Monday, March 30, 2009

denim picnic blanket quilt-along - part 1

I'm so excited about the great response we had to our denim picnic blanket invitation! And I'm glad I'm not the only one who's been stockpiling old jeans, just waiting for a purpose. I've been researching denim quilt patterns, looking for something easy and inexpensive, since many of you mentioned you were novice or first-time quilters. While at my friend Deborah's house one day, I asked to see her denim quilt and I was shocked at how perfect it was for our project!

In addition to being lightweight (i.e easy to haul to your picnic site), the virtues of this denim blanket are 1. it uses large blocks (= fast and easy!), and 2. it does not have a backing, so you don't have to buy backing fabric or batting (= cheap!). All you'll need in addition to the jeans are gold jean thread, fabric for binding, plus the vinyl tablecloth and snaps. If you got your jeans for free, this is one super-inexpensive picnic blanket! Thanks, Deborah!

If you aren't as excited about this pattern as I am, you can find another quilt pattern, with or without backing, and get working on it on your own. Then hold tight until we get to the snap-on part of the tutorial. Here's another great tutorial for a true denim quilt if you're looking for something different. But for those who are with me, let's get started!

Denim Picnic Blanket Part 1

What you'll need for part 1 (click here for a list of supplies for the entire project):

*Eight to twelve pairs of denim jeans (adult sizes are best, but you can make smaller blocks using children's sizes)
*Rotary cutter and cutting mat
*Long, see-through quilting ruler
*Vinyl tablecloth (for sizing purposes)

1. Grab a pair of jeans and cut the legs off. Cut as close to the crotch as you can without cutting the back pocket.

2. Lay one of your jean legs out on the cutting mat.

Then adjust the leg so that the outside seam is on the very edge as pictured below. This will be a fairly straight seam (as opposed to the inseam which usually curves at the thigh and calf). Use this seam as a guide for the next steps. Smooth out any wrinkles.

3. Fold your leg in half, keeping the outer seam flat. Smooth out wrinkles again. Lay your ruler on top.

Keep vertical side of the ruler parallel to the outer seam. Keep the horizontal lines of the ruler straight on the fold. Cut off the inseam at the narrowest part.

4. Next you're going to "square up" your block. (Note: the picture below demonstrates a smaller block, but this should be done for ALL blocks.) Line up the horizontal line on your ruler with that straight outer seam again. Cut the ends of the block along the vertical side to make it a 90° angle. Repeat on other sides until it is a square (or a nice rectangle) with 90° angles.

5. Open up your leg. This is your finished block.

6. Repeat with other leg and remaining jeans. Lay out your vinyl tablecloth on the floor and cover with blocks, overlapping them 1.5" on each side, until you have enough to cover it sufficiently. I cut large blocks and smaller blocks to make the most of my denim, and to make it fit the tablecloth better. You can cut them any size you want, but be sure all the blocks in a row are approximately the same length. We'll arrange the blocks and cut them to exactly the same length in part 2.

7. If you want, cut off several pockets from the jeans to sew on randomly when we're done.

That's it for part 1. It's a couple hours worth of work, but hopefully you can find time to do it before I post part two next week. Please feel free to leave a comment with questions and I'll answer in the comments for everyone to see. Now get going!

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19 Responses to “denim picnic blanket quilt-along - part 1”

9crafty11 said...

What a great idea..I wish I could play along but I have too many projects at the moment, but I have bookmarked this one!

PaisleyJade said...

What a great idea!!!

Giggleberry (Amy) said...

LOVE this - I'll get to work. Oh and love the idea of the random pockets sewn on at the end too!!!

Rebekah said...

So cute! And I love the idea of tucking napkins into the pockets so they won't blow away. They'd also be a nice place to tuck your keys or cell phone away while you toss a Frisbee to the dog to play freeze-tag with the kids nearby.

grammy said...

What a great idea. And a good way for me start. Never made a quilt in my life, but want to.

Pearl Girl said...

I think I will try this one too, but I am wondering how does it wash? We tend to make a nasty mess at our picnics, and I am worried about the vinyl tablecloth washing.

SRA said...

I'm LOVING this idea! I think when I try it, I'll use my Pockets as "Utensil" holders and place them on the sides and ends. Thanks for the tutorial! I love it when someone shares their great ideas - no strings attached! You are a very generious woman!

Bailey said...

Not sure if you're sewing all the way around the pockets but I heard of an idea to leave them open on top so you can tuck things in them; napkins on windy days, forks etc.

Can't wait to see it finished, and to make my own some day!

Lori said...

I have wanted to make one of these for years...been stashing jeans since my kids were little.

?? Do you think you could do this with different sizes of jeans??

Van Cott Family said...

will you please give a run down of all supplies needed for the other parts also so I can just go the the store once?

nikkidwright said...

I LOVE this picnic blanket. We are religious jean savers in this house.

My husband's granny made a super warm, flannel-backed quilt out of his childhood jeans. He uses it to this day. I posted pictures of it on my blog as I thought it was the sweetest gift.

Thanks for your follow-along project.

Little Birdie Secrets said...

To answer your questions so far:

*Yes, the pockets are left open to tuck napkins and such in. However I have a feeling I'm going to be finding rocks and worms in mine. . .

*The trick of this project is that the vinyl tablecloth will be detachable, so you can just wash the denim part. Sweet, huh?

*Yes, definitely use different sized jeans. You just may need to cut them down into short blocks to make it work. Every quilt will be a little different.

*For a list of all the supplies you'll need for this project, please visit the original post (link included in this post). Thanks! Watch for the next post in one week!

Anonymous said...

I have everything cut up and ready to go. I'm looking forward to the next step. I just got all the jeans for free today! I'm off to the store for the table cloth and snaps. Thank you so much for this great idea. I cannot wait to put it to use. :)

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

I've just been sitting around thinking about what I'm going to do today - i guess I'll go cut jeans!

The Eadle Family said...

haha, i could never do that to my jeans. Instead, I am stockpiling them in hopes I will lose weight to fit my fat but back into them.

Yarni Gras! said...

thanks for the tutorial....I saved jeans for half aprons but am ready to try something new.......

Mojavi said...

walmart had the cutest easter vinyl table cloths for easter I am soooo excited!

Wendy Piersall said...

My sewing machine has been out of commission for over a year - and this totally makes me want to go out and buy a new one so that I can make this. I love it!! Stumbled it for you, too. :)

davila said...

Soy argentina !! Hermoso tu proyecto !! El jean es muy noble, aunque esté muy, pero muy lavado !!
Gracias por tus ideas!! Adri

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