Things I have learned about recycling jeans!

I don’t have an industrial machine. Sometimes I had to be a little forceful in the vicinity of the thick seams ….. but gently!
Some of the waistbands were stitched to a scrap piece by hand, others were done by machine (straight stitch) …. negotiating the belt loops very carefully.

The biggest risk was around studs which were sometimes too close to seam lines for comfort! One was so close I don’t know how I missed hitting it, as I couldn’t see it as it was the bottom layer …. I usually had them on top of they were close so I could hand turn the machine when I went past that point.

The zips and buttons are fully operational, but I stitch them closed from the back before joining pieces together so that chocolates are never lost inside the quilt! I do it by hand with grey hand quilting thread … doubled. Doesn’t have to be neat, just secure!

Denim jeans stretch, even if they are not  stretch jeans. This can be helpful, and a hindrance! (It does make them more comfortable to wear!) There is a little give in every brand of jeans I have used.

Don’t expect to be as precise cutting or stitching old jeans as you would expect when working with quilter’s cotton.

Use the stretch to fudge when stitching …. I tried re-cutting, and finished up with one piece too small to use!

If you have your sewing station set up for machine quilting large quilts, now is a good time to use it.

It takes about three pairs of jeans to make a small quilt, and once you start joining them together they get very heavy!

You can buy matching jeans from Op Shops, but though they make better looking rugs, they don’t have the sentimental character of jeans which have been worn to death by someone you know.

You can force the bulky bit through the machine, but do it very gently … to save needles and to avoid damaging the machine. Stitching as slow as you can go works better.

It is amazing just how close you can go to a stud with the rotary cutter if you are very careful, and very watchful

Rotary cutters don’t like studs when you are not watching what is going on!.

If you choose to use pockets and front openings and need to add bits to make them into the size square or rectangle you need, add the pieces then cut to size. A nice neat quarter-inch seam allowance isn’t going to work with assorted denim weight fabrics!

Quick-un-picks are made for gentler jobs than removing belt loops from jeans.

Have spare machine needles on hand before you start sewing.

Shaggy denim rugs can be made without any backing, or with backing but no wadding, or with wadding as well!

I added an extra strips around the edges …. cut two inches wide and zigzagged along the middle …. and when the first one looked a little flat I used two strips. The strips are a lighter weight fabric …. summer weight jeans rather than heavy work jeans! I had a stash of rectangles from an op shop many moons ago.

It seemed logical to add something extra around the edge on the ones with the raggy seams between the blocks …. otherwise the edge would have less bulk than the seam lines ….. and once I had added the strip to them I couldn’t see any reason not to add it to the ones with just the edge finished that way.

Having completed four with the fluffy edge and one and a half with bound edge, both are hard on the hands! Stitching through denim by hand to secure the binding is harder than stitching to quilter’s weight cotton, snipping the layers of denim is harder than snipping flannel would be ….. but both are worth the effort.

And the fluffy edges are a fun result!

When you run out of jeans with just a few leftover bits and pieces after the three quilt tops you need are together …, don’t go Op Shopping for more! Not straight away, anyway!

Joy said in a comment:
October 13, 2010 at 9:05 pm e

Another hint..discovered accidently!

Stitching over those thick intersection seams is even easier with the walking foot on.


And another one learned accidentally …. and I have to admit to learning this one!

The amount of fluff in the washing machine after washing one of these quilts for 15 minutes is enough to block the pump! Butch said he had never seen so much lint in the lint catcher, let alone the pump! Ooops! From now on a quick rub in the wash tub followed by a quick spin, then into the dryer …. it is easier to remove the lint from that!


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