Saturday, May 18, 2013

Appliqued Upcycled Blue Jeans Cowboy Baby Name Quilt

From about the age of 2, my baby boy wanted to be a cowboy. We live in an urban suburb, and are descended from long lines of gefilte-fish-eating city-dwellers, so this vocational goal was as implausible as it was delightful.
(Young people, that is not my son. That is Gene Wilder, the definitive Jewish cowboy, who played the role in Frisco Kid and Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, two stupid, wildly politically-incorrect, utterly hilarious movies.)
I seized upon my son's cowboy aspirations as an excuse to make a quilted wall hanging from my  favorite garments for upcycling:  Denim jeans.
What is this thing? Why, it's an appliqued denim cowboy name quilt, of course! All raw-edge applique, so easy, so fun! 

The background is red felt, free-motion quilted. The lettering, comes from various parts of the jean,with hardware like fasteners and rivets left in wherever possible. It's sewn on by hand or machine, depending on whether the seams were too thick for my sewing machine needle. (I hate to admit it, but you could actually do this entire quilt with glue.) 

It also includes novelty fabric cutouts of cowboys and their accoutrements (cows, herding dogs, covered wagons, cattle skulls, etc.), added with fusible and machine stitching. All edges are raw - stray threads are a feature! 

All four corners have denim pockets. The cacti are appliqued felt. I threw on some other stuff, like a piece of petrified wood tied to a string tied to a vintage metal button (lower left of the photo below), a Levi's label (speaking of Jews and cowboys), and a golden cord lasso.

Belt loops are set at even intervals along the top. A loop of navy-and-white bandana, tied through each belt loop, holds the quilt onto nails on the wall. (It's off-the-wall for the shot below).
The piece measures about 32" x 15" But of course, my son has a short name, all straight lines. If the child's name is Persephone or Maximillian, you will need to make the letters smaller, and/or the quilt much longer.

Obviously, this upcycling project works best if your child has hopes and dreams that are somehow related to blue jeans. Along with cowpersons, if s/he wants to be a carpenter, a professor, Bruce Springsteen, or an explorer, denim is perfect.  However, if s/he wants to be an Olympic ice skater, use something spangly; if s/he wants to be a neurosurgeon, scrubs would be ideal, etc.

My son's cowboy dreams did fade away, alas, and from about 3rd grade to today (he's in college), he has pretty much wanted to be a scientist, like his dad.  And come to think of it, his father, and his father's scientific colleagues, mostly wear denim jeans to the office. So if my son one day has a scientific office and/or lab, I feel strongly that this wallhanging will fit in perfectly with the decor.

The lassoing of stray cows will transform from a literal projection of a future career, into a metaphor for the ongoing search for elusive scientific truth. (Rising violin music). So I won't have to make him a new science-themed denim name wallhanging any time soon!  Happy Birthday, son! I bought you a nice science book, instead!


P.S.
Come to think of it, Gene Wilder also starred in a Mel Brooks movie about careers in science!




13 comments:

  1. Your creativity is astonishing! and to throw in Mel Brooks is the frosting on the cake - birthday cake that is.

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl, you are making me hungry!

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  2. So creative! Let me ask, "does he still have it hanging in his room as a teenager?"

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    1. It actually still hangs in his room, albeit high up. He just finished his freshman year of college, and did not bring it with him for his dorm, for some reason!

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  3. Love this, you've even upcycled the meaning. But of course, Levi Strauss was one of the great Jewish-American entrepreneurs of all time, serving California's emerging economy so it's not all off the mark!

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    1. So true! The Jewish cowboy connection goes beyond the Mel Brooks shtick!

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  4. What a super little quilt! And I agree that Blazing Saddles was one of the funniest movies ever.

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    1. Thanks, Norma! Mel Brooks is offensive in so many ways, yet so funny! Oy vey!

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  5. That is a really fun piece and love the idea of a wall hanging with pockets that could be used for storage too. I have been collecting my husband's jeans and about time I make a quilt for him.

    Debbie

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  6. And such a crush I had on Gene Wilder! "I'm a Doctor, I can fix that hump" is one of my all time favorite lines...what hump?
    Congratulations to you and to Eli on surviving freshman year. That sure went fast! Enjoy the summer.
    Jeri

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  7. Congratulations on finishing your Freshman year, Cathy and Eli! It is amazing how time flies, and how quickly little cowboys grow into brilliant scientists. Thanks for the memories and the laughs along the way!
    Jeri

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  8. Debbie, yes, you can tuck things in the pockets, it's another feature! There are a lot of jeans-pocket quilts scattered around the Internets for inspiration!

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