Monday, December 19, 2011

Blue Jean Jesus: A Jesus For Today's World

I have a picture of this quilt on a post I made a WHILE back but I never really told too much about it. I have more pictures of it now and thought I would give you all a better idea of what was going on and where it came from.
It came as a result of a gift that was given to me by my cousin Lacey while she was attending college. She was in a theatrical group at the time and a Jesus like my quilt was part of that "show".

She made a smaller version of that Jesus for my Grandmother for Christmas that year and everyone had a total fit over it and asked her to make them one. Including me!
So the next year to all of our surprise we got them for Christmas! I cried much as writing the story makes me do now. I am not sure if she will ever know how much that small gift meant to me and I keep it where I can see it daily and can think of her each time! She has married and moved to Tennessee now and it is all the more important to have something close to me to remind me of her. Now all I have to do is get at least one piece of Ashly's work!

The next year I had her name for Christmas and since she was still in college I thought I would make a blue jean version that she could hang on her wall. Imade it on a 16"x20" canvas. It was a lot of work but turned out better than I had hoped it would. I hope she really liked it.

From there I started thinking larger and decided I wanted to make that same design into an art quilt.

Hence Blue Jean Jesus: A Jesus For The World Today's World.

I had already made two blue jean quilts one Queen sized and the other a King. We weighed the King size and I was wrestling 10lbs worth of fabric under the sewing machine each time I sewed a new row of stitching. That project spanned two Christmases for my Sister and BROTHER-in-law and then the next Christmas they asked would I make one for his parents. So I had plenty of scraps to choose from to begin. Not only that but I had jeans donated to me as well from a lady my BROTHER-in-law had coming in his place of business that was a missionary to Mexico. They had gotten a bunch of blue jeans they couldn't use for whatever reason and she knew he was looking for more because of the project I was working on so she brought them to him! It was great because then I even had some different shades mixed in! And although I have not shared a lot of it on here those who are close to me know that I am a big recycler or anything I can make into anything else! So this kind of re-purposing was right up my alley!

Story aside now that I have rambled forever! I will tell you how I started the quilt.

I started with a HUGE piece of poster paper I acquired from somewhere and began to draw.
After that I started cutting away the parts I would not need to leave only the parts I would need in the darker part of the blue jean.

This is the image I drew and cut out from poster paper to transfer to my pieced blue jean that was darker in color. This is what layers over the lighter on the back.
Before I post another picture let me tell you how you need to construct your sheet or full piece of fabric from scraps. Selecg colors darker than what you will use for the background of the face, as close to the same tone as you can. It will make a difference in how it looks in the finished project.

Before you begin cutting these pieces from the blue jeans I recommend you buy a cheaper pair or scissors like the $1.99 pairs you can normally find at Hobby Lobby because when you get done with this project you will be lucky if they cut paper!
Another hint is get the heaviest needles you can. There are jean needles but for this you may find you will have to use what they call duct needles or leather needles. The heavier duty the better as long as your machine can handle them.
Also you need to get the orange/brown thread used in blue jean sewing. It will cost more and there is less on a spool but after sewing as much as I have on jean material I count this as a valuable hint that no one ever gave me!
Trust me you will be better off! I promise! You know this is what I always say so it must be true!

Sew them together to form a sheet of blue jean fabric. Follow the natural placement of how the fabric is wanting to go together, in other words do not force seams. You will have puckers and have to go back and take them out. If you have a ruler and a marker you can avoid this happening by drawing straight lines along the edges of all your pieces before sewing them together.
Another step but worth the hassle in the long run.
After everything is sewn make sure all seams are ironed flat on the back and then turn over on the front and press well with a heavy starch. You can follow this same method for constructing the sheet for the lighter colored jean material.

Now you are ready to get started with the drawing of the face onto the back side of your sheet of fabric. 
Whichever way you decide for you Jesus to go remember when you turn it over on the back to flip the image over to trace it or it will not face in the direction you had intended.
After the image is transferred you can begin cutting the image from the fabric.
This image will then be placed over the lighter sheet of jean.

By trial and error I can help you out a little. I tried to adhere the darker to the lighter with fusible web. This is too hard! It doesn't want to stick simply because you are dealing with too thick of materials for the heat to transfer either one together well.
I recommend you pin and pin GOOD! If you have enough pins in something it is not going anywhere.
I have so many friends that tell me "I don't even own pins!" I ask them how do they possibly ever sew anything straight?

Adopt the mantra "Pins are your friends!"

After you have amply pinned all your pieces together, take a deep breath, sit down at the sewing machine and conquer that monster of fear that says "You can't do this and I WIN!". I say, "Stomp that monster like it is under your foot between your pedal and your foot!" And in my case my bare foot. I can't stand to sew with shoes on! I joked and said I was going to call my business Barefoot Sewing: Curl Your Toes Around Some String!!! I thought it was funny anyway!

Now for another picture!!!!

Since I wasn't smart enough to take pictures of this project as I went and I am not about to make another one right now for blog purposes you will have to imagine each piece as it goes together.
This picture is at the stage where the back is sewn to the front and the crown has been cut, sewn and the beads have been glued on. Actually if you get right down to it, everything was done because this is the finished project.

The crown of thorns was cut from random cuttings of a small piece of very light jean I had. All I did to achieve this was take a pair of scissors to it and start hacking away in a wavy pattern. Then I laid them where I wanted them in a haphazardly manner and then ran them back and forth under the sewing machine doing forward and backwards stitches to keep from having to take it in and out. I made long rows of stitches where I could as it made it easier to get more of the strips sewn down so there were less to worry about holding down or getting tangled in directions I didn't want them going in. After I cut all my strings where I had picked up the presser foot and moved to another area and assessed where I needed to stitch more. You can tell there are areas that have no stitching except for where they intersected another piece. You want this so it looks more natural like the actual crown of thorns would have looked. It was rough and jagged. That is how Jesus got all the cuts on his head and why we see him with blood trailing down his face in pictures.

I chose to use glass beads for my blood. I had every intention of sewing them on by hand so they would never come off. But as luck would have it by the time I got to that part of things there were too many layers of jean to put a needle through to sew them on. So I went and found a good fabric glue and used it VERY generously and so far I have had no problem with it staying put! I have taken this to several shows and it has hung on exhibit. So if you do it right with glue I think it should be pretty durable. This is only if it is to be used as a show or art quilt. I can't vouch for it as a usable quilt.

These are all close up looks at how I did the bead work and the crown of thorns.

I faced out the sides with pillow ticking in a red color and around the patch with the actual Jesus on it I have some very dark jean material that it was placed on to stabilize the entire piece of work.

For the backing fabric that I cut big enough to be my binding for the front I chose Augsburg. I stitched from the front to the back around the facial features to give the face more dimension. This is not something you have to do but you do need to find a way to adhere the front to the back since this will not be quilted.

This is the picture you saw in the other blog I included it in. This is how the face looked when it was done.

I hope you have gotten something out of this today and if you have any questions about how any part of this was done please ask and I will be happy to answer your questions!
Also be sure to look for me on Pinterest. @
Something was wrong with the HTML so I wasn't able to place a button. Hopefully the link will work instead! If not you can find me by candielous!
Happy Crafting!

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