Introduction: Upcycled Denim Feathers
Denim feathers! Aren't these fantastic? They're really fun to make, can be used in a zillion different ways, and are a great way upcycle old denim jeans or jackets. Let's get making!
- Old denim, preferably in a couple different colors
- Heavy string or twine – like cotton baker’s twine
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter & ruler
- Rubber glove (not vinyl)
- Sewing Machine
Step 1: Cut Denim and Center Twine
Note** When cutting denim, make sure you cut in alignment with the grain of the threads. It’s important that your cuts be straight with the grain. You’ll see why this is so important in the step below.
Also, if you make these with the fabric oriented in one direction, you'll get blue feathers, the other, white. Pull out a few threads from the edge of the fabric to figure out which orientation you want.
Pulling the warp threads, or blue ones, your resulting feather will be white. Alternatively, pulling the weft threads, or white ones, results in a blue feather. I find it easier to pull the blue/warp threads. The white/weft ones are usually tighter and require a bit more work.
Cut your denim into 1-1/2” wide strips, then cut those strips into 3-5” lengths, depending on how long you want your finished feathers to be.
Measure twine to be about 2” longer than the denim strip.
Step 2: Sew Twine in Place
Using a very narrow zigzag stitch and short stitch length, sew the twine down the center of the denim strip. Make sure the twine lines up with the grain of the threads, otherwise the “unraveling” step will be very difficult.
Step 3: Trim to Feather Shape
Cut the corners off of your denim strip, in a rough “feather” shape.
Step 4: Pull Threads
Pull away the threads going the length of the feather. My preferred technique is to pull from the top, separating the thread with a pin or seam ripper, then using a gloved hand, pull the threads out. The rubber glove really helps maintain a grip on the rather tightly woven threads, and helps reduce fatigue of your fingers.
Repeat on the other side of the feather.
Trim around the base of the feather, if desired. If you want your finished feather to have a straighter, more defined edge, carefully trim that too.
Snip off end of twine.
Step 5: Let's Use Our Feathers!
Your fantastic feathers can be used to:
- Adorn a jeans or a jean jacket
- Make feathered earrings -- I added some crystal beads
- Decorate a gift box
- Make a fancy bookmark
Step 6: Tips and Tricks
Cleaning. You shouldn’t machine wash anything that uses these feathers, as they curl up and generally get very ratty after machine washing. Best to remove them before washing, or spot clean. Dry cleaning might also work, I just haven’t tried it.
Troubleshooting an out-of-alignment feather: Have a seam ripper handy and use it to pull out the threads and snap them off where they cross the center seam. If you can avoid this problem altogether, best to do so.
If you want the feathers to have a naturalistic “curve,” still cut them straight with the weave, you can curve them when you apply to your finished project.
These can also be made with other types of tightly woven fabric or other colors of denim. Go crazy!
Thanks for the love, friends. I also have a fun website, if you want more stuff, check it out! www.TamaraCentral.com
Sixth Prize in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest