When I saw photos of scientists carrying signs it occurred to me that I missed Earth Day, celebrated last week. In the interests of promoting recycling I’ll present a few of my quilts made of at least 50% re-purposed fabric. Despite the constant appearance of new fabric collections I like to use what I have, even if it isn’t quilting cotton. I’m no expert on the environmental impacts of growing, weaving, and dyeing cotton (see this article on the life of a garment from Apparel Business systems for a broad overview); but I want to re-use where possible.
First, two quilts, which I’ve shown before, that say and indeed make do.
The only new material in the quilt above is thread. I even used up an old skirt on the back, in addition to selvedges, shirts, batting scraps, and trimmings from cropped quilts. You can see I used a discarded block from the quilt below for the K.
Here I focused on men’s old shirts, and learned that shirt material is hard to work with for binding.
Continuing with the shirts theme, I made a small quilt with my husband’s dress shirts as a way to celebrate his retirement. A few striped and yellow quilting cottons from my stash managed to sneak in.
Most recently, in “Repurposed/Resurfaced” I used a drop cloth that began life as a tablecloth. I also included a damask table napkin and color test swatches from silk screen printing, in addition to fabric I screened and painted. There’s a smidge of commercial fabric and the bias tape is store bought (I lost good karma points there.) Lesson learned – woven polyester tablecloths take fabric paint well but smell horrible when ironed.
How did you celebrate Earth Day?
While I submitted “OK MAKE DO” as a sketch for my master class I know it’s not really good material for that class. It’s too clunky and down home with all the scraps. I’m making it as a quilt as you go, sewing the sections together with a zigzag stitch, to use up my batting scraps. Most of the backing is an old skirt. I’m using seat of your pants quilt construction. Of course, I don’t have a residency to make do, unlike Sherri Lynn Wood.
I decided to turn this into an interactive quilt. Elizabeth Barton had suggested I add lots of ways to make do. So, I want to ask people to write me how they make do.
If you have ways you make do you’d like to share, please send them to me. I’ll do my best to use them all, though I may have to shorten them a bit. They can pertain to sewing or other aspects of your life. If I get enough responses I plan to write them on bits of fabric and sew those bits to the quilt, possibly to the outer edges. Of course, no names will be given.
I’ll start you off with one example from my kitchen. I keep pens and pencils in an empty tin that used to contain tea bags. The tin is sturdy and colorful. Best of all, it’s getting a second life.
I look forward to hearing about how you make do.
If you’ve read at least one post on this blog you know I’m not a fan of cute, precious, or twee. So, imagine my surprise when I was captivated by the work of Mr. Finch, who conjures creatures out of old fabrics and other recycled materials.
Some are realistic, some are fantastical, some are imbued with very non-realistic qualities. I think they’re strange enough to escape cuteness.
From his website:
“My main inspirations come from nature and often I return to certain ideas again and again.
Flowers, insects and birds really fascinate me with their amazing life cycles and extraordinary nests and behaviour.
British folklore is also so beautifully rich in fabulous stories and warnings and never ceases to be at the heart of what I make.
Shape shifting witches, moon gazing hares and a smartly dressed devil ready to invite you to stray from the path.
humanizing animals with shoes and clothes is something I’ve always done and I imagine them to come alive at night. Getting dressed and helping an elderly shoemaker or the tired housewife.”
With British understated humor he says his business is called Mr. Finch to let people know he’s a man who sews. “We are a bit thin on the ground but we are out there!”
He’s just published a book called Mr. Finch: Living In A Fairytale World. It’s available on Amazon. You can read an interview with him in Sweet Paul Magazine. To see what he’s been up to recently try his Facebook page. And good luck trying to buy any of his creations on Etsy. His shop says he is sold out.
I’ll close with two of my favorites.