Posted in recycling, sewing

Friday Finish: Sewing

While tidying my workspace last week, I noticed all the shirt pieces I had left over from making the Howard Wabi-Sabi quilt. Since I had used only the backs, the leftovers included sleeves, fronts and collars. It occurred to me that there is a potential fiber object buried inside each one of them.

Naturally, I turned to U-Tube, to see what others have made from discarded men’s shirts. Not surprisingly, there were many, many projects. I wanted to make an apron, but I also spotted a cute little girl’s dress.

That idea I will save for another day. For today I am focusing on this dark navy all cotton shirt front.

I also happened to have a whole spool of 1-inch white twill tape which will work very well for the neck strap and the ties.

First I removed the breast pocket. This will be jazzed up a bit to add some fun color to my apron. Since the shirt fabric featured a little star motif, (okay, it’s really a snowflake, but go with me on this one) I decided to make a sun using yellow fabric and fusible interfacing. In fact, I happened to have saved some suitable yellow fabric that already had fusing attached to its back. I cut this into the shape of a corona and fused it to the pocket.

Next I traced a circle onto white printed fabric, pressed fusing to its back, cut out the circle and pressed it over the yellow corona.

Sun Shine!

Getting back to the shirt, I trimmed the upper edge into the shape of an apron front and sewed the button opening shut. Next, I sewed a piece of the twill tape to the neck edge and folded it over the raw edge, This made for a sturdy facing. With the rest of the twill tape, I found its center, measured down each leg to reserve a big enough neck loop and marked where to start sewing the side edges. These were sewed down in the same manner as the neck facing.

After zig-zag stitching the apron string ends, I re-attached the pocket, and was done!


The apron fits me just fine, but it will work also on shorter persons.

This fun project cost me a few dollars and only an hour of time. With several more cut-up shirts hanging around, I can easily spend a little more time and a few more dollars to make unique, personalized gifts for the artists and cooks in my life.

Posted in quilting, recycling

SAHRR Quilt Challenge 4: Water

Pieceful Wendy chose the pattern for round four, and it’s one I had never heard of before now: Signature blocks. This type of block is often used to provide spaces for people to write stuff on your quilt. They are very popular for special occasion quilts like weddings, baby showers, graduations and so on.

Wendy created her Signature blocks by cutting into a square on the diagonal.

That design will not work with in Water section of my quilt, where I plan to add the signature squares. Water, especially lakes, are filled with waves. So I came up with a wavy style block by free-form slicing into a square piece of fabric, where I inserted a pale peach curve.

Prototype signature block with a curve.

Here is the centerpiece of my water block where I will attach the signature squares. It is made of Margaret Howard’s weaving swatches. I hand-stitched a small blue one on top of a pastel peach brocade.

This says “lake” to me.

Next I made a bunch of curved signature squares. Here’s the first group.

I started at the top of my block with a strip of three of these little darlings.

I’m thinking that the curve will provide a good place for a line of sashiko stitches to echoes its shape.

Next I made two strips to add on either side of the center block. Before I attached them, I added a plain blue strip at the bottom to anchor the design.


I’m happy with the resulting block. It’s about 18 inches square right now. After I square up the edges it will probably become a little smaller.

To see the other Stay At Home Round Robin participants’ quilts, follow the link.

Posted in quilting, recycling, sewing

Inspired by Vintage

While visiting Daughter’s Family last Thanksgiving, I was invited to rummage through a stack of weaving samples. These pieces were made over a number of years by my son-in-law’s grandmother, Margaret. They were then stored away with Margaret’s son, and eventually passed into the next generation.

Here are some of the pieces that came home with me.

I was invited to keep these lovely samplers with the understanding that they could be worked into a fiber object. I feel honored to receive them.

So today, I have a tiny glimpse of an idea on what to make with them. What if they formed the feature blocks in a quilt? It would be a wabi-sabi quilt, assembled with additional fabrics recycled from articles of clothing and household linens. In my stash I came across the following items that fit the description.

Cut up shirts and old pillowcases in compatible colors

I began my work by washing and pressing the linens, then examined each piece for needed repairs. It seemed to me that, while the samples were firmly woven, the weaves are much more open than standard quilting cotton. How could I stabilize them so they wouldn’t shift during quilting? This called for a consultation with quilting expert Jackie, aka, my mom.

She had some great pieces of advice. Ultimately, I decided that I could sew the linens to a light-weight muslin backing, string piece style, then work in some rows of decorative stitching. This particular idea was top of mind, because I am currently reading this book on the Japanese practice of boro and sashiko.

I call this sort of happening a Convergence.

Let’s start the work with these three pieces as a center block.

They are of sizes that will fit together into a 12-inch block without cuts. The three contain all of the colors in my chosen palette, which could make an ideal focal point for the rest of the quilt.


The next steps will be to design and sketch a layout, then acquire supporting fabrics. Maybe I can source more second-hand clothing items from local thrift stores.

Posted in embellishing, hand embroidery, recycling

Visible Mending

Earlier this week, a friend of a friend asked me to help him mend the holes in his favorite jeans. He didn’t bring any patches along, so I just used needle and thread to weave across one of the holes as a demonstration. That got our conversation started about the concept of visible mending.

The artist I was thinking about is Celia Pym.

An article and some images of her work can be found here:

The conversation reminded me that I had set aside a pair of jeans of my own that were now holey at the knees.

Perhaps the universe is telling me it’s time to start this project. Despite having an abundance of UFFOs littering my studio, I began working on the jeans.

First of all, I wanted to incorporate patches over the weak-at-the-knees areas. Having been told in the past NOT to throw away fabric scraps, I was able to find some interesting scraps already coated with fusible glue.

It took me less than 30 minutes to fussy-cut some flowers that could cover the holes. I added even more patches just to create a colorful floral field on the denim.

Wow – shades of the sixties.

I do intend to embroider over the patches. This will serve to strengthen the patches and unify the design a little bit.

Getting started with embroidery – pearl cotton

It’ll take me a few evenings to get all the hand stitching done. But first, I wanted to address the torn logo on the back of the jeans.

These are Levis jeans but the leathery label on the waistband is nearly gone. I used a small pair of scissors with a sharp point to cut away the remaining bits and thread.

Next I made a label of my own and stitched it into place.


Yesterday I purchased a variety pack of pearl cotton thread in shades of pink, purple, aqua, blue and yellow. I’m really looking forward to jazzing up these tired old jeans.

Posted in drawing, recycling

Autumnal Equinox 2021

Today I want to celebrate the changing of seasons. Weather-wise, it’s still summer here. But a cool front is expected here in the next 12 hours.

I am hopeful for cooler breezes.

With the idea of using non-traditional materials for this art piece, I started by rummaging through my paper storage drawer. Among the half-used scrapbook pads, pages from old calendars, brown paper bags, pieces of card stock and carefully saved rice paper, I came across this:

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a paper towel that had been used as a wiping rag. If I had to guess I would say this it is covered in fabric paint, because it was fiber artist Cindy Walter who suggested that I save my used paper towels.

Well, why not, I told myself. This could be made into something, by applying a little imagination and some carefully chosen marks.

The towel was quite fragile, so I started with a 4B pencil. Flowers, I thought. Working through the blobs and streaks, I decided to include other living things that associate with flowers. These creatures are currently busy preparing for the coming of winter. I drew beetles, bees, caterpillars and a curious cardinal. Soon the paper was full of pencil marks. I considered adding color. In the end I did put a tiny bit of blue paint onto the stems, but refrained from adding other embellishments, due to concern about damaging the paper towel.


May this fragile drawing remind you of the frailty of life and our pledge as stewards of the earth to preserve it.