Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recyled Jeans Quilt

A long time ago, I saw a great way to recycle your old denim jeans by using them to make a quilt.  I loved the idea of having an "indestructable" blanket we could hang out on in the yard.  In addition, I wanted one that was big enough for our whole family to be on without feeling squished together.
The idea has been something on my "to-do someday" list.  I have been saving old jeans for about a year and recently found a nice queen-size blanket at Goodwill that would be the perfect filler.  So with summer coming, I decided I would dive off the deep end and give a shot at making this quilt.
Now, did I forget to mention that I have NEVER made a quilt before?  Oh, yes...I've never even attempted anything like this before.  So the reason I am making this confession is to hopefully inspire you (if you are so inclined) to give this a try yourself.  (For you avid quilters, please be kind to me!  I'm sure there were things I could have/should have done differently, but in the end, I have a quilt we love!)
Some tools that I used in addition to my sewing machine that were really helpful:
  1. Determine the size of your finished project.  As I was using a queen-size 90x90" blanket as my filler/batting, that was the size I was aiming for.
  2. Choose style of block.  As this was my first (and unsupervised) attempt at making a quilt, I decided to go easy on myself and just make squares for the quilt top.  On the bottom where I was using the denim, I decided to piece together long strips.
  3. Determine size of quilt block and number of blocks to be cut.  For my quilt top, I chose 10" squares.  Giving myself a 1/2" seam allowance, the blocks to be cut were 11" square.  Since my finished quilt was 90x90", I needed a total of 81 squares.
  4. Cut blocks.  Using my rotary cutter, quilting ruler and self-healing mat, I was able to quickly and accurately cut my blocks.
  5. Lay out blocks on the floor to choose placement.  I didn't want to have any of my blocks that were made of the same fabric line up each other, so it was important to lay them out on the floor first.
  6. Stitch blocks for quilt top together.  Although using a rotary cutter made the blocks a uniform size, it is important to pay attention to match up your corners. 
  7. Iron seams.  Although there are differing opinions, I ironed my seams open.  (If you are going to quilt along the seams, aka stitch in the ditch, you would be sure to iron your seams in the same direction.)
  8. Sew quilt bottom.  I cut my denim in long strips and pieced together.  I had some scrap denim from a couple previous projects as well as the old jeans.  I did still need to purchase additional denim to finish.  Iron seams.
  9. Sew quilt top, right-side facing out, to blanket or whatever you are using for batting.  I used safety pins to hold my quilt together.
  10. With right-sides facing each other, sew together quilt top and bottom, leaving enough room unsewn to be able to turn right-side out.
  11. Turn quilt right-side out.  Using a ladder stich, stitch open seam closed. 
  12. Pin quilt so it lays flat.  Using a surgeon's knot, tie quilt.  I chose to tie every-other block. 
  13. Enjoy your handiwork!

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