How To's & Quick Tips

5 Things to Do with… Denim

Decades ago, denim may have seemed uniquely American, but today this sturdy fabric belongs to the world: A whopping 450 million pairs of jeans are sold annually! It's a little scary, then, to contemplate how much denim there must be in landfills-and how quickly we must be adding to that quantity. Environmental concerns aside, there are many reasons to reuse the jeans you no longer wear. Denim stands out among fabrics for its remarkable durability, for one thing. Also, if it looked good on your butt, it'll look good on home accents, right? Scroll down for five DIY denim projects that prove beyond doubt that jeans deserve their radical popularity.


Here's a DIY denim project that lets you “wear your way” to a new throw rug. After cutting your old jeans into one-inch strips, weave them together in a crosshatch pattern. As you work, pin the strips to a fabric backing and then-once the rug has taken shape-sew, trim, and bind the edges to finish the job.


Keep whatever you want (for example, favorite magazines or extra yarn) in various-size bins fashioned from the legs of old jeans. To achieve more heft than a single layer of denim can provide, simply sew in some batting. If you want to add decorative appeal, incorporate a liner of complementary or boldly contrasting fabric.


Do you have a comfortable old sofa whose upholstery has become faded, stained, or torn? Slipcover it! With this DIY denim project, you can make your own slipcover for next to no money. Personalize the project with buttons or a stencil, or leave the jeans as they are-after all, their pockets provide plenty of visual interest.


Whereas your jeans once carried coins and keys, they can now hold and organize your office supplies, children's toys, or bedroom bits and baubles. Any item that fits in the pocket is fair game: The material is so rugged that you could even use this DIY denim project in your tool shed, potting bench, or woodworking shop!


Get out your scissors and cut your old jeans (or a few pair you bought at the thrift store) into placemat-size rectangles. Attach a backing and then, using no-sew fabric adhesive tape, secure a small pocket from a pair of kid's jeans-it will be the perfect size for utensils to slide into. Now your summer picnic table is ready to rumble!