Archives for posts with tag: repurpose

Levi's backside = icon

I love denim.  I love it new and deeply saturated, I love it softly threadbare.  I love the gradations of blue.  Perhaps as a child of the 70s I just have jeans in my blood.

A recent Sunday found me and my quilts at Greenflea market on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, where an amiable man named Donald stopped to look at the quilts on the table and the fence.

The patchwork in the foreground is made from jeans, khaki's, canvas shorts, and upholstery samples

The patchwork on the table in the foreground is composed of jeans, khaki’s, canvas shorts, and upholstery samples

“If I gave you a bunch of jeans could you make me a quilt like that?” he asked.  This is music to Patwig’s ears.  I truly enjoy giving new form to clothes that would otherwise be discarded.  And I like the surprises and challenge in coaxing something from a given pile of cast-offs.  A few emails later I had these on my worktable.

7 pairs jeans and cut-offs and 14 legs

Seven pairs of jeans and cut-offs and 14 legs, most blue and black, with one pair of corduroys and one pair of white denim in the mix.  Donald wanted something that looked like the finished quilt he saw at Greenflea, but with a uniform border, for which he provided a yard-or-so of soft blue fabric.

One of the tricky bits about working with clothes, because of their shape and the need to cut unusable parts away, is that it’s not always clear how much is needed.

The legs were readily arranged

Donald wanted the finished quilt to be 75 x 80 inches

A quick arrangement of these cut legs helped me eyeball that there would be enough material to achieve the desired size.  So I paired up pockets from different pairs of jeans.

Probably because I started with a grid-ish structure, I alternated colors

Definitely needed to keep those iconic Levi’s tags

Some of the pocket areas were quite worn, so I repaired them with a bit of fabric underneath and a zig-zag stitch

This piece looks like it might have an ink stain in the rear right pocket.  Remember when we used to carry pens in our back pockets?

After much arranging and contemplating, I sewed until there were several rows, a beginning for the center of a queen bed.  I thought this a good time to check with Donald to see if I was barking up the right tree, so I emailed him a picture of what I had so far.

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He said it looked OK, but a bit boring, given the orderly grid.  He also wanted more emphasis on the blues and less on the orange and white, which made up the majority of the piece so far.

Dear Reader, I wanted to do better than OK and a bit boring, so with his blessing I cut it up again.  Then the project really opened up – it would be orderly no more …

I had been emphasizing the pockets, now I added it more plain blue legs, which offered their own variety in the form of worn knee areas

I cut to maximize blues

With so many of my "rows" ending with the top of the jeans or other particularly thick spots, I ended up sewing the rows onto backing pieces

I resewed pieces back at angles, joining sections with smaller strips of non-blues

I cut the original section out at angles, varying the row widths

The angles varied the row widths

I increased the length of the rows by adding in a couple of stripped sections

I increased some rows by adding two strip sections, including a button fly strip.

With a lot more movement in the mix, my focus turned to getting the size right.  The goal was 75 x 80, and the fabric Donald provided would yield a 6 inch border.  So I had to close the gap between the center above and the planned outer border.  Scrap time!

Cuffs often get frayed, which gave me a start on opening up those bottom seams. The worn areas resemble a sort of tie-dye pattern

Frayed cuffs start openings in the bottom seams.  Fully opening the hem triples the width of workable material and reveals a sort of tie-dye pattern

Strip borders are quick to compose and sew and, most dear to me, reduce waste.  Less goes in the garbage can

At this point there was fabric laying around everywhere

I laid the cut bits out until I was sure there was enough to go around

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A row at a time is sewn together, pinned to the center, then the whole piece is folded up, ready for Modest Machine

Joining pieces

Though I used needles sized for denim, Modest Machine still broke 3 teeth on this project

One row at a time sewn together, sewn to the center, and trimmed

After rows are sewn to the center and pressed, they are trimmed at the sides with the rotary cutter

Each time I lay the quilt down I risk losing it to this resident

Each time I put the quilt down on the floor I risked losing it to this household resident

The blue fabric Donald wanted for the border was the last part of the quiltop

Once all 4 strip rows were done it was time to add the blue border.  I think it frames the active center well

This part of quilt making is physical.  Down on the floor, crawling from side to side while straightening, smoothing, pinning, and folding, then up and down the hall to feed carefully through the machine, sticking myself with pins multiple times along the way, then back to the floor, unfolding and doing it all again.  Knees, back, ankles, wrists — all recruits to the effort.  No wonder whole groups of women made larger quilts before labor saving devices were available.

Only once the outer border is done is it time to turn the quiltop design into what we know as a quilt.  That starts with batting

Quiltop done, it's time to actually turn it into what we know as a quilt

Batting is a layer of pure cotton fill which gives a quilt its warmth

The batting is placed on the floor and smoothed out

On a flat surface, batting is placed down.  I have trimmed it to just over the size of this piece

The quiltop is placed on the batting, right side up, smoothed out, then a single layer of backing is added.  Sheets work well for this job.

The backing -- Wendy's sheet -- is the third layer

Who knows what calculus goes into such decisions, but luckily for me, this baby blue in very good condition was retired from its household bedmaking rotation, donated to me, and perfect for this quilt

As well as being physical, the end stage of the process features craft and precision.  It’s not especially fun.  I’m always concerned that I’ll seriously mess something up and all will be lost.

once pinned together, again I fold it up and bring it to Modest Machine.  For this I sewed around the perimeter twice.  Because of the smooth surfaces -- compared to the bumpy layers of denim -- it goes smoothly, with no broken needles

Now for the final two rounds around the perimeter joining all three layers

Once turned inside out, pressing the edge seams is necessary to establish the edge

Once turned inside out, pressing outer borders is necessary to establish the edges.  I do the first part on my ironing board then, you guessed it, back to the floor

Because of its size, ties will help keep the layers from shifting around.  I've got this old spool of needlepoint thread -- I think it was my mother's or grandmother's -- and it matches the corduroy perfectly

Simple ties will restrict shifting from the weight of the denim. This old spool of needlepoint thread — I think it was my mother’s or grandmother’s — matches the corduroy perfectly

As I go through my photos while writing this post, I realize I don’t have one overall picture of the finished quilt.  What I do have are these detail shots,  which is what I liked most working on this, the juxtapositions of various bits of old jeans.

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You made it to the end!  Hope you enjoyed this scroll through my quilt making process.  Please feel free to share/link/forward Patwig’s Blog with anyone you think may enjoy it.

Linda is a nurse who happens to be caring for her elderly mother at home.  Years ago after her father died, she started to weave a blanket from his old ties for a way to remember him.

She wove together her Dad's ties

She didn’t finish it, so she set it aside.

She’s also a neighbor, and one day she saw some quilts I made from old clothes, and asked if I could make a quilt using the blanket she’d started and her mother’s old scarves.  She planned to keep it at a vacation home her family has had for generations in Maine.  I was delighted to have a new commission!

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She brought a large bag with the tie blanket, and this assortment of scarves and a few other pieces of clothing from other family members.

After showing her a Chinese Coin pattern quilt I made for my mother,  she chose that style as the primary design.  With a plan in place, Patwig got busy:  all materials washed, ties cut up, and fusible interfacing pressed to all ties and scarves.

Once the ties were all cut open and the scarves pressed, the interface is pressed onto the backs.  LOVED this red and black scarf so much I couldn't bear to cut it

Linda said her Mom’s black and red scarf was from the 60’s; it killed me to cut this up

Dad’s ties were myriad browns, featuring the small, repeating patterns typical of ties, in a handful of muted color variations.  In contrast, Mom’s scarves packed saturated jewel tones in a variety of splashy prints.  I was having trouble at first seeing how to work the two styles in together, until  I pinned the jazziest scarves to the wall and mated the ties by color to each

I pinned a bunch of the scarves to the wall and "matched" ties to them ... this helped me see a way to mix them together in the coin stacks

Then I cut and laid out just enough to show Linda how a Chinese Coin stack from her fabrics might look

She was happy with it, so I could proceed

She wanted a finished square of 84 by 84 inches for a full size bed.  I made enough rows to fill the bed top, which ended up a 54 x 62 inch rectangle.

This came together quickly

Lots of border was needed all the way around to bring this out to 84 x 84.  Ideally I might have bordered this in all black or navy to corral the rowdy colors.  But I had to work with the fabric I had.  After consulting one of the quilting reference books I’ve  picked up over the years, I thought I’d give the “basic braid” border a try.  Luckily Linda liked that idea

Light colors inside the border

I ended up grouping the lights on the inside and darks at the outside to highlight the center.

The corner, or capstone

For a braided border you can start with a triangle.  Strips are lined up at a right angle one at a time at each side.

Once I had a critical mass, I sent a picture to Linda just to be sure I was still barking up the right tree.  Fortunately her answer was “it’s awesome,” so I continued full steam ahead.

Luckily the measurement was in the desired 84" ballpark

It helps to be happy with how a project is turning out, but this work moved at a slow pace, one step at a time.  That’s the nature of craft, I suppose.  It always takes longer than I think it will.

Braided borders can also be made just all mixed up, but I think the inner light works best on this quilt given the center coin section

With repetition, it gets into a rhythm and begins to move faster

I'm thinking there may be another braided mash up in my near quilting future

The mostly white appearance at the back of the braids is due to the fusible interfacing. The couple that look grey/blue were nice thick denim, which didn’t require supplemental backing

Linda dropped the fabrics to me on New Year’s Eve.  At this stage it’s mid-February.  If I had worked all day every day I would have finished well before the end of January.

After the third side was done it was kind of depressing to see how many more strips I would need

I had light and dark strips ready from the earlier prep, from which I could pick and choose as I went along

As a project gets bigger, the pace slows because it’s harder physically to move the whole thing around.  I have a son in college so I use his room and floor down the hall from my workroom to lay it out … thanks Pete!

Ironing out the last side strip before attaching to the body of the quilt.  Makes a nice contrast to the floor covering in my office.  Color anyone?

Once all borders are sewn around the center, it is a finished quiltop.

I'm trying a new type of batting for this project -- for this one I used NAME HERE and it has a nice, fluffy loft.

Do any Patwig readers remember what you do with a finished quilt top? Yep, place it, top up, on a piece of cotton fill or batting …

… and then it needs a back.  I combined the handful of cotton clothing items Linda provided with old sheet sections from my stash to piece a back together.

For the backing I pieced together old sheets from my stash with cottons from clothes from Linda

Pressing, sewing and seaming the back took an afternoon

I stopped counting when my estimated hours on this project neared 90.  This is an info nugget for those who always ask me how long it takes to make a quilt.  Answer: it depends, but usually a long time!

The layers are sewn together, turned inside out, then press it out with an iron a final time

At the end of the day, the piece itself is the reward, because I really liked how it turned out

I used 16 yarn ties to secure the layers together (thanks Ellen Banner for your yarn donation!)

I can't get a full picture of it but this is one side ...

I'm happy with the liveliness of this piece

I hope you enjoyed reading about how this came together. Thanks for making it to the end!

I think it’s on its way to Maine.  Next project will be an experiment using recent fabric donations.

I love the process of constructing a quilt.  It starts simply enough.  Sometimes two colors lodge in my mind and I want to explore the various ways they interact with each other.  Other times texture leads the way — a rough, loosely woven linen is warmed with worn faded denim.  And the path fabrics followed to my work table is always present in my mind:  scads of worn linen from a couch slipcover enthusiastically shredded by the family cats; a caution-cone-bright orange backing a graphic superhero print on boys’ boxers;  a lightweight denim workshirt that put me in mind of a shirt found in Florence years ago, long since disappeared.  Pulling all these pieces together is a reflection on the various parts of my life.

One of the warm oranges here is from curtains my mother made for her kitchen.  There’s also a pillow case given me by a friend’s mother when she and her husband moved out of their longtime family home.

Inspiration also comes from my environment … I’m always looking when wandering.  Lucky enough to go to Israel this summer, I admired this doorway in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood

Orange and blue have always created sparks for me, though they’re too bright and lively for me to feel comfortable wearing.  They work to good effect in this Nine Patch Patwig from a few posts back

And so I embark on a quilt in these colors, with my creative process guided by a wish to use materials on hand, to not waste.  On this occasion I turn to my stash of completed blocks, made from scraps after earlier projects

There are lots of blocks in my stash, but I choose these mostly for color, and partly for shape

The blocks need to be unified, so I surround them, frame-like, with a soft blue.  My blue stash offers a combination of scraps, from lightweight faded denim to old blue Oxford shirts

Narrow borders recall the small squares of the nine patch

Making these borders goes relatively quickly, if workmanlike.  When a border strip is big enough I sew it around the sides of the block, iron-pressing down the seams along the way

The underbelly of a quilt block

It’s hard to explain what I like about doing this, but I get utterly lost in it, much in the same way as I do gardening.  Times like these the work is its own reward, and I forget for a moment that there is as of yet no particular destination for the end result

Modest Machine never questions why I ask it to do so much, it just trundles along, well earning its next oiling

As the blocks are surrounded in blue a feeling takes shape which reminds me of those black and white “scan boxes” that seem to be everywhere these days — which googling just told me is  QR code

With the center composition done it’s time to think about how to border it.  There are many different ways to do borders on quilts but I often end up making simple strip borders.  It helps to lay out a bunch of fabrics to see what happens

A little orange really does go a long way

This is more rote work, though I have fun rifling through my orange fabric box for strips.  The border length is roughly determined by the size of scraps I’m finding — I prioritize using up what’s already cut and not hacking into another large piece of fabric.

And since there’s no end to light blue men’s dress shirts the heady orange is readily diluted

I often hand tie my quilts with yarn (again, as in the Nine Patch above), but this quilt turns out small enough at 55 x 59 that I just seal it with a machine stitched border around the outside.

And it’s done.

Last year I made quilt commissions (three quilts, five pillows) for two wonderful people, all using clothing of deceased loved ones to remember and honor them.   One of these projects utilized button-down shirts, which I cut up.  The parts I couldn’t use for the quilt ended up in here:

My plackets, collars and cuffs stash had grown out of one box and into two.  I have long waited for inspiration to help me bring life to this assortment of cast-offs.

Cue my adored friend Chuck (who has the ego-pleasing habit of referring to me as an artist), and after a glorious afternoon immersed in abstract expressionism at MOMA, I was ready to begin

Plackets have a sturdy texture and form

I started by joining buttonhole plackets together.   I wasn’t sure where it would go, but putting two and two together, so to speak, seemed as good a way to start as any

I lined them up so they balanced in a pleasing way

I left logos and care tags showing for texture and to signal "repurposing"

When the rows sewn together reached the size of a square I stopped, and started a second.  The squares are 25 inches.

Modest Machine trotted right along with me

Two were done in no time and I hung them up to see where this was going

Thumb tacked to the wall through the buttonholes

It made sense to add two more to create another square.  Because the first were dominated by brights, the next would be milder

This square is all solids, mostly muted tones

And this is all patterns: florals, stripes, and checks

As I got close to having all four of these done I was genuinely giddy — so high was my anticipation for the result.  But it was a let down … what was wrong?

Though it was an irreversible decision, there seemed no other choice than to cut corner to corner, and the result was so much more engaging

It also conjures the quilt pattern "Diamond in the Square"

The next step is joining the pieces together.  This was not agreeable at all  … a diagonal or “bias” cut in fabric goes against the weave, and weakens it, makes it stretchy, bunches it up as you move through it.   It’s really just awful, especially when you’re joining multi-layer plackets of different depths.

But I loved the diagonal movement so much that I ignored the horrible sounds coming from my sewing machine

To rise above this unpleasantness, I thought ahead to what should happen around the edges — it wouldn’t do to have open-ended plackets hanging off into nowhere.  The answer was right there in the plackets, collars and cuffs box

There's something very pleasing about the rounded corners of cuffs

Coupled together and back to back in a row, the cuffs would suitably corral the bold stripes of the plackets.   I lost no time joining lights and darks

Joining one cuff to another is simple; joining the duos and quads and so on is not

I liked the theory that 188 inches of pleasingly rounded cuffs would frame the inner composition.  The execution was another matter.

The best way to join separate and thick pieces of fabric is with a zig-zag stitch.   This involved taping a cuff row over each side in turn and peeling the tape away while carefully feeding into Modest Machine, who bulldozed through it like an overenthusiastic dog let off leash to chase birds.

The resulting stitches ain’t pretty.  I winced at first, but this piece isn’t a quilt in the traditional sense (it doesn’t have fill or backing), so it needn’t have pretty stitches.

It’s about reusing discarded materials in unexpected ways to create something new that celebrates color and form.

69 inches sqaure and ready for hanging

This piece is available.  Email me at patwig63@gmail.com or comment if you’re interested.  Meanwhile I’ll be pondering what to do with the collars.

The last time you heard from me I had just completed memorial quilts so two little boys could have a physical connection with their grandfather.  Their grandmother Sue, who commissioned the project, provided about 40 of her late husband’s button-downs shirts for this labor of love. Masses of scraps remained in its wake

In the beginning there were scraps

What to do?  I could throw them out (unthinkable), file them in my fabric stash (tedious), or … of course, make a quilt!

Behold, a colorful block rises from scrap ashes

This enterprise commenced mid-August, still summer, when the days are long and light and sewing hundreds of fabric bits together seems just as good as anything else to do.  It began with block constructions, like this

Color leads the way

Block by block, matching pieces by length, coupling by complimentary colors or color groups, I sewed bits together

No pattern here, just freestyling

One by one, the glittering jewels that center each block beckon for a supporting structure

Small scraps join to form columns

and it’s done when

.... the matching scraps have run out

And so it continued, in a groove that I enjoyed immensely, until about 25 squares and rectangles were stacked on my table.  Time to lay them out to see what they did together.  I decided to use just squares

Keep reading to see what I did with the squares, and tell me what you think: would the mix above have worked just as well on its own?

Since there were still lots of whites, it seemed a no brainer to use them for sashing around the blocks.

The steps involved: group by length, sew pairs, sew resulting couplets, and so on until the lengths surround each block

I thought a layer between the white sashing would pop the color even more, so in went a light mint green, which addition opened up six holes for more color to fill

Can you see the resemblance to the quilts from last post?

With the center of the quilt essentially done, it’s time to conjure a border.  The scrap pile still waited with plenty on offer

Modest Machine gamely gobbled along as I fed it countless pieces of fabric, joining until they reached eight inch lengths, which would then be sewn together for a basic strip border

This took some time, but the robust border that resulted seams worth the effort

I finally did run out of color scraps for the strips so I used remaining whites to fill out the border at the corners

When a quiltop is finished, it’s time for “backing.” As there were many whole shirts and sections that had yet to meet my rotary cutter, I rather extravagantly cut out 15″ square blocks.

I told you I could put these shirts to good use, Sue!

I hadn’t used any new materials up to this point, and was determined to recycle for the batting (fill) as well.  It should come as no surprise that I keep batting remnants, and after stitching four pieces of batting and pinning all three layers (top, batting and backing), I carefully folded it up for Modest Machine to sew

Is keeping pedal to the floor three times around a rather unweildy 66" x 82" pile of fabric rather like circling the yard perimeter with a ride-on mower?

Then I can stand up and stretch my legs while ironing the whole thing out

Now that it has volume it looks and feels like a quilt

Not quite to the finish line, I pick out yarn for the ties

Red and blue too good to be true

And it’s done.   Twin sized, nearly all recycled materials (can you guess the one element that is not recycled?) and for sale (email me with your best offer!).  Thank you for reading Patwig’s Blog.

Made by hand (and Modest Machine) in New York City, USA


It’s inevitable that there will be scraps left over when a quilt is done, they’re the benched players on the sidelines when the buzzer sounds.  Wasted potential, because in my book, scraps an inch above standard seam allowance can excel in the right conditions.

So it was when Ellen came to pick up her quilt featuring her husbands’ Hermes ties.   We were completing our transaction on pretty upbeat terms – how lovely to have a happy client – until she saw the bagged scraps and the trace of a frown began to appear.  The goal had been to put ALL the fabric to use.  What could be done with these leftovers?  Then Ellen remembered  a little “study” I had made for her quilt

and suggested it for pillows — one for each of her four children, and one for her.  Eyeballing the scraps, I was sure there was enough for five, so we were in business.

After scoring polyester pillow inserts from P&S Fabrics in Chinatown (made in Massachusetts, BTW),

The triangles at left are the tie tips.

I spread out all the scraps.  Most were too small for use in the quilt, some were lining, and some were colors or hues that just didn’t show their best or add anything to the quilt as the design unfolded.   I ironed everything, added fusible backing where needed, and using the study above as a starting point, began to cut short bars to join into squares

I decided to use four sets of blocks on each pillow, sashed with the tie linings I couldn’t use the first time around

The bars of color echoed the coin stack pattern of the "mother quilt."

There were a few big pieces left

Hermes tie and a bit of Thai silk

which provided sashing around the inner block of four

I tried to get some Thai silk on every pillow, since it featured so prominently on the mother quilt

By this time the bits and pieces remaining really were not much more than that, so the outer border was literally “strip piecing.”

I sewed bits and pieces together until they were long enough for a border for each side of the pillows, 20 overall.

Ellen had provided a lovely blue queen-sized sheet for the back of the original quilt.  Enough was left to back the pillows.

The patchwork pillow front is 12 inches square. The back is two pieces of blue sheeting 12 inches wide by 7 or 8 inches, overlapping.

The pillow cover and backing are pinned, right sides facing together, and sewn all the way around the square three times.  The overlap in the backing creates a slit to slip the pillow in.

As I finished I stacked them up.

I’d been concerned that one or two might be “nicer,” stand out more somehow from the rest of the line-up …

But I think they ended up as a pretty strong team

*A soft cushion for your head or another part of your body, possibly featuring fabrics that remind you of a special person.

This summer was the longest break I’ve taken from quilt-making since I started.  Maybe it was the effort of producing a queen-sized piece.  Or maybe it was having my kids around for summer.  Whatever it was, at some point I thought I should make a quilt for my mother.  She said yes she would like that, and this project ensued.

She wanted yellows, greens and browns.  I gathered stuff from my stash and she gave me a bunch of old fabric from her attic, including what I recognized as curtains that had been in her kitchen long ago.  There was also fabric from seat cushions she made for the kitchen chairs.  It was fun to see this in its original color saturation — compared to the well-worn cushions which are still there.  Best of all, there was a very cheery and flowery yellow bedsheet, the sight of which caused me to bury my nose in its familiar smell.  I remember going to her room early in the morning when she was in bed reading before my brother woke up.  I’d climb in bed with her and we’d talk or read and play shadow puppets with the light from her bedside lamp.  My mother’s bed is her refuge.   And it was the secure station where she hunkered down to sleep and wait out six months of radiation and chemotherapy to vanquish a soft-tissue sarcoma.  She cares deeply about what she puts on her bed, so I have been privileged to make a quilt for it.

Her instructions on a white slip of scratch paper include her classic "Q."

The pattern inspiration for this quilt is one I’ve done several times, the so-called Chinese coin pattern.  Ignore the unmade bed and you can see the basic pattern:  stacks of narrow horizontal strips (coins) alternating with typically a solid color background.

If the bed's not made as soon as it's vacated, felines will take advantage of any remaining warm spots.

From a production standpoint, this pattern moves along readily.

I googled to discover the origins of the "Chinese coin" but didn't find anything I felt was sufficiently authoritative. It is also called "strip piecing."

Selecting fabrics and grouping them together is the fun part.  I end up using a far greater percentage from my own stash than from those my mother gave me, and  I realize these may be unconscious choices recalling her fabric history.  For instance, the deep blue/greens below are nearly the same color as a fabric she used to reupholster a living room chair —  a project she never did finish, though the chair remains with a slipcover.

The blue-green was the lining for a toddler-sized jacket. There are also old pillow-cover pieces here.

I also sew narrower but longer rows for an outer border.   This should stand out nicely against the brown dust ruffle on her bed.

My son's bedroom floor is my surface for laying, arranging and visualizing. I believe some quilters use an "idea wall" but my workroom does not offer enough space to stand back and view.

Once columns are done, a background color is needed to highlight and divide them.  This offers the perfect application of those former kitchen curtains.  It’s not a solid, but the pattern is small and neutral enough to work in.

The warm hue of the curtain material puts me in mind of acorn squash. Or maybe it's a fall breeze in the air.

I like making ready progress on a project, but the bigger it gets the harder it is to move around.   After the alternating columns of strips and solids are sewn together, the solid is added to cap the top and bottom.

Wide borders emphasize the colors. I think a very dark color, like black, would also work well here.

At some point I discover that I don’t have a big enough piece of something to use for batting (or fill), so I make a quick run up to City Quilter.  This is the first time I’ve purchased any supplies for this quilt — thus far I’ve managed with all found objects.  This satisfies the thrifty part of my soul. Now it’s time to make a backing.  Cue the cheery yellow floral that brought back so many memories:

Yellows always remind me of my mother.

Careful readers of Patwig’s Blog may remember that the next step is sewing all three layers together — quilt top, batting, and backing (right side down) — leaving a small opening to pull the whole thing inside out.  After pressing, it is “fit to be tied.”

I usually hand-tie my quilts. For this I use a needlepoint thread which perfectly matches the acorn squash color.

Nearly there.  A quick check of photo dates shows this commenced August 5 with fabric selection, and sewing starting September 10 and finishing September 22.  After a quick look over by the resident inspector, it’s done.

Don't worry about soiling: Seymour keeps his paws and pads scrupulously clean.

And here’s how it looks on a bed

Not a bad project for Modest Machine to limber up after the lay off.  And now I have officially queen and twin sized quilts under my belt.  I do take commissions, and if you’d like to know more, leave a comment and I’ll get back.  Caio for now!

This is a blog about making quilts from recycled clothes, as some of you who have already read it will attest.  Perhaps a few curious souls have checked and seen no activity lately.  Sorry!  I’ve felt more than a little guilt about this as I truly like blogging.  I also have a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has told me in person, by email or via Facebook that you enjoy the blog.

So why the pause and what is so completely different?  Well, depending on where you live, you may have noticed much nicer weather lately.  Though not conducive to quilting, it has been just right for a Plant Rescue.

A neighbor moved away, selling the house next door.  The new owner is completely renovating the property, including the rear yard.  After 14 years of admiring my neighbor’s garden (particularly a lovely dwarf red maple), I was horrified to hear it would be gutted.  So began Plant Rescue.

The new owners gave me permission, via their construction foreman, to rescue the plants.  Here’s what the yard looked like, from my house, in mid March

Plants are dormant but you can see some evergreens on the left. Click photo for a better view. The red maple is to the right of the grill.

One fine warm weekend, I got permission to enter, and dug up the first round of plants.  Then I had a stack of stuff in my yard

I dug until I ran out of containers and burlap to temporarily house and swaddle them.  Careful readers of Patwig’s Blog will recall my determined preference to reuse materials, so I used all the empty plastic containers I could find.  I do confess to buying two rolls of burlap at a local hardware store because I had none.

Funny how from my window the plants appeared smaller than they turned out to be.  Here you see what looks like three shrubs

But once I dug in I yielded five plants, the lighter-leaved plant on the left, which I resettled in my yard

Andromeda (Pieris japonica) is ill from a lace bug infestation, which apparently hit NYC hard last year (who knew?) but I'm taking a chance because it is perfect for this spot.

The smaller plant in the middle was actually two Skimmia.  Once they were out I saw the delightful buds of another specimen I have long admired, a blue “Big Daddy” hosta, and lastly the rhododendron on the right.  All of these I had to dig out another day due to lack of burlap.

A gardening friend (GF) dropped some extra burlap over my fence one day, enabling the quest.  Out came two Rose of Sharon, a verbena, two climbing roses, a Montauk daisy (which my GF tells me can be wildly propagated), too many astilbe to count, bunches of iris, a Cotoneaster (one of my all-time-favorite plants) and, of course, the Big Guy himself, the red maple.

Can anyone explain that trunk? Click for a closer look at it.

I  pruned the Maple.  I dug around the dripline of the Maple.  But there was no way I was going to move the Maple.  Enter the very lovely construction foreman and my nicest asking and voila,  Friday before Easter, an opening was made in the fence

A hole was dug by Patwig

I knew there was a reason I wrote "ditch digger" under my high school yearbook photo.

And three workers, with a rope and a two-by-four, carried the Maple to its new home.

Words cannot begin to express how grateful I was to these men, but luckily, there’s cash.

I’m glad you’ve made it this far, but I think it’s time to stop.  Some readers may have unanswered questions, such as what was in the place where I dug the deep hole?   What about that long list of other plants?  Do I have room in my yard for them?  Unfortunately, I do not.  This is just Part One of Plant Rescue.  Part Two will appear after the plants are installed in their new home.  In the meantime, the long-awaited My First Commission (MFC) will return.

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