Saturday, July 31, 2021

Vintage buttons from the Hospitality Shop

I couldn't help it. I found a gold mine of vintage buttons at a resale shop near the university campus in Sewanee, TN, called the Hospitality Shop. These came home with me.

Buttons from a resale shop.

A button bonanza

Sifting through a shallow box of assorted gems at the resale shop was delicious. Two-hole, 4-hole, shank, metal, and a few mother-of-pearl were mixed within this treasure box. 

Sorting by size and color.

The larger buttons could have come from overcoats. Many of the smaller ones were probably from men's shirts. The more decorative ones, from women's garments.

Large, decorative buttons.

I was primarily interested in collecting the smaller, shirt buttons—1/2" or smaller. Small buttons for shirts and tops are more difficult to find in fabric and quilt shops these days, unless you go to a store that caters specifically to garment sewing. One of the clerks asked if I was working on an art project with buttons. I guess one could call it that.

Cut from clothing, some of the buttons still had thread in the holes.

It was obvious the majority of the buttons came off pieces of clothing as several of them still had the thread attached.

Removing the thread remnants.

Finding a new purpose

I tried to pick out multiple buttons that were alike so I could use them on garments. These two-tone ones were a great match for a new top that I'm making. 

Repurposed buttons for a new top.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed a few of these buttons had red, yellow or white paint on them. Their previous life was probably on a work shirt. Or a casual shirt turned work shirt? Maybe the work shirt of a carpenter or a painter? Or a craftsman? Or a handyman? From the shirt of someone who worked with his hands... to create beautiful things or repair and refresh something that stood the test of time... that's the story I'm imagining for these buttons.

Paint residue in the buttons.

I like to think these buttons have found a new home with me. They will be useful once again on one of my handmade items. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

I've joined the 100 Days 100 Blocks 2021 quilt-along with M&S Textiles Australia

It snuck up on me this year, but I decided to again participate in the “100 Days 100 Blocks” quilt-along. This is my 4th year. 

It’s gonna be a riot of color and pattern... 
     'cause for 2021, I’m using Australian aboriginal fabrics from M&S Textiles Australia

Blocks from the 100 Days 100 Blocks Quilt-along 2021.

My Fabric Pull

Classified as a “Go bold or go home!” color story, these are several of my fabric picks.

Fabric Pull for 100 Days 100 Blocks 2021. Fabrics from M&S Textiles Australia.

The Kinship Fusion Sampler

This year, the quilt-along coordinator, Angie at @gnomeangel, has offered a few layouts that use subsets of the 100 blocks to make smaller quilts... or possibly multiple quilts. I have a *tentative* goal to make a quilt top with a subset of my 100—even before I've finished piecing all 100 blocks. (Let's see if this works out...). I saw one layout that uses about 20 blocks that I'm considering. 

I'm having fun doing selective cuts [fussy cuts] from the Aborigianl fabric designs this year. I'm also learning a lot by auditioning my fabric pull... considering which fabric will be a background and which will be the focus. Below is a selection of blocks from the first 25.

Block 1 with a focus cut in the center.

Block 15 with a focus cut center.

Block 17 with focus cut wheels in the center 4-patch.

The blocks in this sampler quilt are alternately 8.5" x 8.5" and 8.5" x 4.5" (unfinished sizes).

Block 24 is 4.5" x 8.5" (unfinished).

With this quilt-along, quilters gain proficiency with sewing a 1/4" seam and learn the value of "spinning the seams" to minimize bulk at intersections. My stitch length is set at 2.2.

Spinning the seams in Block 7 (back view).

100 Blocks Quilt-along time table

The 100 Blocks 100 Days quilt-along goes from July 1 through October 8, 2021. Gnome Angel provides a downloadable Event Tracker to keep participants organized. With 25% completion (today, July 25), it's going by fast and looking' good so far. Perhaps with this being my 4th year, I know what to expect and how to manage the process.

If you haven't tried an online quilt-along, consider this one. You can join in any time.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Boro-inspired drawstring bag: reliquary or rag?

One of the projects we worked on in Doug Baulos's book arts workshop, Retracing Nature: Folio, Book, Installation, revolved around the concepts of "reliquary" vs "rag." Either can evoke a sense of reverence, preciousness, history, culture, a passage of time... and other emotions.

Scraps of fabrics, patched and stitched to a base cloth and indigo dyed.

Project: Rag

This is the beginning of my "rag" project. Inspired by boro, patching, the act of using precious small pieces of fabric, mending, preserving and renewing, I began to create my piece. Scraps and trimmings from other projects were patched (machine appliquéd) onto a base fabric. 

Elevating the Rag

The patchwork "rag" was then dyed in an indigo vat. Different fabrics took the indigo dye in varying degrees of color and value. Once the overdyed patchwork was dry, I began to hand stitch with cotton sashiko threads. 

Fabric patches overdyed in indigo.

There was no predetermined plan or design for the stitching or color placement—just the mindfulness of running the needle and thread through the fabric layers. Adding to the texture, the knots were left on the "right side"—the "raggy" side. A new thread was started wherever the previous length ran out. 

Running stitches with cotton sashiko threads.

The running stitches both strengthened the patches and added color to the piece. Cross stitches were added to hold down the random, loose or unruly bits.

Cross stitches hold down unruly and frayed edges.

The metamorphosis to a functional object

My hand stitched rag needed to become something functional... something useful... so it would be frequently touched, held and admired. The flat rag metamorphosed into a three-dimensional small bag (approximately 9.5" x 8" x 2"). The boxed bottom was hand stitched and the tabs were left on the outside.

Boro-inspired drawstring bag.

The bag's inside is smooth and beautiful... with colored rows of stitching on a background of sky blue indigo.

The bag's inside with rows of colorful stitching.

Keeping with the suppleness of the hand-stitched piece, I did not use a zipper or other mechanical or machine-made closure. I think the simple drawstring closure is appropriate.

Boro-inspired drawstring bag.

Reliquary or Rag?

I have not yet decided what to keep in this bag: small balls of yarn, a travel project, handwork? For now, it is holding the memory of an enriching workshop experience with Doug Baulos, memories of new friends with whom I shared that experience, thoughts of the previous projects from which the patches came, and the relaxation and mindfulness that came with the creation and stitching processes. 

That is enough. It is full.

Is it reliquary or rag? 

The answer lies in the eyes and heart of the beholder.

After writing this blog post about the story of this piece, I realized that it certainly identifies with my Make Nine 2021 "Mindfulness" prompt. I'm counting it as my 7th Make Nine finish.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Stitching Success Tracker: the halfway mark

It's July... and the first half of 2021 is in the past. A look at the Stitching Success Tracker indicates a lot of hand stitching, patchwork, English paper piecing and spurts of garment making happened from January through June. So, I'm pleased with my stitching accomplishments for these first six months of this year!

Stitching Success Tracker from January - June, 2021.

Completed Make Nine projects

Moving from an activity-based report to a project-based report, my Make Nine 2021 is also fairing well with 6 successfully completed projects.

Make Nine 2021 progress through June.

The first half of 2021 has been filled with fabric, thread, stitching and textile creativity.

Just how I like it.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The making of a needle book, a Make Nine finish

When I rediscovered English paper piecing [EPP] during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, I was following several EPPers and EPP stitch-alongs on Instagram. In addition to the brilliant tips and cleverly pieced projects found in the posts, I was in awe of the beautiful, handmade needle books I discovered. A needle book was swiftly added to my Project Wish List. 

Assembling a needle book.

My needle book: gathering materials and requirements

Excited to get a new needle book underway, I decided to source materials from the stash for this project. Gathering various fabric bits—a pile of 3/4" hexies from an EPP online sew-along, fabric samples and leftovers, orphan EPP pieces and a package of felted wool charms—I set off to cobble together my own needle book.

The size of the needle book was dictated by the pieced patchwork of 3/4" hexies. This piece was used on the book's outside cover.

A patchwork piece of 3/4 inch hexagons for the outside cover of the book.
The Husky dog is from Best in Show from PBS Fabrics.

Book pages were made from favorite fabric scraps from several fabric companies I rep. Wool charm squares were attached to book pages for various needles and pins it would store.

Wool felt hand stitched on yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles.

Wool felt charm squares for needles and pins.
Squares are hand stitched on cotton fabrics.

Orphan diamonds from an unfinished EPP block were perfect for pockets.

Appliqued pockets from orphan EPP star. Fabrics from M&S Textiles.

A zippered pocket was a handy addition.

Zippered pocket on the inside cover. The floral is a digital print from P&B Textiles.
The background fabric is from a collection from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Book assembly and finishing

I debated whether to nest the folios into a single signature vs. to bind them separately. Referencing a bookbinding book, I decided to sew them to the cover as individual signatures.

Sewing the signatures to the cover.

The other dilemma was how to close the book. I tried several configurations and options but the final outcome was a button-and-loop closure.  A seam in the cover was unpicked to insert a knit fabric button loop.

A knit fabric button loop created the closure.

With the signatures stitched to the cover, it was time to appliqué the hexagon patchwork to the outside cover. Sewing on the button was the final detail.

Appliqueing the hexagon patchwork to the cover.

A Make Nine 2021 finish

Here is the finished needle book. Another Make Nine 2021 finish! This project fulfills my "Wild Card" prompt. I like the fussy-cut image of the Husky on the front as it reminds me of our Yuki dog... making it extra special.

Completed Needle Book. A #makenine project for 2021.

Great progress, I must admit. Six of my 2021 Make Nine projects are now complete. I'm feeling pretty confident that the goal will be met this year.

Make Nine 2021 progress grid. 6 of 9 projects complete.

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