This tutorial is on making upcycled patchwork denim fabric mache bowls from your old jeans. Best of all, it doesn’t require any sewing.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but patchwork denim is on-trend. The trend is universal, from high-end fashion brands such as Prada and Gucci to high street clothes shops. The popularity of denim patchwork inspired me to make these denim fabric mache bowls.
I’ve been a big fan of denim patchwork in the home for years. Jeans come in so many lovely shades and tones of indigo. One of the best ways to show the shades off is with patchwork. I’ve made patchwork denim rugs, patchwork chairs, and even quilted stars, to name a few.
I have made many Paper Mache bowls in the past and wondered if I could use the same technique to make a Paper Mache-type fabric bowl.
I experimented by making a small patchwork denim bowl. This turned out so well that it gave me the confidence to go large and make a big denim fruit bowl. The technique worked well. The fabric mache bowls are surprisingly sturdy.
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What You Need To Make Fabric Mache Bowls
- Denim scraps; if you can use the denim from three pairs of jeans in different shades of indigo, all the better. Thinner, softer, well-worn denim scraps work better than stiff, thicker pieces. You will also need a denim waistband from a pair of jeans. This is a great way to repurpose clothes that cannot be donated.
- Bowl to use as a mould – the size of the bowl will determine the finished size of your fabric bowls.
- Clingfilm (plastic wrap)
- Mod Podge – I recommend a big bottle as you will need a lot of glue.
- Bulldog clips and pins
How to Fabric Mache
Step 1: First, cover the outside of the bowl that you are going to use as a mould with clingfilm.
Step 2: Next, cut the jeans scraps into small squares. The size of the squares will depend on the fabric bowl you are making. I cut the jeans fabric into approximately 5cm squares for my large denim fruit bowl. For a smaller bowl, I’d probably cut smaller squares.
I used the denim fabric from three different pairs of jeans to give the patchwork more contrast.
Step 3: The fabric mache bowl was four layers thick. For the first layer of the bowl, I pasted the front of the squares with Mod Podge. They were then stuck face down onto the clingfilm-covered bowl.
Each patchwork of fabric should be covered in glue. Cover the whole of the outside of the bowl with denim. The denim squares will overlap slightly, and you may have to cut some into small pieces to fill small gaps.
Step 4: Cover the first fabric layer with a thick coating of Mod Podge glue.
Step 5: Then add another layer of fabric squares. This time paste the wrong side of the denim with glue.
Top tip: There is a lot of glue used with this upcycle, which can get messy. I use a glass plate when pasting the glue, which keeps my work surfaces clean.
Step 6: Repeat the last two steps until the fabric bowl is covered in four layers of denim patchwork. Combining the glue and fabric layers will help make a stiff bowl. You should finish with a final fabric layer, don’t cover this with Mod Podge unless you want the outside of the patchwork denim bowl to be shiny.
Then, leave the fabric mache to dry for about 24 hours.
Finishing off the Fabric Mache Bowl
Step 7: Once the glue has dried, carefully lift the patchwork denim off the bowl. The denim should be stiff and easily come away from the mould. Then remove the clingfilm from the inside of the bowl.
Step 8: Even out the rim of the bowl with a pair of scissors. To neaten the denim bowl and add character add a denim waistband rim. First, use a seam ripper to unpick a denim waistband from a pair of jeans. Unpick the belt loops from the waistband, but keep the label if there is one.
Top tip: To make the inside of the denim bowl more water-resistant, add another layer of Mod Podge to the inside.
Step 9: Open up the denim waistband and paste the inside of it liberally with Mod Podge.
Step 10: Carefully place the waistband over the edge of the fabric bowl. The rim of the bowl should be inside the waistband. Use a combination of bulldog clips and pins to hold the waistband in place as the glue dries.
By the way, if the circumference of your bowl is bigger than your waistband, use a piece from another waistband to fill the gap.
Step 11: Remove the clips and pins when the glue has dried.
The fabric mache bowl is stiff and robust; the insides can be wiped clean. This makes it perfect for a fruit bowl or even a bread basket on the table. It will match the denim table runner and hexagon patchwork placemats I made.
It also goes well with the test mini-fabric bowl I made. As that bowl was smaller, I used the seam from a pair of jeans to create a rim.
- Old denim scraps from a variety of jeans.
- Mod Podge
- Bowl to use as a mold
- Bulldog clips and pins
- Glue brush
- First, cover the outside of the bowl that you are going to use as a mold in clingfilm.
- Cut the denim scraps up into small squares.
- Paste the right sides of squares with Mod Podge.
- Stick each square face down onto the clingfilm covered bowl. Carry on until the whole bowl is covered.
- Next, add a layer of Mod Podge to the denim on the bowl.
- Paste another set of denim patchwork squares with Mod Podge, this time on the wrong side of the denim. Then cover the bowl again with the squares.
- Repeat the last two stages until the bowl is covered in four layers of denim fabric.
- Once the fabric and glue has dried, remove it from the mold and the clingfilm.
- Next, unpick a denim waistband from a pair of jeans. Open up the waistband and apply Mod Podge to the inside.
- Then, place the waistband over the rim of the denim fabric bowl to create a neat edge. Hold the waistband in place with bulldog clips and pins until the glue has dried.
You can find more of my DIY ideas here.