Not doing that again in a hurry…

How to mangle denim… but Poppy approves!

Well. Lockdown Stashbuster 4 is finally here, but I’m not exactly pleased with it. Best, I think, to describe it as a learning process!

For a long time I’ve wanted to do something with denim; I suppose I have, but never anything I’ve been proud of. The idea I had in my head for my “quick & dirty” use-it-up cot quilt no. 4 was a variation on denim “bricks in a wall” – basically 2½” wide strips, cut in random shortish lengths, joined seams-up & chenilled, with a few contrast stripes. (The eagle-eyed who know us well will spot the edges of our old kitchen curtains playing the part of the contrast stripes.) I didn’t think it would take very long…

1st lesson: most modern jeans are woven with a degree of stretch. I thought I’d specifically excluded any stretch denim when choosing the old jeans to chop up, but it turns out that most of them stretched a little in one direction or the other. Which caused the finished top to skew frantically, though I’d have sworn all my seams were straight whilst I was stitching them. In the end I had to cut about 3″ off each side, one at the “top” and the other at the “bottom”, to make it look remotely rectangular but there was no way I could get rid of a marked “bowing” effect in the middle.

Lesson 2: some jeans are fairly lightweight, others are – not. The difference in fabric weights means some “bricks” are “dominant” when it comes to chenilling, and look bigger in the finished article. And the heavier-weight fabrics are just that – heavier – and my shoulders were aching like mad with all the pushing & pulling by the time I’d finished quilting it very roughly. Next time I have an urge to use denim in an actual quilt, it’ll be lightweight, non-stretch shirt & skirt fabric only!

Lesson 3: choosing a fairly heavy calico for the backing wasn’t a particularly sane move either, though at least it “balances” the top. This quilt would work well for a restless toddler; it’s too heavy for an actual baby.

However, it’s not all bad news, because lesson 4 is that I’m no longer terrified of appliqué. I wanted some brighter splashes, and kites somehow floated into my mind (as they often do!) so I just ironed some double-sided interfacing onto some scrap red cotton, cut out some little kite shapes, ironed them on and using a very tiny zig-zag, stitched them down. The tails are just a double line of red lockstitch, going over some red frayed selvedge scraps.

Teeny tiny kites…

The centre contrast stripe has a strip of old hand-woven braid stitched on, rescued from an old sewing box that came in on an auction-won job lot. I had no idea whether it would wash well; it might have shrunk or bled colours, but I thought it had probably been washed many times before, & luckily it had & it didn’t.

At this point, the big Pfaff decided it had had enough for now and wanted to go off to see its friends at the repair shop for a service. Fair enough, we can cope without it for a month, and to be honest, it’s high time; having your sewing machine properly serviced every now & then is worth every penny, in my estimation. So Stashbuster 4 was bound with strips cut from an old shirt-back, then quilted on the old treadle. Very badly; I was getting rather fed up with it by then. I spent the next few days snipping the seams in every spare moment. Take it from me, denim is tough stuff. As well as hurting my hands & defeating my little chenilling scissors, forcing me to resort to spring-loaded shears, this caused a lot of fluff on the floor and knackered one of the heads of our hoover. Hopefully mended now!

So today I snipped the last seam with a sigh of relief & popped it into the washing machine. Needless to say, it wasn’t done with us yet; the washing machine pump blocked, so it failed to drain. But luckily I managed to clear the filter, which mysteriously contained 9 hair grips, a large scrunchy, and rather a lot of tiny fragments of denim. This seems to have put it right, thank heavens. We could do without having to call the engineers, just now.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the landing curtains finished. They really should be the next project, if only because that will clear a LOT of space in there, and make the landing look a bit less 1995. And we are getting close to the end of Lockdown II, though like most people in England we’ll be moving into Tier 2, so still fairly constrained, although the incidence of Covid-19 here is actually pretty low. But so is the hospital provision…

Anyway, end of lockdown notwithstanding, I have another idea; not sure if this one will be Lockdown 5, or Tier-2:1, but I’ve hardly made a dent in my stash yet…

Denim strikes again!

Recently my little van needed to spend some time in “dry dock” having a spot of surgery. When I emptied her out – well, mostly – I was struck by the sheer amount of junk I’d been carrying around, particularly in my “beach” bag which used to hang over the back of the front passenger seat. There certainly were things appropriate to last-minute dashes to the beach – we live 20 minutes drive from Sandbanks, and it’s always pleasant to spend a sunny evening down there, usually on a whim – but also things I might need when I’m running the stall or doing a car boot sale. One or two tools, some for the van, but some in case I should come across an elderly sewing machine in distress. And a number of miscellaneous items I can’t imagine I’d ever need at all! All tangled up together so that I could hardly ever find what I actually needed & knew was in there somewhere

So, it was high time to rationalise, and tidy things up a bit. I had An Idea… our local recycling firm have recently opened a warehouse-shop where they deposit most of the rejected textiles they collect; some items (brand-new-with-tags, “quality” and “designer” stuff) are sorted onto hangers, which they charge a bit more for, but mostly you fish about in builder’s bags & pay 50p per item. I already had a fair bit of reclaimed denim, left over from making quilts & other things (including the old beach bag) but knew I wouldn’t have enough of the bits I needed for this job, so I popped down there & rescued 5 pairs of jeans to chop up.

A bit of cutting, twenty minutes or so of stitching, a bit of “chenilling” round the edges just because it pleases me, a quick wash, and lo & behold, my van now has pocketses! And there were still some pockets left, so I made another, different set to string across the rear of the back seat too, from headrest to headrest, to carry things that aren’t used so often but are still useful to have on board. With a bit of thought, I could have included a “secret” pocket in the front one, or one big enough to carry maps, but I’m happy with the result.

Now, of course, I have 10 cut-off legs, some waistbands, and some side-seams to stash away for the next Idea-with-denim that drifts my way!