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no sew jeans bagWho knew not sewing could be so fun? I'm heading to SXSW (the interactive festival, not the film or music parts) and needed a secondary bag for notebooks and pens. My carry-on laptop bag is too bulky for just bumming around Austin, and I don't have the budget for a newer, sleeker bag. But I did buy some new jeans, which meant the ones with holes had to go. And since I have a hard time throwing things away, I made a nifty messenger bag out of those jeans, some duct tape and a handy shoulder strap from an Eagle Creek carry-on bag.

The bag itself will hold together without tape (see the gallery). So this would work in an emergency. While the shoulder strap is a bit of a cheat, I'm sure any strap would work, including one made of rope. The key is to make sure the legs wrap over the back and then close up in front so their weight provides enough strength to hold whatever is in your bag. Just to be safe, I decided to tape mine up. This makes it sturdier, more comfortable and stylish.

Read on for the how-to (it really is easy) and check out the gallery for close-ups of each step.

Easy no-sew jeans messenger bag(click thumbnails to view gallery)

First you want to get an idea of how large your storage area will be. As I've done in the photos, before adding tape, experiment with flopping the legs over the front and see how long you can get them without sacrificing too much bag area. Note that the cuffs will be folded up a bit in the final assembly with tape.

Next, lay the jeans flat, front side down, and try to align the legs for taping together (you'll put tape on each leg to stick them to one another). My jeans were "relaxed fit" and the crotch bunched up terribly. You could cut things out a bit, but I wound up liking the little bit of padding that developed, just in case my bag makes a hard landing from my shoulder. The key here is to try not to let the leg fabric overlap, but make sure you stick them well. I used Gorilla tape, which I think is best suited to these no-sew projects.

I added some horizontal tape here and there for extra "stitching" and proceeded to fold the cuffs. You don't need to fold them much, maybe up 1 inch or so. Like folding a shirt, just take them and fold up (so the extra fabric will be inside the flap when closed) and use the tape to secure them. At this point I go nuts with the tape, making the large area you see at the end of the flap. Your hands will be hitting this a lot, opening and closing it, so you want it to be sturdy.

You're almost done! Now fold it over and get a sense of where it should be turning into a flap. This calls for more experimentation, but it is hard to completely mess up. I taped the butt area to the legs, both at the crotch area and at the top of the waistband, as this provides a little extra security to the whole thing. Once you get the flap positioned and tape whatever you like you're done. I could have really sealed this up, but I liked the extra large loop inside so I can put an umbrella in there.

My jeans had a hole in the knee, and if you're lucky, this becomes a water bottle pocket!

One big downside to this bag: no handle. Be careful picking it up, and cradle the bottom when you can. Since there's nothing but tape and friction keeping the flap from unrolling, when you lift it up, should things slip, you'll find stuff spills out. But if you're the tiniest bit careful you'll be fine.

Once I put the shoulder strap on, it works great! Now I'm going to road-test it for the next few days and report back on how it holds up under real use.


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