Filled up with quilt envy after admiring all those gorgeous denim quilts? Sewing your own is not only green, but also easy and inexpensive!
You will need: several old pairs of blue jeans (the exact number depends on the size of quilt you’ll be sewing); cardboard for a cutting template, a marking pen, a sewing machine with a jeans needle inserted, matching thread. To follow along in later posts with backing and tying your quilt, have handy a thrifted yet terrific blanket and embroidery floss or yarn in coordinating colors.
We’ll sew the quilt top today, and back it and tie it in a later post.
1. Calculate the size of quilt you want to make, and the size of quilt block you want to use. We’re making a one-block quilt, which means that all the quilt blocks will be the same size of square or rectangle, all lined up nicely in rows and columns–the interest in the quilt will come from the subtle but varied shades of blue in your quilt blocks. If you have your thrifted yet terrific blanket handy, plan for your pieced top to be at least 4″ inches shorter than this blanket in length and width.
I generally make my denim quilt blocks a finished 4″ square, for an even 40″x60″ lap quilt.
2. Carefully measure and cut out for yourself a cutting template out of cardboard. It can be square or rectangular, but add 1/2″ to both the length and the width of your template to allow for a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides–for my 4″ finished blocks, my cardboard template is 4.5″ square.
3. Cut your jeans open so that all the denim will lie flat and in one layer.
4. Using your marker and cardboard template, trace out quilt blocks from your denim. You’ll want to avoid stains, but I have often successfully incorporated both seams and worn spots into my own denim quilts, so you can decide for yourself which features of the denim you’d like to include and which you’d rather not.
5. Cut out all the blocks you’ll need for your entire quilt before you begin to sew–this will keep the variety even throughout the quilt.
6. Once you have all the blocks you’ll need, in all their various shades, you can arrange them into a particular pattern, but I often find that the most attractive arrangement is simply random, with perhaps no two blocks of the exact same shade touching.
7. Have you done the calculations for how many rows and columns your quilt will need? My 40″x60″ quilt made up of 4″ blocks will need 15 rows by 10 columns. The easiest method for a one-block quilt like this one is to sew together the blocks that make each column, then to sew your columns together in their long strips. Sewing the blocks together in a long strip to make your columns is easy though a little tedious, but sewing the columns together in their long strips can be tricky because you want all your seams to line up.
8. To make your seams line up when you come to them, lock them together. Fold one seam down one way, fold the other seam down the other way, and push the two together–you’ll see how neatly they abut each other, and if you sew through them without disarranging this abutment, the seams on the front will have lined up very neatly.
9. After you’ve sewn all the columns together, you will have a finished quilt top. Stay tuned for Tuesday, when I’ll show you how to do a mock binding, and then next Saturday we’ll tie our quilts.
What do you like to make from your old blue jeans?