Denim has intrigued me for a long time. I’ve collected jeans for many years with the thought that “someday I will make something with these”. On a trip to the big Houston Quilt Festival several years ago, I took a “denimology” class taught by Flavin Glover. The class was superb and Ms. Glover was creative, informative, and a delightful instructor.
By the way, if the opportunity arises to go the Quilt Festival in Houston, take it. My sister and I had a blast! So much inspiration. Awesome teachers, and classes, and the VENDORS!!!! I yi yi! But alas, I do digress.
As retreat coordinator this year I chose a subject dear to my heart. Retreat was about the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle) and 5 Hands (hand made, second hand, hand me down, hand in hand & helping hand ) . All of the samples and projects offered were made using materials that had a previous purpose.
Denim played a big part in the retreat. One of the pieces was a quilt I made using denim, and upholstery samples and a free quilt pattern from Benartex called Denovo. PDF can be found here: 3dudesquilting.com. The pattern was not followed to the letter, it was more inspirational. The orientation of the blocks was a little tricky because most of the upholstery samples were directional – hence “not followed to the letter”.
A few words of advice when using denim. First of all, change your needle. Use a denim needle or size 16. Using 100% cotton denim is easier than using denim that has spandex. I found I needed to stabilize my black because of that. It was worth it though because I really wanted the color. Use similar weight fabrics if you are going to mix denim. A wonderful match is upholstery fabrics. I scored a sample book at a flea market and love the results. Sometimes you can find sample books at thrift stores, or even E-Bay. One of the things that was brought to my attention at class was if you have a really nice machine, you may NOT want to use it if you are going to do much denim work. Some of these designer machines come with a big price tag, as do the repairs, and they were not designed to work on these dense thick fabrics for long periods of time. Because it is my intent to do a fair amount of denim work, I purchased an inexpensive Singer that specifically indicated that it could handle denim. It worked like a dream. Often you can find these machines second-hand and in running condition.
Before sending your denim piece out for quilting, make certain that your quilter realizes that you are sending a denim quilt. They too will have to use a bigger needle, and may suggest a thicker thread. Terry Burris Quilting made this beauty shine with a lovely allover pattern.
Isn’t this just perfect to have in the back of the car “just in case”, or as a picnic quilt. This quilt will take a beating, so it’s good to throw on the floor for babies, or to make cozy on the couch. Because there is not a lot invested, they would also make wonderful charity quilts.
There is no doubt that this quilt will last a long time. My denim adventure has just begun and I can’t wait to share with you where it takes me.