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.