Archives for posts with tag: recycled clothes

When we left off, I was in creative retreat so I could work in an unhurried, peaceful environment.

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Wawayanda Lake, NJ

I had no particular plans, just a lot of materials.

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Back, or “patch” pockets

After making perhaps 10 denim quilts over two years, I’ve amassed collections of parts.  I’m inspired by that which seems unusable, like buttons and zippers.  Buttons are a lot like coins: they’re weighty, pleasingly embellished, and in accumulation create a treasure chest effect.  Eventually having them around resulted in this

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I’ve also been accumulating inside front pockets

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and discovered that these not-quite half moon, not quite quarter-circle sections of denim on plain cotton make a nice composition on their own …

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as a four point star.

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With this inspiration, I found myself joining together as many as I could.  It was not especially easy or fun.  I wanted the watch pockets and rivets in there for texture and variation, but this upped the difficulty ante, so that needle heartbreak waited over every pass.  Modest Machine gamely grinded over the varying levels of fabric density like a mower over a dry rocky lawn.  Eventually a payoff came in visual impact as they multiplied.

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Since the jeans and pockets were different sizes, the resulting star squares went from small to large.  Dipping into my denim stash, I gave each a wide border, adding tonal variation with different fades.

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Staggered, the borders gave a sense of movement to the stars, but I chose to collapse them into an overall square.

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I wanted to use as much of the original source material as possible. Lots of lining remained because of the emphasis on denim thus far.  Usually the back of a quilt is a simple muslim or sheet … why not piece all the pocket scraps together?  It would be smooth sailing for my little machine; the fabric was all the same weight.

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So began another painstaking demonstration of the scrappiness of quilting

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Why discard a piece with printing or graphics for added interest …

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Compositionally this part was more fun than the stars on the front

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And when it reached the size of the front piece

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I wasn’t sure which I liked better … each can stand (or lie) on its own

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Completed July 27

If I had to classify it I’d call it a throw. When not thrown it folds up rather tidily. There is one more quilt I finished while on my peaceful retreat.  I’ll write about that next but will leave you with a summer sunset for now.

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July 26

 

 

 

 

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A highlight of my summer was about 17 days (but who’s counting) at my lakeside weekend home in New Jersey.

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Evening, July 10

My husband joined me on the weekends, but the rest of the time was my own, and I used it as a creative retreat.  I had two cats with me, family nearby, some wonderful neighbors, and nothing but the cycling days and nights to fill as I wished.  It was bliss.

The weekend prior I brought up a bunch of materials

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I have been cutting up jeans, khaki’s, cargo shorts and more for 10 years.  In this time, my house has been blighted with clothes moths.  Enter Container Store.

As fabric is my medium, this is my method

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Modest Machine

Two items in my materials seemed to float to the top. My younger son (known as Chuck) recently castoff a pair of cargo shorts. My painterly friend Chuck gave me a canvas remnant scored with an island of red paint. These became my starting points.

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Using a seam ripper, I completely took apart the shorts, section by section.

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Belt loops

Preparing the fabric is observational and contemplative.  Handling it I note its surface feel, weight, mobility. With each change in geometry and line I imagine new arrangements, and fabrics to enhance the bright red island. It takes most of the first day to take the shorts apart.

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Waistband, cargo pockets, zipper fly, hems, and belt loops all give way to my seam ripper, lint roll, and iron.

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These were well worn shorts. I’m not sure why they stopped returning value to my Chuck, but for me this new form is tremendously pleasing. I love its furry softness and the rippling gradations in the fade.

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The rabbit munching in the grass every day probably put me in mind of a red clover print in my stash, luckily in one of the containers I brought along. These were from a pair of jeans (pocket lining) I wore in the long long ago, before children. Turns out this is why I saved them.

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At some point in my process there’s a shift from taking apart to putting together. In this case it was when I noticed the pocket flaps had clipped corners. Modest Machine roared to life to attach pocket lining to create 90 degree angles. I’m enjoying now how they look like old fashioned photo mounts.

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I still felt one more element was needed for the composition.  Some painted denim from my inspiring friend Chuck seemed to fit, with its grey and blue hues

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Then in a pretty continuous flow Modest Machine and I joined the elements together

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Surrounding the center island atoll

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Buddy checked frequently for surface feel.

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Until it was done (about 22 hours, but who’s counting), and as close to square as I’ve ever come with a quilt.The border includes a jeans leg where Chuck painted a blue rectangle.

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That’s Chuck Squared. Backing is an old sheet. The fill, as always, 100% cotton batting, as this is a small quilt/blanket/throw.   Coming very soon a post on the project that came on the heels of this one. Let me know what you think in the comments, and here’s your bonus shot for reading to the end!

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The deck at night, July 11

 

 

 

 

This story starts with two little boys living in the Midwest.  In addition to being pretty lucky in the parent department (example of a house rule:  being read to is a right, not a privilege), they have an exceptionally dedicated grandmother, Sue.  Sue is very involved with her grandsons, but is understandably rueful her husband died before he could know them.  She wanted them to have something that would evoke him.  This is where Patwig comes in.

Sue contributed more than 35 shirts for this project. After I cut up the first bunch (the stack in front) she sent more.

She wanted a twin sized quilt for each boy made from her husband’s old button-downs.  Some were standard white formal fare, many sported various hues of blue, with and without stripes, and a few were appealing paisleys and plaids.  After seeing sample Patwig Quilts, she chose the Nine-Patch block pattern and the Log Cabin pattern, which I hadn’t made before.  That settled, she essentially gave me carte blanche to create, and I continued to be amazed at the trust people place in strangers.

Where to begin wasn’t hard to decide.

Log Cabin is a classic quilt block. A square sits at the center, (typically red), and rows of blocks are placed around it, one side light, one side dark.

I started with easy colors, as in the solid pairings above, and proceeded to more complex couplings, like the patterned lights and darks below

The red/pink and paisley here were among Sue's favorites

As blocks were completed I put them down on the floor to see light and dark create patterns.

The dark side is the strongest visual element here

I’d been working one block at a time until this point, and feeling assured that I was on the right track, shifted to mass production.  This meant cutting 17 squares, 119 light blocks, 102 dark blocks and backing all with fusible interfacing.

A rotary cutter and grid mat make this more efficient, but it still takes time. Music helps.

Once all components were prepped, I sewed them together and put them down on the floor

until I arrived at this…

"Diamond in the Square" is another classic quilt pattern

With the Log Cabin blocks done, I was ready to turn to the second quiltop.  Fortuitously, many cutting remnants offered a head start

 

The Nine-Patch ultimately required 567 two inch squares

Making the Nine-Patch was very enjoyable; each is an individual composition.  This is the part I truly enjoy.

Once they began to multiply, I line them up en masse to see what they would do

More hodgepodge than medley

Moving to the floor, I added space between them

Much more distinct this way

Then each Nine-Patch got a border, all from button-down shirts

Steady production continued — sewing, pressing, sewing some more, until 63 Nine-Patch blocks each had a pressed border.

"Cute as a button" is a little precious, but I think it fits here

I was enjoying this small form stuff so much I’d forgotten the bigger picture — how they will form a quiltop:

Back on the floor

Going for 9 rows of 7

Next time I'll wear knee pads

All down, random placement.

How about alternating light and dark rows?

We have a winner

This is the midpoint.  The primary design –the quiltop– is done.   The rest is, shall we say, finish work (albeit with a decorative border).  This is mostly assembly, but what it lacks in creativity it pays back in satisfaction as the finished piece slowly comes together.

Two stacks of quilt blocks

Individual blocks make a row, rows make a quiltop

I'm making more of an effort to get my corners "on point"

You can see the fusible interfacing on the backs here

A border brings each quilt up to twin size.  I made a strip border drawing mostly from the white and striped button-downs.

My son suggested adding more dark colors

After almost 300 two-by-seven inch strips were pressed, fused, sewn together and ironed, the quiltops are “framed”

A border on the Log Cabin really pops the diamonds out

This is my sixth Nine Patch quilt

Next up: batting (or fill) and backing.  Sue has provided two full-sized sheets for the backing.  Who can guess why this one has patchwork in the corners?

These sheets were repurposed twice: Sue had given them to a friend to use as drop cloths for painting before they got to me

Once the layers are sewn together and pressed (That sounds so breezy, doesn’t it?  At about 65 by 82 inches, it took about an hour to seam each twice), I hand tie them together with yarn (another afternoon) with a nice light blue yarn I picked up for a song in Chinatown

A tapestry needle works best to pull the yarn through the layers, finished with a double knot.

This work takes place on the floor, where helpers stroll

Ursula is the only one of our cats that goes after yarn

Finished, side by side

Congratulations to you for making it all the way through this!  I believe you are among a small, but attentive group of people.  If there’s anyone you know whom you think might make it all the way as well, please send a link to this page to them, or post on your preferred social media.

Next post will be a Patwig Scrap Project.

Last post I left you with the tantalizing concept “foreclosure quilt ties” and I imagine you’ve been puzzling over that for days. Now I shall explain. I began making quilts out of used clothes about five years ago. Over the years I often saved used clothes or other materials, thinking I’d find a use for them one day. I’ve also always been artistic. After discovering the work of the Gee’s Bend quilters, as well as inspiration from my friend Audrey, I started to make quilts out of used clothing. I have accumulated quite a “stash,” as quilters-with-a-capital-Q call their fabric supply.  I also like to use salvaged materials for other parts of the quilt, such as the batting or the ties. As of this writing, I principally hand-tie my quilts, not having yet mastered the art of machine quilting.  Luckily I had a big stash of yarn left over from a short-lived crocheting binge.

Last year, some of my neighbors foreclosed on their home.  This was sad because they were basically good people, a family headed by a single mother, working very hard, and it had been the first home she owned.  This is a complicated story like so many others, but suffice it to say when push came to shove she had to get out of there, and quickly.  When she did, she left a lot of “stuff” behind in a small shed on her property.

Beyond the garden in the foreground is white shed to the right of the driveway. Through those wide open doors I found my Foreclosure Yarn.

My neighbor told me if I could use anything left in the yard to go ahead and take it.  So one day I rummaged through the shed and extracted a few items, one of which was:

This was a no-brainer to add to my stash, especially because orange is such a lively color and I’ve got so darned much blue fabric.  Indeed this yarn was a big part of the inspiration behind a mostly-blue quilt.  So 672 two-inch blue squares and 200 six-inch strips of orange yarn later we have this:

I like to leave the “tails” of yarn ties long; for me it is enlivening and playful.  Some concerned Patwig Quilt admirers have worried this is a choking hazard.  I still prefer it.  What do you think?

Winter 2010, I Got the Blues, 51" x 57"

In any event, I Got the Blues is now completely done, folded up and ready to go to my son’s school for a fundraiser.  And I can get back to MFC.

Just about done with this bad boy, but not quite.  There was nothing but rain most of this weekend here in Gotham, though I did sneak out for a run along the Hudson when the sun poked out midday Sunday.  Fortunately, rainy days are conducive to quilting; here’s what happened.

The quilt top, batting, and backing (grey sheet) are spread on the floor while I cut away the extra sheeting. But wait, I forgot something!

I was in such a hurry I forgot the border, and cut the batting and backing without allowing for it.  My plan, to the extent I had developed one, was to add a deep blue thick border, but now that’s out of the question.  I don’t want to waste or stow the grey and flannel sheet fabric I already cut.  So, my severe scavenging principles drew me to the pile of scraps on my workroom windowsill.   I joined many small pieces together to make a narrow scrap border.  Of course it just tickles me no end that these scraps are getting used.

I sew scraps until I have long rows which I line up on the quilt to gauge how much more to add.

Once I’ve got enough for all four sides, I carefully (smoothing out wrinkles, making sure the pressed seams are falling in the right direction) pin the two rows to the longer sides and sew these on, then add leftover squares to each end of the two shorter sides, and sew them on.  Easy, right?

Modest Machine, hard at work, has certainly earned its next oil and clean once this project is through.

Once the borders are done and the whole quilt pressed out, it’s time to put all three layers together, known as making the “quilt sandwich.”  First down is batting, then quilt-top, right side up, then backing fabric, right side down (theoretically).  Now here’s where I go my own way a bit.  I don’t generally “baste” at this stage, a quilting term that means attaching the layers impermanently with safety pins or loose stitches so they won’t shift during sewing.  Why don’t I?  We’ll, I guess I’ve made small enough quilts (largest so far was maybe 70 x 40″), and I just haven’t really wanted to.  The wayward nontraditionalist in me does not wish to take the extra step. Now all four sides are sewn around (for me, three times is a charm), leaving a 10-12″ opening in the middle of one side to “bag” it.  Here’s what the opening looks like

Look out! It's a quilt shark!

Then you reach inside and pull each corner out through the opening until you have what reminds me of a downed parachute or a pile of dirty laundry

Once that’s done, we go back to that quilter’s staple, the ironing board, and press it out yet again.  Now here is where I must leave you for now with this concept:  foreclosure quilt ties.

So last weekend while holiday visiting my mother-in-law, I brought along the Forest Swatch and samples of the fabrics I’d matched with it.  I laid these out in her bedroom so she could respond to them and we could talk a little more about what she wanted. She particularly liked the gold/chartreuse fabric in this picture.

She repeated her desire that the quilt “pick up the green” from the curtains, so I am adding more greens.  The green pieces in the pic above are woven napkins she gave me from her brother’s house after he died.  Pressed and still tied in yarn/thread, I don’t think these had ever been used (since she passed them to me years ago, they’ve just been sitting in a cabinet).  I washed and dried them and pressed them out again.  They match the Forest Swatch nicely.  She had also given me leftover upholstery fabric from her dining room curtains, which seem to blend nicely, too.  Click on the pic for a close-up of my guide: the Forest Swatch.

From top of pile: the Forest Swatch, dining room curtains swatch, never-used woven napkins, new hand-dyed fabric gifted to me.

I think some reds are needed to compliment the greens and the gold, so I proceeded to cut up or “strip the carcass” of the clothing I got last week at the Salvation Army.   I cut along the seams, plackets, collars, zippers and cuffs until they drop away from the solid fabric.  Most of this I discard, but I keep the collars, plackets, cuffs, and buttons.  I have a project in mind for the plackets, collars and cuffs (which may be a future feature here) and an old milk bottle on hand to collect buttons.

For now though, I’m going to put this project aside.  You see, I was in the middle of a project when “My First Commission” came along.  In my  fabric “stash” (a quilter term for non-quilting readers) I have accumulated a lot of blues.  Perhaps they are overrepresented because I scavenge fabrics and favor men’s dress shirts, among which blue is a common color.  Or maybe I just like blue.  Anyway, I wanted to use up some blues and play with squares, so I have been making this:

I am close to halfway through this.  I have 42 “nine patch” squares, which I am in the process of surrounding with blue squares.  The blues create a border to highlight the nine-patch colors while creating a pattern with the light and dark of the blues.  Fun, huh?  I do like this and want to finish it before turning my attention to My First Commission (MFC).  So next post you’ll see the process of finishing a quilt top, then, assuming I can knock it out in a week, what you do with the quilt top once it’s finished.

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