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5 essentials to quilting with denim

by Jackie White

Quilting with denim is a unique and fun concept. Denim is durable and so rugged that it is a great fabric to use in a quilt. It does come with a few challenges that can be overcome, so keep on reading the 5 essentials to quilting with denim to find out how to quilt with denim! During this week long series of posts we’ll chat about denim and how you can embrace it in your quilting life. As well I’ll show you two fun quilts you can make and an adorable little mug rug!

Ready to dig out the denim and quilt?

The story on denim

Denim gets its ruggedness from the weave, the ‘twill weave’ to be exact. The yarns are woven so that one set of yarns sit on top of 2-4 sets of yarns at regular intervals to create a diagonal textured fabric. This gives it the lasting effect of the fabric.

You can also buy different types of denim as well. There’s a stretch denim that has spandex yarn added to it to give it a bit of elasticity, heavy denim you find on jeans, printed denim and a lighter thinner denim to use.

One of the most fun things about denim is that no two pieces are alike. Especially when cutting up old jeans. They have been washed different amount of times, worn more or less and each piece of denim is completely unique and each has a story!

Denim samples

Denim samples

Tips on sewing with denim

All types of denim are fine to use when making quilts. If you’re going to use stretch denim, be sure to back it with a stabilizer. When working with any denim, but particularly the heavier and thicker denim, be sure to use what they call a jean needle.

Wash and dry your denim before using to combat any shrinkage issues.

If you can choose between lightweight and a heavier weight denim, choose the lighter, it’s easier to quilt.

Needle for sewing denim.

Needle for sewing denim.

Use the walking foot for better control. Take your time. Due to the fact that denim is a heavier fabric to work with, you don’t want to be shoving it under your machine. Go slow and set a nice pace so that the fabric is not being pulled or pushed through your sewing machine causing uneven stitches or needle breaks.

Frayed piece of denim

Frayed piece of denim

Be aware that denim can fray.

Try pairing denim with quilting cotton to ease up on bulk and weight.

Quilt blocks of denim and cotton fabric.

Quilt blocks of denim and cotton fabric.

Denim really is a fun fabric to use in quilting because it has so many unique characters to it. The various shades, types, and all the different ways you can use it in your quilting. You don’t have to make a quilt out of it, think of the quilted accessories it would be wonderful for!

Now that you know the 5 essentials to quilting with denim, come back tomorrow as we tackle the dilemma of finding denim and what to do with it once you have it!



Bina August 19, 2020 - 10:43 pm

First time quilting. Making a tshirt quilt with a denim border. I need some hints on how to cut and attach to quilt top

Lorraine November 13, 2015 - 6:48 pm

I enjoy seeing your denim posts! I have tons of denim collected from years of my family and kids and could make quilts for an army. I like the wave blocks and will try that next.


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