Sunday 22 May 2011

Woven Denim Bags

The ladies at both Chertsey Museum, and Windsor Library have made these no-sew denim bags, but Iris missed the lesson and asked for details ... so I thought I'd type up a brief summary.

No stitching is required so long as you have access to a glue gun, otherwise, some stitching will be required.

You can see from these examples, that the instructions are far from definitive - treat them as a guide and then go and do your own thing!!!
We started off with a very basic bag shape from blue fabric.  This was stitched right sides together, along both sides and the bottom.  This was to give the finished bag integrity (so nothing could fall out) and a skeleton to work on.  Turn the bag right side out.
[If anyone wants to have a go, let me know and I will post you a basic bag]
We then got a few pairs of jeans and started ripping!  The best way is to cut into the hem every 2 inches or so, and then hold either side of the cut and rip.  You might want to do this outside as it creates loads of blue dust!

The top photo here, Nicola's bag,  shows a bag just using dark blue denims, while the others generally have a variety of lights and darks, this is down to personal choice, and what jeans are ready to be sacrificed!  The reverse of the denim is usually a different colour to the front, so this could add more colour variety if wanted

Take half a dozen long strips and pin then at the top of one side of the bag, just touching. you may need more or less strips, maybe ripping another strip to the required size to fill the width of the bag.  These strips need to be long enough to go down the front, wrap around the bottom, and go back up the back, back to  the top of the bag.  Pin them again at the top of the back.  it will now look similar to Ann's in this picture, but without so much blue showing through the vertical gaps.

Well done, go and make a cup of tea!

 Now take another strip, and starting at the bottom of the bag, weave it under and over the vertical strips, around the whole bag. Arrange the strip so the join is a two inch overlap, and is hidden behind a vertical strip.  Put a pin through the hiding strip, both ends of the horizontal strips, and the blue bag.  Put another pin in the same square.  These will serve to remind you later that this is a joint.

If you want to use more pins to secure this strip that's fine, but it shouldn't move too much if your vertical strips are snug, and the first horizontal one is pushed down the the fold.
Repeat with the next horizontal strip. again using two pins to mark the joint.

Keep going until you get close to the top.

Once you are happy that the strips are all in the right place, and no adjustment is needed, you can fire up the glue gun.  If you don't have one you can use needle and thread, and maybe some buttons.  Basically you need to secure all the joints, (all the double pins) and in some places join the denim to the bag to prevent too much movement.  Either a dollop of hot glue between the layers, or a few stitches through all the layers.

The original bag (Benta's, 4th photo) was finished at the top using the waistband of a pair of jeans.  The third photo shows Ann's bag finished with a folded strip of denim secured inside and out, while the 2nd photo, Jenny's bag was finished with machine stitches - it's your choice!

Again there are choices for the straps: I used the remains of the inside leg seam through belt loops, Jenny stitched on short thin strips of denim, while Jess glued on long wide strips - there is no wrong!

Hope this is enough information for you to have a go, but if anything is unclear, please do not hesitate to  email me ( and I'll get back to you

Some more varieties ...

Steph made this bag with just one pair of jeans, and incorporated a pocket from the jeans...

... whereas my lovely Jess has a total disregard for convention (so refreshing in a 16 year old), and her bag included scrunched strips, waistbands, pockets, buttons, and some random weaving!


  1. Hello Benta! This technic is so interesting - I would love to try it! I have been too busy and now saw that 'I won' - you are so loving to donate those beautiful quilts! Someone is going to be very happy to hold them!
    I love your new cosy sofas!!!
    xxx Teje


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