My latest project is actually a recycling project where I’ve used 25 pair of old jeans and cut them into squares. Since I didn’t have this many old jeans myself, a bunch of friends came to my rescue and donated trousers that were either ragged or too small (a huge thanks guys!). When I first got this brilliant idea, I never stopped to think about just how many squares I needed to cut and sew together. I only knew that I wanted them to be around 10x10cm. Later on, when I had cut out around 50 squares and wanted to know how many I actually needed, I finally did the maths… I wanted a 2,5×2,5m bedspread which resulted in a staggering 625 squares! But since I don’t like giving up, I just kept on cutting and finally ended up with this.
When it was time to actually start sewing I decided to sort all the different jeans into one stack each. That way it would be easier to distribute them evenly across the bedspread. That tactic worked well and an hour later, I had 25 stacks on my table with each stack containing 25 squares.
My first approach to sewing everything together was to sew one row at a time and then sew the rows together. The only problem with that idea was that I had a hard time lining up the seams perfectly. This prompted me to try a new approach that focused more on the fact that it’s squares I’m stitching together. Two squares on the first row are sewn together and then two on the second row. The those four squares are then sewn together. Hopefully the picture explains it a bit better. I have absolutely no idea if that’s how quilters does it or if there’s a better way but it’s working out alright for me.
I had hoped that I would’ve been able to show you a finished project by now, but that’s not the case. Never in my life would I have guessed that making this bedspread would take this much time. Clearly I’ve underestimated my opponent. Not only have my patience and sanity taken a toll during this tiresome project, but two needles have lost their lives in tragic accidents.
And this is all I’ve got to show you today. Not many squares left to put together, which is good because I’m running out of thread! :O
February 27, 2014 at 12:42
It is perhaps a lot of work but I think the end result will be great. I love repurposing old jeans. I think you managed to get a nice set of darks and lights.
February 27, 2014 at 18:20
Thank you :) I sure hope that it’ll turn out looking good. What do you think of the way I sew the squares together? Apart from the trivet I made last year, i’ve got absolutely zero experience when it comes to quilting so if you got any tips to share I’d be more than happy.
February 27, 2014 at 19:02
You have to sew them together the way it works for you, there’s not one method that’s the holy grail. Your method seems absolutely fine to me. Do you chainpiece? That can definitely speed the sewing process up. I think it is smart that you pressed the seams open and not to one side. With denim you can get really thick seam allowances when you press them to one side that might make it more difficult to quilt later on and result in more broken needles. Are you using a denim needle?
February 27, 2014 at 20:09
Yup, I chain as much as I can to make it go faster and to keep it a bit more organized. No I’m not using a denim needle. To be honest, I didn’t even know such a needle existed. What’s it like? I’m using a regular sharp needle. Think it might be size 11, or possibly 14. Can’t remember which one I picked. At least one of the needles was killed because of my impatience. I didn’t stop the machine entirely before “putting it in reverse”. So with the needle partly stuck in the fabric, the dog feeds shifted the fabric, the needle bent and then *crack*, the needle was no more. Before that, I used a ballpoint needle (I forgot to switch :/ ) and I’m not sure what killed that one.
February 27, 2014 at 20:29
It usually says denim or jeans on the packet of the needles. They’re much stronger than regular needles, so less likely to break. They have a strong shaft and a very sharp point. I don’t use a smaller size than 90/14 when sewing with denim. I suspect the ballpoint needle just wasn’t sharp enough to pierce the denim repeatedly.
March 1, 2014 at 16:52
Thanks for the tip, I’ll keep that in mind next time I need to switch needle! Since I’ve already used the current one this long, I think I will just wear it out.
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March 11, 2014 at 18:52
I’m glad to see someone doing this. I have been saving the cut-off portion of my kids jeans for a few years to make a picnic blanket. I cannot believe the weight of the denim!
March 11, 2014 at 21:09
I really like the idea of reusing old denim. It’s such a waste to just throw it away. How big will your blanket be and how soon have you gathered enough material?
March 11, 2014 at 21:28
I could probably start any time. I’m not sure what size yet. I have an embroidery machine and have been considering placing designs in the center of the squares. I plan to use old and left over flannel shirting for the back. I’m stuck in design world. I may never get started!
March 11, 2014 at 21:56
Ooh, that sounds interesting. Have you considered using sashiko? Now that I think about it, I will definitely use that idea for a pillow case! Was it on your blog I saw some sashiko embroidery on the back pockets of a pair of jeans? It looked great.
You should definitely use the flannel. It’s lighter and not to mention, cheaper :)
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