Sunday, February 2, 2014

Denim Valentine Embellishment Tutorial: I Heart Pete Seeger.

Ahh, sweet mystery of life. 
It's more than a kitschy old song. It's a slew of interesting questions, one of the more trivial being, why, every February, does a non-frou-frou person such as moi experience irresistible compulsions to make stuff like this?
Answer: Um, this year, it's because of Pete Seeger. I stitched this up Friday night while watching/listening to the terrific 2007 film 'Pete Seeger, The Power of Song,' on VHI.

We lost Pete last week, at age 94. What an amazing person. I saw him in concert in the 1980s. In life, as in the film, whenever he threw his head back for a full-throated cry - whether "wimoweh," or "we shall overcome"  - the light of heaven shone on his face. Seriously, and I'm not the sort of person who generally sees heavenly light strewn about. Pete was so principled, intense, and talented that I bet that light shone on him when he hummed 'Row Your Boat' in the shower.

(Another huge musical talent who throws back their head to a degree that is almost alarming is Taylor Swift. I don't see any ethereal light on Taylor yet, but she's 70 years younger than Pete, so there's still time.)

Quilting and sewing are unlike singing. in the sense that fiber artists generally don't throw our heads back, even when things are going really great. Au contraire, we mostly adopt a semi-fetal position, and, rather than heaven, we rely on man-made, often expensive sources of artificial light. I hunched over this valentine on the couch for a couple of hours while listening to the Seeger movie.

It's a hanging heart ornament/brooch/necklace/potential sachet/pillow, though at almost 4" high, it's a bit huge as jewelry. Here's one way to make it:

1. Cut out a denim heart  from a pair of old jeans.

2. Cut a piece of stiff interfacing to very slightly smaller. The interfacing should have fusible on both sides (like Peltex 72F or Fast2Fuse), or you can also put paper-backed fusible web on sides of non-fusible stiff interfacing, or onto plain old felt.

3. Fuse that interfacing (or felt) heart behind the front denim layer. You'll be sewing through these two layers. (If using felt, keep the iron temperature in the medium range.)

4. Using a sturdy thread, such as quilting, button, beading, or upholstery thread, stitch embellishments to front.

From the top down, my embellishments included: White glass beads, slightly bigger than seed beads; vintage lace; vintage pale pink grosgrain ribbon; vintage tiny mother-of-pearl buttons, some held on by pink glass beads; tiny white rick-rack held on by glass pink beads; faux pearls; silver glass bugle beads. A special carved mother-of-pearl button is on the upper right, surrounded by holographic plastic vintage seed-shaped pearls.
5. When everything is secure, place the heart on another piece of denim, and cut that piece about 1/2" larger than your finished piece, all the way around. I used a pinking shears for a decorative edge.

6. From the back, fuse the backing denim in place. Option: Have the wrong side of the denim facing to the front, to create a color contrast surrounding the front heart. (That's what I did).

7. Stitch a pin to the back side.

Option: Add a chain or jump rings to the center front or back, to hang it. I used a cut-off fragment of a chain.
Spiritually, Pete, this valentine is for you.  Thanks for what you sang, all over this land. 
UPDATE: More denim valentines are in the next post, here.  


  1. Always, always, always inspiring -- you and Pete Seeger! Great project, nice post today. Thank you! Barbara

  2. Love this, as I sit here listening to Pete sing!

    1. Yay, Robin. You should catch that documentary, too. So inspiring. Thanks for coming by.

  3. Awe you got yourself a soft side Cathy!
    I love a valentine and just learned more about Pete Seeger on TV this morning. What a guy. It's so personal when you make something like this in his honor. Tells me something about you, and gives me another reason to like you.

    1. LeeAnna, you are so sweet! You have a soft side too! Pete (as I call him) was an amazing guy who wanted everyone to sing along....I'm glad you got to know him a bit!

  4. Super, brought a tear to my eyes.

  5. I'm waiting for you to throw back your head and sing.

    1. A dark cloud would fall across the sky, and you'd run.


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