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How To Repurpose Jeans for Denim Upholstery – Pillarboxblue

It happens eventually, there comes a time when you have to kiss your beloved jeans goodbye as they are beyond repair. But don’t chuck them out yet, repurpose the denim. There are many cool things you can make for your home out of old jeans and you can use them for denim upholstery projects.

Denim as a repurposed fabric has a lot going for it. As long as you like blue! Mind you, some denim does come in other colours. So all your upcycled denim projects don’t all necessarily have to be blue.

Personally, indigo blue is one of my favourite colours, hence the name of my blog (Pillar Box Blue). Old jeans tend to come in a wonderful array of different shades of indigo blue. I currently have about 30 pairs of old jeans in my stash waiting to be upcycled. I think every one of them is a different shade of indigo.

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What Makes Upcycled Denim A Good Upholstery Fabric

There are many good reasons for using repurposed denim for upholstery projects in the home. Firstly, it is a tough and durable long-lasting fabric that has a strong tear resistance. That is why it is also a good fabric to use to make denim floor rugs.

The denim from old jeans is a natural fabric and is soft and comfortable. That’s why I live in jeans, they feel so good. A chair or sofa covered in denim will feel great too.

Also, using old jeans as your upholstery material makes the project very affordable. As you are repurposing and not paying anything for the fabric. It is more environmentally friendly too, you are saving the old fabric from landfills.

But the best reason for denim upholstery is that if done right it can actually be very stylish and attractive. By using old jeans to cover the furniture you can bring a bit of rock and roll coolness into your home.

Old jeans have many elements to them besides the denim fabric. There are the jeans pockets, hems and seams, waistbands, and labels which can all be used in the upholstery. This will give your furniture makeover character and personality.

How To Upholster With Old Jeans

One of the disadvantages of using old jeans to upholster is that it doesn’t come in big continuous lengths of fabric.

A solution is to either just upholster smaller pieces of furniture such as chair seats and poufs. Or to use lots of pairs of jeans and stitch them together to make large swaths of fabric suitable for upholstery.

Obviously, some larger upholstery projects such as sofas (couches) need a lot of fabric. To get the biggest continuous piece of fabric from one pair of jeans is to cut up the inside seam on the legs and spread the fabric out.

You can then sew the legs together to make a large long piece of fabric. Just like I did with my denim table runner.

By combining the denim from several pairs of jeans in different shades of indigo, you can make some denim upholstery, like this one-of-a-kind denim patchwork upholstered sofa.

The pockets have been included to make a unique feature of the sofa and somewhere handy to stash the remote whilst lounging. I’ve even seen upholstery that has just used the jeans pockets.

Patchwork denim upholstery doesn’t have to be so haphazard. It can also be neat and uniform whilst still showing off its wonderful shades of indigo. Just take a look at these denim patchwork chairs.

This method is more time consuming but the results are well worth it.

Denim patchwork hexagons using English paper piecing method for a seat cover.  For Denim upholstery

When upholstering furniture I make a paper pattern first then cut and sew my denim fabric to fit. If covering a small item of furniture such as a footstool, this can be done with one piece of fabric.

With larger items of furniture, I make a paper pattern for different elements, such as the arms, seats, and back. Then I stitch them all together and attach them to the chair of the sofa with either a staple gun or upholstery tacks.

Ikea hack denim chair paper pattern

By the way if you want to cheat, you can actually buy amazing digital printed denim fabric. The fabric looks really cool as it incorporates all the interesting bits on a pair of jeans such as the pockets and waistbands.

Tools For Jeans Upholstery

Denim can be difficult to sew, make sure if using a sewing machine you use a heavy-duty needle. When sewing some of the thicker parts of jeans such as waistbands and seams, it can be easier to do this by hand. Just make sure you use a strong upholstery needle.

Denim trims such as waistbands can also be added to the furniture using a good fabric glue, like with these denim fabric placemats.

When upholstering in denim, a good electric staple gun is your friend. After sewing several pairs of jeans together, I used a staple gun to cover my IKEA office chair.

ikea hack staple cover

Staple guns are good to use when the staples are going to be hidden, such as underneath a chair seat. However, if you can’t hide the staples then use upholstery pins and make them a feature.

Upholster chairs in denim by upcycling old jeans. Step by step tutorial

Examples And Tutorials For Denim Upholstery

There are lots of pictures of wonderful couches, chairs and footstools upholstered in denim on the internet. But there aren’t that many tutorials. Here are the few denim upholstery projects with instructions that I have found.

Hopefully, there is something in this collection that will inspire you to bring life back into an old piece of furniture and recover it in denim. I have a few upholstered denim pieces in my home and I love them.

The jeans fabric looks great and really adds personality to an upcycled chair. Denim chairs are also lovely to sit in.

Denim upholstery featured in the A to Z of denim upcycles.

I have lots of denim pillows and cushions ideas to match your denim furniture. Including some Boho jeans pillows combined with vintage sari material. Or if you want to add more denim to your home decor there is a tutorial for an upcycled denim lampshade and a denim magazine rack.

Also, don’t throw away any of the denim scraps as you can use them to make decorations such as feathers, tassels and even beautiful denim flowers.

How to upholster furniture with denim ideas

These upholstery ideas for old jeans featured in the alphabet of upcycling resources and ideas.

Naush Samama

Monday 19th of October 2020

I'm a sucker for anything upcycled so your post is absolutely inspiring. Thank you very much for sharing at Meraki Link Party. Naush

Claire Armstrong

Monday 19th of October 2020

Upcycling is my jam so I get it. Thank you!


Saturday 17th of October 2020

Such gorgeous projects. You know I love upcycling denim but not quite as much as you!

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 18th of October 2020

Thank you, Julie. I just find it a challenge to find as many things as possible to make with an old pair of jeans.

T'onna | Sew Crafty Crochet

Friday 16th of October 2020

I love good denim upcycle project. I would love to have a chair or couch with denim upholstery. I love your denim creations.

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 18th of October 2020

Aww, thank you so much T'onna that's lovely to hear.


Thursday 15th of October 2020

Claire, you're denim projects are truly inspiring! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 18th of October 2020

Thank you, Cecilia. It is a bit of an obsession of mine, upcycling old jeans.

Weekend Maids

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Great example of recycling, many people threw out the old jeans but you did amazing work and now we learned how to reuse the old stuff. Thanks for sharing this.

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Thank you, jeans are a great fabric to refurbish.