In 2001, my sister and I each had a child graduating from high school and we decided to make a quilt for each of them as a gift. I was going through a bit of a slump in my sewing so I let my sister pick the pattern. She had this great pattern for denim quilts and thought that would be a good choice for her son and my daughter to take to college and since I had no better idea it was decided. We got together at her house and got the two tops made in a day or two and though both of the graduates were in and out of the house, neither had a clue.I loved the concept of this pattern and was inspired to make a few more, and then a few more and now I have no idea how many I have made based on the pattern but it is well over 100.
Many fellow quilters have asked for information about the way they are put together over the years including one request on my last post. I was hoping I had already done a tutorial here but looking back quickly did not reveal one so here goes...
The pattern was adapted from the pattern for the cover quilt on Kaffe Fassett's book Glorious Patchwork. I am not sure who adapted the pattern for denim but it was inspired. I have changed the pattern a little to make it easier for this method, but it can be done as printed in the book.I make my quilts out of old jeans because I love the variations in the fabric as it fades and the pockets are great. You can also use new denim of various shades or colors. If you are using jeans, you either rip them at the seams or cut them apart. Then you cut squares that are 2", 4", 6", 8", 10" and 12". You also need the fabric for the strips in between the blocks. The pattern called for black cotton and I have used several bolts of 60" black Kona for these quilts! The black is cut into 1" strips. Some of the strips are cut into 2", 4", 6", 8", 10" and 12" lengths as needed. Some are used for the strips between the rows.
The basic method here is to put a strip of black between each block of denim. The beauty of this is that you are never sewing denim to denim so the seams don't get too bulky. You need to practice with your machine to get the right seam allowance. I have found that if I use my 1/4" foot for this quilt the pieces don't match up as they should so I use the regular foot on my Pfaffs and sew more of a true 1/4" seam as opposed to a scant 1/4".
My first thought after I got the pattern was to use the sleeves that I cut off the twill coverall's that my husband wears for work. I have always saved them (I know, a little crazy) and he has had grey, forest green, cadet blue and navy blue coveralls over the years but that looked pretty boring so I went to thrift stores and fabric stores and found some twill prints that tied them all together. This is the one I made for my husband using up the last of my twill pieces (at that time) and as you can see I only had 2", 4" and 6" pieces left.In the first few years I went to thrift stores and picked up jeans for the quilts. I found that 12" squares aren't easy to get from most jeans so I bought some denim dresses or jumpers and occasionally very large jeans. I've also found a few pieces of denim yardage at the thrift stores or bought some on sale for the larger pieces. I have gotten some great colored/print denims at the thrift store in the children's section and a few in the women's section. I found one that was a white denim with huge blue roses that should never have been made into a pair of size 20 capris! It did work well in my king size quilt when added to yellow, green and blue denim!Now, since people know I make quilts out of old jeans, they frequently ask me if I am still making the denim quilts and hand me grocery bags of jeans. This is why I have several boxes of jeans in my attic waiting to be cut up!
The best thing about this pattern that makes a 52" X 56" quilt is that it can be easily adapted to make a larger quilt or to use different pieces if you don't have the correct number of pieces of the various sizes from the jeans you want to use. It is all based on a 2" grid. The pattern starts in the middle with a 12" square and then rows are added similar to a log cabin block.
Here is one I made for a friend using jewel tone quilting fabric. Love this one!!!This is one I made this summer experimenting with a pink print fabric for the strips instead of black.After getting this round robin quilt put together I decided to use some cream/tan denims with a maroon Kona for the strips and got this great quilt. As I said earlier, I have made more than 100 quilts based on this pattern. I made 7 or 8 using Christmas prints, a couple for wedding quilts using the wedding colors in various prints and one using Laurel Burch's Ocean Song swirl fabrics in various colors. Most have been denim and many of those were donated to the foster care program in our area for foster kids graduating from high school. I have found that teenagers love these quilts. They are also great for baby quilts or young children as they are very sturdy.
The original graduation quilts and my king-sized quilt were professional machine quilted by a friend. Then for the next few years I tied the quilts until I got brave enough to machine quilt them on my trusty Pfaff 1222's.
If you have any questions, or would like me to email the pattern to you, just email me.