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Upcycle: Jeans to Quilt

16 pairs of jeans and lots of fabric scraps = an heirloom quilt for Poppets first birthday!  

I love how good this looks on both the back AND front. If you get sick of looking at one side, just flip it over.

I first saw this project and tutorial here and immediately fell in love.

Since then I also found this tutorial and this pattern.  But by far the first tutorial was the most helpful and thorough (the tutorial is in 4 parts, so use the links at the bottom of her posts to find more details).

The tutorials had some really good tips I just have to share:

  • use spray starch before cutting the denim so your squares don’t get distorted
  • use jeans containing 95% or more cotton
  • reverse a lot through the sewing process to help strengthen it all

So here’s what I did:

Make a circle template from plastic or cardboard. Mine was 15cm diameter.  Also make a square one that fits just inside the circle. Mine was 10.5cm.

Cut a gazillion circles and squares. Okay, maybe not that much. I just did 192 of each, but it sure felt like a gazillion. My quilt was 12 x 16 circles.

(Just so you don’t think I’m crazy … I didn’t have 16 pairs of old jeans lying around! My Facebook peeps were awesome and donated more than I needed, but many op-shops sell jeans for $1 each too).

Sew circles right sides together.  I did 16 rows of 12.  Tip: use your square template to guide you as to where your stitching should go. Feel free to draw in pen or vivid here too ’cause no-one will see it on the finished result.

Place a square in the centre of each circle and sew the flaps down over top.  Stitch in from the edge a little though, so it has room to fray and rough up later.

Stitch 2 rows together, matching the seams. Press and then sew figure eights down the row on the flaps (it’s quicker than doing each flap individually here). Confusing? It makes more sense when you’re sitting at the machine doing it, but it’s explained really well here.

It can all get a big heavy and awkward to maneuver on the machine, so it pays to work in small batches like this. Sew a set of 2 rows to another set of 2 rows.  Repeat your figure eights down the middle.

Repeat and keep joining all your rows until the quilt is the desired size. I then stitched the edge flaps down, but you could also bind the edges if you preferred. I LOVE that there is no batting or backing to worry about with this project!

Clip all the edges so they fray up when washed. It may need a couple of washes to get it looking awesome, but that’s the cool thing about denim. It just gets better with use.

Happy Birthday Poppet!  I love you so much xoxo


  1. Ria

    This is amazing! I’m bookmarking this for future inspiration! I’ve wanted to make myself a blanket from recycled jeans for a while (I hear that they also work great as picnic blankets, because they’re so sturdy and easy to clean), but I hadn’t considered adding fabric scraps like this to make both sides so interesting.

    • Thanks Ria! I think they’d make fantastic picnic blankets, great idea. When you make yours, let me know or add the link as a comment to this post. I’d love to see what you come up with and I’m sure others would too!

  2. Pingback: Upcycle, Recycle, Refashion old Jeans « Yurts And Things

  3. Pingback: Blue Jean Purses… The Next Vera Bradley??? | Share the Care

    • Thanks Cat. I find thought of real quilting a bit overwhelming (sewing all the layers together at the end), so this is a nice way to avoid that.


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