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.

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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

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

My How Time Flies When You’re Quilting!

Okay, for the last four days I have been working on a new quilt. Well, technically it is going to be more than one, but the intent was to create one.

While organizing and cleaning up my sewing room – ostensibly for the purposes of trying to finish any- and everything that I have started. I get like this occasionally where I will vow not to start something new until everything I have already started is done.

In this exercise, I found a large ziplock bag with 3″ squares sorted by color. LOTS of 3″ squares. So, I thought I’d make one of my favorite quilt patterns (used on one of the quilts on my bed) and zip through this pile of squares.photo

It starts with a nine-patch (5 colored/4 white) and then adds the triangles to each side. I am guessing that there is an “official” name to this, but I like to think this is my own doing. 🙂

So, with this large stack of 3″ squares, I started making 9 patch blocks. It’s amazing how long this can take, especially since this time around, I wanted to keep each block in the same color family. So, after sorting and sewing – about 12 hours worth – I ended up with this:

photo 8The next step would be to cut and sew the four triangles onto each side. I didn’t have these pre-cut, so it occurred to me that I would have to delve into uncut stock, and I was looking to reduce the amount of precut that I had. So, I had an idea… each of these blocks would be set with a block pattern called a “snowball”. Basically a square with each corner replaced with a triangle corner.

UnknownI have found the easiest way to produce this, is to place a block at each corner, mark it and sew it diagonally. I got The Kid to help with drawing the lines. I had way more blocks than originally anticipated. Isn’t that they way it goes?

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In order to not waste the part that is cut off is to sew a secondary line about 1/8″ away from the original line.

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Then cut between the lines (removing the pins, of course):photo 10

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To make all the cuts, again I roped The Kid into helping. I hope that he is gaining an appreciation of what goes into the quilts I make. He has laid claimed to at least a dozen so far. 🙂

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Once separated, you simply iron everything. Depending on how many squares you have, this may take a while. I think I watched a whole movie while doing all this ironing!

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The larger block will compliment the nine-patch and I will use the smaller blocks for a smaller quilt. Or maybe a border on another quilt.

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So, next up is to connect the nine patch to the snowball. I am going to deviate each line of blocks so that it staggers the placement of each block. I may actually have more than enough for a single quilt top, and perhaps might divide it into two. The colors I have most is blues and greens, and it might be enough to spin into two separate quilts of their own.

For as long as I have been quilting, I never seem to be able to accurately estimate the number of squares or blocks I need. I guess that is why I seem to end up with extras, enough to create “orphan quilts”. Some day when I don’t have anything to write about, I’ll do a post on those.

julie

 

 

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