Archives for the month of: January, 2015

As summer filtered away into deepest August, Rod from Carson City, Nevada decided to do something about a lingering idea.  His used jeans pile had grown to 15 after going through his right knee at least as many times and he had been searching for someone to, in his words, “assemble them into a quilt versus discarding them.” Cue the vast and wonderful interwebs, which led him to my email.

I wish I had taken a picture of the box .... maybe 18 inches square and weighing about 26 pounds (according to the UPS label)

I wish I had taken a picture of the box – maybe 18 inches square and 26 pounds (according to the UPS label)

And so it was that come fall, I opened a box to find multiple Levi’s (size 34-32), Lee, Kirkland (the Costco brand – thanks Lori!), GAP (relaxed fit), and Joseph Abboud jeans.  Rod’s jeans were all retired around the same level of wear (right knee out of most, left in some), some with dark brown spot stains (Rod guessed paint, or maybe blood?  He’s a hunter), all neatly folded.  The charge at this juncture:  pattern ideas for Rod choose from.

This beginning stage of a project is always the most fun for my smallest household residents.

This beginning stage of a project is always the most fun for my smallest household residents.

This random arrangement of legs in rows reminded me of a Diamond in the Square wall hanging I made a few years ago

The stripes are men's shirt plackets and the border peicing is men's shirt cuffs

Stripes = men’s shirt plackets and border = men’s shirt cuffs

and I wondered if this quilt style would work in this setting.  After checking with Rod (and marveling yet again at the trust people place in strangers), it was a go for my first Denim Diamond in the Square.

I cut the segments much more neatly

At least the math was relatively easy. I went for the longest strips given the 32″ inseam. Placket-narrow wouldn’t work here, but 3-5 inch widths seemed about right.

I cut sections for fade, wear, stain spots, and pockets until there were enough for four quadrants.

Alternating light and dark is a tried and true method for ...

This looks nice and orderly, but after the cut …

I used a rotary cutter on the diagonal resulting in 8 triangles

Cut and flipped, the quadrant becomes a Diamond in the Square

… it looks so much livelier.  And now for the fun, or paradox, of quilting … sewing pieces back together

Four diagonal cuts of squares result in eight sides of triangles needing seams

Four diagonal cuts of squares resulted in eight sides of triangles needing seams

This takes time:  two triangles are placed right side against each other, care is taken that seam presses are all laying in the right direction, then sides are pinned together  to hold through the machine


Until a diamond appears.

I don’t know how well pictures and words convey the literally painstaking (needles, knees on the floor) nature of this process, but it’s a good example of how a word like “painstaking” arose in our shared language


Corner triangles are added one at a time to the diamond

As the whole grows in size, it pays to carefully fold it up at each step both to keep it straight and facilitate feeding through Modest Machine.


My workspace isn’t big enough to lay out a project this size, so I walk back and forth, project in hands, from my college son’s vacant room to my workspace.

Unfortunately for my knees, this tedious work is best not interrupted because the concentration and resulting work quality might not return in matching levels.  So I keep at it until all sides are done.


For everyone who asks me how long a quilt takes: sewing these eight triangles together took about four hours.

Quilt folkways generally call for a border around a design, so it’s time to confer with Rod.  He agrees with my recommendation of a simple “strip” border, and so I paw through the pieces that remain.  This turns out to be a good way to deploy the decorative potential of all those jeans pockets.

This "strip" border is actually a block border, a good deployment of the decorative potential of jean pockets

The pocket areas add visual interest, but a look at the underside shows all those layers that complicate sewing and make jeans a difficult clothing item to repurpose

I probably spent more time than absolutely necessary selecting pieces for the border, but this part of the process was fun, and I was seeking a feeling of balance


Joining, sewing, and iron pressing continues until the border lengths surround all four sides, which means the quiltop is done


Now for a quick review of the end process that returning Patwig readers may recall:


Finished quiltop is placed, right side up, on batting


Backing is placed right side down on quiltop and layers are pinned together around perimeter, leaving 12-18 inch opening on one side


And it’s back to Modest Machine for sewing twice all the way around. I’m feeling kind of just-shoot-me-now at this point.

Until that’s done, and I’ll leave off the last tedious details to show the finished quilt …


….and with this view I appreciate it much more, and the work it represents.  I hope Rod from Carson City is enjoying its use, and that you enjoyed reading about its creation.  Thanks for reading to the end.  If you want to be sure to see more of my projects, scroll down and hit the Sign Me Up! button to subscribe, and when I publish it will come to your email automatically.



Linda came back to me around this time last year with an armful of stuffed plastic bags and a twinkle in her eye.  She had an idea:  a wall hanging using her mother’s old scarves and rhinestone buttons.

In her bags were buttons, which were a marvel unto themselves


I probably spent the better part of a day arranging and rearranging these on my worktable


I wanted to make a wreath somehow with them, but that wasn’t what Linda wanted

And there were more scarves, even after her project from last year



This was sheer, so I backed it with black fusible interface


Some were cut for a section of their design, like the one here for its polka dots

There was even a rhinestone belt, which she hoped could be used for the tabs to hang the finished piece on a rod

How could this be done? Twist around the rod?

How could this be done? Twist around the rod?

And best of all, she knew how she wanted to apply the buttons …as the center of fabric flowers!  The mission was clear, I just had to figure out a way to do it.  I won’t show you the how, because it involved flame and I don’t want anyone to start a fire on account of my shenanigans.  If you’re so inclined, after doing a little googling, you could find a tutorial, too.

So it was that flowers began to proliferate, and eventually each paired up with a matching button


The size she specified for the finished piece wasn’t huge, in fact it was a mere 22/23 inches square, while I was abundantly supplied with 30+ buttons and 25 scarves.  How to arrange so many elements in such a small space?  Somehow I had to simplify it.  Eliminating the solid color scarves, which already were appearing as flowers, I chose a square representative sample of each


and kept going to fill in a grid as background to the flowers





Now for the floral arrangement.  Big bouquet?


A smattering here and there?


At this point I texted Linda to see what she preferred.  While I waited to hear back I began to play  with a color wheel border


And tabs had to be fashioned out of that rhinestone belt (this was also something I don’t need to do again),


Then Linda chose to place one flower in each square


Best of all she was happy with the final product and bargain price given the work involved.  I haven’t made fabric flowers since then. Looking at the finished piece now, I think I like the border the best.  There are just so many ways to vary the entire composition.  What a riot of color to remember a woman who loved her scarves, her garden, her clothes, and colorful designs!

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