Sweet Salvation: Upcycled Denim Placemat


Every year we have one yard sale. Our annual spring cleaning for this year yielded more stuff than ever before. It seems impossible, but there is never a shortage of stuff we have outgrown or that has outlived its usefulness in our home. I guess part of that is the result of growing children. Our yard sale is just around the corner. If you have one on the horizon, be sure to check out our yard sale tips from last summer. This is an invaluable resource to get you on the right track.

As usual, before I could let anything go, I had to sift through it to determine if any of the goods could be repurposed for other upcycling projects. I love getting extra uses out of discards. What I found, among other things, was a pile of kids jeans. I have been meaning to do a project like this one for some time. This hidden treasure proved to be just the inspiration I needed.

The pockets of the kids jeans are smaller than those of adult jeans and just the right size to hold a napkin and cutlery. Because they are already finished, they give a hint of authenticity to the project without me having to recreate a pocket. The overall result is fun, cheap, and very stylish.

savour remixed remnants


Before you start:

  • You could absolutely sew the entire project if you wish. Sewing such heavy fabrics can sometimes pose a problem for home machines and our intent was to offer an easy solution.
  • If you don’t have any little ones, a trip to the local thrift store will provide you with more than you need.
  • The placemat could be backed with just about any fabric although I prefer one that is a bit sturdy. I chose some heavy-duty twill that I had leftover from another project.
  • I sewed a ‘seam’ around the pocket with denim topstitch thread around the pocket where I had removed it from the discarded pants to keep with the theme, but you could skip that step if you wish.
  • The standard size for a placemat is 18″x14″. You could make yours bigger, but I would use that as a minimum.
  • If looking for adult jeans at the thrift store, try to find the biggest pair you and find. Take the kid’s jeans pocket with you to match the color as closely as possible.
  • It probably goes without saying, but make sure your denim is washed first.

The materials:

  • Kid’s jeans
  • Adult jeans
  • Backing fabric
  • No-sew fabric adhesive tape
  • Iron
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
  • Seam ripper

The method:

  1. Remove the pocket(s) from the kid’s jeans with a seam ripper. Set aside.
  2. Cut out front and back leg panels from adult jeans. Make pieces as big as possible excluding the seams.
  3. Cut panels again making them rectangles and removing any excess.
  4. Sew panels together with a 1/2″ seam allowance to make one large panel at least 20″ wide. Ours took three panels sewn together.
  5. With the iron, press the seams flat.
  6. Measure and cut the placemat top 2″ bigger than the overall desired measurement (in our case, 20″x16″).
  7. Press a 1/2″ hem on each edge of the denim. Fold over 1/2″ again and press.
  8. Using no-sew tape attach the pocket to the front of the denim in the bottom right-hand corner. The top of the pocket should be approximately 7 inches from the top edge.
  9. Cut your backing fabric to the exact measurement of the overall desired measurement.
  10. Turn the placemat over and insert the backer. Using the no-sew tape adhere the short sides first. Be sure to keep the heat on long enough for the pieces to stick firmly together.
  11. Cut away some of the fabric from the corners of the denim to remove some of the bulk. Fold the fabric on each end of the long side to create a diagonal line when folded over. This will create a nice mitered corner.
  12. Fold over long edges and adhere with no-sew tape. 


The place cards were made with paper lanterns that we found at a discount store. They are intended to hang over a string of lights. The spot that attaches to the cord was perfect for sliding in our name card. We simply used blue card stock and white card stock. We drew one star template freehand for the blue card stock and then used the hole it made to make the white star template about 1/4″ smaller all the way around. Then we just glued them together and wrote in the names.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Get Your Free Copy

Join our email list to receive our guide for creating a functional kitchen. Discover what to buy, what NOT to buy… and why. Plus, get our tips, tricks, and recipes!