making a purse from a jean skirt

Wait! Don't Throw Away Those Fav Jeans!

If your closet has items that you no longer use or want they can be made into something useful that will show off your handy-work and incredible style. That's what making a purse from a jean skirt is all about!

I like to repurpose things. I’m just obsessive about not letting stuff get into the landfills when they can become something useful. Once I had a great pair of jeans that were beautifully beaded but no longer fit. I couldn’t bring myself to part with them but I couldn’t spare the room of storing them for no reason either. Then I had an idea. Why not make a purse out of them?

That’s how the idea of making a purse from a jean skirt got started. It occurred to me that a skirt would offer an easier start because of the flat bottom hem. You see, when you cut off the legs high enough to get a flat bottom from a pair of jeans you lose room inside the purse.

With this idea in mind, I hit the thrift store and found this embroidered beauty. I also picked up a macramé fringed belt (for the shoulder strap) and an old brightly striped curtain for the lining.

In my own collection of leftovers and scraps I found a colorful piece of ribbon that I can use around the inside of the purse to cover up the zipper.

I also found a wallet with all the compartments that I like for easy access and security. I’ll find a way to create an outside flap for the wallet so that I can get to money or Credit Cards conveniently without opening the purse. (Find out about Attaching a Wallet to the Jean Purse).

First thing to be done is to sew the bottom of the skirt together creating the purse pocket and then securing the macramé belt to the sides just at the seams. I sewed them in place just above the fringe so that the loose strings dangle along the sides. I used an embroidery needle and a thin string the same color as the belt to sew this on for a very secure hold.

Optimizing Storage

Even though this is a cute purse which is all about the fashion statement, you still want to make it practical and useful so that using it is convenient. So, storage and compartments are very important.

Of course you have the pockets already sewn into the skirt which are great but now you have a zippered fly that is useless. So, why not make it a pocket? It’ll be hidden and secure your goodies safely behind the zipper. Awesome, right?

It’s easy too! Just cut out a square of fabric to whatever size you want (doubled of course) making sure that at least one side is the same length of the zipper and sew the three other sides together. Then sew the side left open on the inside of the purse and around the zipper. Also, I tacked down the pocket along the waistband so that it will stay in place.

This is a view of the pocket from the outside. I used a piece of solid pink fabric which matches the lining fabric. What’s great about this pocket is that you can zip it up and keep your goodies secure!

Side Note: Keeping your glasses in this pocket may not be a great idea unless you store them in a case before sliding them past the zipper. I noticed that the zipper may scrap across the lenses and that just can’t be good!

By the way, I’ve made several other jean purses like this so if you want to see how those were done just check out Making Jean Purses!

A Lining For the Purse

I laid the purse flat and used it as a template to cut the lining (see the striped fabric in the picture at top). I sewed together the two short sides from the bottom to about 2 inches from the top allowing for the flap for the zipper. To make it real neat I put in a small roll hem above the seams on all four sides of the remaining edges. With one more seam to close up the bottom of the lining I was ready to sew in the zipper.

Side Note: For extra storage I sewed in a few pockets on the inside with scrap pieces of the stripe fabric.

Now I took that spunky ribbon that I had and sewed it on the inside of the liner over the edge of the zipper. This way that zipper looks good on the outside of the purse and on the inside!

Putting the Lining in the Jean Purse

I did this by hand stitching because the front of the skirt naturally dipped lower than the back and I wanted to make the top of the lining even. By hand stitching I could take my time and get the lining adjusted perfectly so that when it’s closed it makes a good presentation. Now you could pin it together and do it by machine. I just find that sometimes hand stitching something like this is relaxing. I can sit somewhere comfortable and take a minute enjoying the hand work.

Also, realize that if you do decide to stitch by machine, you may be sewing together some thick patches like over the belt loops and of course the macramé straps. If you have a good machine that plows over thick fabrics, go for it! If you don’t, just pour yourself a nice glass of wine and relax while hand stitching!

The Finished Jean Skirt Purse

Here it is! Cute, right? You know what I like best about projects like this? Well, if you read any of my posts you do so of course it’s that this purse is one-of-a-kind! When you make it yourself with parts that you put together there is nothing else like it. And you’ll enjoy a great sense of accomplishment.

And as far as being a useful handbag, it is! Besides the remaining three pockets of the original skirt (four if you count the little square one in the front pocket above the embroidered design which is great for a lipstick), there is the hidden security pocket inside the fly, the wallet which was attached inside the seams in the back (see image below) and pockets sewn to the lining for more organized storage.

View of the Back With Wallet Attachment

Finally, here’s a view of the back. You can see the wallet that was super glued in the seam of the skirt but only because you know it’s there. Otherwise it doesn’t show too much.

Did I mention anywhere that I put some embellishments on the zipper pulls? Well, just in case I didn’t…I ran a colored string through the eye on the zipper and then tied on some round and peace sign beads. I find it much easier to pull on these for opening and closing.

And that’s it! It was really quite simple. It looks great (I get lots of compliments) and I used my crafting skills to make something useful. So start shopping your closet or the nearest thrift store for parts and try this one out! Take care and keep in touch!