Rag Jeans and Polar Fleece Quilt

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This is a quilt I’ve been wanting to make for a while, ever since I started saving old jeans, thinking that “someday” I’d do something with them. Then my MIL gave my son a few pieces of fleece (Spiderman, sports and airplanes), so I thought, why not make a raggy jeans quilt with all of it? Here’s how I made it:

I cut squares from the jeans that were about 9-1/2″; I chose that size simply because I had a square ruler that is 9-1/2″ so it made for an easy template! You could really make the squares any size you want. I did the same thing with the polar fleece, then matched wrong sides together, and quilted the blocks. For most of the blocks, I just did a simple X (one corner to the other), though I wanted to keep some of the jeans pockets on, and for those I basically just stitched around the pocket. The idea is just to hold the squares together. You don’t have to use batting for this quilt, so there’s no need to worry about it bunching up.

Besides saving some pockets, I also saved a couple of Levi’s tags. I liked showing some of the details of the jeans that you don’t normally see when you wear them, such as these two printed pieces inside a pocket on a pair of Levi’s:

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And, I used some of the denim wrong side out. This gave a little more subtlety with the blues, and also showed off some of the stitching that, again, one normally doesn’t see because it’s on the inside of the jeans. I even saved the front of one pair of jeans, sewing around the zipper and button so that my son (he’s 4-1/2) could zip and unzip and store toys inside and in the pockets.

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While most rag denim quilts have the ragged side on the front (denim) side, I decided to rag the fleece (back) side instead. I did this because I thought that with the extra pockets and notions and things I’d stuck on the front, it would look too busy with the fringe as well. Of course, it might have looked just fine, but once it was sewn, there was no way I was going to take it apart!

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I sewed the blocks together using a 1/2″ seam allowance, but of course this again is flexible. Some people use an inch or 3/4″; whatever seam allowance you use is what the length of the rag fringe will be. I sewed denim sides together, which made the rag side on the fleece side. If you wanted the denim to be the rag side, just sew the fleece sides together.

After putting all of the rows together (I made the quilt 7 rows of 6 blocks each, which makes a nice size lap quilt or throw for watching t.v.) comes the arduous task of snipping all of the exposed seams to get the ragged fringe. Basically, you just snip every 1/4″ or 1/2″ almost to the stitching on the seams. I’ve tried several different kinds of scissors, and for me the easiest to do this with is a pair of applique scissors. No matter what kind of scissors you use, your hand will probably get really tired after doing a few rows! This is the worst part of making the quilt, I think, but I just kept telling myself, “It’s almost done… it’s almost done!”

I love the way this quilt turned out! I probably spent about 8-10 hours total making it, so it’s definitely a project you could do in a weekend. I’ve heard that not putting fleece in the dryer keeps it from pilling; however, the whole point of a rag quilt is that the more often you wash and dry it, the raggier the fringes get. Plus, at my house, we have nine dogs and four cats, and at least some of them are going to be sitting on the quilt at any one time. So it will have to go in the dryer to get the pet hair off. I’ll just cross my fingers and hope for the best. You could also use flannel instead of fleece, which won’t pill. Anti-pilling polar fleece is also sold, but I am quite doubtful that is what my MIL bought. Oh well! It’s a quilt to be loved and keep warm, not to hang on a wall. If it pills, it pills! Que sera, sera!

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