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!