Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Looking Back...Are You Ready for a Good Laugh?


I really don't consider myself any type of quilter - Improv, Modern, Traditional, Crazy, Lazy, Wonky...that's me. (Notice the title of my blog is Sane, Crazy, Crumby?)   I'm all over the place. 

But, I guess in the beginning I was what would today be considered Improv. 

I made this blue jean quilt in 1992 out of the family's old blue (and other colored) jeans. I followed no pattern - just followed a whim. 


How do I know it was 1992? Because I embroidered it on this quilt. 
I wanted to practice some embroidery stitches on I didn't know what.  Worn out blue jeans were handy. 

For years we took it camping. That's back before we had the pop up camper and went tent camping. We sat on this quilt around many a campfire and I probably washed many smore's off of it. Kids would sit on it during the day and play card games. If it was cold we would cover up with it at night.  Or we would put it under our sleeping bags to keep the dew off of us.  I  have two other twin sized denim quilts out in the pop up camper we still use when we go camping.  Before camping they were bedspreads on the boy's bunk beds.  The camper is closed up for the winter or I would have gotten those out too.  


I tied the quilt with several strands of embroidery thread.  It has held up well but is now falling apart. It retired to the quilt rack hanging on the wall in the spare bedroom.  I don't know why. It was a learning experience and it is full of memories.   (By the way...I learned that it's not really easy to practice embroidery stitches on blue jean seams).  


Oh, and the back was a big piece of soft plaid flannel.  (Sorry for the blurry photo...it's windy and cold out there.) 


Ok, now let's go back in our time machine to the 70s. You can see the small  denim quilt next to the queen sized quilt made out of left over fabrics from back when I made clothes for the family.  I must have been ahead of my time. It sure looks like what today is called a jelly roll quilt.  (I really don't like jelly roll quilts if the truth be known). 

This quilt is from about 1977 and we lived in Florida then. I made this as our family beach quilt.  Four of us, ice chests, strollers, diaper bags, beach toys,  towels and other stuff fit nicely on the quilt. 

Mickey Mouse fabric was from one of the shirts I made my husband. I was going to go looking for pics of him in that shirt for proof but was too lazy to go through old photos. 


That flowery print was what I used to recover a chair I bought at auction.  Hey, it was the 70s! Anyway, it was a small chair and the fabric was probably too light weight but it is a little heavier than regular cotton and I'm sure it was a good price because we weren't exactly rolling in the dough back then. 


I estimated this as vintage 1977 because I see some little girl fabrics in the quilt and my daughter had some little dresses and sun suits made from some of the fabrics in this quilt.  (Actually this really isn't truly a quilt by the strictest definition of quilt but as far as I'm concerned it's a quilt) . We moved back to IA in 1979 and used this quilt for a couple of years at the beach so 1977 it is.  Again I have some pics of my daughter in clothes made from some of these fabrics.  And strangely enough...that brown calico sure looks like some fabric I just picked up for about $3 yd on clearance. 


To make this I cut (with good old fashioned scissors) the scraps into what looks like about 2.5 inch strips I had marked with pencil and ruler. I sewed those strips together (by color I guess. Wasn't that fancy?)  into long strips and sewed them to an old sheet using the sew a strip, flip, sew a strip, flip method to attach to the sheet.  I don't remember where I got that green plaid I used for binding...maybe from my step mom? 

I actually didn't pay any attention to what types of fabric I used...there's different weights and types; seersuckers and gauzy and some cotton/rayon blends. 




The old sheet I used on the back is yellowing now.  You can see it was old to begin with. I put a few "band aids" on the holes that were in the sheet and I didn't even bother to cut off the doubled over fabric of the sheet.  Remember, I wanted a quilt to spread out on the sandy beach. 


Ok. Here's the part where I show you this was actually made from scraps left over from clothes I made.  See that purple strip there?  And below it, on top of the quilt you can see...

...the shirt I made (and actually wore) with that fabric.  Go ahead and laugh. Yes, I still have it. I have a lot of the cotton shirts I made stored in a box to cut up and use someday in something. I used to cut them down and make things for my daughter until she grew up.  I think that shirt has shrunk about three sizes (or is it just me)?

Yes, I'm a hoarder. An improv hoarder.  

Do you have an improv story? 

Link up with  Ann at Fret Not Yourself or Kaja at Sew Slowly and tell your story. 


20 comments:

Quilter Kathy said...

You sure were ahead of your time! Great quilts with so many memories!

Lisa Marie said...

Interesting post and thanks for the chuckle! That shirt is really something! So many times I look back at fashions (especially from the 70s) and wonder what on earth were we thinking?!? I have used crazy wild prints with good colors to make log cabin blocks, that actually turned out quite lovely. If you cut the strips narrow and make one side of the block with just those strips it makes for an interesting effect. That might be just the thing for your shirt!

gayle said...

So, hey, you were doing improv before it was cool! 8)
Love the trip down memory lane!

Cathy said...

What a fun post! I love that you did a strip quilt and that you save old cotton clothing. Sheesh, it's hard to even FIND cotton clothing now. And as always you were light years ahead of me. My "quilts" we're always baby quilts sewn with a 1-piece front, batting and a 1-piece back. Right sides together, then birthed, seam stitched closed and then yarn-tied. If I got fancy, I added a ruffle to it. I never machine quilted on a quilt until I did a Millenium quilt. Did you do one of those? Xoxo

Kaja said...

I like your denim quilt a lot, especially with the addition of the red pieces. Can't being to imagine trying embroidery stitches through denim seams though! I too started quilting with scraps from dressmaking (my mum made all our clothes); I even had bits of our school uniform summer dresses in my first quilt.

knitnkwilt said...

I love your improv story and your reclaiming fabrics from clothing. Yes that does look like a jelly roll. New things often turn out not to be so new!

Cathy Perlmutter said...

They're both great, lively, and bona fide vintage artifacts. Future scholars of 20th century fabrics will study them for clues!

Ann said...

Wow, Cathy. This is a terrific post! I love seeing and reading about these quilts. It struck me that most of us start quilting in one of two ways. Either we choose a specific pattern and buy fabric especially for it or we cut up worn family clothing. I'm with you; my first quilts were outgrown clothes.
I'm so intrigued by denim quilts like Kaja and yours. Sewing through all that heavy fabric gives me pause but I've been saving jeans. Just need the time. Or I may cut them into aprons.
Don't you love having picnic quilts? I do. They make such great family memories and teach children to use and appreciate quilts.
Thanks for linking this fabulous post with AHIQ.

Jean said...

Thank you for sharing your quilting journey. I really enjoy your blog and have used some of your ideas. From a fellow Iowan

audrey said...

So many times, it's these types of quilts that get used the very most. What a fun journey for you, almost coming full circle!

Monica said...

This is so modern, Cathy! How fun to see all those fabrics. I used to have whole outfits in those large florals! Great post, thanks. :D

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

Oh I love going back in time with you. How interesting! Aren't you glad you took the time to embroider the year on that quilt.

Donna said...

My mother made her quilts from what ever scraps were left from making clothes for herself and 4 daughters. In 1980 (I was 35 yrs. old) she made me a quilt for Christmas. She forgot that I had made a bleeding madras shirt in high school. She used a scrap of it in the quilt and it bled (a yellow stain on the white backing). But, I wouldn't trade that quilt for anything.

Quiltdivajulie said...

What a marvelous post --- thank you for sharing your own improv tour.

claire witherspoon said...

Great scrappy quilts! My first patch work was denim I think I was influenced by those denim patch work cloths?! But I really can't remember, lol! cheers!

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

I enjoyed reading this post ... it's interesting reflecting back on earlier choices! And I love your denim quilt! I have collected denim for ages, but done nothing with the pieces [so far!}

Stephie said...

What a brilliant story! And your denim quilt is perfect timing with the one Kaja's making now :) You did make me laugh too - I remember fabrics like that, flowery men's shirts with great big collars, haha!

Marly said...

Great story; thanks for sharing your experiences. It's lovely to see all the old fabrics and remember who wore the original garments; I get the same pleasure from my hoard of "just in case" fabrics but at least you made something of them!

Shasta Matova said...

I really enjoyed reading about your early quilts. Both of these quilts are beautiful in their own right and the fact that they have been useful to you and your family and brought great memories is a great bonus.

Mary at Fleur de Lis Quilts said...

Hahaha, I was sewing and quilting in the late 70's and recognize some of that fabric. Funny thing is that I inherited my mom's fabric stash...yes! there are some 70's fabric in boxes in my studio. I can't bring myself to toss it, so I've begun using some of it in pieced backs. I figure it works as well as muslin and is fairly cheap. (It is free.) Your early quilts are a testament to your beginning skills and to the fact that everything comes back around in time. I love your denim quilt!