Make a field bag from recycled clothing

Published by Lori Pickert on April 12, 2008 at 07:33 PM


It's nice to have a small field bag for nature walks — to hold your art supplies and also to bring home any treasures you might find.

An old pair of pants can yield 2, 3, or even half a dozen bags depending on the size. We've made many a field bag from an old pair of jeans. Jack and I made this bag out of an old pair of khaki camo pants he had outgrown.

(Denim and khaki are great materials for a field bag because they are tough, durable, and hold their shape without a lining.)

First, find an old pair of pants. Any size will do!


We thought that knee pocket would make a great detail on the front of Jack's bag.


These back pockets would also make a great bag front. If you are using jeans, you can use the front pocket as the front of your bag and the back pocket for the back!


Mark where you want to cut your fabric, and make sure your sketchbook will fit inside your finished bag!

Right away you'll notice one great thing about making a field bag out of your old clothes — you won't have to sew very much, because you can take advantage of the seams that are already there. We cut this bag out of the middle of one leg, so we sewed the bottom and around the top. If you used the bottom of the leg, and the bottom hem of the leg became the top of your bag, you would only have to sew one seam!


Cut along the marks you made. Since we cut out of the middle of the leg, we now have a tube of fabric.


Turn your material inside-out and sew the bottom seam. We triple-sewed ours for extra strength.


Fold over the top and sew around, making the top seam. You can pin it in a couple of places if you are worried about it moving around on you, but uneven seams give extra character.


Jack really wanted a matching strap, but you could also make the strap out of any old ribbon or woven tape you have in your stash.


We cut a strip of fabric about 2 1/4 inches wide and then used that strap to cut out another.

Since there is no pattern for this project, you don't need to worry about how wide your strap ends up being — there is no right or wrong!


Sew the two long sides of your strap — but not the ends! Because next you need to turn it inside out.


Sew the strap onto the bag! We went back and forth a few times for extra strength. We are expecting this bag to get some heavy outdoor use.


All done! Wasn't that easy? While we were at it, we made another one:


You can decorate your finished bag by sewing on patches, sticking on your favorite pins, embroidering them, or anything else you can think of.

Then fill them up and take a hike!



See also:

Nature journaling: supplies


Comment by Teri on April 12, 2008 at 09:22 PM


Comment by Just Pure Lovely on April 13, 2008 at 04:43 AM

This is brilliant! We've made bean bags from jeans, but not a nature bag. We'll have to do this .... I can see how great it would be to have such a durable fabric (and such strong side seams!) for a nature bag. Thank you!!

Comment by annette on April 13, 2008 at 11:39 AM

Love it. I have started with the same thought, but made it too complicated by avoiding pockets and waistbands, and adding lining and top flap. Your use of these features makes for a completely unique and so-cool bag! I'm off to raid the pants supply...

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 13, 2008 at 01:05 PM

thank you, lori! :^D)

we made some super-cute bags for girls out of jeans and they used wide heavy ribbon for the strap and embroidered them — so pretty, but of course i can't find a picture. and still durable!

annette, thank you so much - lol - yes, you probably made a real bag, whereas this is skewed toward being a kid project! ;^) avoiding lining and using the seams that are there make it really durable and easy for a kiddo to put together.

don't forget to share pictures!! :^)

Comment by Jill on April 13, 2008 at 08:24 PM

"Uneven seams give extra character!" Love it!

This bag is adorable (don't tell your sons I used such a girly word for their bags). Thanks so much for the idea and the "recipe".

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 13, 2008 at 09:58 PM

hey, this is *handmade* beauty! ;^)

thanks so much, jill! hope you guys get a taste of spring soon. it snowed here today! grrrr...

Comment by kelly on April 14, 2008 at 01:48 AM

I love this. I made the xact same thing for my daughter for Christmas- I posted it on my blog then. There are some cute "paintbrush holder" sections too if you want to take a look :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 14, 2008 at 04:06 PM

hi kelly! i'm zipping right over to look! :^)

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 14, 2008 at 04:33 PM

kelly, i love aliah's bag! it's fantastic! :^D and i agree - so bohemian. ;^)

let me know if it's ok & i'll publish the photos here with a link to your post - i couldn't find a permalink.

Comment by Angie on April 14, 2008 at 11:30 PM

What a great tutorial! I'm really liking the idea of using gently recycled clothing for various different craft projects. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Susana on April 14, 2008 at 11:46 PM

excellent tutorial Lori :- )

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 15, 2008 at 01:14 AM

thank you so much, angie! :^) i can't promise these pants were *gently* used. ;^)

thank you, susana! a simple project, but fun. :^)

Comment by estea on April 15, 2008 at 02:13 AM

i'm sorry. all i can think about is how adorable his hands are.


Comment by Lori Pickert on April 15, 2008 at 02:24 AM

aw. he's my cutie. :^)

Comment by Make and Takes on April 15, 2008 at 08:28 PM

This is genius! I love that you did it with the zip pocket part, for extra storing space. I was just going to cut some pants to shorts for my son, but now I will save the bottom half and make a bag. His legs are smaller, so I may have to use both bottom legs to make one bag. Thanks.

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 16, 2008 at 05:13 PM

thank you, marie! if you send me pictures, i'll share them here. :^) i think i'm going to work up a backpack next!

Comment by Megan on April 17, 2008 at 02:01 AM

He's so hip!

Of course now that you have set the trend, all of my kritters are gonna want one, too.


Comment by Lori Pickert on April 17, 2008 at 02:58 AM


we can use my machine if you want!! :^)

but you're going to have to supply the pants!

Comment by kathryn on April 22, 2008 at 02:51 PM

How appropriate to have found this tutorial on earth day and to have just come across an old pair of pants that need to be transformed into something else. Thanks.

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 22, 2008 at 05:20 PM

you’re welcome, kathryn — let me know how it goes! :^)

and happy earth day!

Comment by Andrea McMann on May 16, 2008 at 01:15 PM

So cool! Thanks for a great project! :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on May 16, 2008 at 03:23 PM

thank you, andrea! :^)

Comment by Candy Cook on October 3, 2008 at 01:15 AM

I love that. I need a sewing machine *crossing fingers for Christmas*

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 3, 2008 at 03:22 PM

i hope you've been a good girl, candy. ;^)

Comment by Sherry on January 15, 2009 at 07:49 PM

We've started working on ours. I'm surprised by how excited Gerrick is. :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 15, 2009 at 09:47 PM

sherry, i love it!! :^D)

Comment by Sherry on January 21, 2009 at 08:24 PM

I'm so excited that I actually made this! I just had to send you the link now! :)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this great idea!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 22, 2009 at 01:00 AM

you got them sewed together! now the fun part of filling them up! :^)

Comment by Kim on February 8, 2009 at 07:33 AM

It was Hillarious seeing that little boy's hand cutting the jeans. At first i said "eh?... is that a 1yr old cutting the pants?"... so adorable

Comment by frog on March 25, 2009 at 12:23 AM

I knew there was a reason I kept the kids' old jeans!

Comment by Becky on March 28, 2009 at 05:55 PM

What a great idea! How smart you are to use the already-made pockets!

Comment by Tricia on April 15, 2009 at 06:03 PM

I just found this linked on some other site and I'm glad I did. This is a great idea! I've used the legs from worn out sweat pants to make gift bags, but this seems even more useful. I could see making a bag and adding in a sketch book plus some colored pencils as a birthday present for a kid.

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 15, 2009 at 07:08 PM

hi, tricia, and thank you! :^)

Comment by Topaz on April 22, 2009 at 11:11 AM

(I found this blog following a chain of links. LOL)

I am very impressed. I've seen many "bags from pants" but never one that used pants with a zipper in such a way. Brilliant idea! It was also great of you to show the "X" stitching connecting the strap to the bag. I've seen it before, but most likely would not have thought about it.

I know my sons have similar pants they've outgrown (and most likely worn out) - I need to go raid their closets!

Thank you for a great idea with great, descriptive pics!

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 22, 2009 at 01:26 PM

thank you, topaz! :^)

my son loves the fact that so many people like this post and make bags of their own!

Comment by julia on August 26, 2009 at 05:35 PM

All kinds of cute ideas popped into my head for the idea of making girls' bags--thank you for the inspiration!

Comment by Holly White-Wolfe on August 30, 2009 at 01:22 PM

Wow! I can not wait to share this idea!

Comment by keptwoman on January 8, 2010 at 11:21 AM

I just discovered your wonderful blog last night. This morning I showed my son this post and this evening we have 3 new bags in the house.
Thanks so much! Next monday I'm going to use your watercolour tutorial.

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 9, 2010 at 08:58 PM

thank you so much! :^)

Comment by Rachel on March 17, 2010 at 04:32 PM

Awesome! I have been scouring etsy for field bags with an extra long strap and it finally hit me that I can make my own! Thanks for this; you've given me a huge amount of inspiration!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 17, 2010 at 08:59 PM

thank you, rachel! have fun! :^)

Comment by Aliyah on May 31, 2010 at 06:33 PM

Great! I needed to make a bag for my upcoming field trip, and this rocks!

:D <3 <3 Aliyah

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 27, 2010 at 05:49 PM

yay! thanks, aliyah, hope it worked out great for you! :^D)

Comment by mollly on March 20, 2011 at 08:49 PM

Thank you for posting this cute, easy project! A great way to repurpose the pants that our kiddos grow out of all too quickly! My 8 year old daughter and I made a little purse for her out of her favorite khaki pants to carry her binoculars and bird book in while she climbs trees and identifies the birds in our backyard!

Comment by Anna on October 31, 2011 at 03:58 PM

I love how you chose a sort of cargo, military pant for this project. It suits the purpose very well. Also I think first tutorial I've seen that's not geared towards girls.

Post new comment