When I was working on my last commission, two friends gave me fabric donations: five pair of frayed, paint-splattered blue jeans and a seasoned sewer’s remnants, including several jaw-dropping 1960’s and 70’s Marimekko prints. I marveled at my good fortune and vowed to coax something wonderful out of these cast-offs that might have otherwise joined a landfill.
There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the quilt above. I like the way the light-and-dark strips define the center area. And the red shamrock fabric (pocket material from an old pair of jeans) highlights the corners, though not enough. I notice now that the dark strips at the upper right remind me of the new red equality symbol.
I began sewing strips from other old pants together with the jeans …
and kept going until it was something approximating what I liked in the inspiration quilt
More denim for definition
And now for a bold border, care of those original Marimekko pattern designers
Since I could go no farther with this quiltop at queen-size, I launched into another. From trimming the denim-and-khaki strip blocks in the prior project, I was inspired to ladle a heavier dose of denim in this one
It’s basically a Chinese Coin, a type I like to do. It’s a straightforward assembly process, and is visually striking
Pressing the seams on all those narrow strips takes the most time
At this point the denim mass is crying out for a foil. This print seems robust enough
I dislike playing favorites, but I really do like this quiltop. It is also queen sized. It’s heavy, due to the denim, and would be marvelously warm in winter.
There was time for one more small quilt before the floor I was using would morph into my college son’s summer bedroom.
“Cut-outs” is right … the saturated colors against white ground remind me of Matisse’s cut-outs, which story of him making even when bedridden at the end of his life so fascinated me in high school art classes (thanks Mrs. Hornstra!)
The tic-tac-toe structure seems suitable to house these color blocks
and a denim border frame
At this point all that was left from the five pair of Levi’s was small strips, and of course, lots of scraps from the other fabrics. Using jewel-size bits for the center and working out, I launched right into making blocks to use up the scraps
The three completed quilts featuring vintage Marimekko are available for sale or show. Please email me or comment below. And thanks for reading my adventures in quilting with old clothes (and other fabrics).