Monday, 6 August 2012

Finished! I never want to sew denim again.

Way waaay back, a whole year a little bit back, I started making a quilt from old pairs of jeans. Remember? Well it had been fully pieced and shoved on a shelf in my parents' front room since then, waiting for someone to come along and give it some lovin'. This weekend I finally got round to finishing it to a usable state.

Here it is on my double bed in my new flat. I haven't measured it so I don't know what size it is, but I did sleep under its heavy embrace last night and it was surprisingly warm and comfortable. There is no batting, just a polyester fleece blanket for the back.

I am happy with how it's turned out. These photos are crap because they were taken under energy saving bulbs, but you can see the gradient of denims I was trying to achieve. It almost looks like light hitting water, especially with those weird bleached/lightning pattern blocks. I was going to quilt the top, possibly with a ripple effect from the middle, or rays, or horizontal wavy lines, but I decided the most important thing was to get it functional and then go from there.

Denim is such a bitch to bind with though. I should have chosen a lighter-weight material to finish the edges with. In the process of binding this thing, I broke 2 needles! The seams in places were just too bulky to sew over with a home machine, so in places I had to stop and restart. Some of this may need further work done by hand to secure it. The edges are also not as neat as I would like them in places, just because the machine and the material were wrestling each other.

There you can see me stopping and starting the seams. I need to trim some threads.

I can honestly say that I never want to sew with denim like that again. I was working with thick, strong material, mostly from men's jeans, not the lightweight, flexible stuff you can buy from a fabric shop. I don't see more denim quilting in my future, that's for sure! At least not with proper patchwork. If I worked a design using appliqué denim zig-zagged onto calico then it might work.

I'd have to wait a fair few years to get that many jeans again though!


  1. Needs a tiny pocket for putting coins in.

    But seriously, that's a bitchin' quilt.

    1. I have actually seen ones with pockets left on, they would be good for keeping anything you needed close to hand in the night. But I think the dimensions of my squares weren't big enough to incorporate adult jeans' pockets.

      I plan to use this bad boy as a picnic rug too!

    2. The idea has been on my mind today to try my hand at making a denim quilt for myself. The thing is I haven't got a sewing machine, only a little sewing kit which I sometimes use to fix up clothes. I guess it's not very plausible is it?

      Oh yeah, it'll make a decent picnic rug too!

    3. You could hand-sew one. The original American patchwork quilts were all hand pieced, and some of them were made from pretty sturdy material- feed sacks turn up in a lot of them. You would need strong thread reinforced with beeswax, a thimble so you could push the needle through without the eye puncturing your skin, and a butt-load of patience. I hate hand sewing, I don't have the patience for it at all.
      Ask round any older female relatives if you have any. It's likely that one might have an old machine they'd be happy to lend you for a bit (and older machines, like my mother's, tend to be better at powering through heavy fabrics). But it's a very ambitious project to start with!

      The hardest thing of all though would be just getting the denim for the thing. There are a LOT of jeans in this. A couple of the patches are glittery, and I know they came from a pair I had when I was 13. I'm 22 now! I guess you could buy thrift store pairs, and I have heard rumours of branches of Goodwill where you can buy clothes by weight and just fill a sack full of jeans, but I don't think there's anything like that in the UK unfortunately.

      Goddamn this is a big comment.

    4. Wow, what a great response! I think you're right about it being an ambitious start when you explain it like that. I think my mum has a machine somwehere and I could hassle her for some decent thread but I might consider a simpler project. Anyway, I could only spare maybe four pairs of jeans. One pair - my old favourite - I bought when I was 16 and they used to shine too before fading to a nicer grey.

      Surely I can think up something easier to do with my old clothes...

      Oh by the way I'm Beige on SA. I think I friended you while talking in some Hawaiian island thread a long time ago.

    5. OH JESUS

      We don't talk about Hawaii (well that's a total lie, I'm constantly like "in Hawaii blah blah blah" in real life, but I don't really mention it on the forums, although I do occasionally get PMs asking me wtf happened and I tell them. I don't like it out in the open because it was the most memorable summer of my life and I owe a lot to the people who let me work on their land even though they eventually gave up on the whole thing, so I don't want to bad-mouth them).

      Anyway, if you want a simpler project for denim, you could make a patchwork cushion cover for an outdoor seat, or try making a tote bag. I don't have links to patterns for that kind of thing because they're so simple, but you probably find tutorials online. As for other old clothes, if it's woven you can do all kinds of stuff with it, if it's knitted jersey (like t-shirt fabric) it's harder to sew with but you can cut it up into strips and latch-hook it into a rug, or turn it into t-shirt yarn.

    6. You ended up going there? That's brilliant. I was interested at the time (in fact it sounded perfect for me at the time) but it never came to anything. More like an escapist fantasy. I don't understand. Why don't you talk about it or want it out in the open?

      The cusion cover idea sounds about right. It's smaller, uses less material and is practical. I'm not sure I could pull off a tote bag.

    7. I really don't want to talk about it but long story short- FYAD ripped the shit out of the whole thing, the project went to crap because the people running it were incompetent, and I had a minor breakdown and a self harm relapse from stress/homesickness/the fact I was still a depressed fragile person and that doesn't fall off you when you fly 7300 miles from home.

      BUT I found out a lot about myself and got the motivation to work on how I treated myself and change the path I was on for the better. If I hadn't gone to Hawaii on a whim then I wouldn't have gone to university on a whim. It's hard to make anything else in life scare you when you've flown across the world to live with strangers and wield a chainsaw.

      Anyway, like once a year or so this magically reappears in my life, and this year it's in a thread in GBS about E/N comics as possible source materials for hilarious comics.