Thinking Big… Maybe Too Big?

I have a bad habit of always going big when I take on a project. My first quilt project was to contain 2,000 different fabrics in a charm quilt to celebrate the new millennium. (That one isn’t done, BTW). The first time I wanted to really try a cross stitch project, the canvas was two feet by three feet (that’s big for cross stitch). That one too, isn’t done. My first (faux) stained glass project was about six foot by three foot… that one did get finished. The American Girl doll house I built was 48 square feet and stood over seven feet. Also done (and sold)! Even if the projects are quite so big, I tend to go a little overboard on the project materials… you’ve seen photos of my sewing/quilt room, yes? I literally have enough fabric to open my own shop. 🙂

So, one of the more recent projects that is in progress is a braided denim rug. One of the things I like to try to do is having little projects within the bigger one that I can write posts about. So, this one started with how to harvest the most denim from old blue jeans. I actually wrote that one up as an “instructable” and you can see it here. Then over the course of a couple of months, I collected used blue jeans and harvested as many three inch strips as I could.

DSCN4263.JPGIt was a long process, but I was able to do most of the deconstruction while watching old movies or binge watching my favorite television series. Over a hundred pairs of jeans (lost count during collecting) were used and I was able to sell the carefully removed back pockets on eBay for almost a hundred dollars!

The next step was to create long strips… I wasn’t – and still aren’t – sure how long the rolls should be and what would be the easiest length to work with. After all, braiding tends to tangle while working… I will just have to be conscious of it while working. I ended up creating mostly the same length… just guessing at it while I was sewing. Some ended up longer than others and there are a couple of kind of short ones. The should be easiest enough to shorten when I start braiding if they turn out to be too long.

IMG_3489

After this, I rolled all the strips into coils… this photo is most of them. Whew! This alone was the endeavor. I rolled about half by hand… just round and round. The Kid, being inventive and with a slight allergy to repetitious work, came up with the idea of rolling them using a power drill. I just love the way his brain works!

The next step is to turn these strips into the “yarn” for braiding. I am basically turning it into binding… folding the edges in and “setting” them with an iron. Then, I fold this in half and sew it with a long stitch. It took some time and trials to figure out how to sew over this much bulk, especially the seams, without constantly breaking the threads but using a heavy duty thread – actually a hand quilting thread – finally was the answer. That and coaxing the seams through by hand. I then let it fall over the edge and into a basket on the floor:

IMG_3492

So, far, I’ve managed to empty the with the least amount of coils. It is a bit of a long slow process. I don’t have the slightest idea of how to estimate the amount of yarn that I will need to complete the rug. Actually, I’m not sure how big I even want the rug to be!

IMG_3557

What I want to do is do a smaller, controlled experiment. Choose a specific number of pairs of jeans, say, 5 or perhaps ten and harvest the denim and create the yarn. That way, I know exactly how much will be needed to create the braids and how much it will produce as far as a rug size is concerned.

I’m also planning a very detailed tutorial, from start to finish. I guess this post is an attempt at trying to explain why lately I haven’t been able to post regularly. All the projects that I have in progress follow the same template… much too big to complete quickly or easily! And definitely too big to write about easily in a single post. 🙂

But, and speaking of this blog, I do have a milestone to announce. I don’t really actively promote this blog and it was really an experiment to see if I could do this as well as learn about the technical aspects of creating, producing and maintaining a blog. Sort of helps me in my “normal” nine-to-five job. But I always am doing creative type things and if my writing and photos help or inspire someone else, then great!

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 1.54.02 PMSo, I’ve surpassed the 100,000 mark with visitors! To be honest, I thought if I could maintain the blog for a year and have 5,000 visitors, I’d be successful. Who’da thunk?

Forever in Blue Jeans

So, I’ve finished (for now) cutting all the blue jeans collected into three inch strips. I had set aside all the remaining pieces for making jean quilts. I’ve been working up the courage to start the rag rug… for whatever crazy reason, I always seem to go overboard when putting together the materials necessary for a project. Based on the tutorial I saw online for the rug, I now estimate that the amount of material that I have put together, I think I will probably end up with a forty foot diameter rug! I don’t know what it is that always makes me overestimate everything, but it seems that every project I work on, I do this.

DSCN4264This is the strips I’ve made… this has got to be the result of at least a hundred pairs of jeans and then some. I pick up pairs of jeans and just the denim material where ever I go, and recently procured a bunch when I picked up all that material free from CraigsList. And it was only recently that I started saving the back pockets – and I now have more than 100 pairs – so, I know that there were more pairs of jeans than those.

I made a “test” rug using 1 inch strips, that did not pan out too well. However, I think that fact that it was smaller was part of the problem. I need to fold the three inch strips into itself, so that the rough edges are hidden. I have been considering doing the folding and sewing it closed that way, but just haven’t decided.

DSCN4267

Anyway, I sat down and just started sewing the denim scraps. At first, it was just to get an idea of how well it would work, but after a while, I just got lost in it. I started watching Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950’s series and kept sewing. I was working with 7″ cotton squares as a starting point. On and off sewing over the past week or so, and I’ve finally made my way through the majority of the denim scraps. I didn’t want to make any squares with too many seams, the denim gets thick quickly and I know longarms don’t love to hit those seams where the material is thicker than four layers or so. I decided to make the squares as simple as possible and to keep those intersecting seams to a minimum.

IMG_6897Yesterday, I used the last really good piece of denim and stacked them and did a count.

IMG_0296That’s 422! At 10 x 10 squares – about 70″ x 70″, that would make at least four quilts! I was thinking about working with some colored denim – red, I think – as a medallion pieces and then placing the blue denim squares on point around it.I briefly considered double sided quilts, but then I would be right back to the problem of thickness and seams. And that each quilt would weigh like a hundred pounds! Ha!

Now that I’ve used up the scraps, however, leaves me with trying to finish up my other projects before surgery. Just three weeks now before the scheduled date and I’ve still a handful of projects to complete in the garage. I am making headway on them, but the temperatures in the 20’s have made it a bit cold to be working in the garage. It should be a bit warmer today though.

The dresser and the nightstands sold quickly, within a day of posting them. Yeah! My foyer is getting emptier although I still seem to have the red desk. Even before I painted it, it was one of those pieces that just doesn’t seem to appeal to anyone. It is a great little piece, and I have lowered the price to the point where I won’t make any money on it. I wish I had a place for it myself, as it is beautiful, but alas, I do not.

And I am just waiting on the pneumatic stapler that I ordered online so that I can finish up my upholstery projects. More denim! And that should clear the final pieces from the foyer and the garage. It should be simple at that point to re-arrange the final stuff in the garage to get two cars back into the space initially designed for cars!

I’ve got a couple of small project lined up to keep me busy while I am working on the last couple of big projects. Seems like it is both taking forever and time is just whizzing by while I wait for this upcoming surgery! And in the same way, I am both excited and terrified about it!

julie

Finally, Work Has Begun on the Denim Rag Rug

I seem to be guilty of working on many projects at once, and because of it, they seem to get completed at the same time. When that happens, there seems to be a roller coaster effect on the blog… many posts in a row, then nothing for a bit, then more posts. I wish I was better at planning or managing my work, but it is what it is.

Right now, my focus is getting things done that will be a) in my way once I have my double knee surgery and b) those projects I won’t be able to do because of the recovery. So, the garage is once again full of multiple projects being sanded and readied for priming.

Let’s see… there is one dresser, one chest of drawers, that little vanity that is about to become a pair of nightstands, my entry way pew (I can’t wait!) and headboards and foot boards waiting to become a couple more benches.

I am also determined to finish a project that I started about a hundred years ago… a table sized regulation Scrabble table!

DSCN4206This is the table base. The top is almost done, its been painted and the striped… all it needs is the special squares marked (you know, “double letter score” etc) and a finishing edge to the table. I’ve made the Scrabble tiles and the holders and then just to put it all together. I can’t wait to actually play a game on it… its going to be awesome!

I’ve been working on a couple of other small projects in between the big ones. One is for The Kid and his recent love of vinyl. As in music records. Whenever we hit the second hand shops and thrift stores, there is always at least one or two worth buying. His 45 collection is growing quite nicely and he needed somewhere to keep them, rather than in a flat pile on the desk. So, I am building this:

DSCN4207Its been primed, and I am going to finish it with a coat or two of my favorite Deep Space black high gloss paint. I made this in a day using scrap lumber (the bottom is actually paint stir sticks!!).

Whenever I get overwhelmed with how much is going on in the garage or it is a bit too cold to work in the garage (note: buy kerosene for garage space heater), I escape to my sewing room. I’ve been purchasing and prep’ing old blue jeans in anticipation of making a denim rag rug. So, after removing waist bands, pockets, zippers and seams, I have a nice pile of denim. The next step is to cut it all into 3″ strips in preparation for braiding.

So, I spent many hours tucked safely in my warm sewing room watching streaming television. I am having a difficult time estimating just how much is going to be needed to make the rug I want… or how large of a rug I can get with what I’ve got. I guess I will see when I start braiding. Saved for recovery time!

And speaking of, I am also planning on hand quilting that quilt I found some time back.

2015-02-18 16.45.07I’ve replaced the torn patches and added a new border and have a great backing material. Then I went out a purchased a hand quilt frame in anticipation (along with the wool batting) for time to hand quilt it and have been mulling over what pattern but right now, I am leaning towards just ‘stitch in the ditch’ of each and every triangle. Maybe I am overestimating how much free time I might have?

julie

P.S. I’ve been thinking about redesigning the website, mostly because the design blocks reader comments. I’ve been wanting a OMCS logo for a while, to start attaching to photos mostly – as they are popping up all over the internet, many without redirection back here. I’d love to hear from y’all… suggestions?

%d bloggers like this: