Thursday, April 25, 2019

Off the Beaten Path

If you read my last post, than you know that I have been on a bit of a fabric buying strike, but allowed myself to indulge in buying some thrifted men's shirts, (results of which to date can be found on that post as well). 

Well... I also allowed myself to buy some vintage grain sack fabric found at a local Mennonite quilt sale. I figured it was fair game, as it isn't new and I fell hard for its quiet beauty, flaws, stains and all. 

And on a quick side note... may I say many thanks to those that did read my last post and a special thanks to those that took the time to leave a comment. I know much time can go from one post to another, (although not this time) and everyone's kindness is always so very much appreciated!  

I got several pieces of this incredibly soft grain sack fabric that has the most amazing drape. Old dirt and mildew stains speckle the cloth which I find lovely. (The fabrics all appeared to have been washed before selling, with no evidence of active mold or mildew. However, I still gave everything a thorough cleaning in very hot water and dried on a long high heat once home as well. I want those lovely stains to remain, but also wanted to ensure that no active spores were still present.)

Now that I hopefully peeked your interest, I regret to say that I am still contemplating what to do with the above fabrics, so nothing more to show you there. And I might as well be up front now, (after my last post set the bar a bit high) just ONE quilt to show this time, but I think it's a good one!

Ok, back to the fabrics, and eventually that one quilt...

I also got a stack of these low volume beauties...

I am serious as can be when I tell you that their weave, their colors, their typography... 
all make my heart speed up and my mouth literally starts to salivate. 
Why on earth I do not know... it's not like I want to eat them.
(Or do I?) 

No, I'd much rather sew with them...

Vintage grain sacks
Freehand cut, machine pieced, hand quilted
27.5" x 21"

Out of all the quilts I've ever made I think this was my favorite one to quilt. 

All the hand quilting was done in a VERY freeform manner. 

No planning, no marking, just stitching. 
It was, in a word, LIBERATING! 

Some of the material was very gauzy and light weight, so I decided to line the whole quilt with a piece of muslin fabric layered between the top and the batting, in order to give it better stability. This also came in handy when I decided to mend two small holes found in one of the fabric pieces. I just hand stitched the edges, and left the hole openings be, allowing the muslin lining to peak thru. You can see a better close up in that photo at the very top of this post.

Oh, and here's a little tid bit... 
Have you noticed that little slice of fabric that says Baltimore? 
It was part of the address found on one of the grain sacks.
I put that in as an ode to where I was born.

I backed the quilt with a natural unbleached muslin and for the binding I used a gauzy vintage fabric that I got at the same sale. Then I washed it to bring out all that delicious, crinkled, quilt texture. 

Quilt is currently for sale in my Etsy shop and can be found here.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Waste not, Want Not - Shirt Quilts

For the last year or so, I've been on a bit of a self-imposed fabric buying ban, (with a few exceptions for buying mostly backing fabrics here and there). I mean, it's not like I don't have enough fabric, right? But then again, can you ever have have enough fabric? 

With that second thought looming more prominently in my brain, I decided to allow myself some indulgence, with the caveat that all "new"  fabric would actually be old reclaimed fabric. 


So off to the thrift store I went in search of men's shirts, (which we all know is made from much higher quality fabric then women's clothing, but we will save that discussion for another day).

Here's a pic of some thrifted shirts after dissecting them...

A good seam ripper and a sharp pair of fabric scissors, coupled with a little patience, is the key!

And look at all that nice fabric! We've got cottons and linen. 
Shot cottons and chambrays. Stripes and ginghams, too!

And here's what I've made so far...

Shirt Quilt # 1
Cotton and linen
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine and hand quilted.
19.5" x 14.5"


Shirt Quilt #1 Detail

Shirt Quilt #2
Cotton and linen.
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
29" x 18.5"

                                                                 Shirt Quilt #2 Detail

Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
22.5" x 20.5"

Shirt Quilt #3 Detail

Shirt Quilt #4
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
20.5" x 17.5"

Shirt Quilt #4 Detail

Shirt Quilt #5
Cotton and linen
Freehand cut, machine pieced, machine quilted.
33" x 30.5"

Shirt Quilt #5 Detail, front and back

And to end with I shall share a little bit on the making of that last quilt.
I call it...

The Saga of Shirt Quilt #5

Compared to other quilts I've made, there was nothing out of the ordinary nor technically difficult in the making of this piece. However, I have never been so happy to be finished with a quilt, then with this one. Were it not part of this on going Shirt Quilt series, I simply would have named it "Petulance". 

As a general rule, I try to listen to the work and respect where it wishes to go. This usually creates a working harmony and respect between myself and the piece. This quilt however, WHINED its desires and when I did as it requested, it threw its head back laughing, as it waved a five finger salute at me. Every. Single. Time. 

 The one and only thing that seemed to make it play nicer in the sandbox with me was if we listened to Johnny Cash, specifically the songs from his American Recordings and American IV albums. The quilt still stuck its tongue out at me, but at least it stopped throwing sand in my eyes and hitting me over the head with its bucket. 

The only reason I didn't walk away was to show it that I am just as stubborn!