Inspired by the comfort of denim clothing, you can transform the sturdy fabric in several ways.
1. Ripping Denim Strips
By tearing denim rather than cutting it, you create a fringe that's wonderful to work with. Use this technique for all the projects shown here. Place denim on a flat surface. Measure to desired width, cut a 1/2-inch slit in the cloth, and rip in one fast motion. Tear jeans vertically to avoid seams.
2. Adorning Pillows
Cut denim to make a 22-by-12-inch knife-edge pillow cover. Using denim (or other fabric, like that cut from a dress shirt), tear five to nine 1 1/4-by-14-inch strips. With tailor's chalk, mark where you want to attach the strips. For a gathered design, as shown, sew down the center of each strip with a denim needle, using an awl to push the fabric toward the machine in pleats. For flat strips, sew two rows of stitches down the sides of each, with a 1/8-inch seam allowance.
3. Fringe Rug
Cut a 30-by-54-inch piece of burlap. Tear about 200 strips from jeans (you'll need about 12 pairs); make each 1 1/4 inches wide and the length of a pant leg. Align first strip 1 inch from burlap's edge; with the zipper foot attachment on a sewing machine and a denim needle, stitch down center. Snip any remainder from the end, and use it to start the next row. Sew strips 1/8 inch apart, until 1 inch of burlap remains. Fold burlap edges under, and hand-stitch.
4. Floral Brooches
Rip a denim strip (1 1/2 inches wide and the length of a pair of jeans). Beginning 1/8 inch from edge, sew two rows of running stitches 1/8 inch apart. Pull on the ends of the threads to gather. (On a sewing machine, use a denim needle and a wide stitch length; tug on the two bobbin threads.) Hand-sew gathered edge in a spiral shape as shown. Attach a safety pin to the back.
5. Denim Tote with Floral Brooches
There's more than one way to wear a pair of jeans. With a length of denim, the perfect tote bag is a few stitches away.
Choose or cut a piece of denim half the width of the finished bag and 1 inch longer. (The depth of the bag is half the width of the fabric.)
Fold the fabric in half with the right sides together so the selvages meet. Turn the fabric so the selvage edges become the top of the bag. Sew along the right and left sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
Cut two lengths of denim or other sturdy fabric for the handles; they can be as short or long as you like. Pin the handles in place, then sew them on the inside of the bag. Use thread to match the fabric. Turn the bag right side out. Embellish the tote with easy denim floral brooches.