New Life for Old Jeans

Awhile back I saw a denim quilt and thought, “I could make one of those.” I started saving our worn out jeans and cutting out squares when I had some time. These projects always take me longer than I think they will, but this weekend I finished the denim quilt! It is heavy! I think it is going to be more like a picnic blanket than a blanket for snuggling on the couch.

The finished picnic blanket.

I found several great tutorials online and read through them. Then I combined a few of them and made it up as I went along.

Here are the steps I followed to make my picnic blanket:

  • I cut open the inside leg seams of each pair of jeans.
  • I used a rotary cutter and a 6 ½” acrylic quilter’s template to cut out squares on my cutting mat. (Avoid worn or stained areas on the jeans.)
  • I arranged all my squares in rows in a pattern I liked. I alternated rows of 9 and 10 squares so I could stagger the seams and not have to sew through so many layers at the intersections of blocks.
  • I sewed the squares in each row together and then pressed open the seams.
  • I sewed the rows together, staggering the blocks like a bricklayer would. This left fabric hanging on the ends of alternate rows. I pressed open the seams, and then I used my rotary cutter to even off the ends of the rows to create a rectangle. Ta da! Quilt top!
  • I used a piece of cotton fabric to make the backing. I pinned the top to the backing to hold it securely while I tied the top to the backing with embroidery floss at the intersections of some of the squares.
  • I used the self-binding method shown here to finish up the quilt.

Arranging the denim squares.

My blanket ended up being 52″ x 72″. I used two pieces of cotton fabric stitched together to make the backing, so that determined the length of the blanket. I like how the blanket came out, but I think I will use a strip quilt variation like this one next time. There would be less waste and less cutting of squares. I didn’t use a batting between the top and backing because I didn’t think I needed to add any more weight. I used a heavy-duty thread and it worked fine on the denim. My sewing machine sometimes balked at the denim, but I think that is a tension issue and/or a user-error issue. I was glad that the squares were staggered so I didn’t have to sew through so many layers.

I felt bad throwing away all of the denim scraps from cutting up the jeans, so I saved some of the small scraps of denim and I am adding them to the compost pile. I will let you know how that turns out.

This entry was posted in Decluttering, Greening, Recycling, Sewing. Bookmark the permalink.

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