Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jeans-Of-Loved-Ones Quilt

You know what it's like when you pull on your oldest, best broken-in, most favorite pair of jeans? How snug, and soft, and comfortable, and friendly, and "right" they feel? Well, that's what it feels like every time I slip under this quilt, times ten.

I made this quilt many years ago, back in my single days. I had visited my father and step-mother at their home in Arizona, and my stepmother was in the process of quilting (see note below) a denim quilt she had pieced together. She had gathered up the worn-out jeans and the cut-off legs of jeans-now-shorts from a variety of folks she knew and loved, cut those bits into squares, pieced them all together, and was in the final stage of completing her quilt. She was quilting it by hand, so it was likely to take a while to finish, but could be gently used in the meantime, so it was lying on their bed. It was such a lovely idea, and the fabric from the long-worn-and-loved jeans was so soft and broken-in, it was nearly irresistable. So, upon returning home, I engaged in a quest to collect jeans.

It did not take as long as I had anticipated to collect the materials. I contacted family and friends and asked them to send me any old jeans or cut-off-legs they had laying about, and cut up some of my own jeans that no longer fit or were not being worn. My dear soul-friend, Woo, was a significant contributor. The flower-print demin was from a pair of overalls she had handed down to me, and the plain demin with daisies were from a pair of my own jeans she had hand painted for me (believe me, I only gave up wearing those jeans when they became completely obscene to wear, even with leggings beneath). All the rest of the pieces I couldn't possibly identify, but every single piece was from someone I loved and cared about at that time in my life. The rainbow pattern was an acknowledgement of my own compulsive nature, and gives the quilt an essentially "placid" cast for me.

We're a "cut-offs" and "pass-em-down" kind of family. As comfortable as we are financially, I still can't bear to toss out or donating a perfectly good pair of jeans without first passing them down the line and/or making them into cut-offs if at all possible (please check out this article on the subject, one I am particularly fond of). And, every time I cut off the legs of a pair of the boys' jeans, I think about the next quilt they could go into. Weird, huh? The things moms think about while in the laundry room? Since I didn't really plan on making another demin quilt, I even sent a bunch of legs to IBOL in our bundles, because I just can't bear to let go of them. Really weird, huh?

So, here's my idea. Each time I whack off the legs of a pair of jeans, I put the ends into a box with that boys name on it. In ten years or so, I should have enough leg-ends to piece together a quilt. A quilt to be presented to them when they move out into the world on their own. A quilt made of their own worn-and-loved jeans. A quilt made of their own cherished childhood. Cool, huh?

So, whatcha all think?

Background Note: Creating a quilt generally follows these steps:

1. Cut out pieces, and sew them together to create the "top".

2. Layer the top, the batting, and the bottom (generally a full peice of fabric).

3. "Quilt" by sewing through all three layers. Traditional quilting is done by hand, one stitch at a time, and generally follows a particular design throughout. There are now machines specially designed to "quilt" quilts (which saves the largest chunk of time involved in creating a quilt), and can be done with intricate patterns. The above quilt was done using a modified technique, threading yarn through the center of each square and tying off one knot at a time, which takes much less time, but is not quite as secure. It has to be "reinforced" now and again, depending on how frequently it is washed.


  1. I loved that quilt when you showed it to me. Great idea to put them away to make future quilts.

    For us, it would not be jeans. My girls like dresses and soft cotton pants. But still, I could put aside some of those things and make a blanket....

    Love the idea.

  2. How wonderful? This is a really cool idea! All that love and those memories keeping you warm in the winter.

  3. What a gorgeous idea! Will you adopt me and make one for me too?! :)

  4. Creative frugality! I love it!

  5. Ah, and I can't wait for the day when I actually put the thing together. Those boxes of scraps are patient; more so than I...