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Handmade: Quilter draws inspiration from customers

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

Drawing was once how Kecia Escoe relieved stress, but her creative method for relaxing took on a whole different dimension when she replaced plain paper with graph paper and fabric.

“I use to draw to relieve stress, and one day it came to me that I could put my drawings on fabric. I use graph paper to make the designs, and then I transfer that over to making a quilt,” explains the Detroiter, who hand-ties “about 60 percent” of her quilts. And although she’s self-taught, she says, “I found out I could be genetically taught. After my first 50 quilts, I was told by family members that my (Georgia-born) grandmother use to make quilts.”

Because her one-of-a-kind quilts are custom made, she says customers help inspire her work. “When the customer comes for the consultation, they are so enthusiastic about what they want. It kind of exudes the inspiration. I get a certain vibe from the customer,” she says. “For example, there was a man who came to me and said he had a new granddaughter. Just (with) the joy and excitement he had helped me with my design. They tell me the color, but I don’t do the actual drawing while they’re here.” The customer is later invited back to select from one of three designs, or sometimes she emails the sketch to them. Depending on size and fabric, her quilts range from $50-$2,000 each.

Having been a quilter for 12 years, Escoe says her favorite fabric is cotton because “it’s flexible and it’s very soft.” She buys fabric at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts and the Fabric Warehouse in Warren, but as seen with the quilt featured here, she also recycles blue jeans into durable pieced bed coverings. Her other projects include quilted wall hangings and repairing vintage quilts. She’s currently mending one that’s 120 years old.

Once a member of the Needle Rules Society, a Detroit-based group of quilters, Escoe has had her work displayed at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Wayne County Community College.

After budget cuts that caused many schools to eliminate home economics, Escoe went into several schools in Franklin and Detroit, where she instructed workshops on quilt-making. She says she’s open to doing it again, if given the opportunity.

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or For more news and giveaways, visit her blog at

Hand-Tied Blue Jeans Quilt

Level: Intermediate

Estimated time: 12 hours

Tools: Scissors, sewing machine, safety pins, sewing needle, seam ripper, yard stick

Supplies: 95 pairs of blue jeans, thread, one pack embroidery floss, 5 yards of fleece, 5 yards of cotton batting.


1. Use seam ripper to detach waistbands from all 95 pairs of jeans, leaving buttons and pockets in place.

2. Arrange waistbands side-by-side in desired design.

3. To make squares, place short waistbands in center, with longer ones around outer square, and use a zigzag stitch to join pieces.

4. Remove crotch area of one detached pant leg and square-off piece, creating long rectangle shape.

5. Stitch squared leg piece across top of quilt.

6. Then, cut and sew batting and fleece to fit quilt top.

7. Place quilt top right side up on large surface. Neatly position batting on top, and hand-stitch pieces together.

8. After attaching batting to wrong side of quilt top (attached waistbands), sandwich the three pieces by placing fleece layer on flat surface face up. Then place attached blue jean top and batting on fleece with bluejeans side face down.

9. Machine stitch 1/4-inch from edge around entire quilt, attaching the three layers together. Back-stitch at both sides/ends of opening.

10. Pull quilt through opening. Use yard stick to push out and shape corners.

11. Smooth quilt out on large flat surface, and hand-stitch opening closed.

12. To hand-tie quilt, thread needle with floss and insert from top through all three layers of quilt. Then insert from bottom side close to thread on top. Secure floss against fabric with double-knot on quilt top. Cut floss about 2 inches from knot. Continue tying floss, about 3-5 inches apart, until entire quilt has been knotted. Note: Floss should be tied along center seams and perimeter of quilt.

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