Archives for posts with tag: scavenged materials

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look out! It's a quilt shark!

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

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

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