Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ragged Denim Quilt

Some time ago, I asked for old jeans to make a denim quilt for my son! The response was quite generous! One reader told her grandmother who gave me three boxes full of jeans! Not only was I able to finish the quilt for which I was collecting denim, I also made a matching quilt for my younger son. We hope to have bunk beds for them someday and now I'm all prepared with matching bed spreads!

As a "thanks" to all those who shared their old jeans, I am attempting to write my first sewing tutorial! Maybe some of you will be inspired to make your own ragged quilt. I love recycling something totally useless, like worn out jeans into something useful and attractive. These directions can also be used for flannel or fleece to make a very cuddly blanket!

If you can sew a straight seam, you can make this very simple blanket. There is no need for batting, quilting, or binding. Actually, this is not literally a quilt, since it is not "quilted"! The variations are endless but I show you how I made mine!
1. Choose your fabrics. You'll want at least two different fabrics. You can use scraps of almost any sort but cottons will give you the ragged affect. I used black denim for the back, blue denim of various shades for the front, and various cotton homespuns for the alternate blocks.
2. Cut your fabrics. You may make them any size you choose. I chose to make seven inch squares. With one half inch seam allowance, this gave a finished six inch square. A pair of newly sharpened scissors will make the job of cutting denim much easier!

I was making a single size quilt. I needed ten rows of fourteen blocks, which totaled 140 denim blocks and 140 homespun blocks.

3. Prepare your fabric sandwiches. If you've done a lot of sewing, you are probably accustomed to placing right sides together. Since in this case you want the seams OUT, you'll need to adjust your thinking. This was probably the most difficult part of the entire project! Many of my denim squares are actually turned wrong - but since they are from old jeans and all rather faded, I don't think it shows too much! If you work with fabric that has no wrong side, like homespuns, you'll save yourself some headache!

You will be stacking a front denim square, wrong side up. Then a homespun square, right side up. Next, a back denim square, wrong side up. Then a home spun square right side up. (It is so much easier to do then to write about!)

Above is what the back looks like.
4. Sew the fabric sandwich layers together. I didn't do any pinning. If the squares are the same size, it isn't necessary.
Above is a view of the front of the blanket.

5. Continue sewing the squares together in strips until you reach the desired size.
Above is a view of the back.

6. Stitch around the outside of the blanket to hold the fabric together since there is no binding.

7. The quilt still looks rather unfinished. To get the "ragged" affect, you snip the seam allowance. You want to get close, but certainly not the whole way to the stitched seam. If you have spring loaded scissors, you'll make the task much easier for yourself. This is a monotonous job, one that takes time but is rather mindless. So have a friend over and chat while you snip! Don't forget the edges!

8. Almost done! Throw the whole blanket into the washing machine with a tiny bit of soap. Then dry it in the dryer. The agitation and drying process will soften and "fluff" the seam allowances giving the ragged appearance you've been aiming for. Check the dryer about every five minutes and empty the lint trap! You will collect an unbelievably large amount of lint and threads!
This the huge pile of lint after drying two single sized blankets!

9. Go cuddle up under your new blanket with someone you love!

Variations: I made two small blankets with this method, adding a heart applique. Before sewing the denim squares together. I stitched on a heart in the center of the square. I also snipped the heart so that it would fray and add to the ragged affect. I really liked the effect, but both blankets were gifts and I don't have pictures to share!

As mentioned earlier, this is a great way to make a soft quilt with flannels or fleece. Fleece won't "rag" but still looks quite cute. If you want a thicker quilt. You can add some thin batting between the layers.

If anything is not clear in these directions, please let me know!


  1. Neat-o!!! I bet the boys are tickled. Do boys get tickled??? My girls get tickled. Anyway, Congratulations on finishing a great-looking project!!!

  2. Gina......your denim quilts are wonderful and they will last for a long,long time just like a great pair of jeans :-)

    So what's your next project?

    Hugs, Carolyn

  3. Thanks for the directions, I have jeans that are cut and saved. Now I know what for :)

    Thanks again!

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been wanting to make one of these for some time now. You have given me the inspiration I've needed and maybe I will have one done in time for picnic season. That's what I want one for mostly :) Then I can work on another one for the house.

  5. Ok, I know this is an old post, but I've wanted to make one of these forever! Do you snip around the seam allowance on the outside edges as well??? Thanks!!!

  6. Linda -
    I do snip around the outer edge as well. It is a fun project! Hope you enjoy it!

  7. These are soooo coool! I love them...what great picnic blankets these would make!

  8. Oh,Gina! Can you come to my house and show me? or send a video? lol! I am a "see it one time, and I can do it" person. I don't do so well with written directions! Being a visual learner is tough sometimes. Sigh....I guess I'll go back and read the directions and study the pictures at least ten more times and then try. heehee! J/k. Surely it won't take that many; your directions and pictures are always so easy to follow. Your blankets were so cute! Thank you for sharing. I know your boys will enjoy them!

  9. Can you please explain what you do at the corners of the squares?


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