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Page 1 - Cutting the denim

Denim Chenille Quilt

This very, very, very easy quilt has no quilting, no batting, no binding… and you can recycle old clothes to make it, so it's inexpensive, as well. It makes a great take-along quilt - a throw, picnic rug, car quilt - because it's so sturdy and washable. Mine is 55" X 66", but you can make yours larger or smaller as you like. It goes together quickly, and it looks equally good with bandanna reds as with pink pastels!

YOU WILL NEED:

Sewing machine in good working order, with denim needles
Sewing Thread - gray or to blend with the cotton fabric
Rotary cutting equipment ----a 45 mm or larger rotary cutter, a mat 18" x 24" or larger, a 24" long ruler. The 12 1/2" square ruler is also very helpful. I prefer Omnigrid rulers.

Sturdy scissors (to cut through several layers of fabric)

DENIM:
If you are buying denim, purchase 4 yards of 44" wide or 3 yards of 58" wide. Otherwise, collect old blue jeans (the bigger the better) from friends, relatives, and the thrift stores. It would be good to have about ten pairs. You may need more or less, depending on how many usable squares you can cut from each pair.

COTTON CALICO:
The fabric used on the back of this quilt should be all cotton, and it should also be prewashed and pre-shrunk. You can use a variety of scraps or buy 4-12 new pieces.

If you are buying all new cotton fabric, you will need a total of 4-5 yards of 44" wide

YOU WILL CUT 120 - 6 1/2" SQUARES EACH OF DENIM AND CALICO.

Click on the link below to read directions for using the rotary cutter. Be sure to click on and read the links below the instructions!

Rotary Cutting Instructions

If you are purchasing new denim by the yard, you won't need most of the following instruction, but be sure to read the general rotary cutting information if you are not familiar with it already.

CUTTING THE DENIM SQUARES FROM OLD BLUE JEANS

Is your fabric all washed and dried (and pressed if necessary?)

Do you have all the supplies?

The first step is to cut the jeans apart. Use a good sturdy pair of scissors to cut the jeans apart as shown below until you have four flat pieces: leg fronts and leg backs. The leg backs will have the seat and back pockets, also. You needn't trim away the hems and seams at the edges of your flat pieces at this time - we will be cutting them off when we cut the squares.

Cut into the front of the jeans and start cutting around the pocket. Cut through the white inside pocket if necessary.

Cut between the pockets and the yoke seam (above the pockets)

After you have cut the back, come up around the other front pocket and then cut around the zipper, removing the entire waistband section. This waistband is scrap.

Cut the legs apart along the crotch seam, then cut along the leg seams to achieve four pieces of denim - two leg fronts and two leg backs (with pockets on the back pieces)

When you have finished cutting apart ALL the jeans, you will be ready to cut squares with the rotary cutter.

CUTTING THE DENIM INTO STRIPS

When all your jeans are in flat pieces, you are ready to begin cutting with the rotary cutter. Cut one denim piece at a time.

Please be careful with your rotary cutter. It is soooo unbelievably sharp. Do not open the blade guard until you are actually prepared to make a cut, and close it again as soon as you lift it from the mat at the end of EVERY cut. Most people who get cut do so because their blade is left open on the table. They get cut reaching over it or picking it up. (You know who you are…..)

Find the straight of the grain of the denim - the lengthwise threads that are woven to make the denim fabric. If your squares are not cut along the straight of the grain, they may not fray up as well. At this time, we are cutting right through the pockets as if they weren't there. The pockets will be picked off because the fabric underneath is usable.

We need 120 - 6 1/2" squares of denim, with no seams on them. We must cut away all the seams.

Use your ruler as a straight-edge to make the first long cut along the straight of the grain, as close to one long edge as you can get. For right handed people, the denim and ruler should be under your left hand, the cutter in your right hand, and you are cutting off a scrap along the right side of the ruler. For left-handed people, the denim and ruler are under your right hand, the cutter is in your left hand, and you are cutting off a scrap at the left edge of the ruler. Discard the scrap.

Turn the denim piece around so the cut edge is under your left hand (right hand for you lefties) Use the ruler to measure 6 1/2" from the long cut edge and cut again so you have a nice long strip of 6 1/2" wide, seamless fabric. Do this for all your denim pieces.

and then

CUTTING THE STRIPS INTO SQUARES

CUTTING A STRAIGHT END - This usually means removing a hem seam. Position a 6 1/2" wide strip on the cutting mat so the long edges are aligned with one of the horizontal lines on your cutting mat and the short edge you are intending to cut straight is under your right hand (left hand for lefties.) Lay the ruler on top of the denim strip, aligning it with the vertical lines and as close as possible to the short end, to trim off only as much as is necessary to get a square end.

......measuring 6 1/2"......

CUTTING SQUARES - Once you have lots of 6 1/2" strips of denim, you will cross-cut them into squares. You can stack them up and cut three or four strips at a time. Stack them up neatly, having the long raw edges even (and aligned with a horizontal line on the mat) and the short "square" ends even (and aligned with a vertical line on the mat.) The fabric should be positioned so the square-cut edge is under your left hand (yep - under the right hand for you left-handed people)

Use your ruler (under that same hand) to measure 6 1/2" and cut the square. Pick up the ruler and shift it over to measure and cut another square. Continue until you have cut as many squares as you can get from those strips.

.........................................

Cut right through the pockets as if they were not there. If you have squares with parts of pockets on them, use a seam ripper or sharp scissors to remove them.

The place where the pocket was will be darker than the surrounding area but will fade gradually with time and exposure to light - just like blue jeans always do!

Stack your squares in groups of ten to help you keep count.

You will need 120 squares for the quilt as I made it. It has 12 rows of ten squares. If you want to make your quilt bigger or smaller, decide how many squares you will need.

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copyright 2003 Catherine Timmons