Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blue Jeans, Baby!

Blue Jeans are something that you can usually find at the barn, and an item that I find hard to resist.  It's usually a ripped or stained pair of jeans that is or isn't close to my size, yet I evaluate each pair by assessing how much clean, usable fabric remains.  I love denim and admit to having a bin of jeans from the barn in my workshop, which holds pockets, whole jeans and holey jeans too.  When my kids get invited to a birthday party, I usually whip up an "art bag" with a set of juicy new markers and a nice sketch pad. Both boys and girls seem to like this gift.

Another Bowdoinham seamstress has found a lovely way to use the jeans from the barn and to warm her family is so many ways.  Pat Gaudreau collects jeans, and has made a double layer patchwork quilt for every grandchild she has (9, and counting).  Pat has used a nice pattern that creates a patchwork pattern and leaves the seams exposed on one side of the quilt which soften and fray when she cuts the seam allowance.  The quilts are nice and heavy and don't require any batting.  Pat has even made a bag with beanbags to accompany her quilt, so the kids can play a bed-sized game of checkers using the quilt as the game board. Pat and I agree that collecting jeans at the barn is the way to go. "I suppose that people could buy the fabric, but that would just be dumb!" Oh, how I agree.  She also notes that her favorite jeans find is a pair of Men's large, which has lots of available fabric for her 6" square blocks. "The backs of the legs are the best- lots of fabric without much wear." Does Pat inspire you like she inspires me?

Christopher showing off his quilt with "checkers"

I dipped into my Blue Jean stash a few weeks ago when I planned a storytime featuring Katy No-Pocket at the Bowdoinham Library.  The classic read-aloud book by Emmy Payne and H.A. Rey tells of a mommy kangaroo who does not have a pocket and goes looking for help, asking others how she might carry her baby.  The happy climax comes when Katy travels to the big city and meets a carpenter with a big ol' denim tool apron.  Katy is thrilled, buys one for herself, and then fills the pockets with her baby (and all sorts of other animal babies) and hops along happily.

Seems I had enough denim parts to build quite a nice kid-sized apron with 7 pockets to hold small stuffed animals.  And enough left-over pockets to make each child a pocket to strap on and take home!  Here is my little friend Lyra who was happy to play the role of Katy after I read the story. Jessie helped her load up the babies and... off she hopped! You can see why I don't tap into the library's budget for story time.  No need.  All I need comes from the barn (including that fabulous roll of green webbing that showed up one lucky Thursday).  By the way, Story time is Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. One of the highlights of my week with such cutie pies.

And as for jean skirts? I make them the same way I did back in the 70's! Rip the inseam up to the zipper, set in a triangle of new fabric, pin being careful to lay the fabric flat, and hem (or not, if you are a true hippie). I suppose that will need to wait for another post. In the meanwhile... anyone out there have experience with home insulation made from recycled denim? Please post and share your experience. Any other blue jean craftiness is welcomed too.


  1. Kate - this is a great blog - thanks for sharing. I always have jeans that could be recycled and now have some really good ideas to go with them :-) Keep blogging

  2. Hi Kate,
    You have like-minded readers and repurposers out here in Oakland, CA. A friend just forwarded your blog to me, knowing I'd appreciate your reuse ethic.

    One fun thing I made out of denim a few years back was a bedskirt for my teenager's queen bed. I sewed the pieces right onto an old fitted mattress pad I had laying around in the linen closet. It was a great way to reuse jeans from her and her friend's write-on-your-jeans-with-Sharpies phase... I can send you a photo if you're interested.

    Keep it up!

  3. I made a bike tool kit holder out of old jeans once...

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