Skip to Content

Quick Denim Quilt (Improv Quilt with Instructions)

This quick denim quilt project is one I made to get myself out of a sewing ‘rut’. It uses old jeans and leftover fabric strips.

I lost my drive and confidence with quilting and sewing projects a bit after I’d finished the mountains of sewn Christmas gifts I made this past year.

I had started loads of different projects after the New Year but I kept reaching a point with them where I would look at it and say ‘this is awful – I don’t want to finish it’.

So with this denim quilt what I did was start it intentionally as something I HAD TO FINISH.

It did not turn out perfect, but it did get finished! And as an exercise in unsticking me from my sewing slump it absolutely worked!

Here is how I made it.

quick denim quilt - improv
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

How to Cut Up Jeans for Upcycling Projects

My First Denim Quilt – Using a pattern (this post also explains the different elements of a quilt if you are a beginner).

Quilt-As-You-Go Denim Quilt – this is a more recent denim quilt finish that really turned out well!.

P.S. There is also a YouTube video about the making of this quilt which I have linked to at the end of the post.

Materials Used – Quick Improv Denim Quilt

  • 54 7″ squares of reclaimed denim jeans (I bought these pre-cut from a seller on ebay)
  • some additional denim from 1 pair of jeans to fill in some gaps in my ‘design’ (see below for where these were used)
  • Moda Scrap Bag jelly roll strips – roughly 10-12 for the main quilt and another 7 or 8 for the binding
  • Batting
  • Quilt back (I used one side of an old duvet cover)

Step 1: Adding Some Colour

I started with a stack of 7″ denim squares from old jeans.

I actually bought them pre-cut from someone else who was destashing on ebay (I haunt ebay for this sort of thing!).

As I said this project was an exercise in doing something quickly without second guessing myself too much.

chain piecing denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
chain piecing denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

So I grabbed some jelly roll strips from my stash – they were from a Moda Scrap Bag – and chain pieced the pile of 7″ denim squares so that there was a strip of patterned fabric on one side of each square.

denim quilt squares
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I went for bright aquas and reds with some coordinating lighter strips thrown in too.

I ended up using 54 squares plus some extra denim to fill in some gaps in my layout (see below).

Step 2: Layout

Once I’d added my strips to all my squares I tried various layouts on the floor.

denim quilt layout options
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
denim quilt layout options
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I could have gone super simple and just sewed them in rows with the strips all facing once direction but I ended up liking how it looked when I laid them out to create a double line of colour through the middle and two rectangles of colour outside that.

That layout left me with some empty spots however where I needed to fill in some more denim.

Step 3: Sewing Rows & Filling Gaps

I sewed my rows together as per the layout I had decided on but stopped where I was missing a square of plain denim to fill up the gaps.

denim quilt layout
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I laid out all my rows and part rows and then measured the gaps.

I added a 1/4 seam all around and cut out the pieces of denim I needed to fill it in.

Then I added that on to my rows in the appropriate spots.

My coloured strip rectangles didn’t quite join up but they were close enough so I decided not to stress over it and just get it finished!

Step 4: Quilting

quick denim quilt - quilting lines
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I used my walking foot and a denim needle and quilted straight horizontal lines across my quilt.

I purposely made the distance between them random so some gaps are bigger than others.

This meant I didn’t need to stress about it and the quilting got done super quick!

Step 5: Fix for a Short Quilt Back

I know the rule about making sure your quilt back is larger than your quilt top and batting because of the shrinkage that happens when you quilt.

BUT….I had this old duvet cover that was just the right colour and nearly the right size for the back of this quilt so I decided to chance it!

quilt back fix
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

It ended up being too short on one side down about half of the quilt. Not by much but enough.

I had a couple of choices – one to cut off that whole side of the quilt which would have made the design on the front lopsided or focus on fixing the back.

In the end I used the offcuts of the backing from the top of the quilt and hand sewed it down to cover the exposed batting. This was done after the quilting and before the binding.

Step 6: Scrappy Binding

scrappy binding strips
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Next I laid out some more coordinating moda scrap bag strips around the edge of my finished quilt. I also joined the offcuts from the strips I’d used previously so I was using up every last scrap in the binding.

I lay them out like this to see how the colours will go and to get a rough idea how many strips I will need for my binding.

It’s always a good idea to add an extra strip at the end just in case you are short.

scrappy binding joining strips
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I joined my strips as you would any binding strips at right angles from corner to corner.

I alternated strips by colour. I was trying to get a good contrast of lighter strips beside medium/darker strips.

scrappy binding joining strips
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I chain pieced them to get it done quicker.

scrappy binding chain piecing strips
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I followed my favourite machine binding tutorial from Melanie Ham as always, and used my trusty binding tool from Karen Brown at Just Get it Done Quilts as well.

Step 7: Adding a Label

denim quilt label
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I added a label using a leftover bit of denim and the embroidery lettering on my sewing machine. I called it the ‘Just make anything quilt’.

Finished: Quick Denim Quilt – Sewing Slump Over!

Lastly I washed it with two colour catchers and put it out to dry!

Now we are all loving cuddling up with it on the sofa. I love the weight of a denim quilt!

The finished bound quilt is 51″ x 61″ – so not a standard size but we use our quilts mostly as throw quilts/cuddle quilts not to fit on a standard bed size.

quick denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
quick denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
quick denim quilt
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

If you liked this post and you want to come back to it later don’t forget to Pin it!

beginner denim quilt

Watch the Video – Quick Denim Quilt

Subscribe to Upcycle My Stuff on YouTube for more fun ideas like this one.

Printable Instructions

quick denim quilt - improv

Quick Denim Quilt (Improv Quilt with Instructions)

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: 20

Make a quick improv style denim quilt out of old jeans and leftover fabric strips. I made mine to get out of a sewing slump and just finish anything!


  • Old Jeans or Pre-cut reclaimed Denim
  • Leftover jelly roll strips (mine were from a Moda Scrap Bag)
  • Quilt back fabric (mine was an old duvet cover)
  • Batting


  • Sewing Machine
  • Denim Needle
  • Walking Foot


  1. Cut 54 7" squares of old denim jean material
  2. Chain pieces denim squares with leftover jelly roll strips along one edge
  3. Trim blocks
  4. Decide on your layout
  5. If you want to copy my layout you will need to add 8 plain denim pieces in the places shown in the photo above to fill out your rows. It is best to measure the gaps in your own quilt top and add a 1/4" seam allowance.
  6. Sew all your rows together to compete your quilt top
  7. Baste with safety pins or spray baste
  8. Quilt using a walking foot and denim needle
  9. Prepare your scrappy binding with leftover jelly roll strips to coordinate with your design.
  10. Bind your quilt (I used a machine binding method that I have linked to above).
  11. Add a quilt label.
  12. Wash with colour catchers.
  13. Enjoy!

You might like these posts too:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Monday 22nd of March 2021

Looks perfect to me!

Kristen Hubert

Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

Aww, you're lovely! You can come back anytime! :) x Kristen

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Instructions