Friday, May 8, 2009

Denim Bulletin Board

Difficulty level: Intermediate

11”x17” corkboard or desired size
Parts of jeans (I like to use leftovers from other projects as the contrast of the different denims adds interest.)
Matching or contrasting thread

Cut out interesting parts of the jeans; pocket, decorator seam, etc. Arrange and sew the parts together. glue one edge to one side of the board. Wrap other sides to the back and hot glue. Hang on the wall and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Your Autograph Please!

A New Use For Jeans

As my daughter’s freshman year of high school was winding down, she decided that having her friends just sign her yearbook wasn’t enough. She wanted to have all their autographs together. Did she get a nice autograph book? No! She wanted to use something more creative.

She carefully chose just the right pair of jeans to wear on the last day of school and loaded her pocket with a Sharpie or two. Then all day she had her friends sign her jeans. When she came home, her jeans were a treasured keepsake. She had signatures up and down the legs. They looked fantastic.

I don’t know exactly what qualification she uses when choosing the jeans: they maybe her favorites or ones she is about to grow out of. But she has something special that she can keep forever. And her friend will always remember too.

So put on a pair of jeans, pull out a Sharpie, and choose your signing friends carefully.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1 Pair of Jeans, 3 Projects

This Saturday I'm teaching a workshop on making three different projects out of one pair of jeans.

We will take a single pair of jeans (size 10-12 girls up to ladies), a little print fabric, and a zipper to create a purse: a choice of bowl: and either coasters or bookmarks.We are going to have a lot of fun.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Eye Glass Case

Difficulty level: Easy

1. Cut a 6" to 6.5" circle.
2. Do any decorator stitching through the middle at this time. Zigzag around a little more than the top quarter of the circle.
3. Fold in half, matching the ends of the zigzagging and zigzag the rest of the raw edges. If you want you can embellish with permanent markers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Leob to Levi

1800’s: American gold miners wanted clothes that were strong and did not tear easily. To meet this demand, Leob Strauss started a wholesale business, supplying clothes. Strauss later changed his name from the rather plain Leob to the extremely recognisable Levi.

Information from Nzgirl

Friday, April 17, 2009

Making Denim

If you want to use a store bought pattern and still want to use your old jeans, here is how you can do that.

Cut off a pant leg or two and cut open at the plain seam. Cut up both sides of the seam close to the seam. Also cut off the hem.
You will then hav a good size piece of denim to work with.
If it still isn't big enough, sew another cut open leg to it. You can make a mock flat-felled seem by adding two rows of top-stitching.
Lay your pattern out on the denim, keeping in mind where the flat-felled seams are. Make sure to plan where the flat-felled seams will end up in the seams. Plan it so the thick flat-felled seams don't match each other exactly, otherwise the layers may be too think and will break your needle.You can also remove a back pocket or cut around a back pocket and use it for embellishment on your project.

Happy Creating!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Denim Belt

Difficulty level: Easy, no-sew

All you need is one pair of jeans that fit around the waist.

Cut off belt loops.

Cut off waist band close to bottom edge.

Weave through belt loops on a pair of jeans and you're done.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Levi Strauss the Inventor of Trousers called Denim Jeans

Jeans history would be nothing without Levi Strauss. Levi Strauss is credited with inventing jeans. Levi Strauss emigrated with his family to New York in 1847. His family sold dry goods such as canvas tenting and Manchester drapery goods. He moved to San Francisco in the early 1850s because he thought the same dry goods business would be brisk, because of the California gold rush.

About 20 years later, a solvent Levi Strauss and a Nevada tailor joined forces to patent an idea the tailor had for putting rivets on stress points of workman's waist high overalls, commonly known as jeans. Levi Strauss chose to use the stronger denim fabric and cotton duck, putting his own name on the product. Later the duck fabric was dropped as consumers found denim more comfortable, particularly after washing. Washing creates the faded bloom on the indigo blue dyeing that we all love.

Eventually in the 1950s people asked for denim jeans or just as often - Levi's jeans, rather than waist overalls. Other manufacturers began to produce jeans. Other brand names such as Lee Coopers and Wranglers also became famous. Each brand is renowned for having a particular cut.

This information comes from

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ruffle Bowl Project

Difficulty level: Beginner

You will need one pant leg cut open along the plain seam. Keep the flat-felled seam intact.

Step 1: Cut out two 10” circles. I like having a flat-felled seam running through the middle. Layer both circles wrong sides together with flat-felled seams opposite each other, one going vertical and the other horizontal. Pin together.
Step 2: Sew a 5” circle in the middle of the layers.

Step 3: Quarter mark the outside of the circle away from the thick seams with pins then pin mark the middle point between the quarter marks for eighth marks. Fold ¼” darts at each eighth mark from the outside raw edge to the center circle sewn. Topstitch along folded edge of dart from raw edge to stitched circle on the inside of the bowl. If you like, you can stitch along the other side of dart on the outside of bowl as well.

Step 4: Satin stitch around the outside raw edge of the bowl.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where did "jeans" come from?

The word “jeans” is thought to have come from “Genoese” the name for Italian sailors of Genoa. These sailors dressed in a blue fustian fabric that was made from a cotton and wool or linen. The Genoese fabric was imported to Britain as far back as the 16th century.

“In the 19th century, American weavers made hard wearing cotton duck, denim and jeans fabrics to satisfy a home market. At some time, some manufacturers must have replaced the yarns with the locally produced, more readily available cotton making the fabrics all cotton.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cutting Up Jeans

I have made a few mistakes in cutting up jeans and then trying to sew them together in other projects. Here is what I have found to be the best way to cu up a pair of jeans to make sewing pieces together go easier and less needles breaking.

This is how I cut up jeans when I’m going to use them on a quilt. Other project need jeans cut up in different ways.

1. It is best to avoid as many flat felled seams on an outside edge as possible. Cut up jeans so you have single layer raw edges.
2. Assess the jeans to determine the most interesting parts of the jeans to use. These would be pockets, loops, and seams.
3. Cut off the hem of each leg.
4. There is usually one leg seam that is a flat felled seam and one that is a plain flat seam, often the inside seam. Since the flat felled seam is a decorator focal point, I choose to cut away the plain seam. Cut as close as possible to the seam on both sides to remove the seam.
5. If a pant leg has a side pocket of interest, I cut up the center front and center back of the top of the jeans to preserve use of the pocket.
6. It there is no side pocket, I generally cut off the legs and cut up the side seams, having a front pocket section and a back pocket section.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Color of Comfort: Why is Denim Blue?

Denim is the only fabric I can think of that is associated with a particular color. Blue.

Denim is a rugged cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two (twi- "double") or more warp fibers. This produces the familiar diagonal ribbing identifiable on the reverse of the fabric. (

The warp fiber is the one that is traditionally died blue.

So why blue?

The blue pigment obtained from indigo dye was the most significant natural dye known to mankind until the end of the 19th century and so linked with practical fabrics and work clothing. The durability of indigo as a color and its darkness of tone made it a good choice when frequent washing was not possible. In 1870 BASF in Germany, original suppliers of natural indigo, had started the search for a synthetic substitute. In 1894 the process was perfected. (

Denim Fabric Dyeing is divided into two categories; Indigo Dyeing and second is Sulphur Dyeing. Indigo Dyeing is traditional blue colors or shades similar to blue colors. Sulphur Dyeing (also called Color Denim) is done for specially black colors and other colors like Pink, Grey, Rust, Mustard, Green and Red. (

So there you have it. Denim is blue because of the best natural die at the time and it hides the dirt so we don’t have to wash them as often.

Can you imagine if denim wasn’t blue? That is hard to picture. It wouldn’t really seem like denim.

Blue denim goes with everything. You can wear any color with it. It can wear stains and rips like no other fabric.

Other fabrics seem to come and go; go in and out of fashion; this fad or that. But Denim has been around for hundreds of years. I don’t think it will ever go out of style. That’s a relief.

I think I’ll go slip into my favorite jeans and do something fun.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Project #2

Thread Catcher
Difficulty level: Beginner

Piece of denim 14” x 8” with a hem along one of the 8” sides.

Step 1: With right sides together, fold up 8”-side with the hem on it 3” and stitch up both sides, turn right side out. What had once been the inside or wrong side of the denim is now on top.
Step 2: Turn over the raw edges that are not caught in the pocket and zigzag down.

Now tuck single layer of the thread catcher under the side of your sewing machine and use to put thread in rather than on the floor. You can also slide pins into the denim to keep them from rolling off onto the floor.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Stone-washed" Denim

Do you remember "stone-washed" denim?

We all had to have them. They were the "in" thing.

Did you ever wonder how they became "stone-washed"?

Manufacturers first used Pea gravel then switched to pumice because they floated around with the jeans instead of sinking to the bottom of the water.

So there you have it. "Stone-washed" literally meant stone washed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Project #1

Difficulty level: Beginner

Parts of jeans (No seams, only flat denim)
Print Fabric (optional)

Step 1: Cut three 3.5” circles. Do not have any seams. Seams may make a glass not sit level on the coaster.

Step 2: Layer wrong sides together with extra circle in between. Satin stitch around the edge.

1-Add two rows 1/8” to 1/4” through the middle to simulate a seam.
2-Stitch an 1/8” away from the edge of the circle. When you get back to the beginning, back stitch then keep sewing in circles 1/8” away from previous row of stitching until you get to the middle. Make small clips on outside of the circle to close to the first row of stitching. Make sure not to cut through stitching. Rub hand around outer edge to fray.
3-Replace back fabric with print fabric for a reverse side that is different.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don’t Throw It Away

Turn your torn up, useless jeans into to useful things again.

Look at what you can make from your discarded old jeans!

Friday I’ll post a simple project you can make from part of your old jeans.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

So Much Denim, So Little Time

I have been collecting denim for years while planning a craft book, Do It Again Denim.

I have a friend who gives me all her children’s worn out jeans. I think, she thinks I might be a little crazy for wanting them.

Every few months my husband asks me, “What are you going to do with all these jeans?”

“I have a plan.”

Every time my kids would come to me with a pair of worn out jeans, I would take them greedily. They were mine now, all mine. Oh the things I could make.

The jeans piled up. I was running out of space. I piled them in the basement bathtub we weren’t using. They filled the tub and piled half way up the tub wall. Ah, what a beautiful sight.

“What are you going to do with all those jeans?”

“I have a plan.”

In a lot of houses, favorite jeans that get worn out can be a sad and depressing thing, but in my house, it is an occasion to celebrate. So much denim fabric goes to waste every year because they get holes in the knees and seat. People actually throw them out. (Please don’t tell me if you do.) But not here in my house. I have plans to use even the smallest pieces.

Over the years, I have come up with over 100 things to make from those seemingly useless, old, worn out jeans. Some of the projects are small, while others are quite large. Some are no-sew easy projects, while others are quite involved body-builder advanced projects.

Next week, as I work on my proposal for this craft book, I plan to start adding simple projects you can make from your old jeans to this blog. I will show you that they may be worn out and unwearable jeans but they are far from useless.

I get giddy just thinking of all the things I can make. I’ll cover my house in discarded denim. One person’s castoff is another’s treasure.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What is Denim?

Webster's says: "a firm durable twilled usually cotton fabric woven with colored warp and white filling threads."

Webster also says, Jeans: "Short for jean fusion, a durable twilled cotton cloth especially for sportswear and work clothes."

"The word “jeans” is thought to have come from a type of material, called “jean” that was round in the 1600’s. The material was named after sailors from Genoa in Italy, because they wore clothes made from it. The word 'denim' probably came from the name of a French material, “serge de nimes” - serge (a kind of material) from Nimes (a town in France)." (

I think jeans are an American pastime. We live in Jeans. Can you imagine life without jeans or denim? I shudder to think.

Some people literally live in Jeans. They wear nothing else. Others are forced to wear other clothing for work, but quickly jump into their Jeans when they get home. I'm lucky because I can choose. When I wear something other than Jeans or Denim and then put on a pair of Jeans, it's like coming home to an old friend. Aahhh.

Jeans are comfortable (If you get the correct size and fit). When I was in high school, the style for Jeans was the tighter the better. If your Jeans weren't at least two sizes too small for you, they were too big. We shrank our Jeans to make them tighter. We would have to lay on the ground and suck in our stomach to zip them. What were we thinking? We should all be paraplegics from the lack of circulation. We really did Jeans and ourselves a disservice. They were meant to be comfortable.

You can work and play in Jeans. You can dress down in Jeans and you can dress up in Jeans. Without Denim I don't think there would be the phenomenon of Jeans. Would there have been another cloth or clothing that we would love as much? I don't think so.

Jeans have always made a fashion statement. And you can do anything in them.

What do Jeans/Denim mean to you?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Denim: An Overview

New crafts with old jeans. Recycle. Reuse.

Jeans are an American icon. They are our favorite article of clothing. Durable. Comfortable. Casual. They make a statement. We live in jeans. We work in jeans. We play in jeans. We dress up in jeans. We go in search of the perfect pair. We all have our favorite pair of jeans and mourn their passing. We hold on to them long after they should be retired.

But don’t throw out your old, worn-out jeans. Give them a second life.

Make a keepsake.

Reuse them until there is not a thread left.

I have been making "new" things out old jeans for years. I make quilts, purses and anything else I can think of (and I can think of a LOT) out of my old jeans, my kids' jeans, and anyone else's jeans I can get a hold of. I have piles and piles of jeans.

On this blog, I'm going to share some fun facts about jeans and simple projects. I'm in the process of proposing a series of craft books with over 100 things to make from old wornout jeans.