Turn Denim Pockets into Fabric Art Gift Bags

If you follow this blog, then you know I have an abundance of denim pockets culled from my husband’s jeans, and I’m always looking for fabric art projects to make with them. One of my favorite denim recycling projects was this Patched Pocket Panel that combines art with storage.

Another way to use denim pockets creatively is to turn them into gift bags. You can make them as simple or as elaborate as you like. Just decorate the front, stitch on a fabric backing to make the pocket, and attach (or sew in) a handle. This is a fun project to do with kids. Younger children can paint or stamp designs on the pockets. Older ones can stitch, embroidery, fuse, or even applique their decorations and motifs.

My colleague Barbara Delaney fell in love with this project, created by Melony Bradley, when it first came out in Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts 2011. Melony created her pockets for her holiday place settings, but as you can see from Barb’s examples, you can use them in many ways, for many occasions.

Barb described her adventures in pocket art in a post last year about starting holiday projects early.

Melony Bradley’s snowmen pockets  in Gifts inspired my candycane pocket. Though I love snowmen, I decided on a candycane when I came across some candycane fabric in my stash.I painted the candycane with textile paints, placed a sprig of holly below, and then added a red bow and a bell.

I liked the fabric so much, I used it for the pocket backing.

With Thanksgiving days away, I wanted a little something for my sister, so I created the pumpkin pocket.I cut my pumpkin shapes out of some complementary fabrics and, using two-sided fusible, appliqued the pumpkin and leaves to the pocket. I then added some hand embroidery for the tendrils and  hand wrote “Thank You!”

These pockets were rather large, so I was able to stash two seasonal votives and some Godiva chocolates in the pocket. Presented with a bottle of wine, it made a nice little gift.

Barb says, “While I was making these holiday pockets, I realized they can really be designed for just about any occasion and, dependng on the size of the pocket, can hold a variety of goodies. Smaller pockets would be perfect for gift cards (How cute would these be in miniature?). A larger pocket would accomodate a small box with earrings or another small token: Matchbox cars, makeup, nail polish, candy, etc.”

If you backed these pockets with felt, you wouldn’t even need to press and turn the fabric edges (I’m always looking for shortcuts.) You could make them with Halloween motifs and fill with candy and trinkets for special children or give them a Hanukkah theme and fill with gelt. If you have enough pockets (and time), make 24, clip them to a ribbon with clothespins, and you have an advent calendar.

I love fabric art crafts like these that are so easy and versatile. You can find more in Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts 2011, available in print or instant download.

P.S. What do you do with denim pockets? Share your ideas below.


Blog, Easy Gifts to Make, Fabric Art, Mixed-Media Techniques


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