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Thread: I need help from anyone who has worked with heavy Denim...

  1. #1
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    I need help from anyone who has worked with heavy Denim...

    I am in the finishing stages of a quilt for my dear friend's DH. She describes him as "just your average redneck cowboy". She is bringing me all of his old "Wranglers" to use as the backing so that he can take it hunting, camping, and so on. Wrangler makes a pretty heavy denim, so any advice you have would be so appreciated. I will be machine quilting, and do not know if a batting is even needed. Help?
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results are your fault. Change is the wings you give yourself.

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    Super Member chairjogger's Avatar
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    Simple simple design. The weight of jean fabric his multiplied. Great idea, but bet your friend is not a quilter. Summer quilt design maybe. Nearly no batting. A really heavy needle and best an older generation machine that has more power. My 1969 singer is like a quilting tank compared to my 2007. Good luck. Suggest to use the fabric as corner pieces rather than whole quilt. Wow. Been there..did not finish.
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    Super Member ckcowl's Avatar
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    we have made many denim quilts over the years- my mom used to purchase whole bales of denim jeans for us to cut up for these quilts which we made (tops and backings with good lofty batting) and sold in the gift shop at the lighthouse she used to live in *park caregivers*; we cut the denim jeans into 7" squares (the largest we could consistently get) (she saved back pockets and made other quilts with those) then just pieced the squares into rows, sewed the rows together- using a 1/2" seam, pressed open. the variations in the colors/fade of the jeans created movement/design. sandwiched then straight line quilted- some in the ditch, some diagonally every 4"- sometimes when she thought my sister & I needed something to do we would do 'quilt as you go' sitting at the machine quilting each block- which she would then put together with sashing strips. the quilts were very heavy, very warm and very popular. we used a 'Sharp' needle and heavy thread (30wt) the quilts were easy- we could make 3 or 4 in a week. when the lighthouse was closed there were still people who used to 'visit' every year who still years later contact her asking if she is still making those denim quilts. denim is not difficult to work with. (we did use scissors to cut- I do not think my mom has moved on to 'rotary cutters' yet) I would think though, if you use scissors to cut away the seams- then open up the denim fabric you could cut your patches with a rotary cutter if you wanted.
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  4. #4
    Super Member GingerK's Avatar
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    I have made a few and the recipients really appreciate them. Like ckcowl said, use 1/2 inch seams and press them open. I put a pocket block on each corner so that the user could put in a rock to anchor the quilt to the ground if necessary. Some people use the side seams in the blocks--which will allow you to get a 10-12 inch block (cut open along the inseam and lay flat. you should be able to get 2 large blocks per leg that way. Some do not like them especially if the quilt is made to lie on instead of under. I backed one of mine with heavy well shrunk flannel and just used a crosshatch quilting. No batting. Another one, I backed with cammo fabric and ended up tying that one instead of quilting in. Also as ckcowl said, use a denim needle and heavy thread and be ready for tired hands. It really is a feeling of accomplishment tho.
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    Yikes! I would not enjoy machine quilting with denim for backing. It would be alright of it was one piece but the seams on the bottom are going to be hard to quilt through. I would do 1/2 seams, press open and use my walking foot for simple quilting. If possible quilt between the seams.

  6. #6
    Super Member PenniF's Avatar
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    I have "electric" scissors that i bought and use exclusively for cutting up denim. They are not that expensive...and believe me...you will think they are worth every penny after you hand cut just half a dozen pair of jeans into workable segments. Just a suggestion.
    Of all the things i've lost, i miss my mind the most.

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    The cutest idea I have ever seen on a denim quilt, use the waistbands for the edges. This person undid the beltloops at the bottom and reattached then to the quilt. Using the top of the waistband for the edge. A little work but quite effective.

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    I make a lot of jean quilts and double sew the seams. I make the blocks 8 1/2 inch squares, cutting them with a rotor cutter. I use a orange friskars craft scissors with a spring to cut the jeans apart. My hand never hurts. I also cut smaller blocks from the jeans so I don't have much waste after cutting the big blocks. I also put the quilt on my quilt frame and tie the quilt with double pearl cotton. Pearl cotton is much stronger than yarn. My husband built my quilt frame from a pattern we bought off the internet. It has 3 rollers, one for flannel, one for batting and one for the jean quilt. And I sew a 1/4 inch seams. The pockets I take all the thread out of them and sew them with colored thread using a stretch stitch so the thread shows up. I also make purses with the pockets using the slide seams of the jeans for the straps. Then I sew buttons on the purse, like lady bugs, beach stuff, ect. Good luck.

  9. #9
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    I was thinking of just over-lapping the denim 1/2 inch, and letting the denim fray as a design feature and not having to quilt through the thick seams. Do you think this might work and still be able to quilt through it?
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results are your fault. Change is the wings you give yourself.

  10. #10
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    For a "redneck cowboy" I would add some red hankies some place on it - maybe coming out of a pocket.

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