Do you have old jeans lying around waiting to be given a new life? I find the size works as a small handbag for an adult too. You may just want to make the strap a little shorter to make it a clutch.
A pair of unwanted jeans
Some lining fabric (my piece was 26 inches by 10 inches)
Notion for decorations
Instructions: ** Use a ½ inch seam allowance throughout the project except for the straps where I used a ¼ inch seam allowance. **
Identify a pair of unwanted jeans.
Cut off one leg just below the pocket. Then cut open that leg at the inseam.
Here is what you should have at this point.
I wanted a piece that is about 10 inches wide and this leg was about 27 inches. So I cut out a rectangle from that leg that ended up being about 26inches long and 10 inches wide. You can change that measurement however you like.
Fold this rectangle lengthwise into thirds. With right sides together, sew two seams along the bottom 2 thirds. See picture.
Cut out a piece of lining fabric that is the same size as the jeans and repeat the sewing with the lining fabric. In the picture below, I have a piece of the lining left after I trimmed it to the right size so I made it into a pocket.
Here is that pocket sewn to the middle third of the lining fabric.
Take the bottom corners of the lining and fold it into a triangle. Sew a line about 1 inch away from the tip of the triangle. This will give the bag some shape. Repeat with the jeans.
Trim away the triangle bits of all four corners.
At this point, you can embellish the bag as you wish. I like the quilted look of the bag when I sew through both the jean and the lining so I saved my embellishment step until after I sew the two layers together. You can also attach your closure at this point. I used a magnetic snap, but I think for kids Velcro is also a good choice.
After the embellishment and the closure mechanism are sewn on, we are ready to assemble the bag. Layer the two pieces as shown in the picture – right sides facing with the jean layer tucked inside the lining.
Turn the piece around and trace out the shape of the flap. I used a simple rounded flap but you can make it into any crazy shape you can imagine. How about a zigzag as the teeth of a monster bag?
Notice I didn’t leave a space on the lining piece for turning the bag. That’s because I am not good at hand sewing and I figured I will topstitch the bag closed anyway. So I left the hole for turning in the flap. When you are tracing out the shape for the flap, leave a space about 4 inches for turning.
Now, the most difficult part to describe and perhaps the trickiest part to sew: Sew around the flap and the front of the bag. I started sewing just under the turning space. When I get to the front of the bag, pivot the needle and turn the piece 90.
Sew along the front of the bag and when you get to the other side, pivot the needle and turn the piece 90
Continue sewing all the way back up and around the flap back to the top of the turning space. This is what it should look like when you are done with this seam.
Try turning the bag inside out to make sure everything looks right. Once you are sure it’s all good, turn it back, cut around the flap and clip the curves.
Don’t forget to clip the corners where the flap and the body of the bag meet.
Turn the bag around again, tucking the lining inside the jean. Then top stitch all the way around the flap and the front of the bag the same way you sewed the pieces together. I did my embellishing at this point.
Cut two strips of fabric about 2 inches wide and 26 inches long with the remaining bits of the leg that you cut the body of the bag out of. Alternatively, cut one strip out of the jean and one strip out of the lining fabric.
With right sides together, sew along three sides of the strips with a ¼ inch seam allowance: the two long sides and one of the short sides.
Turn the strap right side out and fold the open edge inside. Topstitch around all four sides of the strap.
Attach the strap to the sides of the bag by sewing a rectangular box about ½ inch tall. Having a walking foot really helps the machine work through all the layers of fabric at this point.
Step 16: (optional)
This is supposed to be a kiddie messenger bag so I don’t think it will hold a lot of weight. Just to be sure, I added a little decorative stitching to give the straps more stability.
And there you have it - a cute little bag. Repeat with the other leg for a matching bag. Here’s what I had left after making two bags. Don’t the leftovers look happy now that the jeans have been repurposed?