Archives for posts with tag: repurposed fabrics

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

 

 

 

 

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


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 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.

Back to the lab again.  MFC is for my mother-in-law, who asked me for a bedspread to match the color in her bedroom curtains.  She gave me a swatch of her curtains, which remains my steady guide.  A little later she  gave me a page from a LL Bean catalog with a picture of a quilt.

Here are some colors/fabrics I'm starting with, matched to the Forest Swatch near the center of the pic.

The catalog quilt was based on triangles, giving me the notion she might like something along those lines.  I looked back at some other quilts I’ve made for ideas.  This one came to mind:

Flying Geese variation, made 2008 or so, 30 x 30. At least two fabrics are former shirts from my boys, the rest thrift store p.j.'s and shirts.

I am thinking of using this as the basic block.   I started cutting and placing triangles, ending up with this:

Hmm … the green floral in two of the center squares and along the borders (a William Morris print from an old skirt of mine) takes the place of the dark brown from the finished quilt above.  But I don’t have enough of this fabric for a larger quilt which would require many more blocks.  A trip to Salvation Army produces a teal wool skirt, which is cut on the bias.  Note to self:  if you want to proceed relatively quickly, stay with fabric cut on the warp and weft.

Fabrics are woven with threads that interweave at a 90 degree angle. You cut vertically or horizontally to keep the fabric strong. If you cut at at 45 degree angle-bisecting the "warp and weft," this is "the bias," and it results in a stretchier, flouncier feel to the fabric.

I cut up enough to swap them for the floral and do like the resulting contrast around the perimeter:

How about if I completely replace the florals with the solid….

Hmm again.  Makes a good contrast, but the green is a little flat to have so much.  Either way I slice it, I will need a lot more than this skirt will provide.  Another swing by the thrift shop yields these:

These are all cotton Liz Clairborne, a courser fabric than the wool, but will provide, I hope, enough triangles.

In an earlier post I referred to “stripping the carcass.”  Here’s an illustration:

Why does this picture make me want to jump on a horse?

Now I’ve got enough greens.  My plan is to repeat this “block” 12 times, resulting in a quilt top close to the size of a queen-sized blanket.  This means a lot of cutting.  I use a rotary cutter, which makes the process a little faster, but it is still a bit tedious, and, if one is not completely careful, can result in injury.  But that’s a story for another day.

Let me finish with a reward to those of  you who’ve made it to the end:

Here's the maple transplant, settling in nicely. Now if I just had a little more sun in this yard.

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.

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