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

Quilts, Denim and Thrifting… Oh, and I Finished My Cross Stitch

I’ve been working on a ton of projects but current resources are making things hard to finish anything. And when I say “resources” I am not talking about time, imagination or inspiration and generally speaking also not about fabric, thread or sewing machines.

The group of quilts that I’ve been working is based on using denim fabric harvested from old jeans. Getting my hands on really, really cheap jeans isn’t an issue. The problem I am having is that the borders I want to add to these quilts in progress I want to be seamless. And that will require the purchase of new denim fabric. And, of course, I want to use is flannel and I am finding that the necessary amount of this fabric will be quite large. I tend to find myself in this quandary quite often now that I am approaching nearly a year of unemployment. 😦

Not so long ago, I saw a comment posted on a beautiful – simple yet very functional – quilt made from old blue jeans. The comment, which I cannot seem to locate now, said something to the effect that quilts made from old jeans look like “old jeans” and therefore implied that the quilt looked ‘old and worn’. I replied saying that’s what makes these quilts so extraordinary, that they feel as great as your favorite jeans and thereby by extension, are something to be used and to feel comforted by. These words kicked off a goal of using harvested denim to make both beautiful and functional quilts. To show that your blue jeans and flannel shirts aren’t about dressing up, but about feeling good; and isn’t that what we all love about our favorite quilts?

So, let me start with sharing my method for acquiring blue jeans. It was a absolute accident that I stumbled upon this idea. If you’ve been reading or following my blog, you’ll know that I am a huge lover of thrift shops and going with my son. We just happened upon the “Last Chance” racks of clothing at Red Racks. Red Racks, I believe, are local to the Missouri, from Kansas City on the west all the way to St. Louis on the east. With a little luck, you may find your solution in your area.Fancy Line 1

Red Racks is a major source of funds for DAV. The proceeds from the sales of donated goods help our country’s Disabled American Veterans, providing assistance for transportation, medical needs, counseling, and much more. Find out more at DAV.org.

Fancy Line 1

So, Red Racks have what they call “last chance” and all items on these racks are priced at a dollar. Sometimes, they have some wonderful items (a great place to get kid’s clothes!) and often many pairs of jeans. These range from baby jeans all the way to guy’s jeans. Even at this price, you can’t beat it.

But… on Sundays the last chance has one really last chance and everything is marked to twenty five cents! Now here is a unbelievable price! And as you might suspect, items go quickly. For some reason, The Kid and I just happened to be there early and literally took every piece of denim we could find. And even at this, our giant haul was only $13!

Now, here is one thing that I discovered with working with denim. Be extremely cautious using denim with stretch. One project I am working on is using the jeans seams. However, when you add in seams with stretch, the piece becomes … curvy. Not a result that I wanted. And if not used correctly, the stretch denim can cause havoc in your quilt. I am not saying that you can’t use it, just be careful when you do. I, personally, have opted to reduce my use, if not all out stopping.

IMG_4370So, this is one of my first hauls. Either someone was watching or had the same idea as me, but it never was more than this. But this is more than enough. I was also working on collecting colored denim as an accent for these quilts, but true colored denim is hard to come by. Or maybe I should say heavy denim or colored denim without stretch.

IMG_4369In this pile, really only the top red, the blacks and browns and the bottom turquoise print are what I would call “real” denim. The others are lightweight and/or have stretch and will not use them in quilts. They may work great for making doll clothes though.

So, I’ve been able to piece together six denim quilts, four that need borders and all need flannel backings before I can ship these off to my top quilter. For those who may have missed it, I have a wonderful friend Becky, who does my longarm service, 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. Just let her know that I sent you!)

Here is a quilt that I stumbled onto via Pinterest. It is called “Cathedral windows” and was quite quick to put together.DSCN5208And the back:DSCN5209This is quite wonderful since it didn’t actually require top quilting… it is a ‘quilt as you go’. I love the varying shades of denim… this is one of those quilts I am working on in the concept to show just how beautiful old and faded jeans can be turned into equally beautiful quilts.DSCN5210And here, a shot of the front. Some of the squares turned out a little funky, I think I wasn’t paying quite enough attention to the flaps as I worked. I think once its gone through the washing machine once or twice.DSCN5211I’ve actually starting working on another of these quilts, starting with 10″ circles which should fold down to about 7″. Initially, I was going to use the harvested colored denim, but after assembling a few squares have determined that it is too dull. So, more investigation as to other possibilities.DSCN5212I actually did a smaller quilt with some leftover squares and ran it through the washer. This will give you an idea of how it will look:IMG_4388I did finish the binding for one more that Becky top quilted for me (there are still a ton more to finish binding!):

DSCN5214The quilt didn’t turn out quite like I hoped. The patterns of the fabrics mask the layout and you can’t quite see it for the colors.DSCN5215Oh, well, sometimes you hit a homer and sometimes it is just good for keeping the fans in the bleachers warm.DSCN5216Pretty purple backing with a nice meandering pattern.

I also finished my cross stitch of my favorite Pyrex pattern: Friendship Birds.IMG_4391I’m not thrilled with it in the hoop, can’t seem to get it taut. I am going to look into other options. Stay tuned!

Okay, that’s it for now! Thanks for dropping by!

julie

For The Love of Pyrex – My Friendship Pattern

Sometimes it is so amazing how quickly time goes by. I always thought that time was like a bell curve, when you were young, time seemed to go so slowly and then speed up as you entered your twenties and then sped up until sometime in your late forties or so and then it would start slowing down.

Even though I am not working, each day seems to alternatively just go by in a blink of an eye and then sometimes, the days can just drag on and on.

Anyway, this last couple of weeks have seemed to just flash by. I have always tried to write consistently… rather than have the blog just sort of fade away. When I feel like I have nothing left to share or learn, I will just say so, say goodbye to my readers and stop. I am not ready to do that yet.

So, although I haven’t written recently, it isn’t for lack of projects! Every so often, I have to stop myself and focus on a project until it is done. I get one started and then I have my attention diverted and get started on something else, and before you know it I have eight things going and nothing getting done!

On top of that, The Kid and I went out to pick up free Tiger Lilly plants for replanting in the back yard and while trying to load them, I tripped and fell. I may have cracked a rib, at the very least I bruised something, making it tough to really do much at all. Every move hurts and it really puts a damper on most of my projects.

There is one that is doable, and it started a little while back. When I dug out all my Pyrex and got a little more involved with it again. I want to take the doors off the cabinet above the stove and display the Pyrex I collect for me, the pattern is called Friendship or Friendship Birds. Its mostly red with a heavy sprinkling of this light orange.

il_570xN.85348169

(This isn’t mine but I want to add this to my collection!)

The remainder of the Pyrex was sold! And I got almost as much as I was asking… a nice little amount. This is the cabinet I am thinking about turning into a showcase:

I think I could just take off the doors and rearrange the shelves, but I work because it sits above the microwave vent and I worry that it might get greasy (the doors do!). Maybe I could place a framed piece of plexiglass or something over it. I am still thinking on this idea.

But the other idea it sparked was another cross stitch. Using my favorite Pyrex pattern, I drew out the pattern. I am going to “frame” it in a embroidery hoop, I’ve already painted it red. Turns out that cross stitching I can do that doesn’t aggravate my cracked rib.

IMG_4366So, between the stitching, harvesting denim from old jeans and sewing denim quilt squares, I have been keeping busy. I will let you in on my secret of getting old denim from jeans for practically nothing soon. In addition to the mostly blue but some black and white, I have found some really great colors – and a leopard print! – which I am going to make a really colorful denim quilt down the road. I’ve also added much to my denim stash: side and bottom seams, belt loops and pockets! Like I said, so much stuff started… getting nothing done!

Oh yeah, and in between all this, I am still job hunting. Although it may not seem like it, I still love the work I do in computers. There is a career that is never boring and always changing. It has done well for me.

Come back soon for updates!

julie

A Few More Finished Quilts

I’ve been keeping busy but mostly doing what I said I wouldn’t do and that was to start any new projects until I finished a few that were almost done. :-/

I have finished three more quilts however. If you’re new to my blog, you should know that I love to make quilts, but am not quite so in love with the process of finishing them. So I send my quilts off to a wonderful new friend, Becky, who is quite talented in doing the top stitching. She has a longarm service called 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. Just let her know that I sent you!

She did some incredible work on a quilt that was so amazing! I am in awe at the work on this quilt:

DSCN5197IMG_4333IMG_4332IMG_4331IMG_4330IMG_4329Five different quilting styles were used to complete this quilt. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the way she quilted this. Her attention to details is off the charts!DSCN5199DSCN5198My helper in trying to stay hidden when its windy and he doesn’t want to be in the pictures:DSCN5200The next couple of quilts are ideas that I get while looking at the already cut stash of fabrics. I’ve been trying to use up as much as I can.

DSCN5196DSCN5195DSCN5194DSCN5193And the final quilt for this post…

DSCN5190DSCN5189DSCN5188I used a blue background with white dots, which is the same as the border. A nice little finish. I did, however, not have enough for the backing, so there is an inset of red with white dots. Sometimes you gotta make do!

DSCN5191

Also, this week, The Kid and I were on a Studio Ghibli kick and watched four or five movies. The one I like is “Howl’s Moving Castle” which boasts a fire who is voiced by Billy Crystal -“Calcipher”. So as sort of a salute (and for something to do with my hands) I made this little bean-guy:

IMG_4328Took apart another forty pairs of jeans. We stumbled onto the best deal for salvaging denim from old jeans. Our local Red Racks (which is a thrift store that supports veterans’ needs) has what is called Last Chance, which is where clothing ends up that doesn’t sell. And on Sundays, it goes to a whopping twenty-five cents! So, I go through and grab all the best jeans – generally speaking those that have pockets and side seams for additional quilting. Voilá! I have something for my hands to do and it provides a lot of fabric for jeans quilts.

So, a couple more projects accomplished and this post done. Whew!

julie

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