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8 steps to turn old jeans into new quilts

8 steps to turn old jeans into new quilts

by Jackie White

There’s nothing more satisfying than taking denim and recycling it into a beautiful quilt thereby giving that denim a second life. Jeans are the most common and easily accessible denim to recycle into quilts. They have history, different shades of blue depending on their previous life, and it’s fun to give them a new purpose!

Where can you find this denim or jeans to reuse? Start by looking right in your own closet or your partner’s! I bet you’ll find at least two pairs that you haven’t worn in a few years! Other places to pick up denim are rummage sales, thrift stores, or second hand stores.

When looking for used denim or jeans to be more specific, look for the larger sizes, you get more denim out of them. As well make sure they aren’t too worn or thin or have many stains.

Once you get your denim home, begin by washing the denim, and drying it to get rid of any stains and take care of any shrinking issues.

Cut apart the fabric and discard seams as they’re too bulky, unless you’re using certain components in the quilt such as a back pocket, then save those.

Jeans with seams and pockets cut out.

Jeans with seams and pockets cut out.

Once you’ve cut out your large denim pieces, look over to ensure there are no holes, thinning or stains on the denim.

Now you can start cutting the shapes that you need for your quilt. Remember denim does fray so you may have to consider having larger seam allowances to account for that if using a lot of denim. Using a variety of pieces of denim can provide a pleasing effect as well, especially if you have a lot of different shades.

Often if you have a full denim quilt, you don’t need a heavy batting, use a thin layer such as bamboo batting or flannel will work perfectly as well.

Binding your denim quilt

If you like the look of binding, use a nice cotton that corresponds with the denim. You might also consider using denim from shirts which are lighter fabric yet sturdier than quilting cotton to bind a denim quilt.

Other options are, instead of binding your quilt, consider a machine appliqued edge or rather a pillow case method.

Denim pieces cut out of jeans ready to be turned into quilt blocks.

Denim pieces cut out of jeans ready to be turned into quilt blocks.

Those extra pieces you cut out such as pockets, are great to use for embellishments on bags, purses and even quilts! Kids love having a jean pocket on a quilted backpack as it not only adds character but provides functionality too!

Now you have your denim pieces ready to be turned into a quilt! Start planning (or should I say dreaming) how to use all that scrumptious denim in a quilt. Join me the rest of the week when I show you a couple of quilt block patterns and an adorable denim project to get you inspired to get quilting with denim!



Carmela November 3, 2015 - 5:28 pm

My husband wants me to make him a blue jean quilt with all FLAT FELLED SEAMS! I told him that would be difficult since the seams would be too thick. He got upset with me and said he will design it and sew it his self. I told him to go ahead because I wasn’t going to do it.

Carla A. Canonico November 9, 2015 - 12:12 pm

Thank you for your comments Carmela, I think your husband is going for the all-out jean look! Felled seams finish certain projects perfectly, but you’re right it will make for a much thicker seam. I suggest you let him try it, and that he should use the felling foot in your sewing machine tool kit. If you don’t have one, you might want to ask which other sewing foot would make a good substitute. You’ll have to use the jean needle as well. Ask your local sewing or quilting shop to be extra sure about these details, depending on the sewing machine you have. It could be a project where you and your hubby could both take part in. You can cut the pieces and pin and he can sew it. Let me know how it turns out.


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