You can also view this DIY on the King Soleil Tumblr blog
DIY Upcycled Denim Craft Organizer
If you are anything like me, you have piles of old jeans laying around, torn, ripped, just plain worn out. My family knows I upcycle everything I come across so when when my father cleaned out his closet my mother promptly brought me his throw-away pile jeans. Thanks, dad, for wearing out denim faster than us mere mortals.
So I sat with a pile of demin, srawled and scattered across my living room floor and thought. I thought and thought and thought and just couldn't come up with anything. I have seen upcycling ideas online and just didn't find anything to spark my fancy. I am not a country apple kind of person and everything seems to scream HOWDY! So I regressed to college days of writer block when facing a fifteen page paper on synapses and just starting working.
I cut the tops off the jeans, leaving the legs. I then began cutting small strips from the legs and then I thought...hm..maybe I'll weave them together. After 15 minutes of this I just wasn't convinced and after receiving a definitive "no" from my husband I started over.
I then cut the strips into two, making approx 3/4 width strips and then returned to my old favorite, crochet rugs. The jeans had to be quite a bit thinner than my usual fabric strips because they were so stiff. I have to say, I was liking the outcome, but it seemed a little dark, so I added some white upcycled fabric I had left over from another rug. Ah ha! Jeans and a white T-shirt. My all time favorite combo. Ok, I liked how this was progressing.
To make a crochet rug, for those of us who have some kind of crochet proficiency, you crochet in the round using a HUGE crochet hook. You have to make quite a few adjustments for weight of fabric and width of strips, adding stitches when it gets too tight and skipping stitches when it gets wavy or too loose. For those of you who would like to know how to make an upcycled crochet rug, let me know and I'll post a How-To.
For those of you who do not crochet, you could sew strips together, back to back, and then side to side, to create some weight and then move on from there. You could use a foam board or cork board to back your denim strips to make it stiff.
After I crocheted the rug I had all these really cool pieces of jean adornment, pockets, zippers, labels, etc. I try to use everything from what I upcycle, so I decided to sew on a back pocket from one the jeans straight onto the rug. I do this, I cut right along the seam of the pocket and across the top. I then pinned it where I wanted it, and hand sewed the back of the pocket (make sure not to sew it shut!), sides and bottom, to the rug, right along its original seam with dark blue thread.
I also had a super worn Ralph Lauren Polo label that was on the waist band of one of the pairs of jeans. I loved the creases and the color so I cut it off the back of the jeans but left a bit of waistband on either side. When you find a place for this, make sure it's not over your pocket so your supplies wont cover each other. I put mine a bit to the right and toward the top. A sewed on each side, leaving the center open.
Note: This could make a really cool rug at this point, but make sure you sew the waist band directly to the rug all the way across and sew the pocket shut so there aren't any face-plants from people getting their feet stuck on the adornments and eating it. Safety first!
Dependant on how big your rug (or board) is, you can add as many pockets or other hanging tabs as you wish. I thought it would be really cool to use kids jean pockets because they are smaller and you could fit more on, but alas, my children do not like jeans and therefore didn't have any outgrown ones on hand. However, on my next goodwill trip, I will keep my eyes open.
To make the 'hanger' I used more of the waistband. I figured it was strong and tied in the other waistband piece I used with the label. Cut a piece as long as you would like the organizer to hang, keeping in mind you will be folding it in half. Then sew each side to the back of the organizer a few inches apart. As you can see from my pictures, when hung, it tends on buckle a bit in the center because of its weight. If I were using this in my home (or if I owned instead of renting my cottage) I would attatch each side to the wall using hooks or nails to keep it super sturdy. This isn't necessary, however, and keeping it portable is a cool idea also.
I love this idea for us adults but really I had children in mind when making it. My kids currently have arts and crafts things everywhere around the house, and how great to have an organizer to keep everything in one place, in view and have a place to dry their brushes and hang their smocks. What's great about using denim is durability, and like your favorite pair of jeans, will look better with use and paint splatters! And best of all? Doing this upcycling project is great for our world, and if you have children, teaches them to use what you have, or what has been discarded, think outside the box (or circle in this case) and create something fun that they can use over and over again!