Sunday, March 23, 2014

Denim and Corduroy Car Quilt

This is my car quilt! For the past two decades or so, it has lived in the trunk of my two consecutive mom vehicles.
The quilt combines my husband's and my denim and corduroy jeans. The lighter patches are denim; the darker blue and black patches are corduroy. 

(For those of you newer to the planet, corduroy jeans were all the rage among students in the frozen Northeast of the 1960s and 70s; when I made this quilt in the 90's, I had several pairs to work with that neither of us had worn in years. Which was a good thing, because corduroy jeans don't slenderize the thighs even one tiny bit. The fact that we'd recently moved to hot Southern California made the prospect of ever wearing them again even more awful.)  

I took this quilt's picture yesterday, because earlier in the day I was at a quilt show in Pasadena California and saw a NEW quilt book about incorporating corduroy. New!!! The book made me wonder if my old car quilt is back in style! 

Now that I've dragged it out and taken its picture, I'm thinking it is indeed very trendy! Along with corduroy, another 2014 attribute is its asymmetry.Yes, the block placement - 9-patches alternating with 3-strip 'rail fences' - is mostly regular. But the value placement - the darks and lights - along the bottom two rows is definitely quirky, and keeps the eyes moving. In the wake of the Gees Bend quilts, and the 'Modern' quilt movement, this is very popular!  

It measures about 57" x 41". It's pretty grubby, with dirt that doesn't want to come out in the washing machine -  but it could be worse, considering that it spent most of its life under muddy snow chains, baby strollers fresh off sandy playgrounds, used dog towels, and other mobile detritus. The quilt was only occasionally extracted to lay upon grass or dirt that wasn't clean enough for unguarded family posteriors.

Technically, it isn't quite a quilt - there's no middle layer, just the pieced top, and a back from the same burgundy cotton as the border. It's tied with colorful strands of embroidery floss,

...and also machine quilted with decorative stitching along some of the seams. 
The main thing I remember from making this quilt is what a mess cut corduroy makes. Have a vacuum cleaner handy, maybe a lint roller too. Brush out your sewing machine possibly during, and certainly after you're done. If I had to make this quilt again, I 'd do it entirely in varying shades of denim. 

The other thing I remember is that the cut edges of corduroy ravelled like crazy, and that's why I did the decorative satin stitching on the most vulnerable-looking seams. The satin stitching goes through both layers  - here's the quilt back.
 Wow, that's messy. Nothing embarrasses me, obviously.

If you want to make a corduroy quilt my advice to you would be 1. Make the seam allowances a half inch instead of a quarter inch (to compensate for ravelling). I didn't do this, but you should. 2. Cover the seams with a wide zig zag topstitch once the top is pieced (it doesn't have to be a satin stitch, any zig zag will help - use invisible thread if you don't want the stitching to show), and 3. Buy a Roomba or some other superfun vacuum cleaner, plus a lint roller six-pack from Costco.

Do you have a car quilt? Should you? You might want to skip the corduroy. Unless a new book tells you otherwise. 


  1. You should archive it now so that your progeny will be proud of it when it hangs on MOMA walls in the next millennium.

  2. Ah memories...remember that zzzp, zzzp, zzzp sound that those cords made when you walked -- lol!

    1. Thanks for reminding me of that horrible sound, Gisela! Gosh I hated those jeans!

  3. Look at you! So ahead of your time. I like it.

  4. Thank you, Margaret. I'm trying desperately to be trendy without doing any of the actual work.