Archives for posts with tag: upcycle old denim

Last month my lucky stars (more accurately, a reader in a donating mood — thanks Lana) brought me a treasure trove of upholstery samples that were doing nothing in her closet:

All this filled two contractor bags

Many were 12 inch squares, some bigger.  Some I liked because of their color, some because of the patterns (many hydrangeas) and I quickly became excited as I saw how this one would go well with denim or that one with corduroy.  So cheering was this sudden abundance that I ignored the fact that my fabric stash had just increased exponentially.

I removed all the tags first to eliminate the staples -- I didn't want Modest Machine to break a tooth. Assuming the dates on the tags indicate date of manufacture, some of these were 14 years old.

As I sorted and bagged the bounty, I recalled a trio of denim throws made recently for a school craft fair.  The one that sold I liked the best, and this is the only picture I can find of it:

A 16-square center surrounded by a neutral and finished with a scrap denim border.

All this new upholstery suggested a remake.  I looked for pieces that would work with denim:

The rust color at left is very similar to the stain finish on a media cabinet in my home, a warm, rich hue

A patterned cotton offered a floral match:

This is an example of one of my favorite quilting terms -- "fussy cutting," in which a specific pattern or motif is cut without regard to maximizing fabric usage. Such practice is generally anathema to Patwig, but an exception is made here.

A bag of denim scraps from the last project offered a head start on the strip border:

But I don't have big enough pieces for the center squares, so it's back to cutting up jeans. Time to thank Wendy, who gave me an outgrown pair of her son's, and my husband, who parted with a faded pair of Levi's.

Assembling the inner section is rapid.  A simple linen/hopsack from the upholstery trove adds a needed neutral.

Four rows of four 7-inch squares

The denim border will take more time.  I like how these strips playfully suggest the fabric’s prior life:

I left the Levi's tag on at first, but it started to crumble when sewn through, and didn't take to ironing at all.

Once the quiltop is done, I enlist a piece of flannel from a massive old comforter cover:

A little of this color goes a very long way

These fabrics are so heavy I don’t need a lot of batting.  An old jersey sheet, previously repurposed into a turban for a school project, is just right:

I do love the angle of the sun this time of year

Once all layers are sewn together it’s ready for hand tying.  Since this has been a such a speedy project, I decide to drop time into some extreme repurposing … pulling apart the woven strands from some pillowcases my friend Matthew gave me:

When I machine washed these pillowcases the weave basically fell apart (it really is best to follow care instructions). The wreckage revealed that each cord was three twisted strands of thread, or now, quilt ties.

The finished product is a 38 by 38 heavyweight nearly 100% cotton throw.  It’s for sale, and if anyone’s interested, comment here or send me an email.   And stay tuned for more upholstery projects!

Now I’ve just got to use up the rest of that upholstery

There sat a bag filled with old pants:  a contribution from my mother to the quilt-old-clothes enterprise.   The day to figure out whether I could do something with these old pants had arrived.

Three pairs of denim, seven khakis and a whole lot of cutting.

The first order of business is always “stripping the carcass,” and for this a rotary cutter is a marvel.  Cutting is time to ponder the fabric.  I feel the khakis don’t merit the prime real estate quiltop – but will serve suitably for backing. The denims are wonderfully weighty and possess a range of hues, but bright color is needed.  My heavyweight stash offers highlight color from My First Commission remnants, as does a deep garnet velvet my mother gave me recently.

Starting somewhere with red velvet, floral MFC curtain and a rust-denim.

What emerges is a style quilters who got here before me call Housetop.  Bright color anchors the middle, supporting strips build the sides.  The fun of it is it gets big quickly because of all those jeans legs.   Front legs feature worn areas around the knees, as in some of the  Gee’s Bend quilts which continue to be a divine inspiration me.

Still, the color isn't popping here the way it is in the Gee's Bend quilts (seriously, you won't regret opening the link above).

At four big blocks it’s ready for a border, but I have run out of jeans legs.  Luckily my son has outgrown these

Now he prefers "skinny jeans" anyway. Does that mean he's a hipster?

With their 27″ inseam, these eight pieces easily cover the border

There's a substantial, "rugged" feel to this piece: I can almost smell the wood smoke.

but the corners could do with a little brightening.  There is a mystery fabric I think might help.  When my mother-in-law contributed her remnants for MFC, there was nearly a yard of upholstery which looks “retro” enough to be mid-century.  Unfortunately there was nothing printed on the selvage line to identify it.

Would you use this for curtains? Shazam!

With border added, the first quilt upcycled from these old pants measures 56 x 65 inches, a generous throw.

It will be finished when fill and a khaki back are added.

Many small pieces of denim remain.  With Modest Machine still armed with a heavyweight needle, I decide to keep going and use up the denim scraps.  The mystery fabric leads the way.  I like how its zig-zag pattern echoes with random denim strips.

Perhaps a throw for a dog bed?

This just needed to be sewed up —  I didn’t want to embellish it any more than it appears above.

With a narrow denim strip border, it's a big welcome mat size.

Feeling remiss about not having used any khaki, I decide to go for one more.  This arrangement comes together quickly:

I like to leave pockets or plackets or other hints of the prior life of fabric when possible.

I want to offset the four-square center with something less balanced, so I randomly join denim strips for a wide strip border

This is quick, so I feel productive. Then all the seams need pressing, so I take two steps back.

A khaki border “mat” gives the feeling a of picture frame.  Perhaps a wall hanging? 

This didn't use much khaki, but it still needs a back so the khaki won't go to waste.

In the end these old pants yielded three quilts.  Although I’ll admit, these three quiltops took a bit longer than a day to make.  Next post will reveal the finished products, complete with khaki backs and yarn ties.

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