Denim blues

Denim blues

When I ran the bags of fun challenge I did not realise how popular refashioning/recycling jeans has become. After the challenge I swore I would never trying to embroider denim again. I should know myself by now and never use the word never but … I have this pile of denim … and I think I have been bitten by the embroidery on denim bug. I am resisting but I think it may be futile as I have embroidered on denim and recycled denim garments since I was in my 20’s

Why am I not blogging my normal Wednesday Wisp progress well I have been working on writing my Sumptuous surfaces online course and have not done any of my own stitching but decided I needed a little break from writing.

Since I want to use this denim up (it has been in my cupboard far too long) I decided to poke about the net a bit and found 12 Lessons on Recycling Denim This series of articles provided some ideas. I liked the zipper pins idea but I think they would make better fridge magnets although I don’t need more fridge magnets. Nothing apart from a quilt would reduce this pile and perhaps be a nice picnic/folk festival blanket. It would have to be an unembellished crazy quilt but I don’t want to embark on a huge project until the WISP pile is reduced so that idea was put to one side.

Although I am a backpack person I do not need a denim backpack. I have enough bags , totes, purses and the like, although I must admit to being tempted towards making a crocheted denim bag what for – to keep my crocheting in of course! I think however that strips of denim would be hard on the hands to crochet although I have filed this idea away in my visual journal because I think using the same idea to recycle tencel garments would work even better.

Since a perfectly good cane basket performs the function of containing my crochet I do not really need a bag like this but containers were on my mind and this craft bucket was considered for a few moments but I really don’t need one.

I carried on trawling for other ideas for Crafts Made From Jeans. Then I found this Squidoo lens on Recycled Used Jeans which provoked a few more ideas. I do not need placemats, pot holders, Christmas stockings, hats, folder jackets or notebook covers.

Splicing jeans open to make to make skirts both short and long is popular and I hate to admit it but since these skirts were popular in the 70’s I made about 5 of them and since I now sport a matronly figure they look a bit silly on me!

In fact there is a heck of a lot of refashioning of garments going on web wide. Take a look at Wardrobe refashion

Of course denim waistcoats are back so I could make one of those but the idea only half grabs me. I could be really twee and make a couple, one for me, and one for Jerry, but you can tell from the tone I am sure that we are both far to individualistic to dress in a similar manner.

A jacket may be an option but the scissors are not yet flying, and I am not yet skipping about enthused and energised by the idea yet, although I do plan to dig out my patterns and take a look at my options so at the moment that idea is the main contender.

The most practical way of reducing this pile is so far the picnic blanket/quilt idea but since I want to reduce my WISPs before I start any more large projects (small projects don’t count) I know the pile of denim will get stashed at the back of the cupboard and somehow grow more before I get to it again.

OK I have browsed until I am stale and stumped as to how I can use this denim. Does anyone have any other ideas? As I say at the moment the idea of jacket is the main contender but leave a suggestion if you have a good link or another idea.


  1. You would NOT look silly in one of those jean skirts, Sharon… I’m 57, and matronly figure, yes, and I wear them… gotta be some Spandex in the jeans you use tho ! Otherwise not comfy ! Most have a bit of Spandex in them these days. Go for it !!!

  2. Dy did a wonderful job on the raggy. She’s right about the snipping. You must have scissors that are tight [no space between the two blades] and very sharp at the tips. Most are not. I wore out two brand new pairs of tiny embroidery scissors on 11 raggy lap quilts one Christmas.

  3. hi sharon,
    I wanted to share a quick idea for a picnic or beach blanket.
    I cut 6 inch squares out of the best parts of recycled jeans and assembled them 4 patch fashion . But the time saver was I did them like the rag time quilts with the seams to the right side of the quilt. Clip these and wash it to allow the fabric to fray. no need for a backing for at the beach or sunbathing ect.
    I made 20 of these for gifts for family and friends. They take the abuse well and are great for kids too.

  4. Me again! Thanks Sharon for the thoughtful writing about the value of comments. I, too, love it when people comment. How else do we know that anybody actually reads what we write about? I sometimes wonder if I’m writing only for myself and after I’ve done over 300 posts, I know it can get discouraging when there isn’t much feedback.

    Denim is such a great fabric and it’s a total shame not to be able to recycle it in some way. I have a huge shelving unit full of the stuff and really need to get more of it used up, so I’m following this discussion with interest too.

    Mary Anne
  5. Mary Anne

    Please don’t ever fret about over using comments as I see them as the place conversation takes place and where things like kinks and information can be shared with everybody – comment all you like! The only comments I don’t approve are either porn, straight out advertising ie spam, and abusive material.

    I know I don’t always respond to all comments but I read them all and delight in them all. time just prevents me from spending too much time responding to everyone. I am not being rude just realisitc.

    I assume others read the comments and follow the links. One of the reasons I have the recent comments in my sidebar is so that people can click on them and follow what others think – not just me. I love it when people share thier ideas, what they have made and links they have found. So write as often as you like and I hope other do too and don’t ever feel they are not welcome. They are the life blood of a blog the place where interaction takes place and often the reason I write a blog at all. Comments are feedback without feedback I would never know there are people out there reading. I would see stats in my stat reader but a comment is human and statistics are not.

    So please, pleeeease, pleeeeeeeease always feel free to leave any comment that relates – links to what you have done and made are perfectly ‘on topic’ in my book and I definitely don’t see it as ‘over use’. What else is the technology for if not to connect people together and in turn share and connect their ideas?

  6. I’ve discovered that my favorite use for recycled denim is to cut it into three-inch strips. They store more compactly than intact jeans, and, sewn together with half-inch seams, they make a pleasing fabric for projects. I made this http://pocahontascofare.blogspot.com/2007/04/finishing-denim-patchwork-coverlet.html“ rel=”nofollow”> coverlet using 3-inch strips sewn into seven inch squares, and I recycled an overalls bib onto a http://pocahontascofare.blogspot.com/2006/07/bib-overalls-pocket-on-patchwork.html“ rel=”nofollow”> handbag made of 3-inch strips with some upholstry fabric sewn in.

    This is my first time commenting, but I’d like to add that you are a wonderful source of inspiration, and I enjoy your blog very much.

  7. Sharon: We seem to be on the same page with fabric today. You may know that I’m in process of packing up my home & stash and although I thought I only had the denim pieces on the top shelf of my cupboard….what did I find in the back of the closet? Did you see those large blue boxes on Magpie’s blog? Well, I found one FULL of denim pieces and many whole pairs of jeans. There were a lot of “legs” because I recall I almost always cut the girls jeans off in the summer for short.

    We’ve lived here 23 years and some of these must have moved here with us because it’s been a long time since my daughters (ages 45, 38, & 33) wore a size 6 child’s size! I’m donating 80% of them to Salvation army and only have kept a few with decorative elements on them to make bags for my 5 granddaughters this year for Christmas!

    But, so help me, I’m tempted to go out where I put those bags for Salvation army and snag some more pieces for a jacket like Magpie’s!

  8. The jacket is pretty. I also think the idea of a raggy quilt works well with denim — and they’re incredibly fast and simple to make.

    I for one would LOVE to hear all about your system for time mgmt and organization. I need it now more than ever and unfortunately is not my natural forte in life.


  9. Glad you liked it Sharon! I’ve made a lot of them & they’re fun to do.
    I use the sew-n-flip method of CQ onto a cotton base. I topstitch most of the joins with my machine, using a heavy duty thread (usually yellow to ‘match’ what they use on jeans). Then I add recycled pockets, labels and some metal buttons here & there for sparkle. Then I line the jacket with some flannelette…altho in warmer climates cotton would work too.
    The sleeves are usually made from the legs of the jeans and I add some seminole to make them fit the pattern (I could use a gusset…if I was a good enough seamstress!!).
    If you decide to make one, don’t hesitate to pick my brain (what there is of it).

    Mary Anne
  10. I’ve tried a lot of different ways to recycle denim, and my current preference is to cut up the clothes as they wear out or are discarded, and cut the pieces into three-inch-wide strips. They store very compactly this way, and I’ve found that this size strip works best for me–with half-inch seams, I can sew it into blocks of fabric for projects. I really like the look of two-inch denim stripes. I used it for a patchwork cover of http://pocahontascofare.blogspot.com/2007/04/finishing-denim-patchwork-coverlet.html“ rel=”nofollow”> seven-inch squares (three strips to a square), and I used longer strips to make this recycled
    http://pocahontascofare.blogspot.com/2006/07/bib-overalls-pocket-on-patchwork.html“ rel=”nofollow”>bib-overalls bag.

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, but this is my first post. You are an inspiring writer/artist.

  11. I am trying to avoid the pic-nic rug idea as it sounds like a big project – although it could be assembled quickly

    as for time management – I just focus on what I want to get done each day – and try and do it –
    I break down tasks and make a list of the components and run a constant to-do list
    So TAST would be broken down into three tasks – work samples, photograph samples, write post
    I try and cross off 5 things off my to do list a day ( some tasks very small) in crossing off 5 a day I keep getting little steps done – and at the end of the day I feel satified and in control – this could turn inot a post – I should put it on my to-do list! (but I don’t think I will because I am not sure how many people would really be interested)

  12. A simple one patch quilt…cut many 6″ squares of denim and make your Festival Blanket. You have enough different values in your pile to make it fun. Just cut’em up, whack ’em into squares, and sew’em together. It would be fast! (Use a sharp blade, though.)
    You can machine quilt it in bright thread…sparingly…and you’ll be using it in no time.

    It wouldn’t be twee at all, either!! πŸ˜‰

  13. I have no idea about the denm but just one question, where do you get all the time for all the things you do? You leave me Gob smacked with all the wonderful creative stuff you do.

  14. Well they make terrific rag rugs if you cut them into strips and weave them. But you could also crochet or braid the strips too.

    You could make denim pillows, doggie beds, placemats, table runners, stiffen the fabric with some paverpol and mold it over a bowl covered with plastic wrap and make a denim bowl. Journal covers would be fun and would make great gifts – check out my padfolio tutorial on my blog. Denim would be fun for that.

  15. Sharon you sure have been searching for a project and I can’t help you either-but I thought I would let you know that we did a project at the Guild with the kids and they made little bags out of the pockets.
    I asked my local op-shop if they had any jeans that they were going to throw out but had good pockets could I have them—–70 pairs of jeans later —you can imagine the pile that I have now–if you decide to make a picnic rug let me know.


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