Archives for the month of: February, 2011

Last month my lucky stars (more accurately, a reader in a donating mood — thanks Lana) brought me a treasure trove of upholstery samples that were doing nothing in her closet:

All this filled two contractor bags

Many were 12 inch squares, some bigger.  Some I liked because of their color, some because of the patterns (many hydrangeas) and I quickly became excited as I saw how this one would go well with denim or that one with corduroy.  So cheering was this sudden abundance that I ignored the fact that my fabric stash had just increased exponentially.

I removed all the tags first to eliminate the staples -- I didn't want Modest Machine to break a tooth. Assuming the dates on the tags indicate date of manufacture, some of these were 14 years old.

As I sorted and bagged the bounty, I recalled a trio of denim throws made recently for a school craft fair.  The one that sold I liked the best, and this is the only picture I can find of it:

A 16-square center surrounded by a neutral and finished with a scrap denim border.

All this new upholstery suggested a remake.  I looked for pieces that would work with denim:

The rust color at left is very similar to the stain finish on a media cabinet in my home, a warm, rich hue

A patterned cotton offered a floral match:

This is an example of one of my favorite quilting terms -- "fussy cutting," in which a specific pattern or motif is cut without regard to maximizing fabric usage. Such practice is generally anathema to Patwig, but an exception is made here.

A bag of denim scraps from the last project offered a head start on the strip border:

But I don't have big enough pieces for the center squares, so it's back to cutting up jeans. Time to thank Wendy, who gave me an outgrown pair of her son's, and my husband, who parted with a faded pair of Levi's.

Assembling the inner section is rapid.  A simple linen/hopsack from the upholstery trove adds a needed neutral.

Four rows of four 7-inch squares

The denim border will take more time.  I like how these strips playfully suggest the fabric’s prior life:

I left the Levi's tag on at first, but it started to crumble when sewn through, and didn't take to ironing at all.

Once the quiltop is done, I enlist a piece of flannel from a massive old comforter cover:

A little of this color goes a very long way

These fabrics are so heavy I don’t need a lot of batting.  An old jersey sheet, previously repurposed into a turban for a school project, is just right:

I do love the angle of the sun this time of year

Once all layers are sewn together it’s ready for hand tying.  Since this has been a such a speedy project, I decide to drop time into some extreme repurposing … pulling apart the woven strands from some pillowcases my friend Matthew gave me:

When I machine washed these pillowcases the weave basically fell apart (it really is best to follow care instructions). The wreckage revealed that each cord was three twisted strands of thread, or now, quilt ties.

The finished product is a 38 by 38 heavyweight nearly 100% cotton throw.  It’s for sale, and if anyone’s interested, comment here or send me an email.   And stay tuned for more upholstery projects!

Now I’ve just got to use up the rest of that upholstery

A big thank you for all the lovely comments, via email and on the blog, after the last post, and a special shout out to readers Nicole and Lana, who were moved to give me fabric contributions (mens ties and upholstery samples).  Thanks for repurposing/reusing/recycling with me!

When I left you I had begun to cut the Hermes ties so trustingly given me by Ellen, who commissioned this quilt.  After a second meeting, in which we established her preferences, I basically got down to the nitty gritty.

First step: press fusible interfacing to all the strips. Somewhere around 150 strips at 15-20 seconds per press, well, you get it. I was grateful for my iPod speaker.

Once that was done I began sewing together pieces from the rows Ellen and I had laid out together.  The rows shrank as strips were sewn.  This vanishing fabric is called “seam allowance” which good quilters plan for and quilters like me freelance around.  Constant rearranging was necessary.  Since more strips were needed I added more of the yellow chinese silk, including strips turned to use the vertically striped backside, seen in the rows below

What I'd previously thought was a 65" tall column was now a lot less. The beautiful silks offered more strips.

The next step was to add the sashing between the columns.  Ellen chose the Thai silk for this

A cabinet door in my workroom offers a place to hang work in progress, so I can see how the "coin stack" looks with its sashing

The Thai silk was running low, down to one 39 x 39 square, a 35 by 8 segment and a few scraps.

Will there be enough for a 6 inch border? I'm notoriously bad at simple math. How I became the family bookkeeper I'll never know.

At over 65″ square, things get rather unwieldy.  My son’s bedroom floor, next door to my workroom, offers a surface to lay it out.  Unfortunately, with the winter we’ve been having, he seems to be home every other day due to snow.  Thus, he occupies his room, quilt production slows, and shoveling increases.

The upside?  Might as well stay inside and work on the quilt

After checking and rechecking my math, I cut the remaining fragments for a 6″ border (with the seam allowance it’ll end up more like 5 to 5 1/2).

I pin the border strips (the filmy white stuff is the fusible interface) and carefully fold the piece up between sewing and pressing

Border complete, I’m ready for batting and backing.  Ellen provided a new sheet, a lovely hue called China Blue (current product at The Company Store) for backing, and with batting from my local resource City Quilter, I consult my personal quilting bible to remind myself what order and on which side the quilt layers go together

Batting goes down first

Quiltop is placed, right side up, on batting

Backing is placed, right side down, on quiltop

Excess batting and backing are trimmed, and the three layers are pinned around the edges, leaving a 10 -12" opening

Modest Machine capably sews the perimeter three times

I turn it inside out through the 10-12" opening; it reminds me of a nautilus

But is it finished?  No, it’s fit to be tied!  Ellen drops off bunches of yarn she had but was not using

and I use a needle to pull about 80 5″ lengths of yarn through the layers and tie each in a simple double knot.  This took an afternoon on the floor.  Luckily, school was in session.

In spite of the laborious crawling-around-on-my-knees aspect, I still prefer hand tied quilts

Finished, it’s about 69 inches square.  The ties retain their tie-like aspect given that the pieces are not all cut on right angles.  Three pieces spread over the rows have penguins on them.  I hope it is a fitting tribute to the man it was made to remember.

%d bloggers like this: