The Big Upcycling Challenge

667 TUTOR: Claire Salmon (BA (Hons))

Did you know, it takes 10,000 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans? What's more, the UK alone puts 350,000 tonnes of useable textiles into landfill each year. It's time to make a change. So, join the Big Upcycling Challenge this summer and do something with those unwanted denims and help the planet at the same time. This course includes ten great transformations to give old denims a new lease of life. You will be repurposing jeans using basic straight stitching on a sewing machine. There's no need to worry if you're new to sewing, as tuition will be provided.

Course Notes

The course will take place over five sessions, each consisting of a demonstration of two items followed by your choice of a guided 'make'.

Draught Excluder, Storage Bag, Utility Apron, Decorative Wreath, Waistband Cushion Cover, Bottle bag, Door Stop, Shoulder Bag, Hanging Organiser, Shirt Cushion Cover/Memory Cushion

You will have five items to take home at the end of the course, along with all the new techniques and skills you have learned. If time allows, you will also be able to make further small items, such as gadget cases, with the leftover denim.

This course is all about re-purposing old denims using basic stitching on a sewing machine, so ideally you need to be able to sew a basic straight stitch on a sewing machine. Don't worry if you are new to sewing, as tuition will be provided. The items can also be made by hand rather than machine sewing, but this will take longer, so if you would prefer this option, you may need to do some work outside of the session times. There will be shared sewing machines available, but you are encouraged to bring your own sewing machine if possible. Your machine can be any make or model, but it does need to be in working order and able to do a straight stitch. If your machine is electric, please remember to bring the power cable and foot pedal too. It would help with planning if you could let Claire know if you would like to use one of the shared machines (email address below).

Please bring at least one pair of old jeans, plus a shirt if you would like to make the shirt cushion cover, and any other denims that you are happy to upcycle. These can be any size, style, colour or condition. All other materials that will be used during the sessions, such as denim needles, cushion pads, additional jeans and other denims, fabrics and haberdashery. You will be able to take home the items that you have made at the end of the week. Full written notes will also be provided to support the information covered in the sessions.

Day 1

·Introduction and denim sewing techniques

·Using the legs

·Making: draught excluder or storage bag

Day 2

·Using the top section of the jeans

·Making: shoulder bag or utility apron

Day 3

·More legs

·Making: bottle bag/gift bag or door stop

Day 4

·Using a shirt or the jeans waistband

·Making: memory cushion cover (using a shirt) or cushion cover (using the waistband)

Day 5

·Using the seams and pockets

·Making: decorative wreath or hanging organiser

Please do get in touch if you have any questions:

Course Tutor

Claire Salmon

BA (Hons)

About Claire


Claire has over 25 years' experience in higher education and crafting. In her craft work, Claire specialises in encouraging those who are new to sewing, or would like to refresh existing skills, to build their confidence through a range of structured classes and achievable craft projects. When not teaching, she is busy making bespoke gifts and commissions, and her work has appeared in 'WI Life', 'Crafts Beautiful' and 'Cotswold Life'.

In her higher education career, she has worked for University Business Schools in the UK, Europe and Asia, as Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, as well as working as a Principle External Examiner for the Open University. She has also advised the UK Government on the vocational curriculum for the 14-19 age group.


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Summer School Dates for 2022

All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul

WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul

WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul

WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM