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

Large, Long, Medium, Small and Too Small: Let’s Talk About Scraps!

Seems some days I just cannot get inspired. Doesn’t it happen to everyone? I walk around the house and look at projects planned, started and unfinished. I make lists of work that needs to be done. I review and re-order the lists and I watch CraigsList and pick up more potential projects. I clean, re-arrange and organize. I even cleaned and organized the garage; vacuumed the carpets.

Whenever I see carpets for free on CraigsList, I try to pick ’em up. Most of the time the rugs are dirty or smell or just plain ol’ ugly. Once in a great while you get a nice one. Hasn’t happened in a long while, but you can get lucky. Anyway, I like to pick up carpets when they’re available, ’cause I like to have them on the floor in the garage. Serves a couple of purposes… 1) makes it more comfortable to stand on, 2) helps reduce the noise and 3) I can walk around in the garage without my shoes on (either barefoot or stocking-footed) – well, as long as it is kept relatively clean. I have the great shop vac that can suck the color right out of the carpets and I usually try to do it on a regular basis.

IMG_7258Okay, back to the matter at hand. Trying to get inspired. I follow several other blogs, blogs of all different crafts and ideas. Of course I do follow a couple of different quilters and quilt makers. One is currently doing a “scrap-a-long” which got me thinking about my scraps. One other website has talked about what is the smallest scrap that one would keep and use. I recently did a bunch of cutting for another quilt (see above pic) and I got a lot of new scraps. Okay, I’ll admit that maybe I cut a little so that I was able to get a decent stash of scraps. I had pretty much used up all my other scraps and the barrel was almost empty.

So, sometimes when I can’t seem to get into a groove or lack the proper inspiration, I will sew scraps. I always have 8″ and 6″ squares of muslin sitting for just such times. I set up and I can sew scraps together without ever really having to think. I watch old movies and sew to my heart’s content.

So, yesterday, I took all (4) the plastic bins and hit the sofa. I dumped everything onto the ottoman and set the four plastic boxes around me. It seemed like a never-ending supply of scraps. I finally came up with the categories: large, long, medium, small and too small. Everything that was too small went into the trash. Two movies later, I was pretty much done.

So, this morning, still in the uninspired and goal-less, I headed to my sewing room and snuggled into my position behind the sewing machine. In this situation, I’m not going to try to use the small pieces, rather, I have that set aside for a special project that I want to try.

So, four hours/2 movies later, here is what I have:

photo 1And here is my setup:

This is but a step in a direction. Now I have to cut apart all of those pieces in the chain and then get ready to do a second round of chain piecing. I am trying to be random, allowing the pieces to be put together as I pull them out of the bins, but occasionally I will substitute another color if it is too similar in color.

IMG_6475Here are the 8″ squares waiting to be trimmed, lying on the cutting table. I have a stash of these squares too numerous to be counted, but I am conservatively guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of 200. I won’t start sewing these squares together any time soon, as I already have about 150 quilt tops waiting to be quilted. Technically, I guess the scrap bin will never be “finished”, but I am still on the kick to not start something new until everything started is completed. It can be difficult at times.

julie

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