Upcycled Denim Throw Pillows: A Hexing Patchwork

Turning ordinary objects into something extraordinary is so satisfying. A couple years ago, I transformed denim scraps into a denim trench dress. I couldn’t stop imagining other ways to upcycle denim and before long, I was sketching designs for denim throw pillows. Among the eight designs, I created a pillow with a repeating hexagon pattern. This design left a lasting impression on a good friend who recently commissioned four for his new home. We settled on a color palette (hues of blue and tan accents) and I was ready to tackle this project! –after a quick re-watch of my original build video.

In the original build, I struggled to sew together hexagon since they’re an awkward shape to navigate. This time I wanted to try sewing trapezoids columns with matching colors to form hexagons. I wanted a trapezoid stencil to easily trace against fabric, so I’d measured and drawn the shape on paper before gluing on layers of posterboard to create a sturdy stencil. Armed with my trapezoid stencil and scrap fabrics, I was finally ready to test this idea. Not gonna lie, I was surprised when it worked so well. I whipped up a template for a pillow panel to see how many trapezoids I’d need to cut (roughly 200).

After some basic algebra and geometry, I started planning out the color story. First, I wanted hexagon colors to be continuous no matter which way you turned the pillow. This meant I needed to match the hexagon colors of the front and back panels’ edges. Second, I wanted to distribute the tan hexagons so that one side had more tan accents than the other. I figured these design choices would allow a little more flexibility in how they compliment or contrast a living space. The pillow’s predominantly blue side would be more universal, while the tan side could offer a nice pop of color in the right space.

Now that logistics were sorted, all that remained was the tedious work. I queued up some podcasts and traced/rotary cut a couple hundred trapezoids. The mock pillow panel I made while brainstorming was as a great visual aid to organize my color scheme as I sewed trapezoids into columns. Next I sewed the columns together, making sure to align matching colored trapezoids to form hexagons. Wash, rinse, repeat and before long I had panels which were sewn into pillows. For safety sake, I used a serger to finish every edges of my seam allowance. These serged edges will stop the denim from fraying or unraveling, which would likely happen over time or during a machine wash.

A couple zippers later, I had four upcycled denim throw pillows with a patchwork hexagon pattern. I have to say, I’m so ridiculously proud of how this project turned out. It was a fun stroll down memory lane and allowed me to gauge how much my sewing skills have grown. I had so much fun making these pillows that I decided to translate the design into tote bags. I actually just finished sewing two large tote bags using this exact process which are available for purchase on my Etsy shop. I don’t know how but I keep finding myself patchworking denim. Let’s not pretend this will be my last time.

What would you like to see next? Clearly no idea is too ridiculous for me.

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