Archives for posts with tag: reuse materials

As summer filtered away into deepest August, Rod from Carson City, Nevada decided to do something about a lingering idea.  His used jeans pile had grown to 15 after going through his right knee at least as many times and he had been searching for someone to, in his words, “assemble them into a quilt versus discarding them.” Cue the vast and wonderful interwebs, which led him to my email.

I wish I had taken a picture of the box .... maybe 18 inches square and weighing about 26 pounds (according to the UPS label)

I wish I had taken a picture of the box – maybe 18 inches square and 26 pounds (according to the UPS label)

And so it was that come fall, I opened a box to find multiple Levi’s (size 34-32), Lee, Kirkland (the Costco brand – thanks Lori!), GAP (relaxed fit), and Joseph Abboud jeans.  Rod’s jeans were all retired around the same level of wear (right knee out of most, left in some), some with dark brown spot stains (Rod guessed paint, or maybe blood?  He’s a hunter), all neatly folded.  The charge at this juncture:  pattern ideas for Rod choose from.

This beginning stage of a project is always the most fun for my smallest household residents.

This beginning stage of a project is always the most fun for my smallest household residents.

This random arrangement of legs in rows reminded me of a Diamond in the Square wall hanging I made a few years ago

The stripes are men's shirt plackets and the border peicing is men's shirt cuffs

Stripes = men’s shirt plackets and border = men’s shirt cuffs

and I wondered if this quilt style would work in this setting.  After checking with Rod (and marveling yet again at the trust people place in strangers), it was a go for my first Denim Diamond in the Square.

I cut the segments much more neatly

At least the math was relatively easy. I went for the longest strips given the 32″ inseam. Placket-narrow wouldn’t work here, but 3-5 inch widths seemed about right.

I cut sections for fade, wear, stain spots, and pockets until there were enough for four quadrants.

Alternating light and dark is a tried and true method for ...

This looks nice and orderly, but after the cut …

I used a rotary cutter on the diagonal resulting in 8 triangles

Cut and flipped, the quadrant becomes a Diamond in the Square

… it looks so much livelier.  And now for the fun, or paradox, of quilting … sewing pieces back together

Four diagonal cuts of squares result in eight sides of triangles needing seams

Four diagonal cuts of squares resulted in eight sides of triangles needing seams

This takes time:  two triangles are placed right side against each other, care is taken that seam presses are all laying in the right direction, then sides are pinned together  to hold through the machine


Until a diamond appears.

I don’t know how well pictures and words convey the literally painstaking (needles, knees on the floor) nature of this process, but it’s a good example of how a word like “painstaking” arose in our shared language


Corner triangles are added one at a time to the diamond

As the whole grows in size, it pays to carefully fold it up at each step both to keep it straight and facilitate feeding through Modest Machine.


My workspace isn’t big enough to lay out a project this size, so I walk back and forth, project in hands, from my college son’s vacant room to my workspace.

Unfortunately for my knees, this tedious work is best not interrupted because the concentration and resulting work quality might not return in matching levels.  So I keep at it until all sides are done.


For everyone who asks me how long a quilt takes: sewing these eight triangles together took about four hours.

Quilt folkways generally call for a border around a design, so it’s time to confer with Rod.  He agrees with my recommendation of a simple “strip” border, and so I paw through the pieces that remain.  This turns out to be a good way to deploy the decorative potential of all those jeans pockets.

This "strip" border is actually a block border, a good deployment of the decorative potential of jean pockets

The pocket areas add visual interest, but a look at the underside shows all those layers that complicate sewing and make jeans a difficult clothing item to repurpose

I probably spent more time than absolutely necessary selecting pieces for the border, but this part of the process was fun, and I was seeking a feeling of balance


Joining, sewing, and iron pressing continues until the border lengths surround all four sides, which means the quiltop is done


Now for a quick review of the end process that returning Patwig readers may recall:


Finished quiltop is placed, right side up, on batting


Backing is placed right side down on quiltop and layers are pinned together around perimeter, leaving 12-18 inch opening on one side


And it’s back to Modest Machine for sewing twice all the way around. I’m feeling kind of just-shoot-me-now at this point.

Until that’s done, and I’ll leave off the last tedious details to show the finished quilt …


….and with this view I appreciate it much more, and the work it represents.  I hope Rod from Carson City is enjoying its use, and that you enjoyed reading about its creation.  Thanks for reading to the end.  If you want to be sure to see more of my projects, scroll down and hit the Sign Me Up! button to subscribe, and when I publish it will come to your email automatically.



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.

Well that took forever.  Or at least felt like it did.  My First Commission (MFC) is done.  Fin,  au revoir, ciao, adios.  Now it’s rolled up and bound, set in a corner just waiting to be delivered to the interested individual who commissioned it, despite the fact that little more than a week ago I was tearing my hair out trying to finish-the-damn-thing-already.  As fate would have it,  it won’t move to its new home until late July.

To recap, this is a blog about making quilts from old clothes (and other found materials) and the last time I had anything to show for MFC was this pile of triangles

The starting point for this quilt was that it match the curtains in its intended bedroom.  That color sits on top of the pile below

The Forest Swatch led the way for color selection.

Then my mother-in-law, commissioner behind My First Commission, gave me a page from the LL Bean catalog

My eye was drawn to the quilt with the triangular pattern.

Inspired by the abundant white background, I messed around with the triangles until I arrived at a simple flying geese pattern

Traditional quilts are built from blocks. The basic block here is five-by-five triangles. This configuration and its variants is commonly called "flying geese."

The 5 x 5 blocks above contain 50 triangles and are approximately 18 inches square.  I needed 20 blocks (or 1000 triangles) for a queen-sized quilt.  Much cutting ensued.  This endeavor brought to mind a friend whose last name is Cutting.  I wondered about the origin of his name.  Did it come from a task turned into an occupation, like Miller or Smith?  Is it ironic that he also works with fabric and textiles?  This is where the mind wanders when the body is rooted to a rote assignment.

Cutting fabric into pieces in order to sew them back together is the paradox of quilting.

What happened next might be dubbed individual mass production:

One after the other, triangles sewn together make individual squares.

The seams are iron-pressed to flatten the squares

I LOVE this pink, another Salvation Army special. If I could name the color I'd call it Raspberry Geranium.

The squares are sewn together to make rows

Modest Machine capably handles this job.

And rows are sewn together to make the 5 x 5 square

What you see here is seven piles of five rows, all to be sewn together.

The basic block, this one in a mad yellow:

Edges are trimmed with a rotary cutter to square it off, resulting in a 17 inch square.

Time out here to tell you about one of the recurring fabrics in this quilt. It is a floral on a beige background, and it counterbalances the color-rich Forest Swatch and  Raspberry Geranium.  But that’s not why I’m telling you about it.  This fabric is remnants from dining room curtains my mother-in-law made 43 years ago.  I’m so delighted to have found a use for something that’s been sitting in a drawer for a lifetime.  This is the essence of a Patwig quilt.

I've even got a little bit left, which I think will pair nicely with denim for a heavyweight composition. Car quilt or picnic blanket anyone?

At this stage the project’s size requires me to move out of my workroom.  As I finish blocks I lay them down on the floor, and begin to think about how to border it.

Luckily my cats are otherwise occupied.

Then the blocks are sewn into rows, and the rows sewn together until it is one large rectangle.  This is where it gets a bit unwieldy.

After each row is sewn seams are pressed to one side. This is necessary to flatten the top. It also means a lot of moving the quilt from machine to floor to ironing board while trying not to trip over the fabric.

For a border I hope to use some of the green triangles that now seem to be everywhere, but I feel it needs a gradual transition — it’s too abrupt to place the darkest color alongside the lighter blocks. And the overall block pattern is too large to finish with a mere four-inch border.  Cue the curtain floral:

Fortunately I didn't cut all of it into triangles, so I simply sew long pieces to all four sides -- blissfully expeditious.

Unfortunately, for the green border I have nothing but triangles, so production slows while those are sewn into squares, then rows …

What moves me through this tedium is knowing the resulting border will be enhanced by the triangles, like a wood frame surrounding a linen matte.

This is the biggest quilt I’ve ever made.  Me and Modest Machine are officially riding in uncharted territory as I prepare to sew seams along the carefully pinned and folded beast

Looks a bit like a table runner.

Imagining women creating quilts of similar size with only needle and thread and no electricity  puts me in awe.  Here’s a book I enjoyed that describes women doing just that during Westward Expansion in the U.S.  After pressing the seams, the quilt top is done.  But there will be no rest for the weary.  Backing and fill remain!

Engulfing my ironing board in this way, My First Commission almost looks elegant.

I made a backing from the remainder of the bedskirt and “Sear’s Best” white twin sheets that my mother-in-law purchased for her oldest son when he was at college.  He never used them, and she still had the unopened package.   The fill is all-cotton batting purchased new from the City Quilter.

The final step is to attach the layers, which I do by hand-tying with yarn.    The floor is the only surface large enough for it to lay flat, a requirement while the layers are not secured together, and I scoot around, sometimes blanching in discomfort, while pulling yarn with a needle through three thick layers of fabric many times over.

I am pleased this yarn picks up the Raspberry Geranium so nicely.

Once enough ties were in to give the quilt stability, I hung it over the banister and finished off the remaining ties while more comfortably seated on a chair.  As the pins and needles drained out of my legs I began to like MFC again.

If you have a hankering to gather together some of your old clothing or other fabrics and fashion them into something useful (and perhaps meaningful, depending on the clothing), I will be interested in taking quilt commissions beginning in early August.  Thanks for making it to the end.

Generally this is a blog about making quilts from old clothes, but I promised a follow up to Plant Rescue, and here it is.

Recap:  plants in my city neighbors’ yard were headed for the dumpster per a complete house & yard renovation.  I asked to rescue them.  Permission granted, plant rescue began.

Several agreeably sunny days found me hauling plant after plant out of the yard as well as digging out some of my own underperforming shrubs.  It began to look like a garden center out there:

Spirea, viburnum, Rose of Sharon, rose, Skimmia, Andromeda, and more.

The problem was I did not have room for all.  Then I remembered my NJ neighbors (not the foreclosure neighbors) recently asked for gardening advice.  Actually, they asked me last year and at the time I offered to divide some of my overgrown perennials, but never did.  This opportunity seems to be a perfect match for them.

My very enthusiastic neighbor, I’ll call him Fred, drove to my house bright and early one Saturday. We loaded up his truck and headed for the NJ hills

The big stuff went in Fred's truck. The small stuff went in my sedan's trunk.

with the swag.  While Fred began digging I scooted off to a nearby garden center for enriched potting soil to juice up the dirt.  Fred’s yard had a handful of scattered bulbs, flowers and perennials  from the previous owner.   He and his wife, Dana, were immaculate caretakers of their house and yard, but had done little gardening or landscaping.

The front entry seemed a natural place to start:

What you can't see are the two maniacally barking dogs on the other side of the window.

How I wish my yard got the full sun this spot does all day.  Here the rescued Rose of Sharon and peony, along with hosta and hyacinth from elsewhere in this yard, found a home.  In the intervening week, Fred added a little decor, and now it looks like this:

The peony (in front) will bush out and bloom in a month or so, and the now-spindly Rose of Sharon (at rear) should leaf out and provide August flowers.

Next up viburnum, which can grow to 8 feet.  This corner offers ample room:

Click to see the hosta buds in shadow next to the hyacinth. The hosta was big, and needed to move for the shrub to have room to grow.

Division produced several pieces of hosta

Fred didn't have a saw, so dividing was accomplished by jumping up and down on a flat shovel.

and the viburnum took its place.  Fred, who is loving this BTW, dressed it up with mulch:

By now we were tired and anxious to finish by the time Dana got home.  The remaining big shrubs had to go in; the rest could wait a week. Along another street-facing wall went a spirea, skimmia, and a sand cherry that had been failing to thrive in my NYC backyard for more than 10 years.

Fred plans to replace the grass with mulch around these, and the bed can be filled in with annuals or perennials whenever they are ready.

I have high hopes for the spirea.  These wonderful plants develop a gorgeously sprawling habit when they’re happy.  I have one in my NJ yard that looks like this years after its transfer from NYC:

Is this becoming a long story by now?  Let me finish.  The following weekend, these before-and-afters happened:

Unadorned deck, formerly the housing for a hot tub.

From left, Manhattan euonymous , skimmia, and rose. The euonymous and rose will climb.

This part of the yard is fenced in for the dogs, but I'm hoping the combination of full sun, new enriched dirt, and the offsetting railroad ties will minimize the dog effect.

Spirea, skimmia and iris are in from the Plant Rescue, the rest, black-eyed Susan, lamb's ears and creeping geranium, were divided out from my NJ yard.

That was then.

This past week was focused on the tedious and visually uninteresting task of cutting enough triangles for that queen-sized quilt I claim to be making:

I could do the math but don't really want to know how many triangles are here.

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.

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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