Making a Blue Jean/Denim Quilt: The Easy Way?

Well, I had been saving blue jeans for a few years thinking someday I would make them into something. Then I came across an article in a magazine that showed how to convert blue jean squares into a quilt. Brilliant! Unfortunately I was busy (busier than now, apparently) at the time so I shelved the idea for a few more years. And then we downsized (considerably) and moved and then moved again (and downsized again, considerably) and with yet another move quickly advancing (with probably another considerable downsize), I decided there is just no way I can move this box of random jean squares again. I need to either do something with them, or toss them. I decided to carpe the diem. It's now or never. Just do it. Etc etc. So, here's what I did.

First, I cut the squares into the same size (6 1/2 x 6 1/2), then laid them out in a grid. Then we (myself, the man and the monkeys) stood around this grid dumbfounded...we needed to create some sort of pattern...something random that didn't look random. But all we could do was stare at it scratching our heads like we were looking at some sort of alien crop circle. Let's see, we can move a dark blue one here, a light blue one over here, then a gray one next to that, oh but wait, now we have two light blues together, so then let's do an acid wash here, a pocket one, then we have two pockets together. And so it went. Eventually everyone gave up and I was left to solve the mystery of the crop circle grid pattern on my own.

Once I had a pattern figured out I then stacked them up into neat little piles and completely forgot not only which row each pile was for but whether or not I started with the first one or the last one in the pile. I decided I no longer cared I just needed to start sewing and it would all work out according to God's plan natural selection. I'm all about form following function, so let's just do this already.

Once the squares were sewn into rows, I started sewing the rows together. I should also mention that I wanted a rag effect for this quilt so I sewed with the seams facing out.

Sewing the rows together took almost as much time as it took sewing all the individual squares together. It also became cumbersome with the weight of the quilt getting heavier and heavier (denim is not lightweight, afterall) and with the seams all facing out and getting in the way. This was not an enchanting Disneyworld-esq sewing project. There were no birds singing, no mice holding up the ends of the quilt...I did not cheer or dance around as each row was attached to the next. In fact, I think I might have cursed quite a bit, and considered giving up at least a half dozen times. I may have even considered setting fire to it or hacking it to pieces with scissors. I don't remember. It's all a blur. You see, I've never quilted before, so even though I think this is a very good introductory style project, it's not for the faint of heart. It is, in fact, a commitment of the highest magnitude. But stick with it. There is a light at the end.

Once all the rows were sewn together there was a joyous celebration in the village. There was feasting and drinking and I think even flute playing, and much happiness around the hearth (can you tell we're reading Beowulf?)

But I still needed to sew the backing on.

For the backing I found a chenille blanket for a few dollars at our local thrift store. Actually I found two and pieced/sewed them together since one wasn't big enough. Leaving the edges raw to match the rest of the quilt, I sewed the chenille to the demin top piece.

To keep it all together, I then took some white yarn and a large needle and, going thru both layers, I added ties in the center of each of the demin squares. This keeps the backing from sliding all around and, I think, adds a rustic finish that compliments the frayed edges of the denim (omg, who talks like that?)

And there you have it! My first quilt!

And noone got hurt. Truly a miracle.

I'm inspired now to work on another one.

Just as soon as I restock the liquor cabinet.

Now my gypsy girls will have something to hand down to their gypsy kids. And who knows, maybe they'll be inspired when they're older to save their kids jeans as well. If nothing else, it's at least a nice example of the beauty that is in recycling and repurposing. Though, as an added irony, I did discover you can actually buy this fabric now. I found this exact fabric, with the denim squares, frayed edges and faded coloring at JoAnn's the other day. Oh, I had a good laugh. I nearly hacked it to pieces with scissors, I was so happy. But buying it new isn't the same, right? I mean, these are squares from jeans our family has worn and loved. Our energy is imprinted in them. That has to count for something, right? Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. I've just run across your blog while searching for denim quilts. I think you did a terrific job and yes, your girls will love it even more later as the years go by. I was just looking at a quilt my grandmother had made (so intricate and lovingly worn) and it brought nothing but warm fuzzy feelings of my time with her.

    I've been saving years worth of jeans, like you, with the thought of a quilt someday. Now I think I probably have enough pairs to make about 5 quilts, as I've put it off for a long time. You've made it look easy-ish and I'm ready to give it a go! Thank you for sharing!