Inspiration from up north: Jill’s denim quilt

As I write this post, I’m sitting in a sparkling sunroom surrounded by windows on three sides and admiring the majestic greatness of a northern summer. I spent this past weekend in a small town near Madison, Wisconsin, visiting my brother Jason and future sister-in-law, Sarah. We spent the weekend celebrating Jason and Sarah’s recent engagement and new house in addition to my dad’s retirement from dentistry. I also visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the first time!


Wisconsin as seen via my iPhone — A new “You Are Here” Starbucks mug, the infamous
terrace chairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Belgian Red cherry ale.

While I love my “Florida life,” spending time up north during the summer is always special. Everything feels just a little different outside of Florida – the grass is softer, the breezes cooler and the sounds reminiscent of my childhood summers in the Chicago suburbs. And of course, a change of scenery is always inspirational for a creative soul. I first realized this a few years ago when I wrote about some regional differences I noticed when visiting a fabric store in Northern Wisconsin.

On this trip, one of the first things I noticed in the guest bedroom at Jason and Sarah’s house was the denim quilt at the foot of the bed. I had a chance to ask Sarah’s mom, Jill, if she had made the quilt – and she had! The front side of the quilt is a jumble of patchwork squares taken from old pairs of blue jeans. The backside is lined with blue fabric to compliment the front.


Sarah’s family runs a dairy farm (I once visited the farm on Thanksgiving). I have a not-so-secret love of farms and livestock (especially sheep) so of course, I instantly adore anything originating from a farm. Knowing that this quilt was made from the same blue jeans that frolicked with baby calves makes me incredibly happy.

When I think about denim, I generally assume it’s all the same color – but a close look at the variety of shades represented in Jill’s quilt proves that’s not the case. I’m also impressed with how soft many of the denim patches are, when I typically think about denim being a rougher fabric. I assume that’s the result of many years of farm-family love and spins in the wash.


Of course, I’m not the only one who enjoys the quilt…


The quilt has been enjoyed by humans and puppies alike!


My initial thought was that I’ll never have the opportunity to make a quilt like this one because it’s too warm for someone living in Florida. But when Jill pointed out that it makes a great outdoor blanket – well, now I’m reconsidering. But it might take me awhile to stock up on that many pairs of blue jeans without a farm-frolicking family of five to contribute to the fabric pile. 🙂

Well, it’s time for me to pack up and catch a plane back to the sunshine state. Thanks for the inspiration, Jill, and the memories, Wisconsin!




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