Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Denim Rag Quilt: Progress!

I'm almost ashamed to admit how long it took me to finish sewing my first denim rag quilt. . . I started cutting the squares in November 2007, and I didn't finish sewing it until a day or two ago! Rag quilts are just about the simplest quilt you can make, I guess, and yet it has taken me a bit over a year to finally finish my first one. (g) (And it's still not technically finished, since I have lots of snipping to do-- not to mention putting it through the wash a couple of times to get it really raggedy.)


In my defense, once I started sewing at it in earnest, it didn't take me long to do. I ran into a problem-- a broken needle on my sewing machine-- early in the project (probably back in 2007). After that, I set it aside and was hesitant to pick it back up again, wondering if my machine (and I) could handle all those layers of fabric. It turns out I needn't have worried, though. I went through the rest of the project without breaking any needles.


All in all, the process went very smoothly. It's certainly not the work of an expert, but that's not to be expected, since I'm a novice. There are many places where the blocks don't line up perfectly-- and I got careless (tired?) at the end, so the final seam around the whole quilt is not a uniform distance from the edge of the fabric-- but I told myself at the time that it's supposed to look somewhat haphazard-- and it'll definitely work as a lap quilt, despite cosmetic flaws. I'm satisfied, and since I'm the one who'll be using it, that's good enough.


I had fun with this project-- especially planning it, "decorating" the squares, and arranging them. The actual sewing was exciting, too-- finally seeing it come together-- and even the clipping's not too bad, so long as I do it in stages while listening to TV or music.

Since I planned (and still plan!) to do a fair bit of rag quilting, I used a 50%-off coupon at Michaels and invested in a pair of Fiskars brand rag snips, which are designed to spring open automatically after each snip. I've found that the springing action isn't working perfectly. I may be able to fix that by greasing the spring with a little WD-40. Anyway, the spring still helps, but it doesn't push the snips all the way open. Even with spring-loaded scissors, I still need a break every so often. This is mainly because my hand rubs against parts of the scissors as I use them. It's not noticeable at first, but with so much repetition, it can irritate the skin.

Here it is-- my first denim rag quilt (before I started snipping the seams):


I'll have to photograph the back, too. I went to a fair deal of trouble making sure my three colors of flannel backing fell into a specific pattern. It's nothing fancy-- just diagonal lines-- but still, after putting in the effort, I want people to notice it. ;o) I thought it would show more from the front (in the exposed seams), and maybe it will, once it's ragged out. Right now, though, it looks pretty random.

So, that's one major sewing project nearly completed. Let's hope the next one doesn't take so long to finish. ;o)

I'll be sure to post photos of the snipped and "ragged" quilt, once that's all done-- as well as some detail photos of a few of the decorations I added to the quilt. That was probably the most fun of the whole project. I used labels, denim scraps, pockets from jeans, "care" tags, and even a handful of my own polymer clay buttons. It's a little bit crazy-looking, but I like it that way. (g)

Another thing I love about this quilt is the fact that so much of it is made from my own cast-off clothes. I recognize the fabric from those old, well-loved blue jeans, and I'm reminded of all the good times I had while wearing them. Not only is this a great project for those interested in recycling/upcycling, but it's also a memory quilt!