Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jean Quilt - Outdoor Picnic Quilt

Ok, I know, you're thinking "eww, why would you want a jean quilt?" Well, I had a bunch of old ripped up jeans taking up room in my stash and thought they would make a nice durable outdoor quilt, perfect for summer picnics. I have lots of other cute quilts, but I feel guilty taking them outside, hence the jean quilt was born. This blanket is also great because it's fairly heavy and thick, so you don't feel all the pokies that you normally would out in the grass. Overall, I spent less than $17 on this quilt which I think is pretty darn good and it was quick to make.
A bunch of old pairs of jeans
Some quilt batting
About 4.5 yards of flannel for the back and binding

Step 1: Acquire a bunch of junky pairs of jeans. You can stock up on your own when they wear out, or you can pick some up at garage sales. We did a combo, we used some of our own and we picked up a couple at a rummage sale for $0.10 each. Cut off the hems and tops so you're left with these flat pieces (you'll get four flat pieces from each pair).
Cut out a bunch of 8"x8" squares. We did 99 of them. You can make your squares any size you want and make your quilt as big or small as you want, but this size turned out perfectly for us. You can include pocket pieces in these if you so desire.
Step 2: Arrange them in a way that is pleasing to you, or do it randomly like I did. Sew them all together, making sure to iron your seams to the side.
When your whole top is put together, use a measuring tape to find the dimensions of your top. Measure in the middle both ways since it's less likely to have stretched weirdly in the middle. Mine measured roughly 68"x83".
Step 3: Now we're going to cut our backing. I used flannel because it's cheap (we got it for $2.79/yd), soft and fairly durable. My flannel was 44" wide, so I cut two strips that were 68" long and then cut them both to be 42" long and then sewed them together so that they ended up being 68"x83".
Step 4: We're now going to layer our quilt pieces. Put your top right side down, then put on your batting and then your backing right side up. Trim off any excess. I found it helpful to put little weights around the quilt as I trimmed to help everything stay in place.
Then pin your layers together. Go ahead and do a quick basting stitch all the way around your quilt with a 1/4" seam to hold everything together. At this point, you may want to sew the layers together in the middle as well. You could could stitch in the ditch around the jean squares, or you could pick several places and just tack it down by repeatedly doing a forward stitch than a back stitch until it's secure.
Step 5: It's binding time. If you made your quilt to be the same size as mine, you'll need over 300" of binding (68+68+83+83=302) so you'll need to cut 7 strips, each 2.5" wide. If your quilt is a different size, add up how long the sides are and then sew together your strips until they are a little longer than that.
Sew your strips together and iron your seam. If you're a fancy quilter you're probably not happy with my straight seam here. Quilters sew their binding strips together with a 45 degree angle, but I didn't want to, so if you want yours to look fancier, there's a good tutorial here.
Iron your strips in half with the rights sides facing out.
Step 6: We're going to sew the binding on to the quilt now. Take your binding and lay it out on the edge of your quilt (which is right side up) so that the raw edges line up perfectly. Start sewing about 5" away from the beginning of your binding strip. Sew with a 1/4" seam.
When you come to a corner, stop 1/4" away from the end, backstitch, and pull off the machine.
Pull the strip back so it is perpendicular
and then fold it over on itself so that it lines up perfectly with the edge of the quilt again. Pin in place and then begin sewing again on the new edge 1/4" away from the edge.
Step 7: Keep sewing around the quilt until you get close to where you started. Stop sewing about 8" from where you started sewing. Trim your loose binding ends so that when they lay on top of each other they have about 1/4" of overlap.
Fold them wrong sides together, pin, and then sew in place.
Finger press the seam open and test fit it. If the binding is too big and floppy, sew a bigger seam, if it's too tight, undo it and take a smaller seam. Once it fits right, sew the rest of it down.
Step 8: Fold the edge of the binding over the raw edge of the quilt on to the back and pin in place. Make sure that you're pulling it over tightly, it should cover your basting stitch.
Continue around the whole quilt, folding the corners neatly over themselves like so.
Step 9: There are a few different ways you can do the final seam, but here's how I chose to do it. With your jean side up, you're going to stitch in the ditch, which means right where your jeans and binding meet. This will hide your seam on the front. Make sure that you pull out the pins from the back as you go and that your stitch is catching the other side of the binding on the back.
You're all done, now go out and picnic!
Just for fun, here are some other "interesting" denim things you could make! 


  1. What an awesome idea! I might try and do one out of my too big jeans and old family ones too like ones my kids outgrow etc!

    1. We used our too big jeans too and it was kind of fun to cut them up "Die fat pants, die!"