Denim Quest: Projects 11 & 12

I actually finished these two projects a couple of days ago, just waiting for the weather to get nice enough that I could take them outside to do the photographs.

Well, it wasn’t getting any warmer and I needed to air the house out (long story, but a burner was left on unlit and the house filled up with gas) so I figured while it was the same temp inside and out, I’d get the photos taken.

DSCN5241But, as you can see, it was cold and windy and we were trying whatever it took to get those pictures and get back in the house… QUICK!

So, I worked on another ‘log rails’ only in an even larger size. While I was precutting all of the denim, I ended up with quite a few pieces sized 6″ x 24″. I am going to use these in all of the ‘normal’ patterns, like the fence rails and braids. I think it is interesting to go bigger rather than smaller in some of these patterns.

Here is are the fence rails using the large pieces:

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Now, that’s a big quilt… it tops out at 84″ square. That’s going to be a cozy quilt once it is topped stitched and bound. I love the variety of the colors… remember that these were all once worn jeans, so that they have warmth and comfort in every piece!

This next one is kind of a experiment for me.

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I don’t do many quilts that are specifically for me, but this one is a quilt based on a photo of my son’s face.IMG_0806

I took a favorite photograph in Photoshop and reduced it to four shades. Streeter

From there it was enlarged many times (thanks to the services of Office Depot). The photo printed out on four sheets of 24″ x 36″ paper.

I took those and taped them all together.IMG_4430I then carefully cut it into the separate pieces based on color. I used a wash-away adhesive to adhere the pieces to a single piece of denim. Once the top stitching is done (and I expect nothing but perfection from my long arm quilter), then the adhesive can be washed away.

DSCN5246I really liked the way his face is offset in the photo and am contemplating stitching or embroidering his name into the quilt below it. There is a very special place in the house where this is destined to go. I just love it!

I have been working on a few more quilts and I also have some ideas for handbags and carry bags to be made from waistbands. I also have a log cabin style quilt in the works from the waistbands.

Having this spate of cold has sure made it easy to justify staying indoors! And what could be better than making quilts and sewing?!

julie

Denim Quest: Projects 8, 9 & 10

Well, I’m starting to feel like I am making some real progress! The piles in the sewing room, outside the sewing room and in the guest bedroom are starting to diminish and some are even disappearing! There are still projects ahead and of course, the pile of quilts that need the top stitching grows all the time.

Project 8:

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This quilt started out with the medallion – which was really an experiment. I thought the use of harvested fabric that had the removed pockets, but as I look at it completed, the medallion shape sort of gets lost because of it. I might try this again, however, I would make the medallion larger and perhaps use the larger squares as well. This particular quilt is 5″ squares, but I think a larger medallion with 8″ or even 10″ squares might be the trick.

Project 9:

DSCN5236DSCN5237I really like this one and so does The Kid; he has already claimed this one! Like he needs another quilt on his bed!53647418560__736E739E-FDCC-4711-9B54-2C4863C97F50.JPG

This is a larger version of quilts that he is currently using. I think the original strips were 3″ x 9″, but once assembled there was some significant trimming. You can see my ‘signature’ red strip and one in the corner piece (this will have a bright red flannel backing). I didn’t quite have enough border fabric, so I improvised on the two sides with a tiny patched strip. I really like this. Happy accidents!

Project 10:

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This quilt is still in the “wait & see” category. I actually saw this block originally as one of many, in fact, the star was actually less than 10″. I took the pattern and blew it up really large and then used strips of denim to create the arms.

After sewing the strips together to make the star, I removed the paper backing, but now I am thinking I should have left it until it could be top stitched. I think this might be a real headache to do without getting the quilt all distorted.

I thought about adding a border, but just with the star alone is already 75″ square! I think it might work better this way, without a border. We’ll see, I guess.

We took the quilts outside to the front to photograph them. It was a bitter 10 degrees while we were doing this and the wind was blowing pretty well. That’s why The Kid is in the photos trying to keep them still enough to take the photos. In the short time it took to hang and take the photos, we both had numb fingers and faces. I don’t know if you live in a colder part of the states (of the world?) but our memories of the last few winters were pretty warm and almost coat-less. In fact, it was in the mid-fifties until Christmas and then a real cold front moved across the nation. At least we only got minimal snow (*fingers crossed). These are the days when I miss California the most!!

Well, a few hours and we’ll be into 2018. Wow. Time sure flies!

Happy New Years

Happy New Years folks!

julie

Denim Quest: Projects 6 & 7

Okay, two more done. Ish. Done-ish. Oh, you get it.

And should I mention that I have not been sleeping real well. So slinging denim and hunched over the sewing machine for hours… ah, I digress. In actuality, if I could figure out a way, I would make quilts for a living.

So, on to the projects du jour.

The first one I put together awhile back. Just been sitting on a shelf waiting for borders. And with the recent purchase of 16 million yards of denim, well, now I have no excuse.

Project 6:

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I really like this one with the stars. It feels like a real quilt, rather than just patchwork of old pieces of jeans. Which is so like many quilts, so, I should stop while I am ahead.

Project 7

This one is made of a more unusual material harvested from the old jeans: inside seams! (Which I just found out are referred to as “fell flat seams” like this:

Jean SeamsThe seams from the back and crotch go into this as well, when they represent a significant length. Most of the time, to get really long unbroken seams I will leave in the ‘intersections’ of the seams, but in most cases I will try to remove them when they’re too bulky. Unless you have a heavy duty sewing machine, you’re going to lost your cool sooner or later as these “knots” (as I call ’em) will break your thread, break your needle and in the worst conditions, break your machine!

Okay, back to the quilt:

IMG_4477There she is! It is about 90″ long and about 70″ wide. I argued with myself back and forth on adding a border, but in the end, I think it will go without. I think just about any borders would pale in comparison and take the emphasis of the quilt away from its uniqueness. The backing is a deep indigo blue flannel that is just so soft. Once it is top-stitched (I am thinking blue jean “yellow orange” stitching) to help keep this beast together.

A few more photos:

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Only about four or so more quilt tops that need attention. If I can continue in this manner, should be no problem!

julie

Denim Quest: Project 5

Just because I have “finished” five projects, doesn’t mean it was start to finish. Often – as many of you – like to have multiple projects going. With this obscene amount of denim, I knew that there would be projects that I would start almost simultaneously. As I wrote in my last post, there are definitely days (actually most days) when I just want to sew and thus have many projects in “almost done” status.

Today’s project is made entirely out of blue (and some black, white, grey and even some tan) jeans’ waistbands. They first had their belt loops removed and then the button tack and their button holes. Still trying to figure out if there is anything I can do with these ends…

So, for today’s reveal:

IMG_4473It wasn’t planned, but they finished all about the same size and was relatively easy to cut them to 24″ square.IMG_4475At first, it was relatively easy to sew together. First in three rows and then the long strips together… that was when it got slightly more difficult and required help.IMG_4474With The Kid’s help maneuvering the large, heavy strips, I finally got it assembled. Creating the back – a solid deep blue flannel – was a breeze.

The next step is that the both of us are going to sit on the coach and trim threads!!

Let me know if you have questions about any aspect of the denim quilt series. I love comments and questions!

julie

Denim Quest: Projects 3 & 4

Wow, am I glad that it is cold and snowy out – otherwise I would be slightly upset about spending so much time in front of my sewing machine.

So, I have been determined (and so far, so good) on getting all the denim projects done. Today, I readied two more for my wonderful, tolerant and happy long arm quilter – hi Becky! If you’re looking for a longarm quilter check out Collis Country Quilting. If you’re interested in contacting Becky, you can reach here on her Facebook page: Collis Country Quilting. She can also be reached via email at: rebecca_collis@yahoo.com.

I’ve had a number of partial quilt tops created, but wanted to add sashing to them and prep the backing fabric. There are many, many, MANY days that I love to just go up to my sewing room, load a few good movies and just sew, sew, sew! The tops have been piling up, along with all of the flannel I intended to use as backings. So, now is the time to get things done!

Here is the first quilt that was treated with 6″ borders.

braided-2.jpegYeah, that’s me hiding from the camera in the upper corner 🙂

This is one of my favorite patterns, I call it “braids”, made using 2″ x 6″ pieces. I have done several of these in denim and are always quickly claimed. My son has two of them!

The borders were initially supposed to have a woven corner from the inside seams of jeans. I sat for a bunch of evenings weaving them using fabric glue. They are very cool looking but…

…they are also very bulky and in trying to add it as the corner on the border, I ended up breaking three needles!

Realized that I had made them 8″ instead of 6″, I cut each one down, only to end up not using them. And now I have a huge pile of them and not sure what to do with ’em! Ideas?

That was enough. I switched to leftover pieces from the quilts that I made using the pant leg hems.Braided 1I started using just the tiniest bits of red in the denim quilts as a sort of signature. Having this red piece (and one more in a corner) I opted to use the bright red flannel for the backing fabric. It is STUNNING.

Braided 3The next quilt was my little hexie quilt experiment. I am very happy with how it turned out, I simply appliqued the hexies onto four equal pieces of white denim. It worked better than I could have hoped!

HexiesIt came together so well you can’t even see the seams! Added a border of 6″ squares alternating with 2″ x 6″ strips and prepared the backing fabric, more of the bright red flannel – to match the red hex – and it, too, is ready to be top quilted.

Tomorrow, I am hoping to continue the push and get at least two more ready to be quilted. It has gotten very cold around here, a whopping 10 degrees (unusual considering a week ago it was in the sixties) and it sure isn’t enticing me to leave the house!!

julie

Denim Quest: Second Project

Working steadily yesterday evening and this morning, I managed to stitch together the next project using the 4″ x 6″ pre-cut rectangles. 4x6-4.jpegThe original project was less ambitious but once I had it laid out on my cutting table, it appeared too small. So it was widened -65″ – and lengthened – 85″.

4x6 1The rectangles are laid out in rows that are end to end and alternative rows that are side by side. I thought that this might make for a more interesting and more pleasing layout.

I do like it, but it is definitely not my favorite. I also added a few rectangles that were pieced. In the patchwork of color and stages of wear and fading, the pieced rectangles are difficult to identify.

4x6 2A closeup (before ironing) of the alternating placement of the rectangles:

4x6 3And I underestimated the number of those pieced pieces and now I have about 25 left… to small to make a quilt, but too many to just throw away. Sigh. Another project I guess!

A few months ago while Joann’s was pushing fabric with an unprecedented sales price, I stocked up on flannel for the backs of all of these denim quilts. This particular quilt included some deep green denim, so I want to use the black/green checkered flannel for its backing. 4x6 5My experience with making denim quilts is that they are quite warm without the inclusion of batting. And they are quite heavy without the added weight. Now I just have to lay  my hands on funding for the top stitching!! (I haven’t forgotten you Becky!)

Next up, I think I am going to add sashing and corners to the four or five (almost) completed quilt tops. For this, I also stocked up on denim when it was on sale (again at one of my favorite stores, Joann’s) from $19 to $6 per yard prices. I have prepared some interesting corners for at least a few of the quilts, which I will show you in more detail when I use them.

4x6 6You may have noted that I have spilled out of the sewing room into the hall. In addition to the denim (still on bolts!) I also have some remaining waistbands that are intended for some projects in the way of handbags and backpack designs that I want to try. Waste not, want not!

That’s about it for tonight. I am going to try to complete as many of the denim projects as I can as I think it may be time to return to my full time occupation. I have sure enjoyed these past months though!

julie

 

Denim Quest: First Project Complete (?)

So, I have been doing a lot of cutting of denim. And I have finally finished the first hurdle, cutting all the harvested denim from somewhere between 200 and 250 pair of jeans. And it is A LOT of denim.

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The tall stack of offset squares? Those are 8″ and that tower is more than 400 pieces! The other tall stack is 6″ squares and then of course there are 10″, 4″x 6″, 3″x9″ and of course my favorite is the 2″ x 6″ – which I like to do the braided quilts.

While I was doing all this cutting, I was also sewing, using the strange remainders once the defined sizes were cut. I love to make scrap quilts with them. Mostly I was doing 10″ squares, but also have been working on 4″ x 6″. I put all of the fabric to use though, using what is left after doing 4″ x 6″ squares by dumping them into the floor of the attic space behind my son’s room. Nothing like denim to work as insulation.

IMG_4443Nothing can make more threads and dust like denim though. There is blue dust all over the house!

I save everything from the jeans that I harvest: hems, pockets, seams, waistbands, belt loops and of course the fabric. The only thing I don’t use are the zippers… and I even keep the little zipper tab to keep track of just how many jeans I take apart!

So, the first project that I actually completed sewing is bottom hems. While it might make sense for you to realize, working with denim and jeans’ parts, things get heavy quick! Oh, and the other thing is that sewing denim is very hard on sewing machines and needles!

This is the result of stitching together hems:

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This is approximately 80″ x 60″. Even though this is the last project I started, it was the first to really be completed. And I don’t know if I am going to leave it like this or try to add a backing and top stitching. As it is, it is amazingly heavy and because it does contain “knots” – that’s what I call the cross section of a seam and bottom hem (or waist bands or side seams that cross another seam) – that are very hard on needles and machines.

This is the next current project… this is made of scraps sewn onto 10″ muslin squares.

IMG_0146.JPGSo, this is 10 x 10 squares that measure 10″. I’ve started the sashing between, so far I have ten strips of 10, so the next step is to create the sashing between the long strips. I could not do this without my son’s help. These are very heavy quilts! Since they were assembled onto muslin, it may not require a backing and it might be too big for long arm quilting machine, so the muslin backing may be enough.

You can see the roll of belt loops at the bottom of that photo. I was thinking that might make a unique sashing in a less complex denim quilt. Who knows!?

One thing I have learned that I want to pass along to anyone who might want to work with harvested denim… DO NOT USE STRETCHY DENIM! I cannot emphasize enough how this can screw up a denim quilt. You can see in the photo below where the stretch makes the quilt bulge or where I had to cut sections to get it to lay flat.

Stretch FixesI wish I could go back and take ALL the stretchy denim out, but it would be way too much work at this point. I won’t make that mistake going forward!

julie

A REALLY Big Spool of Thread

As regular readers, you know that I often go “thrifting” with my son. Sometimes I find the best stuff, sometimes its raw materials and sometimes it is just fun stuff.

On one of my more recent outings, I found something that I knew I had to have yet would never use. It was one of those ‘just gotta have it’ objects and it will look great when I find a place in my already-overstuffed-sewing room.

Giant SpoolCan you imagine ever using up a spool of thread that large? Ha! I am just going to hang on to it and one day, it will be part of the best estate sale ever!

julie

The Denim Quest Continues…

I cut and I cut, then I sew and sew and yet, it seems like I am never making progress!

IMG_4435IMG_4434I have plans to make at least two dozen quilts in various configurations plus my fallback style, the crazy quilt.

So, not much new to report other than the constant denim. I have way too many projects started and it takes some kind of effort not to start more!

Send me your good thoughts? I am going to need ’em!

julie

The Quest to Use All of the Denim Continues…

So, I’ve been almost manic about getting through the dozens and dozens of jeans that I have disassembled. I’d say about a third of the fabric itself has been measured and cut into different sizes for futures quilts. I’ve completed about six quilt tops, or rather, almost finished the quilt tops… I’ve left with adding borders to four of them. Two are ready to go to the quilter, well that is once I’ve cut and assembled the backs.

I did actually get two bolts of red flaneel with black mottles (about 20 yards) at half price from my most favorite store in the whole world… Joann’s. If I figured correctly, that should be just about enough for the six that are almost ready for the quilter.

The one I spent the most amount of time on for the past couple of days is this one:IMG_4418-1It may be hard to discern, but those are made by sewing together the hems from all of the jeans that I took apart.

So far, I have started work on quilts that use the hems, the inside seams from the pant legs, the waist bands and the belt loops. Of course there is the fabric, which is the main motivator, but using the other unusual pieces is turning out some very interesting quilts.

Somewhere in the process, I have started adding a small snippet of red denim, as sort of a personal trademark to these quilts. With all of the varying colors of blue along with the whites, blacks and greys, the red really makes a pop. So along with the red flannel backs, these quilts will be great for guys and anyone who really loves a comfy pair of blue jeans!

I have one very large quilt made from the seams. It is absolutely amazing to look at. I had quite a bit of seams remaining and started putting together another quilt, but could tell at the beginning that there wouldn’t be enough for another large quilt. So, I had an idea – two, ideas actually – and went to work.

First. I was looking for something to use for the corners of the quilts awaiting borders. In quilts past, I used pockets for the corners, but that sort of seems overdone in the denim quilting world. And then I had a brainstorm.

I would weave the shorter pieces together, creating a 6″ x 6″ square that would go into each corner of the border. So for three nights, I would sit and weave.

IMG_4399First, I took and sorted the longer pieces (which would be the length) from the shorter pieces which would be the width. Using a piece of wood (it was actually the back of an award I was given in a previous life) and using the large binder clips, lay the seams out.IMG_4400Then I would use ‘Aleene’s Original No Sew Fabric Glue’ to tack first width-wise seam.

IMG_4420I didn’t glue every single connection, but rather tried to keep the glue use to the outside seams. And then the last width seam was tacked.IMG_4401It isn’t hard, but it is time consuming. I could usually finish about four a night, while watching movies. I would simply remove the finished piece from the board, add a couple more of the binder clips and then leave overnight to dry on the kitchen island.

So, now all that is left is to purchase the denim for the borders, add the corners and it will be ready to take to the quilter’s.

Once I finish this quilt I am currently working on, I will have exhausted the majority of the materials that I harvested from the jeans. The last thing – well other than the actual denim fabric itself – are the back pockets. I think I have somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred and fifty pairs of pockets! Just haven’t stumbled over the right use for those just yet. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!

You know, I thought that by the time I got to this point, I’d be sick to death of dealing with all of this denim. But I find that I am not and love to work with this medium. I still want to try my hand at making some handbags and back packs. I have a lot of ideas saved off onto my Pinterest boards. I am looking forward to those as well!

Thanks for dropping by!

julie

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