By Betz White
Repurposing with denim is a natural. Who doesn’t have an extra pair of jeans lying around that are outgrown, out of fashion or worn out in some way? Put that denim to good use by making up a few Denim Do-it-All Bins. They’re great for organizing your yarn stash, magazines, or craft supplies.
(for large bin)
One pair of jeans, any adult size or large kid size
1/2 yd lining fabric – lightweight cottons*, or mid-weight twill, canvas, etc.
1/2 yd interfacing, *needed for lighter-weight lining fabrics only
1/2 yd quilt batting
1 yd rickrack, ball fringe or other trimming
Heavy-duty sewing machine needle for denim
Fabric marking tool
Feel free to change the dimensions to suit your needs!
Large: 10″ tall, 10″ diameter
Medium: 9″ tall, 8″ diameter
Small: 8″ tall, 6″ diameter
Note: Directions are written for the large bin, with medium and small measurements in parentheses.
Step 1: Begin with a pair of legs from a pair of unwanted jeans. I used a boys size 8 that had been cut off for shorts. Both leg pieces should measure around 15″ long to make the large bin. (Both should be 14″ long for the medium bin. Only a single 12″ long leg piece is needed for the small bin.)
Step 2: Examine the seams. The leg on the left shows a flat-felled seam. I like the detail of this seaming, so I want to keep it to be a part of the finished bin. The seam shown on the right is the inseam. Cut along the inseam of each leg piece to open them up flat.
Step 3: Place a straight edge across the bottom of the flat leg piece, perpendicular to the seam running up the center. Mark a line just above the hem. Cut on the line to remove the hem and even out the bottom edge of the leg piece. Repeat for the second piece (for large and medium).
Step 4: Using the seam as your center point, measure and mark 8″ (7″ for medium, 8″ for small) across the top on either side of center. Next, at the bottom edge, mark 7″ (6″ for medium, 7″ for small) on either side of the center. Next, using a ruler and marking tool, draw a line from the top mark to the bottom mark on each side to create a trapezoid shape. Cut on the lines. For sizes large and medium, repeat this step for the second leg piece. The total measurements for the sides of the bins are as follows:
Large: 16″ across the top, 14″ across the bottom, 14″ tall.
Medium: 14″ across the top, 12″ across the bottom, 13″ tall.
Small: 16″ across the top, 14″ across the bottom, 11″ tall.
Feel free to change the dimension to suit your needs or your scraps! These are just a guide.
Step 5: Using your denim pieces as a template, cut out 2 side bin pieces of lining fabric and 2 pieces of batting (one each for size small). Interface your lining pieces if using lightweight fabrics.
Step 6: For the bottom of the bin, cut a 9″ diameter circle (7″ for medium, 5.5″ for small) out of lining fabric, batting, and leftover denim. You can make a circle template by tracing a plate or using a compass. If necessary, you can seam 2 smaller scraps together to create the denim circle, as I have done.
Step 7: Place your lining bin pieces right sides together, then layer the batting pieces onto the wrong sides of the lining. (The lining should be sandwiched between the batting.) Pin the angled sides together. Place the denim bin pieces right sides together and pin along the angled sides. Sew the lining/batting side seams and the denim side seams, each using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press seam allowances open. (For the small bin, fold the denim piece vertically in half, right sides together and sew side seam. Layer batting onto the wrong side of the lining piece. Fold right sides together and sew seam.)
Step 8: Fold the sewn lining/batting pieces in half, aligning one side seam on top of the other. Mark the folds with a pin. Layer the bin bottom batting onto the wrong side of the bin bottom lining. Fold in half and mark with pins. Refold, aligning pins and marking the fold again.
Step 9: Using the pins as an alignment guide, pin the lining/batting bottom to the sewn lining/batting pieces (this is the smaller end of the bin). Align the marking pins with the side seams and the pins placed at the folds. Continue to pin around the perimeter, evenly distributing the fabric. Sew around the perimeter with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Trim seam allowances to 1/8″. Repeat this step for the denim sides and bottom.
Step 10: Pin the trim of your choice around the perimeter of the top opening of the denim bin, then sew 1/8″ from the edge.
Step 11: Place the denim bin (right side out) inside the lining/batting bin (wrong side out) The lining and denim should be right sides together. Align side seams and the top edges together. Sew around the top edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving 4-5″ open for turning. Trim seam allowances to 1/8″, except for at opening.
Step 12: Turn the bin right side out through the opening, working the lining down inside the denim bin. Roll the top edge between your fingers to work out the trim along the top seam. Press the seam, taking care that the iron is not set too hot for the trim you are using. Fold the seam allowances at the opening to the inside and pin. Topstitch the perimeter of the bag, sewing slowly through all layers, 1/8″ from the edge.
Roll down the top edge of the bin to make a cuff and show off the lining fabric. Fill the bin with craft supplies, small toys, or whatever things need gathering!
About the Author:
Betz White has the uncanny ability of envisioning beauty in the unexpected, something new from something old, cupcakes from sweater cuffs. She is the bestselling author of two books that encourage readers to “stitch beautifully, tread lightly”: Warm Fuzzies (North Light, 2007) and Sewing Green (STC Craft, 2009). Betz has built a career on thoughtful design, skilled craftsmanship, and a focus on materials that are kind to people and planet alike. Learn more at BetzWhite.com.