Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mended Denim Circles Quilt

For many years, I’ve been collecting worn out blue jeans for potential quilt projects. Somewhere along the line, I came across the idea for a Denim Circles Quilt, which I’ve also seen called a Raggy or Mock Cathedral Windows Quilt. Although I did not originally discover the design through Moda Fabrics, their tutorial explains it well.

I made my Denim Circles Quilt using a random assortment of light and dark denim and thought it would be charming to keep some of the original seams and pockets intact. I used corduroy for the fabric under the folds of each block, as well as for the binding. And, for some reason I cannot explain now, I also inserted batting inside each block. At approximately 70 inches (178 cm) square, to say I ended up with a heavy quilt is a gross understatement.

Denim Circles Quilt Before Mending

We’ve been able to use the quilt at every picnic and 4th of July fireworks show since 2003. The heaviness of the quilt has proven beneficial because nobody has ever gotten up with a wet bottom in even the soggiest of weather, and the quilt doesn't ripple in the slightest on windy days.

Reinforcing Corners

That’s not to say that the quilt is without flaws. Those charming seams and pockets added visual interest but also created areas that were almost impossible to sew through — and truly impossible where the metal rivets were left in place. The thickness in those areas also affected how the denim folded, in many cases altering the shapes of the blocks.

As the rows are sewn together, there is a minimal seam allowance in the corners where the blocks meet. The weight of the quilt, coupled with the exposed fabric edge, has put a lot of strain on the corners over the past 15 years.

Holes at the Corners of a Denim Circles Quilt

A few years ago, I reinforced the corners with some extra stitching. This year, I could see that the corners needed more attention.

My default size for cutting fabric scraps is 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) square, so I had plenty of pre-cut denim squares ready. I sewed a small block on point over each corner on the denim-and-corduroy side of the quilt.

Mended Denim Circles Quilt

I really like the look of the quilt after the repairs. The small squares look like intended design features. I think it would be worthwhile to add them to the denim-only side as well for additional strength, but it’s too hot right now to continue to wrestle that quilt into my machine; it could be a good project for the winter.

Denim Circles Quilt with Extra Squares of Denim Reinforcing Corners

I still have a lot of worn out blue jeans set aside for quilts. Between the challenge of working with such heavy fabric and the prevalence of stretch denim in clothing, I don’t plan to continue to add to that collection.

How do you feel about making with denim?

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