Friday, March 1, 2013

Old Jeans Made into Pillow #3

I am at it once again-using that stack of recycled blue jeans for the third pillow on my sofa. And I used a third technique. Do you remember bleaching your jeans? I am not sure how many times that trend has made its way into pop fashion but it was huge when I was in my teens. For this pillow I wanted to use bleaching techniques because It creates beautiful shades of indigo blue within the fabric. I'd already made one pillow using different colored jeans for the color gradation. In this pillow I wanted to use all one color and have the bleach create the gradations.

Here is my pillow collection with the newest one in front.

It is created by piecing together six long triangles cut from the legs of old jeans. I then applied straight household bleach to the fabric in a pattern that reflects the piecing. I allowed it to sit for over an hour and then washed the fabric. The end result was this denim fabric with a zig zag of gradations. Interestingly enough it has almost a wood grain feel to it.

It might be interesting to try and create a bleached wood grain pattern intentionally - another project for another day!

I did take some process photographs to go along with a brief tutorial.

Supplies needed:
  • 1 pair recycled blue jeans
  • scissors
  • pins
  • paper pattern
  • Sewing machine & thread
  • backing fabric for the pillow
  • Pillow form
  • bleach
  • gloves- for protection with bleach
  • 1"  flat craft paint brush

  • Measure the pillow you are covering to decide how big a pice of fabric you need. I needed a 20" square to cover my pillow.
  • Create a paper pattern that will divide that square into long triangles.
  • This is what my pattern looked like but yours may well be different depending on the shape of your pillow form.

  • Make 2 triangle patterns that have a 5/8" margin all around to allow for the seam allowance.
  • Cut up your jeans trying to create the largest flat pieces of fabric you can get. 
  • Remove all seams and hems.
  • You will need to get two triangles out of the leg backs. They are the widest pieces in a pair of pants.

  • I was just able to fit two on the back sides.
  • Pin the patterns in place and cut them out.
  • Continue pinning to the fabric pieces until you have enough triangles for your pillow.
  • My pillow required 6 and 1/2 trangles. Yours may require more or less depending on its shape.
  • Pin the triangles to each other with the front of the fabric together.

Stitch each seam on the sewing machine.
  • Press all seams open.
  • I saved a scrap of denim and did a bleaching practice run.
  • Get your denim fabric wet.
  • Place it in the bottom of your tub.
  • Wear old clothes and thin gloves to protect yourself from bleach damage.
  • Put a small amount of bleach in a cup.
  • Dip the paint brush into the bleach and start painting lines of bleach on the wet fabric.
  • You will see nothing!
  • I put a few pins in my fabric to give me a marker for where I wanted the whitest spots.

  • I positioned the brush so that I made long skinny lines of bleach.
  • I waited.
  • After about 15 minutes I could tell I hadn't painted enough. I added more.
  • I checked every 10 minutes each time adding a few more stripes until I was pleased with the result.
  • Most of the effects of the bleach occurred within 15 minutes. I waited about and hour but it didn't really change the fabric much.
  • Put it in a pail to carry it to the washing machine.
  • Wash the fabric alone so as to not damage other items with the bleach.
  • When the fabric is washed and dried, press it flat.
  • Using any  pillow covering technique you like, sew the fabric to the pillow backing and make the pillow covering.

Here are my three pillow patterns together - chevron, frayed edge and now bleached.

And I still have more jeans! What should I do for the other end of the sofa?

Update 3/13/13: Machine Appliqué is the technique I used for pillow #4. Probably the easiest so far. Go here to see how.

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©2013 AshbeeDesign, Marji Roy


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  1. I LOVE all your jean projects. I knew I was saving all those jeans for a reason!

    1. I have enough for more. Thinking about the next pillow already but then I might try a table runner. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. This is a great pillow! Beautifully made!

  3. Bleaching jeans! I had a bunch of pairs I made in high school! I did big blotches all over and I thought I was SO COOL.

    I love all these pillows. I have been using the legs for backs of pillows to make the envelope enclosures--I used the bottom hem. But this is way more upscale.


    1. There are so many wonderful techniques for pillow design - and so many of them can be completed in denim. Works for me! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  4. Replies
    1. Glad you do. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  5. Ummm...ya...this pretty much rocks! I'd love it if you'd link this {and any other crafty goodness you want} to my's going on right now.


    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting- of to visit your site now.

  6. These are fantastic! I am a sucker for denim :) I shared on my FB page.

  7. Your jeans pillow are so fun! I love that you have made different designs! thank you for showing us how to make them at TTF.