February 26, 2016

Denim Days - Log Cabin Placemats

Welcome back for week 4 of Denim Days!
Can you believe it's the last Friday in February already? Time sure does fly when you're having fun, and I've been having so much fun deconstructing jeans and making things from all that recycled denim. Click on these links to see my projects from weeks 1, 2 and 3.

I made placemats for us over three years ago and they've been looking rather stained and ugly for a while. I couldn't decide what I wanted to make to replace them, though, so we keep using the old ones. I've always thought denim placemats would look nice, so I finally decided to go for it.

I wanted to use both denim and regular quilting cotton, to reduce the number of bulky all-denim seams, so I chose these two prints, both from Connecting Threads (affiliate link). I love Connecting Threads fabrics (and prices!), so I'm a little disappointed with the current state of the Canadian dollar, which is making cross-border shopping more difficult.
I decided to use a log cabin block, but to make some of the side strips wider so that the placemats would be a rectangle rather than a square. These finish at 12" x 18 1/2".

My intention was to have the placemats finished before my parents arrived for their visit this week, so we could use them, but that didn't work out. Though I  have all 8 tops finished, only 2 are quilted and bound. But hey, at least I had 2 done so I could get pictures for today, right?
Denim Log Cabin Placemats | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I've been having fun experimenting with quilting designs, so for these I tried the swirl hook, using Angela Walters' video tutorial. I'm trying to work on scale when I quilt since I have a habit of quilting really, really small, which is fine when you're working on a wall quilt or a mini quilt. I'm planning to make a quilt for our bed, though, and I don't want the quilting to be really dense since that tends to make the quilt stiff rather than nice and soft. So, with the first placemat, I concentrated on making each swirl hook larger than I would normally. It took a fair bit of my attention to keep myself from quilting smaller and smaller, and this is still smaller than I will want to quilt the one for our bed. Then, with the second placemat, I forgot to pay attention to the size...and reverted right back to the smaller scale. Ooops! At least I have 6 more to practice with :)
Now, on with the tutorial!

Gather Your Supplies

*Strips of denim from old jeans in a variety of colours. I would recommend not using thick denim. I had one pair of men's jeans that was noticeably thicker than the rest and it made for bulkier seams. You can read about how I deconstruct my jeans in this post.
*Quilting cotton in two coordinating prints
*Batting - 14" x 20" for each placemat
*Backing fabric - 14" x 20" for each placemat
*Binding Fabric - 2 strips 2 1/4" x WOF for each placemat



**For each placemat**

Black print - 1 square 2 1/2" x 2 1/2"
                     2 rectangles 3" x 8 1/2"
                     2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 13 1/2"

Yellow print - 2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 4 1/2"
                       2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 6 1/2"

Denim - 2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"
              2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 4 1/2"
              2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 6 1/2"
              2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 8 1/2"
              2 rectangles 3" x 10 1/2"
              2 rectangles 1 1/2" x 18 1/2"

Unfortunately, I completely forgot about taking pictures for this tutorial, so we'll just pretend these pictures were taken in progress, okay? Thankfully, log cabin blocks are easy to take step-by-step pictures of after the fact.

At first I tried pressing all the seams towards the quilting cotton, but I found that at the corners of each border there were a lot of layers of denim, which made for a large bump. Pressing the seams open made for a much flatter block.

Stitch one denim 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangle to each side of the black 2 1/2" square. Then stitch one denim 1 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle to the top and bottom. At this point, you could trim to make sure everything stays perfectly square. I forgot to trim, which means my lines are not quite perfect, but they're pretty close. Whether you trim or not is entirely up to you.
Stitch one yellow 1 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle to each side. Then stitch one yellow 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangle to the top and bottom. Trim if you want.

Stitch one denim 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangle to each side. Then stitch one denim 1 1/2" x 8 1/2" rectangle to the top and bottom. Trim if you want.

Stitch one black 3" x 8 1/2" rectangle to each side. Then stitch one black 1 1/2" x 13 1/2" rectangle to the top and bottom. Trim if you want.

Stitch one denim 3" x 10 1/2" rectangle to each side. Then stitch one denim 1 1/2" x 18 1/2" rectangle to the top and bottom. Trim if you want.

Layer the placemat top, batting and backing. Baste, then quilt as desired. Free motion quilting on the denim worked quite well, even over the bulkier seams. I did find I had to go slower over those seams, but other than that there was no difference compared to quilting over regular cotton fabric. I used my regular needle and Connecting Threads 100% polyester thread (affiliate link).

Join the 2 1/4" binding strips, then use them to bind the placemats.

Repeat to make however many placemats you need :)
And that's it for Denim Days! I hope I've given you some ideas for using the denim stashed in a closet. After all, recycled denim is almost like having free fabric! I still have more denim ideas floating around in my head, so we may have to revisit Denim Days again sometime.

In the meantime, don't forget that my Just the Basics mystery quilt-a-long starts next Wednesday, March 2nd. The basics are anything but boring! To make sure you don't miss a post, you can follow by Bloglovin, feedly or by email. The links are all on my sidebar.

* This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click the link and then make a purchase I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay.


  1. These placemats look great! I really like your larger swirls as well....I've heard that it takes a lot of practice to be able to quilt the larger patterns.

  2. I love the idea of denim placemats...too cute!

  3. It is definitely crazy that February is almost over. I bet these placemats are going to be great for years to come. I love having quilted placemats to use, and it is amazing how many times I have washed them and how long they last.

  4. You can do amazing things with denim. I love that quilting design.

  5. Denim is a great idea for sturdy placemats, esoecially since they're nicely softened up first. I hear you about the Canadian dollar, but i find that the Canadian shops are much more competitive now.

  6. Awesome placemats! They are perfect for practicing your FMQ skills too.

  7. The yelling w is a fabulous addition : ) Well done

  8. Denim is a great idea for placemats. These are awesome. Kudos on the quilting.

  9. That's a great idea for upcycling jeans. I've spent the last two nights doing visible mending on my boys' jeans, but I'm sure they'll be back in the "future quilt pile" soon enough. That yellow looks so pretty against the blues!!


Thanks for taking the time to leave me a message. I love hearing from you.