Monday, January 31, 2022

A Deluxe Denim Quilt

You guys!  I just finished this beast-of-a-quilt, and it is gorgeous, even for denim!

I don't normally do commission quilts, in fact, never.  I don't have time.  But my sister had a friend who begged to have a quilt made from all his old Levis.  I quoted a price that I figured would change his mind, and he accepted!  Now, I just needed about 50 hours to do it.

At first, they brought over a bag of jeans that had basically one tone of denim.  He must love a certain brand!  To create any kind of patchwork, which is what he wanted, there must be contrast, so I had them round up some dark and light pairs.  I realized that I could make a giant buffalo plaid with the three contrasting shades.  If I ran short on light-colored denim, I'd flip over a medium-toned block - the backside is usually lighter.

The quilt measures about 105" x 105".  The blocks for the quilt center were cut into 8-inch squares.
     Dark:  (49) squares, plus enough 2-1/2" strips for binding, pieced, about 438 inches long.
     Medium:  (84) squares, plus (56) 4" x 8" rectangles and (4)  4" squares for borders.
     Light:  (36) squares.     

To make the sewing manageable, I sewed 16 or 20-patch blocks at a time.  Then I sewed the blocks into columns, then sewed columns together.

I used a generous 1/4" seam allowance and pressed all of the seams open.  The seams took just as much time to press as they did to sew!  Lots of steam and starch, and what I call "quilting by hammer" if I needed to reduce any bulk, lol!  I just pounded any super-bulky intersections into submission with my little girlie hammer, haha!  

The quilting is a simple edge-to-edge computerized design, "Squared",  and I used the largest needle possible. 

I babysat the quilting machine as it stitched so I could hold down any seams where they were especially bulky.  Because I had taken the time to press open all the seams and cut out as much bulk as possible in the squares prior to sewing, it all seemed to work out beautifully.  Here it is, almost finished!!

Then it was time for the binding.  

I first tried to stitch it on like any quilt, with a double-fold technique, but quickly realized that it needed to be a single layer, like a giant piece of bias tape.

I used a walking foot on the sewing machine and put a vinyl glove on my left hand to help me wrangle the quilt under the needle.  It was a monster!!

My walking foot has an interchangeable feature, so I learned how to exchange the soleplate to the "stitch in the ditch"/"edge joining" plate, and finished the binding by machine. 

 I think it looks gorgeous!


Last step: stitch on the pockets.  This I had to do on a regular sewing machine as there is no way my longarm could go over that much bulk!  It was a workout trying to wrangle the whole quilt through the sewing machine just to get that last pocket sewn near the center.  Ugh - broke a needle on the last seam with two inches to go!  But it all worked out, got the last pocket sewn on, and then had to go and see the chiropractor, haha!

Here's what I learned:  

  •  If you want pockets on your denim quilt, cut the square with a pocket still on it, and just quilt around the pocket.

  • If using denim for the binding, stick to a single layer.  I used 2-1/2" strips and took a generous half-inch seam to sew it to the front, then folded it over to the back and stitched in the ditch, catching the fold on the other side. 

  • Use a walking foot if you can.  Bonus: I learned how to change out my walking-foot soleplate!

  •  If you plan to machine-quilt, press (steam, starch, or hammer) the seams open where possible.  Use a less-dense design, and try to quilt around any super bulky areas with the quilting.

  • This is a heavy quilt, but not as heavy as it felt!  It felt like it weighed about 40 pounds, but it really only weighs about 13 pounds!!  Make sure you have enough table space to support the bulk of this big ol' quilt.

Finally, I think this is probably the nicest denim quilt ever!  Lightweight flannel on the back, Hobbs' 80/20 poly/cotton batting to cushion the seams, and it's a luscious Buffalo Plaid quilt.  Now, just look at this smile!  I think he loves it too!!

Heehee - My sis just sent me a picture of his text later that night...πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

And now I know what it will take for me to make one for myself, someday.  But maybe mine will be a lap quilt...*Ü*

Happy Quilting!


  1. Yep, that smile says it all! That was certainly quite an undertaking, but worth it in the end! Just think of how much this will be loved for years to come. Also, think of how many jeans you saved from the landfill! Bravo to you and your sorcery powers!

  2. Wonderful work! Buffalo plaid was a great idea, and it worked. Love that quilting pattern!

  3. So simple, and yet so awesome! Love it. Thank you so much for including dimensions and construction tips, too. Now, where is that bag of old jeans I was going to donate....

  4. congrats on a job well done! I've told my husband that same trick (he's an upholsterer): quote the airplane interiors so high that they will go somewhere else. :-) Too bad it didn't work for you, but you learned alot and did a beautiful job, and the recipient looks like he loves it!!! Hugs, H

  5. Just gorgeous! Just looking at the quilt I get a warm and cozy feeling. Your quilting pattern is perfect.

  6. Ah, what a glad story! I'd say his reaction was worth the agony of getting this super-sized quilt under control!

  7. Wow that is beautiful!!! Great job. I've always thought it would be a good idea but never saw the perfect way to do it, until now!

  8. Wow! That is one gorgeous quilt and one very happy recipient.

  9. the quilt turned out great, but no way for me, fabric is too heavy. I just threw 3 pair of jeans in the garbage after saving them for awhile

  10. This is beautiful! You’re my hero, I would have never used denim bindingπŸ˜¬πŸ˜‚ But you have given me some courage for my 3rd denim quilt. Just made a denim quilt (my 2nd) for my brother with 8.5 in squares. I’m so glad I cut pocket squares. However, I went with 1/2 seams on this quilt and my presser foot even with the hump jumper did not make friends with a few pocket edges while sewing my columns together. Denim quilts are fun and sometimes frustrating to make, but they are worth the smiles😁

  11. What a great quilt! I'm amazed and impressed! I just love how it turned out. I bet it feels great to be "trapped" underneath it too! Well done and kudos!

  12. I am half way with my first denim quilt, I see you left some of the original seams on your blocks, I did the same - wasn’t sure at first, but loved how they look. I used different size blocks in rows, some long, some short, and it is turning our very nicely.

  13. That would've made a great quarantine/lockdown project. You did an Amazing job and the look on the recipient's face is priceless πŸ˜€

  14. What a stunning quilt and very happy gentleman. Well done!


So happy you stopped by for a visit! Thank you!