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

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

Denim Quilts… the Ultimate Jeans Recycling

I’ve been going back into my unfinished quilts and quilt blocks and trying to get some things done. I received a couple pair of old jeans and it just jumped start my love of quilting with jeans. There isn’t a tougher fabric to work with but also none more satisfying when the quilts are complete. They just are like snuggling under a favorite old pair of broken in jeans. They are warm and comforting and they look great to boot!

I seem to have gotten started on about five or six quilts, creating the center medallions and then unable to figure out how to complete them. None of them are big enough to be quilts, not even lap quilts. And try as I may, I cannot figure out how to put them together to get one larger quilt. Sigh.

I did get a couple close to done… or at least the quilt tops. I love these actually quilted, as opposed to just tied, but they are murder on sewing machines and longarms and their needles. I think one of the last ones that my friend Gloria did for me wrecked her machine and she is just too nice to tell me. I know even just sewing some of those multiple seams on my machine has broken more needles than I can count and even sent my machine to the hospital once.

Here is the first one I’ve been working on. I’ve actually added a ten inch border all the way around, making this quilt large enough to be a king sized quilt. It has turned out rather well, if I do say so myself 🙂

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The next one is another almost done following the addition of a border. I like almost everything about this one except the purplish looking denim-ish fabric that I used in several of the blocks. It wasn’t real denim from recycled jeans, and it sort of makes the whole quilt wrong. But I’ve never been one to go back and rip out seams or replace blocks or fabrics, I am sure that someone will love this just the way it is.

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I was able to score an absolutely fantastic deal at the local thrift shop Friday afternoon… they had a 1/2 price deal on ‘purple’ tags and I just happen to score about 10 pairs of wonderfully worn and faded jeans. And since they were getting ready to close, they said it would be easier just to sell them to me for a ‘buck a piece’ (and would that be okay with me? Ha!)… which gave me quite a bit of fabric to get those other quilts completed. I sat tonight and sketched up the remaining blocks and medallions to give me a plan on how to get them finished. The craziest part is that, of course, I came up with a couple of more ideas for more quilts!

I how vowed though, that I will start no more quilts until I have completed at least most of the ones I have started now. I’d love to do an orphan quilt or two as well – you know, use up a bunch of the orphan blocks (or UFO’s) into a single quilt. Its amazing that those can sometimes turn out to be quilt wonderful. Even if the fabrics or colors don’t match up, those can be donated and used for warmth. One time I turned a bunch of those orphans into dog beds and donated them to the local ‘no kill’ shelter and I later learned that they sold them in their gift store and made quite a bit of money! Woot! I love when accidents like that happen.

Okay, tomorrow, I have an update on a long overdue project that is finally done. And I scored some wonderful cabinets via CraigsList that used to be old Victrola-styled players that the guts had been removed. I am excited to see what I can do with those!

julie

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