A Goodwill Quilt


I’ve been busy working on multiple throw-sized quilts that I’m making for family members who don’t have one yet and a few just because I wanted to try a pattern. This one I did because I fell in love with this pattern on a web site in flannel plaid. Flannel plaid is easy to find but I’m not fond of working with flannel and quilting broadcloth isn’t easy to find in plaids that would work for the quilt I envisioned. I was trying to find a solution as we were moving to our winter home in Florida last fall, knowing the greater Naples area has a shortage of quilting stores.

And then the fun began. I realized that there are a lot of rich old men living in Naples who die each year, and their clothing is given to resale shops. I’m guessing there are well over 50 resale shops for every shop that sells quilting fabric in this area. I found some resale shops who want $20 for a used man’s shirt but I also found that Goodwill had many high quality shirts for around $3. Over the period of a few weeks I found a big stack of shirts that I cut off seams and collars. I cut 3 x 6 inch blocks from all the shirt plaids and complementary blocks from prints that I had taken to Florida and some I collected there the year before. One of my goals of making throw size quilts is to use up some of the fabric I’ve accumulated over the years.

Our friends who gather at the pool every afternoon were intrigued with my shirt project, especially the two quilters. The men stopped wearing plaid shirts when there was a chance of being around me. I finished this quilt top before we left so everyone could see it because I decided it would be a perfect house warming gift for my grandson who just bought a house in Michigan.

I really like this quilt and wavered a little on giving it away, but knew it was my grandson’s when he and his live together partner both said that one of the red plaids was like the old undershorts he just threw away. I don’t think I’ve given a quilt to anyone that had “built-in” nostalgia.

And I still have a whole box of cut up shirts waiting for another project (and looking forward to getting back to Naples to see if I can find some more). I think I will make one with 6 inch plaid squares and 6 inch Ohio Star squares made from fabric stashed away in drawers. I will just dream of that one until I get the three done that I am currently working on. And just maybe I’ll use up the pile of extra bricks I cut out to make another “Plaid Brick Road” quilt.


Story Challenge: Letter “Q” – Quilting

I already did a Q on Queen Anne’s Lace and I had thought about quilts when Frizz posted this theme, but all of my quilts are up north and I don’t have good photos of them in my photo library. I had forgotten about this pieced wall hanging that I have here, in plan view over where I sit every day and blog.

This is one of my favorite works. I made it several years ago using the color technique of Jinny Beyer and patterning it after one of her quilts in one of her publications. She is a well know quilt artist and teacher.

This hanging is only the pieced portion of a quilt and is hung on canvas stretchers.┬áIt is a variation of the pattern “Storm at Sea”, one of my favorites because there is so much movement and the appearance of curved lines even though all pieces are cut and stitched in straight lines. Cutting and stitching curved lines for a quilt is very difficult because of the stretching when cutting and stitching curved edges – that can result in a quilt top that doesn’t lay flat. There are enough potential problem when sewing hundreds of small pieces of fabric together without dealing with curved, stretchy edges.

I started by cutting hundreds of pieces of the fabrics I had chosen and sewing them together to form two of the three small squares that are combined to make this pattern. I knew how to piece them together using light and dark fabrics that would be so important in drawing they eye through the finished piece to form the illusion of curves and shapes. I didn’t have a clear idea as to the flow of colors so I had to make lots of small squares with different color combinations to make sure I had a good sample to draw from as I established the overall pattern of colors.

I had an image in my mind that I used to pick my fabrics and in designing the layout. One of my favorite places on earth is a campground on Lake Superior. I spent many hours with my small children on this stretch of narrow beach with the deep, very cold waters of Lake Superior in front of me and the lush green forests of northern Michigan behind me. This park is situated so that I was able to watch many sunrises as I was drinking my coffee on the beach and then see beautiful, orange sunsets late at night. I went through some very stressful periods in my 30’s and this was the place I would take my mind when I needed to escape my burden, find peace for my mind, and release the stress my body carried. I wanted to bring that place into my home.

After I had the small squares sewn, I started laying them out on a flannel board. It took me several weeks of moving squares around and making new squares with the right color and fabric combinations. I needed to arrange them so the contrast of light and dark moved the eye to form curves, create the diamond shapes, and to move around the entire piece. I also needed to portray the dark blue water, the green forest, and the sunny, sunset hued sky. Frequently when doing a quilt top, the fabrics are chosen to form the pattern and then this repeated throughout so that it is uniform and perfectly depicted. In this case, I was wanting to create an illusion of sea and forest and sky so sometimes fabric choices sacrificed pattern for artistic need.

When I was satisfied with the layout, I sewed and added the 4-pieced squares that are in the middle of the diamonds. Then I was able to sew all the smaller pieced squares together, making sure that all the seams lined up perfectly so the viewer’s eye doesn’t get stopped by a small zag as it moves along the lines created by the light and dark and color and pattern of the fabrics. As you study these images you can see how intricate the pattern is and I find people who visit frequently get lost in the viewing. I have never tired of it and find that I still sit for long periods of time following the patterns that were created.

This last photo shows you some of the many fabrics I used. I love fabrics and use them as an artist uses paint. Sometimes I go into my stash of fabrics and just look at my favorites and hold them to my chest. It is so much fun seeing how different fabric designs impact on appearance of color saturation and how a touch of different color can change how a small piece works in the overall pattern. When doing this project, sometimes I had two squares with the same two fabrics but one would work and the other not, just because of how the piece caught the fabric pattern. When using paints, they can be mixed to create light and shadow and flow from one part of the picture to the other, but with quilting different fabrics are used with colors that match and contrast creating illusions of blending and movement.

I hope my story of quilting has inspired you to think about how you use color and pattern and light and dark in your artistic creations. If you have an old post or do a new one, please paste the URL in a comment below so we can ping back. I look forward to reading your posts.

For an opportunity to join the fun of Story Challenge: Letter “Q” click here.