101 Things You Can Do With Old Jeans, No.3: Denim Napkin Rings

Okay, I’m joking with that post title, but they’re probably 101 things you could make or create with old jeans!

If you’re new to reading BNOTP, recently I cleaned out my closet and found three pairs of old jeans that were out of style and had magically shrunk while hanging in the closet. How DOES that happen?! Since the jeans weren’t in the greatest shape, I decided to repurpose them for a fun project.

New Uses for Old Denim Jeans


So far, the pockets have found new life as flatware holders. (Tutorial for flatware holders can be found here: A New Use for Old Jeans.)

4th of July Tables Setting Tablescape with Jean Flatware Holder and Warren Kimble Dishware


The denim fabric and the seams became a banner for celebrating those patriotic holidays. (Tutorial for banner can be found here: Make a Party Banner, Pottery Barn Inspired.)

4th of July Patriotic Banner, Pottery Barn Inspired


For their latest reincarnation, the waistbands have become denim napkin rings–no sewing required!

Denim Napkin Rings Made from Old Jeans


I totally spaced and didn’t take any photos when I made these. So, for this tutorial, I took a pair of jeans that had not yet been delegated to the donate or recycle pile and reenacted the steps.  Please note:  No “good” jeans were harmed in the making of this reenactment post, so please don’t call the Jean Police on me!

Denim Napkin Rings Made from Old Denim Jeans, Denim Craft


First I used a seam ripper to remove the end of the belt loop that was attached to the waistband. There was no need to remove the other end.

New Use for Old Jeans


Then I just cut the waistband right off of the old jeans.  (Pretend like the belt loop has been removed in the pic below.)  There’s no issue with unraveling and no hemming to be done since the waistband is top-stitched.

Recycle Denim Fabric in Old Jeans


I cut the waistband in 7 inch lengths. (The piece below is one I had left over from the waistband (and didn’t use) when I made my napkin rings.)

New Use for Old Jeans


I found 7 inches to be a good length for the napkin rings because that allows the ends to overlap about an inch. After creating a circle and overlapping the ends, I glued them together using a glue I just discovered recently in Michaels.

Make Denim Napkin Rings from Old Jeans


This glue is pretty amazing, its nickname is “the glue gun in a bottle” and it really is! I only had to hold each loop together for about 45 seconds and they were stuck for good. Since this glue sets up so quickly, it’s important to make sure you have your fabric positioned right where you want it when you add the glue. This awesome glue is available here: Fabri-Tac.


Note: Since I was working with 3 pairs of old jeans, I had 6 “end pieces” of the waistband with which to make 6 napkin rings. The ends of jean waistbands are top-stitched so they were perfect for this craft.  However, if you are making your napkin rings from just one or two pairs of old jeans and will need to use a piece of the waistband from the center that isn’t topstitched on the ends, you can either top-stitch the ends on a sewing machine or just use one of the products they make to stop fraying. This glue will also stop edges from fraying and it does dry clear, but I think the top-stitching method is the prettiest for the finished product.

Fabri-Tac Glue


Just for fun, I pulled out some dishes and created a few place settings using the denim napkin rings.

Denim Napkin Rings Made from Old Jeans for a Patriotic Table Setting


They really work best with casual table settings. Wouldn’t they be great for a picnic or for dinners in a cabin, lake, or beach house?

Denim Napkin Rings Made from Old Jeans


One of the pairs of jean I used had a decorative, floral waistband that made for a really cute napkin ring.

Denim Napkin Rings Made from Old Jeans for a Patriotic Table Setting


The napkin rings with the buttons are probably my favorite but I also liked the ones with the buttonhole. You could add a decorative button of your choosing or really any kind of decoration to create your own one-of-a-kind napkin rings.

Denim Napkin Rings, Made from Old Denim Jeans, Denim Craft


Happy crafting (and recycling) with your recycled denim! Denim is so durable, there’s almost nothing you can’t make with those old bluejeans.

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  1. Betty819 says

    You know I’ve been encouraging you to write your own book; this project is another reason to do so. You certainly have a lot of material to write about. Now I hope you’re going to let us see what is left of your jeans by the time you can’t make anything else out of them. I want to see what is left over. What if you added gold stars to those napkin rings..something metalic and glittery? Ever thought of dying them so they’ve had that “new look?”

    • Betty, you are so sweet. That would be fun, to show what scraps are left in a future post. At this point, I still have some denim fabric left but not much else. There’s easily enough for another banner, maybe two. Love your ideas for the napkin rings!

  2. Susan, I see your creativity is matched only by your sense of humor:) I, too, have closet grimlins and your post has inspired me to dust off that sewing machine on a rainy day.

  3. Since we are “so casual” at the lake during the summer…these are so dang cute!! Thanks for ALL the ideas! franki

  4. *Sigh*…
    You know why… 😉
    P.S. Write that book now! I’d buy it immediately! 🙂
    ~Hugs to you~

  5. What a cute idea, Susan. These napkins rings would be a fun addition to a picnic basket.

  6. Hi Susan,
    Looks like you will have to come up with 98 more uses for the remains of those “strangely shrinking” jeans… If the legs are still intact, I wonder what you could do with denim tubes??? Bolster pillows maybe, or a set of smaller ones, or a combination of both??? I bet your readers can come up with 98 ideas in no time.
    Enjoy the weekend,

  7. Susan, these are so cute! Another one of your jean projects I’m copying! I have those shrunken jeans too; how did that happen in the closet?

  8. Terri Burfield says

    As always Susan, you came up with another great idea! Love the look of these especially with the red-checked napkins! I’m sure you have seen purses and even aprons made from some old jeans! I always give mine away, but not anymore!! 🙂

  9. Speaking of jeans magically shrinking in the closet ~~~~ got a few dresses that have done the same 🙂
    What about the size and blurry fonts that are overtaking our books and periodicals!

    Love your napkin ring idea!


  10. Adorable! We, too have a super casual lifestyle when we are at the cabin, so this cute little project is puuurfect! Who am I kidding…we’re not exactly Prince William and Kate Middleton when we’re home either, so I’m all over this.

    You definitely should write a book Susan. Maybe an ebook?

  11. ha, ha this title made me laugh. I have seen some really cute purses made from the top portion of old jeans. Also years ago there used to be a pattern to make a girls vest. There really are a lot of possibilities:-) A little creativity can go a long way.

  12. These are just the cutest ideas!!!! What a great use of denim! LOVE each one, Susan!

  13. Susan, cute project! I won’t be greedy, just another 7 to make a perfect 10 will do for me =:) I prefer the ones with buttons too and would glue metal buttons from magically shrunken shirts to the holes so napkin rings are all buttoned up for the occasion.

  14. Too, TOO cute! You inspire me. Thanks for sharing and blessings to you dear Susan, Patti@OldThingNew

  15. They all are just so cute….loving them all!

  16. What a great idea!!! We all have those old mysteriously shrunken jeans!!!!

  17. Hi……..such a sweet idea…love the flowers on them too..bet your head will be swimming with ideas now that you put 101 out there…think i’ll go look for some jeans that have shrunk while just hanging around…your right it is amazing how that happens..must be a cousin to thing that eats all the socks…….hope you’re having a nice day…raining here…AGAIN…the corn fields are beautiful..just hope the farmers can get in there come time to harvest…looks to me like the tractor would sink to the axels if they had to now…keep those ideas coming…

  18. Elizabeth Jane says

    Nothing says America, comfort and summertime like denim. Denim has been a constant for me from my teens in the hippie sixties era and into my own sixties grannie stage. Love, love, love it! Thanks for showing us some ideas to preserve this phenomenal fabric!

    And yes, write a book!

  19. If one doesn’t have any old jeans like this, I’m sure you could probably ask a friend, relative for any worn out, or go to Thrift shop for a few bucks. Most jean purses are lined which seems like a lot of extra work..maybe an old hobo type wouldn’t need lining? I’ve seen people use old jeans for covering 3 ring notebooks or paperback books covers., just in case one wants to hide a smut book they’re reading! Out of the legs I bet you could make some of those drawstring travel bags that you put your shoes in when packing for a trip.

  20. At first I thought you made one napkin ring per pair of jeans and was going to ask just how small your waist is anyway…lol.
    Very cute idea.

  21. AHA!!!!! So I’m not the ONLY one who thinks you should be writing a book!!!!! Sneaky little Susan! Shame on you! Making all of us suffer like this! You have SEVERAL books inside your head and we all want to read them, so get crackin’ there girl! You could do a little book series on different subjects: Jeans Aren’t Just For Wearing; Ideas For Patriotic Holidays; Crafty Crafts; Life’s A Beach; Tabletop Treats; Make Your Christmas Shine, etc. and the one I’ve been pushing for: Life With Max – How A Rescue Cat Rescued Me. So now you have the rah rah team, the titles, and your own head has all the ideas – just get on that computer and start typing away and attach photos. Present to publishers or even self-publish if you have to and voila! Famous, rich author! You’ve got a lot to do there, so you’d better get started right NOW!!!
    Love all your ideas & you should share all them with the rest of the world! Love ‘n’ hugs ~Faith

    • lol Faith, you are cracking me up! I couldn’t write a book about my sweet Max because my heart would fall out in the middle of it. I miss that sweet boy so much. Give anything to have him back here with me. Maybe there’s another book in me, though. I like your titles, they made me smile, like the “Jeans Aren’t Just for Wearing” one. HA, that’s a good one! lol 🙂 Thanks for all those suggestions! 🙂

      • You’re welcome, Susan! And give the Max book some time – it’s there…you just need to heal first. Do hope you seriously consider the other books – your ideas are so clever and many people will read them! Thanks for sharing your talents with us! ~Faith

  22. Susan, I love these napkin rings and all the other items you created with your recycled jeans. Great use for them.

  23. Hello once more Agnes! Great way to use up old jeans and I like the various table settings with which they were used. Computer problems almost over – touch wood. Hope to be back in the frame shortly. Meanwhile, hope you’re all getting back to normality now, too! All the best.

  24. You are a seamless (get it, seam?, lol!) creative inspiration my friend! 😀
    Who knew we could make so many useful things from a pair of old jeans?!
    Hugs and have a fabulous weekend,
    Beth P

  25. I loved the napkin ring ideas; very cute and original!
    I did make the flatware holders for my 4th of july get together, and the project
    was so quick and easy. I added handmade blue cotton rosettes that I took from and old pair of blue and red capris. CUTE!
    ANN P.

  26. Hi Susan,
    Love the denim napkin ring idea!! I’ve already “copied” the denim silverware pocket, and thankfully saved the remaining fabric. Can’t wait to try these…..I think I would add a decorative button to them, as well. Love the way they look with the casual napkins, especially the blue star napkins and those great flag plates!
    Thanks for sharing! Lanita

  27. Linda S. in NE says

    I am interested to hear you say you are such a fan of the Beacon Fabri-Tac Glue. Here I just threw out over three-quarters of a bottle as the glue literally turned into a rock. I was not a real fan of it even when I first bought it, as I found it messy, stringy, and just plain difficult to work with. People rave about this product, so I am wondering if I just bought a “bad” bottle”?, an “old bottle”, or a bottle that had been shipped in a semi-truck during the unbearable heat of August? I really did not plan to give it another try, but I am interested in reading your comments on the product.

    • Linda, I was just introduced to Fabri-Tac about 1 1/2-2 weeks ago when I went shopping in Michaels in search of an adhesive to make the banner I posted about recently. The sales person who told me about it said it was the best glue out there for projects like the one I had in mind. She did tell me that it can be stringy. Well, I will take stringy over burning my fingers anytime. I hate using a glue gun because at some point I ALWAYS burn a finger, or five. And talk about stringy–glue guns are a nightmare in the stringy department. I had very little trouble with the Fabri-tac being stringy…noticed it once or twice when I made the banner and maybe once when I made the napkin rings. I didn’t find it near as stringy as a glue gun. I’ve only had this bottle for a couple of weeks so it may turn to concrete in a month. This is my first time using it (the banner project and the napkin rings) so not sure how long it will last before it does harden up in the bottle. I hope it doesn’t for a while, but if it does, I’ll gladly buy more when I next need a glue that really holds…anything to avoid the glue gun. Maybe you did get a bad bottle or maybe the cap didn’t fit on as it should and it dried out. Hope my bottle lasts a while because I do love how the glue works/performs.

  28. Pam ~ Crumpety Cottage says

    So cute! Hee .. you really got your money’s worth out of those jeans! And even if someone didn’t have jeans that had mysteriously shrunk, they could always hit up good will or garage sales. I agree with the others, Susan, you should write that book. Okay, we’ve seen three things so far, only 98 yet to go. If anyone can come up with 98 more ideas, it’s you! 😀

  29. Susan,
    You are so creative. I think you are the next Martha Stewart! Some re-cycle projects are tacky, but yours always are beautiful and actually something useful!


  30. Actually Susan, you ARE writing your book….every day. It would not take a publisher long to put all your ideas together. “Susan’s Potpourri of Ideas on The Porch and In Your Home”!!
    Love the napkin holders, how about a bottle bag made out of the leg? 🙂
    A question on the glue….is it just for fabric? I too am so fed up of burning myself with the glue gun and just wondered if this was an option on other things?
    Thanks Susan.

    • Megan, I just looked on the bottle and it says,”Bonds fabric, Lace, Glass, Leather, Wood and Trims.” It also says, “Grabs Fast & Dries Clear, Acid-Free, Washable.” So it sounds like it will work for a lot of things.

  31. Susan, how about taking some of your leftover denim and cutting it into about 4 or 5″ squares for coasters? You could pink the edges like your banner, glue two pieces together for better absorption and then give them star or stripe treatment to match. Not that your porch needs more ‘cute’ but guests sure seem to appreciate coasters when it comes time to set down their beverages and decor coordination never killed anybody. 😉

    PS–I was introduced to that glue a gazillion years ago when making my wedding dress for gluing the pearls and sequins to the veil. It held up to minor spot washing fine but I’m told won’t dry-clean. And as of the last time I checked, all the trim is still in place and the glue didn’t yellow. As for keeping it longer…squeeze as much air out of the bottle as you can and get the liquid all the way to the tip then store it carefully upside down. Makes it last a lot longer!

    • Molly, love the coasters idea…that sound so cute! Thanks for the tip about the glue. I’ll definitely do that. Amazing that it lasted so well for you on your dress and glad to hear it hasn’t yellow…so important!

  32. what a great idea!

  33. CUTE!!!

  34. Love the napkin rings! They are perfect for a picnic or our casual table settings. Here’s another great idea for old jeans – well I think it’s a great idea – I’ve made some cute pincushions from the pockets. Quick and cute!

  35. ann pauley says

    I agree. You are really aligned in creativity with Martha ! Start writing a book !

  36. These are just adorable, Susan, as are the cute silverware holders using the jean pockets! You are so clever. Silly me, I usually upcycle jeans into teddy bears and end up discarding the waistbands — not any more!

  37. Hi Susan, Bob and I have been traveling for a little over two weeks. Trying to catch up on reading.
    Absolutely love this idea. I haven’t worn regular jeans in a while but I am sure my girls have some old ones. I especially love the ones with the floral trim.
    Have a blessed day, Ginger

  38. Michele in IL. says

    Thank you so much for the great tutorial and for inspiring me!!!
    I will use this idea for my next girlfriends dinner.

  39. Cathy Wright says

    Hi Susan!
    I’ve been following you for a couple of weeks now and enjoy your posts. I was working on a Sunflower tablescape when I came across these denim napkin rings. They are perfect for my application. I was going to handstitch mine so I could do this while watching TV – – I quickly moved to the glue. The denim was difficult for these hands and fingers. I used the “middles” of the waistband and glued Sunflower buttons on mine. My dishes are sunflowers on a blue background – these were perfect! Thanks for idea. 🙂

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