Sunday, August 19, 2012

Denim Rag Rug - Jeans ReFashioning

OK, so it's like this:

DD1 is going off to university soon. I had plans to do some dorm-related sewing for her, such as throw pillows, a rug for her bedside, a bed caddy.

Fast forward.

We found some inexpensive throw pillows while shopping. Check. I spent almost an entire day working on a bed caddy that was a wadder. (This needs revisiting.) Then she met her roomie and they decided they need a larger 5'x7' shared area rug. I did not sign on to make that!

Meanwhile, I'd already hit my friends up for old jeans that they would otherwise throw out and had received several pair in a variety of blue and black shades. Perfect. I had also bought some black denim to use as the base.

I decided to go ahead with this project. After all, I really need a bath mat. DD2 has been complaining about the old towel I use as a bath mat (hey, it's easy to wash) and has informed me that I need a more specialized solution.

I started the project and completed a few inches, then set it aside for weeks. Then, recently, I needed some mindless sewing, and decided to push through to the end. I finished it in a few days of intense sewing.

I am so glad to have it done!

You can see the rows of stitching. I decided, at the outset, not to try and be a perfectionist about this. Good decision, as it would have been difficult to achieve perfection with such an unwieldy project.

By the way, I got this idea when I saw the great floor mats that Lynne of Sewing Cafe made for her jeep. She got the idea from Martha Stewart. If you go to Martha's page, all you will find (and I quote) is:

3. Fringe Rug

Cut a 30-by-54-inch piece of burlap. Tear about 200 strips from jeans (you'll need about 12 pairs); make each 1 1/4 inches wide and the length of a pant leg. Align first strip 1 inch from burlap's edge; with the zipper foot attachment on a sewing machine and a denim needle, stitch down center. Snip any remainder from the end, and use it to start the next row. Sew strips 1/8 inch apart, until 1 inch of burlap remains. Fold burlap edges under, and hand-stitch.

I made mine 2 feet by 3 feet. I cut a piece of denim and pre-hemmed it. (I'm not sure this is the ideal approach, but it worked for me.) I cut up 8 pair of jeans (4 blue pair from Bertie, 2 black pair from Kim, and 2 blue pair from Sue). I had strips left over, so 7 or 7-1/2 pair might have been sufficient.

A little after halfway, I turned the project around - it was easier to maneuver under the machine.

My strips varied in width from 1-1/4" to 1-1/2". I ironed the more twisted strips flat (the heavier-weight jeans, which I preferred because they have a fluffier fringe, became more distorted from the tearing than the thinner-weight jeans). I then ironed a crease down the middle, though I don't know if that was really necessary. I started sewing and just kept going. It was a fairly unwieldy project and I had to pull my machine away from the wall to accommodate the mass.

I encouraged the fringing of the strips and, in many cases, pulled additional threads after the strips were sewn. I did not pre-cut the length of the finished strips but sewed them to the base and then cut them to length.

My least favorite part of the process was tearing the jeans into strips. It created so much fiber! I was sneezing blue for a couple days. (Sorry, TMI.) If you have sensitive lungs, maybe wear a mask for this part of it. At least the jeans were well washed and, in some cases, bleached, stained, and holey. Those sorts of jeans are perfect for this project.

I really enjoyed mixing colors/shades as I sewed and the resulting variegated effect.

Did I enjoy the process enough to make another? No. :)

Leftover strips
Bucket 'o threads from the fringing.

I do have another project to blog that is a garment. I even took pics yesterday, but I have to re-do them. The weather here has just been so grey and foggy. In fact, yesterday morning I drove to Sue's house around 10am to pick up her jeans donation. When I left, it was 57° F outside. When I arrived to her house, it was 75° F outside. I had forgotten how nice 75° F is!

35 comments:

  1. wow, what a crazy task but totally awesome.. I would never had the patience for it..

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  2. looks like a typical mother's labour of love - well done

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  3. In spite of the monotonous, time-eating aspect of this project, I still really really want to do this! 5'x7'? I don't THINK so! But bath mat sized - I'd go for that. I SO love the end results!

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  4. Now that is an act of love. Thanks for your lovely comment about my new pants...I assure you I haven't looked hot since about 1975!

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  5. Agree with the act of love concept! You are a good Momma!

    That bucket of blue threads is really calling for something to be done with it, such great colors, hmmmm.......

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  6. Gorgeous rug! Lots 'o work! I'm glad you're keeping it for yourself...

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  7. You and Jilly have the patience (and perseverance) of saints

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  8. It looks amazing. I now want to make one of these, but suspect your ears may be burning if I do. I am glad this will grace your bathroom and not the dorm of the DD!

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  9. What a brilliant one-of-a-kind bathmat you now have for yourself! And that bucket of threads is just calling out to be used for an embellishment of some sort...start getting creative again...

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  10. That bucket of threads is calling me. I'm a handspinner and love to incorporate unusual fibres. Now my creative juices are flowing. Oh, and the denim rag-rug is great too. I'd be keeping it for a living area, rather than the bathroom.

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  11. OK, you guys are driving me nuts! Ok, ok. I'm going to sift through the bucket-o-threads, filter out the bent pins, and bag them up for Design Outside the Lines. ;)

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  12. I'm glad you stuck with this, because it's really cool. I love the color variegation. I can just imagine how much softer the rug will become with further washing and absorbing and all that. A delight for both the feet and eyes!

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  13. Gosh, now that is perseverance ;) Great result and makes a fabulous bathmat.

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  14. wow that is a very cool looking rug.

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  15. I've woven a few rag rugs. Simply put, not my favorite thing. I dislike making the fabric strips for just the reasons you mentioned, it's messy. Oh and the heavy beat one needs to really pack it down. I'm just not that angry at my loom or the world! Great result though with the strip sewing. How heavy is it? How heavy is it wet? :)

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    1. It is heavy-ish when dry. Don't know about wet. :) But purchased bath mats have weight to them, too.

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  16. This is gorgeous. Id love it for my bathroom, but is it washable?

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    1. Yes, definitely washable. I imagine it will get softer with washing. I think my home machines can handle it, but if it were much larger, I'd take it to a laundromat.

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  17. Just so you know that you aren't alone, my aunt made two room size braided rugs from wool pieces she collected from her own family and everyone else she knew. A few years before she died I asked her what happened to those rugs. She said, "Oh, I got tired of them and gave them away." You gave them away!!!!!!!! Enjoy your new rug. It's great! Don't give it away.

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    1. Oh oh oh. That's a painful story!! Braiding is even more work than this.

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  18. You really make the coolest things! True works of art

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  19. Oooh, can I come by your house to stroke it? It looks so cool.

    I just also want to put it out there that Martha Stewart did not invent this. I have Jackie Dodson's book from 1981 and it describes the same technique.

    http://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Machine-Made-Creative-Machine-Series/dp/0801980194/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345439288&sr=1-2-fkmr2&keywords=chilton+press+rug

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    1. You know, that book looks familiar to me. I wonder if I've seen it before? Not surprising that she didn't invent it. ;)

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  20. Love the rug. How easy was it to tear the strips?

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  21. This is truly terrific, love the shading of the different pairs. I just finished 2 chenille baby blankets, exactly the same mindless straight stitching. You sew through 5 layers of cotton flannel at 1/2" intervals, then use a chenille cutter to cut all but the bottom one. Now I know why I don't quilt. I had the same issues you did with getting it through the machine, and moving away from the wall. Great job!

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  22. That is too cool! I'll be the cats would love one...

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  23. What are you going to do with the bucket of threads? That intrigues me.

    Love the look of the rug. Glad to know it's a ton of work and probably not where I want to go. At the first picture, I was thinking L shaped for my kitchen. LONG.

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  24. LOL - I read the comments after I posted mine.

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  25. I love it and think it is totally worth the time and effort. I am sitting on a pile of old jeans collected over the years that I just knew I would have a use for some day. I think that some day has come. Thank you for sharing.

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  26. I've made two of these, following the Jackie Dodson instructions, so my denim strips were bias. Then I cut each strip, about 1 cm apart, to make the fringe. The fringe cutting is really hard on the hands, but they look cool. After washing they take forever to dry, so I usually hang them on the deck railing for a day or two. I'm not likely to make any more.

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  27. Cool bathroom rug. The color variations are so pretty. I do believe I have the Jackie Dodson rug book somewhere in my collection.

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  28. This is really good looking, and I 'get' a tactile sense of how good it must feel from the photo....thinking hopping out of bed with bare feet on a cold morning. ...not hard to imagine as it is so SO cold here in SF today!

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  29. Can I just say how much I love that rug?

    I'd love to see a post six months from now sharing (and showing) how it looks after serving as a bathmat.

    I don't think I could stand to step on it from the shower. It's gorgeous!

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