Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Favorite Denim Quilt Tutorial Part 2

So if you have seen part 1 of this tutorial and have all of your squares cut. Congrats! You are now ready to start piecing together your denim quilt! For those of you who have made a denim quilt before you should know that I might make mine a little different than you have seen previously. That is why I titled this tutorial "My Favorite Denim Quilt." Because this is my favorite (and I might say the fastest) way to make a denim quilt. I DO NOT use batting and I DON'T use the "Sandwich Method." This being said let's dig in to how I DO IT!!!!

First you will need to select your backing fabric. I usually use a nice Polar Fleece, but I have used flannel too. (Flannel is great for baby blankets but you might want to consider using the "Warm and Natural" batting. It will make the seams more comfy for baby). Polar Fleece usual comes 60" wide so I use that width and then I usually use 2 - 3 yards for the length, depending on how tall the person is I am making the quilt for. For this tutorial I am using 2 yards.
Pre-wash and dry your fabric. Then find a big open space to lay the fabric on the floor so you can start arranging your denim squares.
Start by arranging one row horizontally and one row vertically. Then you can multiply the number of squares in each row to calculate how many squares you will need for your quilt. You may find that you don't have enough denim squares, if this is the case, count how many more squares you will need plus add enough squares for one more row. (You may find that after you get them all sewn together you can fit another row on. It is always good to be prepared). If you have enough squares great! Let's move on to the next step. If not, neatly pack everything up and start finding more jeans to cut. It really is better to have everything you need before you start.

You might notice when you are placing your squares that your denim squares will overlap the backing fabric. That's OK! Once you get your squares sewn together the seam allowance will reduce the overall length of the row.

Now comes the fun part!!! Arranging the squares. Your collection of jeans might yield a few different shades of denim. Have fun placing light and dark squares throughout the quilt, or place all the lights on one part and all the darks on the other part. This is where YOU get to be creative!!!!
I always like to throw a little whimsy into my quilts by adding a pocket square or two or three! (My girlfriend likes to hide the remote from her husband in the pocket squares of the quilt I made for her!)
Now it's time to sew!!!!

In order to maintain the overall design that you have worked so hard on you must pick up, stack, and sew the squares in the same order every time. Otherwise your quilt will not look the same after it has been sewn!!!!!

This is what I recommend.
Decide on a top and bottom of your quilt.
Pick up your first square of your first row and place it on top of the square to the right of it.
Then pick up those two squares and place them on top of the square to the right of them.
Repeat these steps until all of the squares in your first row are complete.
If you can't leave your project out, repeat the same steps for all of the rows making sure to mark each row with a corresponding number from top to bottom to maintain the design of the quilt.
Now take your first row to your sewing machine and let's start sewing!
You are going to place your squares WRONG SIDES TOGETHER!!!! I know this goes against everything you have been taught, and I can't tell you how many times I have gotten 4 squares in before I realized that I was sewing right sides together and had to pick it all out!!! (@#&**$#)
The easiest way to sew your row together is to sew it "Quilters Style."
Take your first two squares and line them up wrong sides together and sew it all the way down the length of the square. Just before you get to the end of the square, take your next two squares and place them wrong sides together and butt them up next to your first set of squares and continue sewing. Repeat this step until you have finished all of the squares for your FIRST ROW.
I usually use a 1/4 inch seam allowance because it is easy to line the fabric up with the side edge of my presser foot, but you can make your seams as big as you would like. (Just remember the bigger the seam the less length your row will have and the more dryer lint you will have to pick out (more on that later)).
Take your completed row and clip the thread in between each set of squares. Make sure that you put them back in their original order. I usually start at the bottom of the row, clip the thread and place the two square set on the table and then repeat that step so that I have a nice pile of squares that starts with my first squares again.
Now repeat the same "Quilters Sewing Method" with the two square sets and the four square sets until the entire row is attached together.
Take your first row back to your quilt project. Now you can see how much length was taken up in the seam allowance.

Continue sewing all of the rows in the same "Quilters style" until you have all of your rows finished.

Now it's time to start assembling the finished rows together.

I call this the "two by two" method. Take your first two finished rows and place them WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. Making sure to match the seams together for each square. You can pin it if you like. I usually just grab the next seams that need to match and make sure that they all match up all the way down the row as I am sewing. You may have to stretch the fabric a little to get them all to line up but that is OK.
Now take rows three and four and repeat the same step as you did with the first two rows.
Then take rows five and six ....... do you see the "two by two" pattern. This method makes it very easy to assemble the rows with out having to deal with all of the weight of the quilt as you are sewing until the very end.

Now continuing the "two by two" method take your completed row 1&2 and your completed row 3&4 and sew them together following the same steps.
Repeat the same steps for your completed row 5&6 and row 7&8 so that you quilt now looks like the picture above. A quilt divided in half. (You may have an uneven number of rows, if so just tack it on to the end of your last "two by two" set.)
Now take the two halves and repeat the same sewing procedure of lining up the seams of the square so they all match, stretching as needed. This is the most difficult part, the quilt is heavy so make sure you have a lot of table room to the left of your sewing machine for support.
Can you believe it you are almost done!!!!

Lay your completed quilt top on top of the backing fabric. As you can see there is a lot of length and width lost in the seam allowance. For this quilt I went back and added another horizontal row. (Aren't you glad you cut those extra squares!)
Now you can trim the excess fabric and sparingly pin the two pieces together. (It doesn't need to be ultra pinned, just enough to keep them together without it moving around.) Then sew the two pieces together (WRONG SIDES TOGETHER) using the same seam allowance that you used for your rows.
If you are making a large quilt you will want to do a little "Stay Stitching" in a few of the seams of the quilt so that the quilt will lay nicely and stay together while washing. I usually count in two or three squares from the top and the side, or the bottom and the side, and sew a little back and forth stitch right next to the seam in all four corners. (This stitching won't be noticed after you have clipped and washed the quilt because the fray of the fabric will cover it.)
Now comes the tedious part, the clipping!!!

I have made countless denim quilts. This part is my least favorite! But after I found these wonderful Heritage Cutlery Rag Quilt Shears (VP7)I couldn't believe the difference in the performance and the pain of my hands. These shears are a little pricey but if you plan to make a few of these quilts it might be worth the investment. These shears cut through the denim like butter!!!
This is when I usually sit down during a CSI, Castle, or The Mentalist episode and clip to my hearts content. You will need to stop periodically to rest your hand, (grab a snack) or watch a particularly exciting part of the show. I choose one direction (horizontal or vertical) and clip all of those rows and then flip the quilt and clip the next direction of rows. (Sometimes I lay the quilt on the back of my couch so I don't have to move so much bulk of the quilt as I clip, just make sure you have comfy shoes if you choose to use this method.)
Make sure that your cuts don't cut through your seam!!!

Now it's time to wash your quilt!!!!
If you have a front load washer it might take two times through the wash to get the fray of the quilt just right. Without the agitator it just takes a little longer. (For wear and tear on your laundry machines you might consider taking it to a laundry mat.)
When you have the look you want, place the quilt in the dryer and dry that puppy. You may find that it is not quite dry after your first cycle. I usually just hang it out on the line to finish drying.

Everyone I have given a denim quilt to has loved it!!!!

Do you remember earlier in this post I mentioned cleaning the lint trap? Well you will have to clean out your lint trap at least two or three times during the drying cycle.
This quilt produces so much lint is could be a fire hazard. So please clean it out as much as possible!!!
Your washer may need a little clean out as well.
After the quilt has finished drying and you have emptied your lint trap, take a flashlight and look in the space where your lint trap goes. If there is any remaining lint grab a Swiffer Duster or one of those fuzzy synthetic dusters and try to get as much of the lint out as you can.
The quilt may continue to put out a good amount of lint for the first two to three washes but should diminish after those washes.
So that's it! This is how I make "My Favorite Denim Quilt."
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any questions leave me a comment or send me an email. And if you make a quilt send me a pic, I would love to see what you created!!!

*****Crafty Camper Girl Update #1
 If your frayed edges do not fray as well as you would like them to, use a stiff brush and brush them to break down the fabric. This will really give you that "Rag Quilt" look with out having to keep washing and drying it over and over again :0)

*****Craft Camper Girl Update #2
I have another version of this quilt using military uniforms instead of jeans. Check it out HERE and HERE. And yes I broke my rule of not using batting, I am ok with it, and have forgiven myself, ;)


Anonymous said...

I'v been saveing up jeans for a few months now, I have about 7 pair. I'v never quilted before but love the look of a denim quilt expecially with the fraying. I just started searching the internet for guidance on how to begin and ran accross your tutorial. I like your style of writing, it's very clear and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing your method

Janice Ashworth said...

Thankyou, I have just finsihed mine and your tutorial was very useful, here are the photos

Mojo said...

I just made my first quilt following your instructions and it turned out awesome! Thanks so much!!

Angela said...

I wanted to send out a big Thank You for all your comments on the Denim Quilt Tutorial. I am so glad you all have found it useful! I love the pictures, keep them coming!

Unknown said...

Very beautiful ❤️