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

Lately, I Have Been So Distracted!

There doesn’t seem to be any ramp up time for me when I start thinking about going back to work. It goes from a fleeting notion to a full blown hunt in a snap. Much of my time lately has been taken up with the construction of a job hunt. I have had a few minutes here and there, but it seems that once I get things organized and ready to work, I am tired or distracted by a phone call.

But, with that said, I have finished a couple of projects. The first one is something I’ve done before, but I never seem to get bored with the idea. The suitcase dresser is a very popular style, especially when you’re looking at a piece that may have damage or isn’t the highest quality. I’ve probably done a half dozen of this style now, and it always comes out great.
Although these are difficult to do, they tend to take some time to complete. Especially when the cabinet requires work as well. The Kid was much more involved in this one, as all of the drawers had to have fronts placed and supports both front and back of each drawer. One drawer had to almost be rebuilt from scratch, the one good thing is that all the pieces were there and just needed to be put back together.

I created a tutorial some time back, you can see it Suitcase Dresser Tutorial. I didn’t take many photos, since I’ve done the tutorial. I will tell you that if you have dedicated space to work on it, it helps. I did most of the work in the kitchen and dining room, and had to constantly move the drawers as I progressed with the work.

DSCN3560I tend to work on it ‘assembly line style’, that is, I glue the fabrics on all of the drawers first, then glue the tucks on all four sides. Since each side needs to be clamped while is it drying, I can only do one side at a time. So I have to find a way to stack them out of the way while the glue dries.

I’ve gotten some things done with the container gardening… if you recall, I am attempting to grow tomatoes on the deck. So far, so good.

DSCN3564That’s The Kid’s one stalk of corn, he wanted to try just one. He also planted corn in his backyard garden.

DSCN3565We’ve had so much rain that everything is so green and the grass around the garden seems to have overtaken much of it. On this side, we attempted to build a small berm; the yard slopes such that when it rains, we end up with a little stream. I call it “a river runs through it’… and we’ve now figured out to avoid it, but with the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had, it has widened. We experienced standing water around the seeds and we worried that nothing would ever sprout. But it does finally seem to have a foothold and now we have to watch the garden to make sure it gets the proper amount of water.

DSCN3575And speaking of growing… I rescued this little violet when it was on its last leg about a year/year and a half ago. Someone had left it behind when they left their job and it sat for nearly two weeks without being watered or attended to. It was sad. I brought it home and repotted it in a larger pot in MiracleGro soil. And almost immediately this thing started sprouting new leaves and flowers. It has given me almost nonstop flowers ever since. Don’t those little purple flowers just make your heart smile?DSCN3571On the other hand (or should I say knee), I am now forced to ice or apply heat to both knees almost daily. The ice packs that I’ve been using have started to leak and I never really liked them anyway. They never really fit right against my knees, consequently, I did not get the full benefit. I had seen this ice packs using rice and you can both heat them up or cool them down.DSCN3572 I actually had bought two bags of rice awhile back and with so little crafting time, I thought maybe if I just cranked out a few smaller projects, I might feel like I am accomplishing something. The project is simple enough… I would cut some muslin fabric and sew the edges together leaving one open side; to keep the rice from bunching up on one end or the other, I added some baffles. Then using soft fleece, I made each one a cover. I used velcro for the opening – this way if the covers get dirty or wet, then can just be thrown into the washer/dryer.

Front of Denim Hems BagSo, I’ve also attempted to use up some of the denim that I cut up a few weeks ago. The main bulk of the denim is going into one or the other of two main projects: a braided rag rug and reupholstering a wing chair.

That leaves me with pant leg hems (2 per each pair of jeans), back pockets (2 per) and a waistband. So, I took the plastic bag of hems and sat down in front of the sewing machine and started sewing them together. Once I had a sizable piece of fabric, it hit me… this would make a terrific all purpose bag!

Back of Denim Hems BagI have always been a fan of canvas bags – we use them for groceries and I carry them into many places that I shop. I had found one that was about the right size of the piece that I had sewn, so opted to use it as sort of a lining. With it in place, I then used a waistband to finish the bag.

I found an older bag that had a beautiful handle and removed the rivets that were holding the handle in place. I cut four pieces of leather as the support of the handles. I couldn’t get the rivets to hold with my home kit, so I’ve opted to find some place that does leather work. I also want this place to stitch the bag pocket, as there is too many layers for my sewing machine. That is the thing with denim, it gets too thick very quickly. In fact, during this entire process, I broke 18 needles! And these needles were specifically for denim and other heavy projects. It is just as you work, the layers can add up very quickly… especially when you’re talking about seams!

DSCN3570On the other end of the sewing spectrum, I’ve been doing some hand sewing. I just start a with a circle of felt – whatever color I have on hand – and start adding stitches and have been using beads on many of the pieces. I didn’t have a specific project in mind, but while perusing Pinterest, I saw some pin cushions that looked similar. So, violá!

DSCN3569Won’t these be the most adorable little pin cushions?

DSCN3568And the great thing about this, is, this will give me a chance to use up much of my scrap felt. I can sit and watch television and stitch to my heart’s content. (Someday I will get back to working on my My Huge Cross Stitch Project. I just had to take a break from it for a while.)DSCN3567And the last little project… My son built this in his wood shop class a couple of years ago and I never knew exactly what to do with it. But working lately in my home office lately has shown that for the health of my knees, I need to have my feet elevated. And what better way to do it than with this little footstool! I painted it my signature red and I had just enough fabric to cover the foam that I added (material is left over from re-cover my dining room chairs and pillow covers for the couch). Don’t you just love it when things come together?VioletsSo, I am going to leave you with another shot of my happy little violets!

julie

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