Upcycled Denim Feathers

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Introduction: Upcycled Denim Feathers

About: Craft Maniac, Food Geek, Celebration Enthusiast, All-Around Funsational Gal

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!

Supplies

  • Old denim, preferably in a couple different colors
  • Heavy string or twine – like cotton baker’s twine
  • Pins
  • 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

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    31 Comments

    0
    kakungulu
    kakungulu

    7 months ago

    For someone's too lazy to setup their sewing machine, would it be good enough to to stretch a piece of yarn and drip superglue on top? I'm also thinking about craft activity for my kids.

    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Reply 7 months ago

    Haha, Yes, I'm sure glue would work, but probably something with more pliability. Maybe tacky glue? Have fun!

    0
    kakungulu
    kakungulu

    Reply 7 months ago

    Thanks! I'll give it a try.

    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Reply 7 months ago

    Would love it if you posted results. I'm sure it would work great! Have fun.

    0
    kakungulu
    kakungulu

    Reply 5 months ago

    It worked! We had a snow day Sunday and only access to a CVS next door. I took an old pair of pants I was going to recycle, heat up my glue gun and bought the cheapest shoelaces. See my first feather. Thanks!

    16127302780294367839104061895867.jpg
    0
    kakungulu
    kakungulu

    Reply 5 months ago

    My 7y.o. son made his own. My daughter had an idea to add feathers to the tips of a drawstring of a water bottle holder she's making, out of the same poor pants :-)

    16127330913026744334152173591875.jpg
    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Reply 5 months ago

    So good. Very nice! And I love the idea of using them on a water bottle holder.

    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Reply 5 months ago

    Aw, that's fantastic!! Good job! I love that you used shoe laces. Yayyyyyy!!!

    0
    kseiverd
    kseiverd

    7 months ago

    could you cut LONG strips... like full length of a leg. then sew one long piece of twine. my idea is to make 2-3 different sized leaves... like 4-6" long in free-form widths. make a long scarf... maybe one of those "eternity" scarves.

    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Reply 7 months ago

    Holy smokes, that sounds amazing! And very well could work, but I haven't tried it. You'd have to take good care to make sure your twine is in alignment with the grain, because it it's "off," the longer the feather, the more off it will be. I think you should go for it. Lemme know how it goes! ;-)

    0
    kseiverd
    kseiverd

    7 months ago on Step 5

    i plan on using old jeans... easier to harvest large hunks of fabric from legs. i'm gonna use inner & outer seams in place sewing down cord.

    0
    auntiebb
    auntiebb

    11 months ago

    I love these, how creative you are. Thank you so much for sharing. x

    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Reply 11 months ago

    Aw, shucks. Thanks!!

    0
    Michele252125
    Michele252125

    11 months ago

    I really want to print this attachment but can’t seem to work out how!! Can anyone help or maybe even email it to me??

    0
    auntiebb
    auntiebb

    Best Answer 11 months ago

    Hi, are you logged in to the site? If so, you should have a download link at the top of your page, just click that and the whole thing, including images, will download as a PDF. I did a small imge to show where the link is. HTH.
    They are super cute, aren't they?

    Capture.JPG
    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Answer 11 months ago

    So from what I know, you have to be signed in to download pdfs.

    0
    WUVIE
    WUVIE

    11 months ago on Step 6

    These are so neat! I'm always looking for fun uses for old denim. Thank you for sharing this cool Instructable.

    0
    TamaraBerg
    TamaraBerg

    Reply 11 months ago

    Aw, thanks. Have fun making them, and share pics if you do! :-)

    0
    WUVIE
    WUVIE

    Reply 11 months ago

    Oh, I've already shared your Instructable with others. It is a good one. :-)

    0
    KirstenR10
    KirstenR10

    11 months ago on Step 6

    This is very cool. Time to hunt out a pair of my husbands jeans that I don't think he will miss :D