DIY - Tote bag from upcycled jeans with sashiko pocket

diy stitching upcycling Nov 20, 2020

If you have been following along, you have seen me recycle an old pair of jeans that were simply past mending. I loved them so much, that the stretch wore out (they were stretch denim), and they ended up with a saggy baggy bottom with lots of sashiko mends. Not a spot where I wanted to draw attention to when wearing them!

So far I have made a pot holder and a face mask with the recycled denim, and in this project I am recycling the knee that was mended with sashiko stitching about a year ago (below).

So I decided upon making a tote bag, making the sashiko as a special pocket feature on the outside.

I followed along to this tutorial, which is very easy to follow and I made the entire bag in less than 2 hours.

However, in retrospect I would make a few changes.

  1. The bag doesn’t need a gusset, or at least, not one a big as the pattern suggests (for my purpose of a book bag anyway). I would be inclined to have a smaller gusset, say half the size, or about 1.5 inches.

  2. The pattern doesn’t really suggest where you should put the straps. I found when I finished mine, that they were too far apart. Ideally I like a space of about 4-5 inches (11-13cm) between the handles, and this bag had 8-9 inches (21cm). This means that it gaps quite a lot between the handles when you put something in it. Not a big deal, but something I would give more consideration if I were to make this pattern again.

  3. This means making the pocket about 4-5 inches big.

  4. Also, it doesn't tell you how long the webbing (straps) should be until you read through the comments (which of course, I didn’t until after I’d finished making the bag). I ended up using 3 feet (1 meter) each side, which wasn’t quite long enough to wrap entirely around the bag to the bottom. So I improvised and stopped at where the fold for the bottom would occur.

Would you like to learn how to sashiko? Click here to download my guide on how to get started >>