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How to Make a Denim Quilt Using Old Jeans (An Ultra Simple Sewing Project!)

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by Robin

How have I not shared this recycled jeans denim quilt with you yet?!?

It’s one of my absolute favourites. It combines so much of what I love:

  • making something beautiful and useful for very little money,
  • using things that otherwise would be wasted.

This craft is the essence of my eco-chic, frugal, creative, crafty ways.

I made my first of these quilts many years ago – it was shortly after we added the enormous porch (and second storey addition) to our generational family home. 

My dad lovingly made us a porch swing – and I found a second-hand couch with cushions that I recovered in outdoor fabric.  It’s my favourite place.  Especially in rainstorms.

And when it’s too cold to lounge on the porch – I needed a heavy blanket.  Enter this perfect porch quilt made of my favourite fabric.

I adore denim. Maybe you’ve seen our daughter’s IKEA window seat?  Together we made a DIY window seat cushion in a patchwork of recycled denim. I love it’s deep and varied colour and rugged yet soft quality.

The quilt I’m sharing today was my first quilt and my first recycled denim project. 

It’s perfect for cool evenings – and it makes a wonderful picnic blanket. It’s thick and only gets more beautiful with many washings.

If you are new to sewing – this is a fabulous project.  It’s affordable –  just old jeans!  And it’s easy – straight lines that don’t need to be perfect. If you look closely at my photos – you’ll see some pretty subpar seams – it’s totally doesn’t matter – in fact, it adds to the casual quality of this blanket.

Here’s how it’s made…

How to Make a Denim Quilt Using Old Jeans

Denim Quilt Materials:

Tips for buying jeans for Denim Quilts:

  • When thrifting for jeans – start in the largest sizes and work your way down – plus sizes usually cost the same – and will give you lots more squares.
  • Be sure to get a mixture of light and dark coloured jeans. Jean trends have been leaning towards dark lately – so light are harder to find – but essential.
  • Decide if you want other colours of jeans in your quilt. I decided to only use blue – I had a few black squares that looked too stark for me in the quilt so I didn’t use them.
  • Too much stretch in a jean will make a wonky shape in your quilt.  Old school jeans with little to no give will keep their shape better.

Denim Quilt How-to:

1. Cut your jean squares

If you didn’t take the lazy way out and buy pre-cut jean squares – you’ll need to cut your squares.  I’d suggest making a template out of thick cardboard and tracing it.  
When cutting your pocket squares – be sure to centre the pocket really well.  Some of my pocket squares had the top of the pocket so close to the edge that I had to sew the pocket shut.  That just felt sad and wrong.

2. Plan your quilt – sort the squares.

Sort your squares to make sure you’ve got enough.    
My quilt is 8 by 11 squares.

Sorting also helps to ensure your colours of jeans are random. I know, sorting for randomness sounds silly, but it matters. It will irk you to no end if squares from the same jeans are lined up next to each other – or at least it does me!

3. Sew your squares together.

With WRONG sides together sew your squares together.  I can’t stress this enough – it’s counter-intuitive if you’re an experienced sewer, but for this quilt you want RIGHT sides out and WRONG sides together.  
Can you tell I made this mistake a few times? So frustrating!
I made a 5/8″ seam for all parts of this project.
Sew your squares into rows.  
Then sew your rows together.   

Again – put WRONG sides together (stressed that enough?)

This is the only slightly tricky part. You will want to pin your seams so that they are as flat as possible. (This is the only part where you need to pin this project at all!)

4. Prep and fray your edges.

Sew a 5/8″ line around the perimeter of your quilt.  I went around twice to be sure.  This will prevent your outside edge from fraying too much. 

(I’ve shown this photo on my older finished quilt – you can see – without this row of stitches it could fray into a hot mess.)

With the sturdiest scissors you have – cut all your seams. DON’T cut past your stitches – or it will fray too much and could fall apart.

Also, make sure you don’t use pinking shears – you WANT this to fray!

I cut mine at about 1/2″ intervals.

(I maybe should have added Band-aids to the materials list – I got a couple blisters after all this dense cutting!)
Now you want to make it fray!

The very best way: Hang your quilt on the clothesline on a few windy days. I made a new one in 2020 and learned that this was THE BEST way.  I hung it out on a few windy and rainy days and it frayed beautifully!

Wash your quilt lots of times.  
Try putting it in the dryer with tennis balls and running shoes – this will help the seams to relax and fray.  
You may want to pick at it a bunch too.  The more you beat it up the better!
The perfect outdoor blanket for cool nights.

And my favourite way to use old jeans!
Enjoy your beautiful new blanket!

I hope you love your denim quilt as much as I love mine!  If you have any questions about making yours, let me know, I’d be happy to help.

old jean quilt

Are you looking for another easy blanket to make?  I’ve got a super Basketweave Knit Throw Blanket tutorial too! You can find that easy knit blanket pattern for beginners here!

We share so many simple and affordable Crafts and DIY projects here – you can see them all here.  Including our collection of 20+ Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Jeans | Recycle & Upcycle Your Denim

If you’re looking for Easy Sewing Projects – I’ve got you covered hereHave fun!

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Friday 1st of December 2023

I've been making jean quilts for years now - many high school graduation gifts and baby gifts (backed with flannel) for all my grandchildren. They are so functional. The last one made was for my own bed, frayed seams, no backing. The one thing I did for the first time and will do again on future quilts is that I added a strip of jean waistbands sewn together to the outside edge. Gives the quilt a little more finished look. The waistbands did not include the metal button (I use those for pillow projects) but kept the button hole.

Robin & Ed Hicken

Saturday 9th of December 2023

Great ideas, Nancy! Thanks for sharing :)

cherryl lawson

Monday 21st of August 2023

Thanks so much for the awesome idea! My hubby wears bib overalls almost exclusively; I'll be making a quilt from his old bibs for each of the 8 grands (and me, of course) :)

Robin & Ed Hicken

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

That's a wonderful idea, Cheryl! Happy crafting!


Monday 17th of July 2023

Thank you so very much for an easy and understandable tutorial. I couldn't afford buying all squares, so I cut them myself with scissors. Can't wait to get finished so I can use it ❤️

Robin & Ed Hicken

Tuesday 18th of July 2023

Glad you like it! I cut them all myself too, Kristin - it's such a great way to reuse old jeans!


Sunday 8th of January 2023

Don’t back it! It seems awful, but trust me AND it is awesome! My parents have one that we used throughout my childhood, and it’s as durable as ever. I made one when I first got married, and it goes everywhere with us. I’m now making as send off gifts to my kids when they get married! We toss it down on the ground for picnics, beach blankets to get out of the sand (gone with a shake!!), bleacher seats, parades, etc.! The denim is indestructible 🚜


Monday 9th of January 2023

I agree - they are totally indestructible and don't need backing, Andrea. I LOVE your idea of making a denim quilt for your married kids! Thanks for sharing :)


Saturday 5th of November 2022

I saw this style of denim quilt and am going to do this for a friend! Her husband (my boss) passed away due to heart disease and she packed up some of his jeans/work pants and wanted me to sell them in rummage sale because it's too difficult for her. I decided to use his jeans to make her a memory quilt! That way she can always have him with her❤️


Wednesday 17th of May 2023

@Debra, That is such a great thing to do for her. Wonderful memories to wrap around her when she is feeling down.


Sunday 6th of November 2022

Oh I love this, Debra! What a thoughtful friend you are. This will get a treasured gift. Thanks for sharing! :)