Memory Quit from Men’s Shirts

Quilt from Men’s Shirts

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This is a memory quit from 12 men’s dress shirts.

The man who commissioned this memory quilt requested that I create a Queen sized quilt from his shirts He wanted a contemporary style pieced quilt and even sent me a “rough concept” painting to give me an idea of what he wanted. He didn’t want a memory quilt that had collars, cuffs, etc. I was to only use the fabric from his shirts.

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I enjoy corresponding and collaborating with my customers and Aaron and I exchanged quite a few emails about his quilt. We discussed the color options (given the limited palette of blue and brown with a single shirt with orange in it.)

Memory quilt with Kaffee Fassett backing

Aaron wanted the quilting done on the top with an orange thread.  He chose a Kaffee Fassett fabric for the back that had stripes of different widths on a brown background. I used a dark brown thread in the bobbin. I even sent him ideas for the quilting design so he could give me an idea of what he liked. I ended up doing the quilting in a pattern of squares and rectangles that complimented the overall design.

Piecing

IMG_3355I did  lot of different styles of piecing—some straight edge, some softly curved. I did strip piecing, cut the blocks of strips and switched them around to create new blocks. I cut right through blocks and inserted strips in crisscrossed patterns. I did some log-cabin style piecing, some crazy piecing, some nine-patch type piecing. This was a big exercise in piecing with a very contemporary twist.

 

Limits Push Creativity

62-IMG_3365One of the things I enjoyed most was the challenge of the limited palette. Having boundaries/limits is a great way to push yourself creatively. It seems counter-intuitive to say limits are creatively freeing, but it’s true.

Designing a quilt from someone’s clothing is an exercise in designing with limits. It’s really so much easier to go the quilt shop or dig through a stash and pick out just the right pieces of fabric—and go back and get more if things get challenging. With a memory quilt, I can’t do that. My boundaries are to use whatever I am given and make the most of it.

Aaron was concerned that there wasn’t enough variety of mediums and darks. Well, one thing I did was use the reverse side of some of the fabrics. One of the blues was woven so that the right side was a very pale blue while the wrong side was a rich medium hue. Both of the brown striped fabrics looked much darker on the reverse sides (the stripes were much duller on that side) so I could use those wrong sides as an almost-black. I think from a distance you can’t really tell how few fabrics there are in this quilt!

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Just for fun I took a photo of what was left of the shirts, backing and batting when I was all finished. This is it. I think I did pretty well using up my materials!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discover More of My Work In Altered Couture!

This website has been devoted (mostly) to my quilted works. However, there are so many more ways I love to create with fabric!

The latest issue of Altered Couture has 2 articles  I wrote about altering ready-to-wear garments with vintage barkcloth.

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Sewing with vintage textiles is something I’ve been doing for years and find very satisfying, creatively speaking. Finding beautiful or funky materials from the past isn’t too hard—but what to do with them is a challenge, and one that I enjoy!

Stampington Press publishes numerous magazines for all types of creative artists with inspiration galore. Many articles provide instructions for techniques shown in the spectacular photography. My articles in this issue of Altered Couture both include descriptions of how I created these garments.

If you’d like to purchase this magazine or others from Stampington, you may order directly, subscribe or find them at a retail location near you.

Keep watching……I’ve got more articles in this and other Stampington magazines coming soon!

Creating Art Like A Song

I have struggled with my artistic individuality for years. It’s not that I’m not unique, it’s that my work IS unique….unlike what I see elsewhere. When I create my clothing lines, they are fun and funky and different, but I always keep an eye to trends and what other artists are selling. That seems to be where my inner conflict or discomfort originates.

Being influenced is different than trying to influence yourself. The first is about an unconscious absorption of what one sees and experiences that becomes evident as one expresses oneself creatively. The latter is not so natural, it can be artificial, superficial, and feel uncomfortable. Creating something “to sell” is being a crafter. Of course, there is nothing wrong with crafting, but owning that I’m an artist implies creating one-of-a-kind, original, unique pieces. Trying to be authentic, true to myself and trying to somehow fit in with trends is a conflict for me.

 

I was walking recently and listening to a song in my I-pod. There are some things about this one pop song that I really love.  The whole sound is sort of scratchy-old time sounding. The intro chord progressions are not traditional “rock/pop” sounding.There are vocal runs that sound improvised. There are some growls and tone changes that just get me jazzed. At one point you can hear the vocalist giggle. And once she cusses under her breath. I was boogieing  along (it’s a rural area—no one was watching!), thinking about all the things I love about this song, why I keep listening to it, and then I had an epiphany.

The aspects of this song that I love are what make it really unique. The singer has obvious incredible vocal skills, but that’s not what keeps me coming back. It’s the stuff that is different, not traditional sounding for the genre that I love. It’s the parts of the song that sound like maybe they aren’t supposed to be there that I love. It’s the sound of free-wheeling improvisation (it may have been planned, but it doesn’t sound that way.)

And then I realized maybe these are the same aspects of art, of my quilt art, that other people may be drawn to. And these are the very aspects that make me comfortable with my art not looking like everyone else’s. I feel confident that I have the skills to do what I do. It’s the fear of being different that undermines my confidence. If my work doesn’t look like some others’ work that sells or gets acclaim, is that OK? Will someone want my work?

The answer, I believe, is yes. I guess sounding like popular music gives you a better chance of selling more records. Or just being forgotten for sounding like everyone else. Adopting techniques and materials that are currently popular could help me sell more work. And it increases the chances of my work not being noticed because it looks like everyone else’s. And, most importantly, it doesn’t really make me feel good.

So many artists are struggling to express themselves creatively but at the same time make something they can sell. Artists. Crafters. Trying to be “unique” and at the same time adopting popular trends to help them sell more.

Creating works of art from textiles that are genuine, not adopted from popular trends is not the easy way to go. It is risky, just like aspects of that song I like. That song sold a lot of copies. I’m not the only one who liked that funky, unplanned, raw sounding song. And if my art is funky, appears to have an aspect of being improvised, and a little “raw” rather than perfect, then that’s fine. It’s more than fine. It’s Amy. Other people like a little boogie with their art, too!

>Idea Books

>I was just going thru my pile of magazine & catalog clippings. I tear pages out of all kinds of media for future ideas and keep them in a folder or basket. Then on evenings like this I clip and trim and paste them in my various binders and journals.I love all kinds of crafting, sewing and decorating. Of course, my mind’s eye envisions WAY more than I’ll ever accomplish! But I love looking through my books when I’m wanting to start something new.I have a little journal with clothing ideas from catalogs—I paste the item on the page and jot down next to it what it was that I particularly liked–the neckline, the use of trim, etc. Then I have my own personal catalog of fashions to design from. I use Wild Ginger Pattern Master Boutique to design patterns that fit my full figure beautifully.I have another journal that I draw my handbag ideas in, then note changes, etc. as I do them. This really helps when I write up the directions, or want to go back to the original design.I have a fat binder with home dec stuff, organized by season. It has Xmas stocking ideas, spring floral arrangements, stencil designs—-just about everything!Then I have my book of drawings for landscape quilts and tapestries. I find my 9 X 5 journal pages to be less intimidating to start a drawing than a big sketch book. I didn’t have much training in art, but I find that them more I sketch, the better I get.The bottom line is that I really love looking at my books. After all, every page is something that I like and it’s great to go back through them, as I can’t remember everything that’s in them. (Actually, I can’t remember a lot of things! Which is another reason I need my books!)Since I’ve just started blogging, I think I’m going to start a book of blog topic ideas…………………………..!