


Repurposing is simply using a product to serve another purpose.  Some examples include:

  • Tin bucket as a plant pot
  • An old tin mug normally used for drinking and using it to put paint brushes or pencils in.
  • Using a metal garden rake to hang jewelry on.
  • A wire bike basket to store and display magazines.

What are the benefits of recycling, upcycling and repurposing?

  • Keeps the Earth beautiful
  • Conserves natural resources
  • Saves money and energy
  • Reduces harmful greenhouse gases

Although there are small differences between each of these processes, they all share a common goal of being environmentally-friendly. Upcyling and recycling will not only save you money and save the planet; you can add some cute authentic style to your wardrobe and your home.

Here are a few ideas and tips on how I go about upcycling and recycling.



It’s pretty obvious that you can take a used piece of clothing and instead of throwing it away; you can either give it away or sell it for someone else to use. On the flip side, instead of buying new clothing, you can purchase used clothing at a lower rate and save it from being put in the landfill.

Thrift stores, consignment shops and yard sales are all great places to shop for used clothing.


  • Look for stains, holes and strong smells, and avoid these items.
  • Check the fabric content. I personally avoid clothing that you have to dry clean.
  • If you need a pair of shorts, you can always cut off a pair of pants and hem them. (It really is quite easy to do) I have an old tutorial that shows you how. I will be recording a new tutorial soon, so watch out for that.
  • Look for unique style and colors of clothing. (The knit shirt in the photo above, has the cutest grommet snaps)
  • Thoroughly clean items before wearing.


What? Yes, I do this all the time. You can simply take an item of clothing and cut it up and make something else with the fabric. Some examples:


  • The bigger the item of clothing, the better. Depending on what you are making, you are going to get more yardage of fabric if you buy the XL or XXL (if you’re lucky).
  • Check fabric content. If you are making a felted wool project, you’ll want to at least have 70% wool. Get more tips on that here.
  • Large dresses and skirts have a lot of fabric yardage.
  • Check clearance racks at stores for new clothing as well as used clothing. I buy a lot of nice new clothing that are on the clearance rack to make other things with. It can be cheaper than buying new fabric.
  • I recommend getting a large bin to put clothing you will be using for fabric and label the container so you don’t get them confused with out of season clothing.
  • Thoroughly clean items before disassembling for sewing projects.
  • Here are some more ideas for upcycled jeans.



Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to your normal wash cycle, either hot or cold water. It will freshen and deodorize all of your clothing in your normal wash. If the clothes still smell, repeat. It may take a few wash loads to clear some smells, but it does work. (No worries, your clothes will not smell like vinegar once they are dried).


Baking soda is a great way to get rid of smells everywhere. (This is obviously okay for cotton and polyester, but you may want to do a patch test with other fabrics, such as rayon or cashmere sweaters.).

  • Lay the clothes on a towel or sheet, then sprinkling baking soda all over the clothing.
  • Add the piece of clothing to a large zip top plastic bag. Add baking soda to the bag, seal and shake to coat the clothes.
  • Leave the baking soda on at least an hour. Wash the clothes afterwards.


You can find some cool accessories on clothing to reuse. I’ve been known to buy pieces of clothing for the buttons, zippers, or even the trim. It doesn’t make sense to do this unless the item is on sale or free.

Before I throw a piece of clothing out, I always check to see if it has any cool accessories that I can take off and save.


  • Look for zippers that are unique. Zippers can easily be removed from items of clothing. Using a stylish zipper can really add a lot of charm to your homemade clothing and accessories.
  • Store disassembled hardware in a box where you can easily find them.
  • Keep button is a big jar. Not only will you have some fun buttons for sewing, but you can use them to embellish a lot of craft projects.
  • You can use the hardware from used purses and bags.


You can find a lot of cute jewelry at consignment shops and even thrift stores.

This is a good place to find used belts and hats.


  • Look for items that are unique and good quality.
  • Don’t be discouraged by tarnished silver items because they can easily be buffed with a special cloth or liquid.
  • Thoroughly clean items before wearing or using.


I must admit that most of my household furniture is either upcycled or purchased on clearance or from the “scratch and dent” section. We always buy new mattresses, and couches, but almost everything else was a DIY or an upcyling project. I guess that’s what you get when you come from a family of ‘DO IT YOURSELFERS”.

My husband and I have transformed some pretty cool furniture over the years. I’m lucky to have a husband who is so handy.


  • Look for good quality both in materials and how it was made.
  • A lot of new chests of drawers are built so poorly and with cheap materials. That is one item that I like to buy used and refinish.  
  • Look for furniture that has “good bones”. By this I mean, has good form and style. It may not be the right color, but that is something that is can easily be changed.
  • If you don’t like the hardware on a piece of furniture, you can purchase new and change it out. Putting a new set of drawer pulls can really change the look of a chest.
  • My husband took this huge television cabinet and cut it down so it wasn’t so deep and made a cute cabinet for our bathroom. We put new handles on it and cut out a section in the doors, gave it a new color of paint, and look how cute it turned out. (The orange cabinet in the photo above).


There are a lot of fun ways to use old kitchen gadgets and bottles.

  • I used this old tin to put my paintbrushes in.
  • I have a thing for tall skinny bottles. They make really cute vases and can also be used to store small sewing supplies and office supplies.
  • Canning jars can be used for all kinds of things. In my kitchen, I use the pint size for drinking glasses. They also work well to store nuts, seeds and other pantry items. A pint size jar works well to store pencils and pens in. I have one on each of my desks.



I’m not one to buy a lot of used shoes. I know everyone has their own thoughts about this one. I will purchase used shoes that have been VERY lightly worn. You can find a lot of good, lightly worn shoes at a much lower price.

Where is a good place to shop for used items?

Some of the places to look for used items are: consignment shops, thrift stores, yard and garage sales.

Here is my receipt for my purchases at the consignment shop. (Watch the video below to see what good finds I found this day at the consignment shop).

  • 3 pairs of nice shoes
  • 2 adorable shirts
  • pair of aqua color jeans that I’m going to cut off and hem for shorts
  • 2 pair of earrings

Not bad! 

What is the difference between a consignment shop and thrift store?


The majority of thrift stores are donation based and center on a charity or non-profit organization. Although donating truly ruined items is discouraged, damaged, heavily worn, and flawed items are relatively common. Items are sorted and priced by volunteers, then sent to the sales floor where they are bought by shoppers.


Consignment stores are where members bring in gently used items for evaluation, and the buyers look them over to determine if they are likely to sell well from that particular shop. If the items are deemed a good risk, the shop will sell them and the shop owner takes a percentage of the sale.  Some shops will pay up front.

Play Video

If you’ve never been in a consignment or thrift store, I encourage you to open your mind and take a step inside. Upcycle, recycle and repurpose, you’ll be glad you did.

I hope this was helpful and that you have some new ideas for upcycling.

Please feel free to share some of your upcycled ideas on my Instagram. Tag it #fibersandtwigs





Upcycled Denim Patchwork Quilt

(UPDATED 2/23/23)

Have you ever slept under a denim patchwork quilt? There is nothing better! There is just something about the heaviness of the denim and the coziness of a soft flannel fabric that just seems to tuck you in and comfort you. In this tutorial, I am going to show you how easy it is to make a quilt using upcycled denim jeans.

My sister-in-law gave my husband a denim patchwork quilt many years ago and it has been a family favorite. We use it to throw it on the lawn for a picnic, watching fireworks, or just add some warmth to our bed on a cold winter’s night.

denim patchwork quilt

I have been saving jeans for many years with the intention of making each one of my kids an Upcycled Denim Patchwork Quilt. I made my oldest son a denim quilt when he graduated from high school and planned on doing the same for the other two kids.

Last Christmas I made another quilt for my youngest son and now it’s time to make one for my daughter. So I’m cutting out denim squares again.

You can watch PART ONE of a 3 part series below.

QUEEN SIZE QUILT: Cut out 132 squares. 

FULL/PICNIC SIZE:  Cut out 108 squares.

One night my husband, bless his heart, helped me cut. I opened up the jeans and marked them, and he cut. We had quite the process going. (He is a manufacturing engineer)!


Denim Patchwork Quilt Materials & Items Needed

  • upcycled jeans/corduroy
  • scissors
  • scrap paper
  • oaktag paper or upcycled cereal box
  • pen/pencil
  • sticky notes/scrap paper
  • pins
  • sewing machine/serger
  • optional yarn for tying the quilt.

1-  MAKE A TEMPLATE of the size square you want.

I found about the biggest square you can get out of most jeans’ pant legs was a 8 x 8-inch square. You could always make this smaller if you wanted. I like to use oak tag paper. Oak Tag is similar to poster board, except it is thicker and holds up better. You will see it used a lot in the packaging of clothing, and other items. You can also use recycled cereal boxes.

I always save it to use on pattern templates, stencils, and of course VALENTINES!



Here is a video showing how to deconstruct a pair of jeans to make it easier for cutting out these squares.

3-  TRACE AROUND TEMPLATE using a pen.

You can include the seam of the pants in one square if needed. This actually gives a little character anyway. To optimize fabric usage, butt up the edges of the square whenever possible.

Include a few pockets in your quilt, especially if you have a pocket with a good tag. Make sure you have enough fabric around the pocket (3/8 inch) for sewing.

denim patchwork quilt4-  COUNT OUT SQUARES BY TENS and place a scrap piece of paper with the number of squares up to that point written on it, between the layers.

(That way you will not waste time counting over and over again to see how many squares you have).

denim patchwork quiltDouble/queen-size quilt: 132 squares. Make rows of 11 squares x 12 rows.

Full/Picnic-size quilt: 108 squares. Make rows of 9 x 12 rows.

denim quiltLay out the squares in rows on the floor so you can get a visual of what it will look like. Adjust as you want.

Start stacking the rows with the top left square on the top.


SEWING the denim patchwork QUILT TOP TOGETHER

    1. Place two squares  Right Sides Together (RST) and sew a seam using a 3/8 seam allowance. I used my serger which works really well if you have one. No worries if you don’t have a serger.
    2. Open the two squares up and place another square (RST) and sew that seam.  Continue in this manner until you have 11/9  squares sewn together in a long strip.  *Alternate colors and shades of denim to give it some character.denim patchwork quilt
    4. Sew 12 strips. denim patchwork quilt
    5. Now to join the strips:  Place row 1 and row 2  (RST) and sew all the way down one edge of the strip.  (Take time to line up the seams as you go). Flip one row seam allowance up and the other down to interlocking the seams. (I find this is the best way to get the seams lined up)
    6. Open the two strips up and place strip 3 on the two already sewn together.  Sew that strip on.  Now you have three strips sewn together.  Add one more strip making a section of 4 rows of 11/9.denim quilt foursome
    7. Set that foursome aside and build another foursome in the same manner, until you have 4 sets of 4.
    8. Now to join them all together, place two of the foursomes (RST) and sew.  Do that again with the other two foursomes.

This gets a little bulky sewing it all together, just take your time and give yourself some room around your sewing machine.

Denim Patchwork Quilt Back

Instead of buying about 6 yards of fabric and having to piece it together, I have found buying a flannel sheet set is cheaper and you usually get a better quality fabric. Don’t settle for a thin piece of flannel, as you will want it to be durable.


I found this Eddi Bauer queen-size sheet set at Burlington Coat Factory for around $39.00. It came with a flat and fitted sheet and two pillowcases. My son was thrilled to have a new bottom sheet and some matching pillowcases. It was a good thick flannel as well.

To Tie The Denim Patchwork Quilt

Watch this video to see how to tie a quilt using quilting frames and without quilting frames.

Choose a matching color of yarn to tie the quilt with.

Throw it on your quilting frames and tie it away.

I tied this quilt at the corners and one in the center. There is nothing better than an afternoon with a friend, sitting around chatting while you tie a quilt. That is about how long it took the two of us, 2 1/2 hours. It was so enjoyable and relaxing to tie the quilt!

Binding The Quilt

Binding quilts by hand is so enjoyable to me. I am not sure why? There is just something about it. It takes a bit longer, but I think it looks much nicer and is good therapy.

You can use the sewing machine to bind it if you like.

I usually leave about an inch of flannel around the edge. Fold the flannel edge over 1/2 inch and roll again over the denim top about a 1/2 inch and sew in place.

I like to personalize my quilts with some kind of endearing tag.

Want some other upcycled jeans project ideas? Check out this post.

Have fun sewing!





Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

Upcycled Denim Jeans – Ideas and Tips

Do you have a bin of denim jeans that you have been saving? It’s time to get them out and make something fun with them. There are so many simple things that you can make using Upcycled denim jeans. It is a durable fabric that can add a lot of classic style to quilts, bags and other fun projects.

Here are a few fun upcycled denim jeans projects I found on Pinterest.

This was one of my most favorite projects to make with upcycled jeans. I have made two of these. You can find the tutorial for the patchwork quilt in the link below.
Upcycled Denim Jeans



The list of things you can do with a pair of  denim jeans is ENDLESS.

Upcycled Denim : How to deconstruct a pair of jeans for recycling projects

To get the most yardage out of a pair of jeans, I came up with a system on how to cut them open so they are easier to work with.

Lay the pair of  jeans out and cut along the inner leg seam, just on the outside of the seam allowance.


Keep cutting around the crotch and down the other side.


Now cut the front open, along the side of the zipper.


Cut the back open, cutting up along the side of the back center seam.


You will have two separate pieces that lay open and flat.


Now you have better access to cut out whatever it is you are making with your denim pieces.

I like saving the cute tags form jeans to embellish other sewing projects.

Simply unpick and top stitch on other projects.

Get yourself a bin and start saving the jeans that no longer fit or have a few stains or holes, and give them another life.

Keep Smiling,




Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More