Upcycling Jeans & T-Shirts

In this course we will explore the creative potential of old clothing, particularly jeans and t-shirts.

You will learn techniques of deconstructing and recreating this textile “waste” to use all the elements in new ways; not just the fabric in garments, but the seams, hems, pockets, waistbands and more.

Designed for those with a little or a lot of sewing experience, this course will push your sewing skills in new and fun directions. Those of you who are more experienced with sewing will discover new techniques and new materials to use and manipulate!

During the course you will create at least 5 items to take home:

  • the beginning of a rag rug
  • trivet or coasters made from jeans seams
  • t-shirt skirt, boxer shorts or pants
  • jeans tote bag
  • floor cushion or draft stopper

Taking home new skills, you will discover a world of possibilities for old clothing sitting in your wardrobe!


Course Info

Day One

Introduction to each other, textile upcycling and projects for the week.

Project 1 – T-shirt rag Rug making – finger crocheting technique, using a starter rug provided, commence making your rug, learn how to cut a T-shirt into continuous yarn.


Project 2 – Begin jeans deconstruction, learn jeans seams weaving and create a trivet, coasters, or beginning of a bigger project

Day Two

Project 3 – T-shirt skirt or pants – begin creating panels using 4–6 t-shirts, learn various techniques to combine t-shirts images, hems, seams. Opportunity to also incorporate reverse applique, hand sewing embellishment, as well as using sewing machines and overlockers to construct panels.

Day Three


Construction of skirts or pants from panels created yesterday.

Project 4 – Make jeans tote bag – more jeans deconstruction techniques taught to create double pockets, straps, and bag panels to make a lined tote bag.

Day Four


Complete jeans tote bag.


Project 5 – Begin making jeans floor cushion or draft stopper – jeans piecing (along with upholstery samples supplied) of projects that will then be filled with the waste we have produced over the week from our other projects. This way we hope to create zero textile waste from our full week course!

Day Five

Complete jeans floor cushion or draft stopper, and any other projects not finished from the week.
Group discussion, show and tell, questions and feedback.

No previous experience required, but if you know your way around a sewing machine that is great!

Please bring the following on your first day of class:

  • Old jeans and T-shirts – up to 5 of each (we’ll also supply some)
  • Sewing machine and overlocker if you have them (we’ll bring some also)
  • Sewing kit – scissors, pins, tape measure, unpicker, extra sewing machine needles, hand sewing needles etc.
  • Quilters ruler, rotary cutter and mat if you have them (we’ll bring some also)

Your class has an extra cost of $50 – this cost includes:

  • Old jeans and T-shirts plus other textile waste for projects
  • T-shirt Rag Rug starter
  • 2 balls T-shirt yarn
  • Haberdashery items required for all projects – zips, elastic, machine and hand sewing threads
  • Patterns and instruction sheets for all projects
  • Sewing machines (including heavy duty) plus overlockers

Payment details provided on booking.

Happy Camper Reviews

Cathy Stuart & Jan Williams
Course Tutor

Cathy Stuart & Jan Williams

Cathy can’t remember not being able to sew (however badly it would have been when she was a child!).

She completed TAFE courses in dressmaking, pattern making, millinery, fabric printing and colour and design while working as an occupational therapist, then worked as a full time milliner for 10 years where she became (self professed) Spotlight’s best customer!
Increasingly concerned about over consumption and waste generated by our society she turned her creative passions and skills to upcycling (mostly textiles), decided to avoid new materials as much as possible, and began exploring the potential of things destined for landfill or the textile waste stream that is sent overseas.
In 2015 she led a team in running textile upcycling workshops and founded Upcycle Newcastle, a project of Transition Newcastle. She has coordinated the organisation (a registered charity) ever since. Under the Upcycle Newcastle banner, she has led hundreds of workshops and classes in schools, for local councils and organisations, as well as at their premises in inner Newcastle (Hamilton North).
Jan (Cathy’s assistant) trained at TAFE in dressmaking, pattern making, tailoring and fabric printing, where she met Cathy. She also worked in Cathy’s millinery business.
Together they have run workshops and classes in textile upcycling, developing techniques and projects to use old T-shirts and jeans.