Slow Art and Denim: A Look at the Timeless Craft of Denim Quilts

Levi Strauss & Co.
March 27, 2014

Since the inception of the blue jean in 1873, artists and makers have been donning Levi’s® and denim while both tackling the work of the day and taking on the creative endeavors of their dreams. Whether it’s paint-splattered coveralls or greased up 501® jeans, it seems denim and the creative mind go together pretty perfectly. But denim doesn’t just complement art—some people love jeans so much that they turn them into art. Case in point: denim quilts.

The “slow art” of denim quilting is a cherished part of the quilting craft. And for good reason: Using denim fabric to make quilts is fashionable, practical and sustainable.

The practice of turning jeans into bedding isn’t new. In fact, it started long before the invention of the first pair of blue jeans. Some experts cite the origins of the denim quilt to several hundred years ago, with paupers from North Italy who were often painted wearing denim.

And denim quilting is deeply rooted in American history. In Gees Bend, Alabama, a community of African-American women has been using salvaged denim to turn old jeans into beautiful quilts since the 19th century, sparking nationwide acclaim and a devout following. The quilts of Gees Bend often feature recycled materials like old jeans and fabrics and possess a certain distinctive geometric design that has won them many spots in prestigious museums around the country, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

But denim quilts are hardly a thing of the past—or reserved for renowned gallery walls. There are plenty of exciting ways to incorporate faded denim into bedding and timeless quilts. We looked—where else—to Pinterest to find some stellar jeans-turned-quilt pins. And just in case the creative bug inspires you, we love this easy-to-replicate design from the blog It’s Always Autumn.