- old pair of jeans
- sewing machine
- heavy duty blue jean thread
- straight pins
- eyelets and setting tool
- keyring and clip
- Fig 1: Cut along the double- stitched inseam
- Fig 2: Cut a 7" x 10.5" rectangle of fabric
- Fig 3: Outline the pocket template
- Fig 4: Cut out along the lines
- Fig 5: The pocket piece
- Fig 6: Pin down long edge and sew in place
- Fig 7: Attach pocket to front with a pin
- Fig 8: Sew 1/4" from edge of pocket
- Fig 9: Go around sides and bottom twice
- Fig 10: Double stitching makes it look authentic
- Fig 11: Use a pin to fray edges
- Fig 12: The finished pocket is so cute!
- Fig 13: Fold in half and sew along side
- Fig 14: With seam in middle, sew along final edge
- Fig 15: Open pouch up with hand
- Fig 16: Pin corners 1 1/2" from point
- Fig 17: Sew where you pinned
- Fig 18: Sewn corners
- Fig 19: Flip pouch inside out and see nice bottom
- Fig 20: What a cute little pouch!
- Fig 21: Punch a 1/8" hole near top edge
- Fig 22: Attach an eyelet similar to these
- Fig 23: Attach a key chain ring and clip
- Fig 24: The finished holder
- Fig 25: The water bottle holder in use
It’s the peak of summer and the heat and humidity make me want to have a bottle of water with me just about anywhere I go. It’s not always convenient to carry a bottle, though, so I decided I needed to make some sort of holder so that I could attach the water to me to make it hands-free when I’m out and about.
I was fiddling through my fabric stash for inspiration and settled upon an old pair of jeans. My last project with old jeans (“Recycle old jeans into a fun quilt“) went so well that I knew I had the perfect material for a cute, easy, and inexpensive water bottle holder.
My water bottle holder design even has a cute little pocket on it that’s fantastic for holding little packets of drink mix (Jo never goes anywhere without her Crystal Light packets!). It’s really easy to make, too, and a great project for a beginner sewer.
The first thing to do is go dig in your closet and find some old jeans that need a new life. We’re going to be using the legs of the jeans, so before you start cutting, check the inseam to make sure you’ve got a double-stitched seam (not all jeans have this) down the leg. Cut the leg off the jeans and then cut as close as you can along that seam, on the folded side (Fig 1). You now have a large flat piece of fabric to work with.
Cut a 7″ x 10.5″ rectangle out of the denim, being sure to avoid the seams (Fig 2). For straight cuts like this, I love to use a rotary fabric cutter, a metal ruler, and a self-healing mat (If you don’t have any of these things yet, a 3-piece beginner’s quilting kit is a great way to get started.)
Now make a little template for your pocket. Print out our free pattern template and cut out the shape. If you want a sturdier template, you can trace the pattern onto cardboard and then cut it out.
Go back to your denim and find the double-stitched seam that we cut against earlier. This seam will end up the top edge of your pocket. Put the denim face down and position the template with the top aligned with the seam edge. Use a pen to trace around the template (Fig 3 and 4) and cut it out, giving you a cute little handmade pocket shape (Fig 5).
Let me talk a bit about the thread you should be using for this project. I have a perfectly ordinary sewing machine that can handle perfectly ordinary fabrics, but when it comes to sewing several layers of thick denim, my machine is strained and I find that my thread breaks repeatedly as I sew. So before I started this project, I talked to the experts at my local fabric store and they gave me a perfect solution. It turns out they make special thread just for sewing blue jeans! Not only is this thread the strongest thread I’ve ever seen (I was unable to break it with my hands), but it matches perfectly with the top-stitching on the old jeans I’m working with, which makes it look that much better. I strongly recommend you pick up some of this stuff if you’re working with denim.
Fold the long side of your rectangle down 1/2″ and pin in place (Fig 6). Sew it down, giving you a finished top edge.
Flip the fabric face up and position your pocket about 1″ from the top edge, and centered left to right. Pin in place (Fig 7).
Use your sewing machine, sew along the sides and bottom of the pocket, about 1/4″ from the edge (Fig 8). Start at one top corner and move around to the other top corner, then come back around and put a second row of stitching about 1/4″ inside the first one (Fig 9).
This double row of stitching will make your pocket look authentic and will also make the edges more secure (Fig 10).
Now take a straight pin and use it to unravel the edges of the pocket, making a cool frayed edge (Fig 11). The frayed edges are my favorite part of this whole project, I think (Fig 12).
Fold the fabric in half cross-wise (Fig 13), with the wrong side out, and pin in place. Sew along the side where the two ends meet, resulting in a tube.
Now adjust your tube of fabric so that your new seam is running down the middle of the top layer, instead of along the side (Fig 14). Pin the unfinished edges together and sew in place.
You’ve got a giant pocket now, but the bottom isn’t very round, and it won’t look right if we stick a water bottle in it now. To fix this, we’re going to sew the corners a bit. Start by sticking your hand inside the pouch and opening it up (Fig 15). Grab the two corners that stick out of the bottom and flatten them into two triangles. Put a pin about 1.5″ from each point (Fig 16). Sew where you’ve pinned (Fig 17), resulting in a squared-off bottom (Fig 18).
Flip the pouch inside out and note the nice square bottom (Fig 19) that you have now that you sewed those corners. What a cute little pouch (Fig 20) you’ve got now!
As cute as the pouch is, it’s no good unless it’s got some way to attach it to yourself so you don’t have to carry it. We’re going to attach a clip to it, but first we need to add an eyelet for strength.
Start by punching a 1/8″ hole in the pouch, near the top edge, about 1″ from the back seam. You can use any sort of punching device you have, and I used one that came with an old grommet kit I had. Don’t try to poke or cut a hole in the denim — you’ll end up with a frayed hole or it’ll be too big or too small. It’s easier to just use a metal punch and bang it with a hammer, which leaves a nice clean hole (Fig 21).
With the hole punched, it’s time to add an eyelet. I used 5/32″ two-piece fashion eyelets (Fig 22). I used the little tool that came with them and followed the instructions.
The last step is to attach a clip. I used a cute little plastic key chain clip but I found that the key ring was a bit weak for a heavy bottle of water, so I replaced it with a stronger split-ring key chain I had around the house (Fig 23). I made some more holders later using caribiner key chains, which were super cute.
The finished product
I put a bottle of water into my holder and popped a drink packet into the little pocket (Fig 24) and I was ready to go. Now I can attach the holder to my belt loop (Fig 25) whenever I go out and I have hands-free refreshment.
But wait, there’s more!
Want to get even fancier with your water bottle holder? I got lots of feedback from friends and readers like you on this design, and as a result have revisited it a bit. Check out my post titled “Improvements on our water bottle holder made from old jeans” for instructions on the how to make the following improvements:
- Line it with a coordinating fabric
- Add a shoulder strap instead of a clip