To me, the ultimate scrap busting sewing project is to use recycled denim. This past summer, I had a blast making the denim backpack and string bag shown below, (I wrote about them in this blog post) . However, I had never attempted a quilt before. It was finally time to stop being curious and to give it a try.
Would the completed quilt be too heavy in the end? Should a denim quilt still get batting or wadding inside? Could the denim design work with pastel colors? So many questions and I dove in to find the answers.
I played with different colored cotton fabrics but kept returning to the red scraps that played best with the blue denim. I admit that inserting sock monkeys is a form of cheating, because they make everything extra fun and whimsical! The fact that the monkeys are playing sports is an added bonus! I was able to cut up two pairs of different colored denim jeans, both with a little stretch in them. The stretch in the fabric wasn’t the terrible to sew, but it did require a little more discipline to not tug at the seams. I kept to a simple design with a minimal border and red cornerstone squares. I love how the light four-patch denim squares work against the darker denim blocks.I added in two strips of blue grunge fabric at the top and bottom and was surprised at how they match the denim style. This quilt was screaming for a scrappy border, which worked out nicely. This doll quilt is perfect for both a boy or a girl.
Thank you again to Bernie of Needle and Foot for hosting a February quilt drive for A Doll Like Me endeavor. This one is currently in the dryer and headed to Amy ASAP. I have 4 other quilts and a sleeping bag that I hope to blog about soon, but that will make total 5 or 6 items. I’m not counting since Amy knows, for the past year, there are always doll goodies in the works in my studio.
I did learn some helpful lessons about sewing with denim that I want to list here:
Tips for making a quilt with Denim
- Don’t let anyone in your family give away worn jeans if you think you might want to use them someday. Yes, speaking from experience, you may regret it.
- When cutting denim jeans for scraps, snip around heavy seams to find the largest open patch of fabric possible. The leg portions will be a big help. Variations in the dye will only add to the quilt design.
- Insert portions of pockets where possible to add a little fun.
- If using stretch denim, keep from pulling the fabric whenever possible.
- For added interest, incorporate different shades of denim into the same project.
- Swap your sewing machine needle for a special denim one before beginning your project.
- Keep your quilting lines simple and stitch 1/4 inch away from the seams to echo a classic denim look.
- For those quilting lines, choose a bright color thread, rather than a shade of blue, to mimic a typical denim style.
- Choose a light, thin batting over a thicker one to keep the quilt from being too bulky under your machine.
- Before basting, iron the denim quilt top well, just as you would plain cotton. Steam may be needed but be careful not to stretch.
- As a precaution against dye bleeding out, when washing the quilt, use a color-catcher in the machine.
- A very helpful tutorial to watch before attempting to work with scrap denim is this one from the talented and wonderful Jenny Doan at missouriquiltco.com https://quiltingtutorials.com/tutorial/quilt-using-old-jeans-denim-quilting.
- When cutting into denim jeans, store extra useable denim pieces in a ziploc bag for future projects. You never know when they will come in handy.
- Be adventurous and add denim to bags, placemats, coasters and any other project you may want to create.
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